No. 208.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Fish.

No. 375.]

Sir: In the legation dispatch No. 364, of December 24 last, the answer of the Mexican government is given to the request of the Secretary of the Interior that said government would issue orders to the local authorities to enable Mr. Edgar, the special commissioner, to remove the remnants of the Kickapoo and Lipan Indians to the interior of Mexico, which answer was to the effect that information which had been asked of the governor of the State of Coahuila was necessary before the action of the government could be determined.

On the 21st ultimo Col. Thomas G. Williams, special commissioner for the removal of the Mescalero Apache Indians, located in the State of Chihuahua, arrived in this city and communicated to me the result of his mission, as far as he had been able to make any progress, a copy of whose communication to me I inclose. From this it will be seen that the government of Chihuahua and the Mexican Indian commissioner had effected a satisfactory arrangement with these Indians in the shape of a treaty which provides for removing them to reservations in the interior of the country, so distant from the frontier as to effectually put an end to further incursions into Texas. The federal government of Mexico had not, however, approved of such treaty, and Colonel Williams and the Mexican commissioner deemed it necessary to come to this capital in order to represent the situation to the Mexican government and this legation, in order that an early and desirable conclusion might be reached.

On the 26th and 28th ultimo I had conferences with Mr. Arias, acting minister of foreign affairs, and urged the importance of the Mexican government making a final and satisfactory settlement of the Rio Grande frontier Indian question. I stated that all the Indians who could be persuaded to return to their reservations in the United States had already left Mexico; and that if his government declined, for want of authority or for other reason, to compel them to return, the obligation would rest upon it to adopt such measures as would prevent them from committing depredations in the United States; and that I agreed with our commissioners in the opinion that this could only be accomplished by the removal of the Indians to some distant localities in the interior of Mexico.

I further informed him that Colonel Williams, commissioner for the Indians in Chihuahua, was now in this city, and that Mr. Edgar, commissioner for those in Coahuila, was in Saltillo, both awaiting action on the part of the Mexican government; and that the present afforded the most opportune occasion to finally dispose of this long-standing and vexatious question.

[Page 390]

I also stated that these commissioners were in Mexico merely to facilitate and second the action of his government; and that the United States were only interested in protecting their citizens by securing the removal of these Indians from the frontier, the method and locality of their removal being a subject to be determined by the Mexican government. Mr. Arias assured me that his government was entirely in accord with the views expressed by me; that it was ardently desirous of promptly and effectually settling the Indian question; and that it was resolved to remove them to some distant point in the interior, and keep them under the surveillance of the war department. He said that there was no difference materially affecting the question between the executive and the governor of Chihuahua; that it was only desired to ascertain the best method of securing the removal of and maintaining control over the Indians; and that the minister of war would be very glad to have the benefit of the information and experience of Colonel Williams in coming to a conclusion upon the subject.

On yesterday, by special invitation and appointment, Colonel Williams had a conference with the minister of war and the Mexican Indian commissioner of Chihuahua, with special reference to the Mesca-lero-Apaches; and Colonel Williams is confident that some early and successful measures will be taken, which will accomplish the object of his mission.

I will continue to give the subject my attention, and hope at an early day to be able to report the entire removal of the Indians from the Rio Grande frontier.

I am, &c.,


Mr. Williams to Mr. Foster.

Sir: I have the honor to submit the following statements:

Having been charged by the Hon. Secretary of the Interior of the United States with the duty of endeavoring to remove to a United States reservation from the borders of Mexico and Texas certain bands of Mescalero Apaches, who for many years have been committing depredations upon citizens of the United States in Texas”, and generally taking immediate refuge upon Mexican soil in the southeastern part of Chihuahua, I last year proceeded to that State. The governor, Señor Don Antonio Ochoa, evinced a cordial spirit of co-operation in the work, and a sincere desire to see a speedy and permanent end put to the depredations of those Indians.

With that view, he requested Col. Joaquin Terrazas, an officer of the Mexican army stationed in that State as lieut. inspector of military colonies, to act with me. And the governor also selected and designated Señor Don Juan Zubrian, a prominent citizen of Chihuahua, to act as a special commissioner of the State with me. At various times, first in company with Colonel Terrazas, and subsequently with Señor Don Juan Zubrian, I met the Mescalero Apache Indians at San Carlos, a village about 80 miles southeast from Presidio del Norte, and also at the last-named place.

It was finally evident from several causes and reasons that the Mescaleros were not willing to accept the offers made to them by me of removal to a United States reservation. The most influential reason was because of the strong opposition of certain leading citizens of Presidio del Norte (now called Ojinaga) and of San Carlos to the removal of the Indians; their trade was sometimes very profitable. The chief, Arzate, told me himself of some of the stories told to him by those citizens.

The Indians expressed at last a strong desire to be permitted to remain permanently and peacefully located on Mexican soil, provided something could be done by the Mexican government to keep them from starving if they should agree to stop stealing. With this object some of the principal chiefs went to Chihuahua, the city, to see the governor, last May.

About the 15th or 20th of that month a formal treaty was made and signed by Col. [Page 391] Joaquin Terrazas and Señor Don Juan Zubrian, on the part of the governor, and by the Indian chiefs Arzate and Imais. A copy of this agreement or treaty was furnished to me by Governor Ochoa, with the information that it would have to be approved by the federal authorities at Mexico. By this treaty, a copy of which was duly sent by me to the Hon. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, several important points were secured, even more satisfactory and beneficial to us than if the Indians had consented to remove to our reservations; and these points are, that the Mexican government agree to designate the limits of a reservation in Chihuahua for those Indians, to furnish them with certain subsistence-stores and clothing at stated terms, to exercise a constant supervision and control over them, to establish a military force on the reservation, to require military service of them, and also, in case of any future depredations upon Texas, the guilty parties were to be arrested and delivered to the United States authorities for punishment, &c.

A copy of the said treaty I hand you herewith, together with a copy of Governor ‘Ochoa’s letter, and a copy of the reply of the President of Mexico.

By instructions from the Hon. Secretary of the Interior I returned to Chihuahua last month to ascertain if the arrangements contemplated by the treaty had been effected. Upon arrival there Governor Ochoa informed me that the President of Mexico had not approved the treaty, but had indicated a design to commence a new policy toward these Indians.

The governor said to me verbally, and officially in writing, that he felt sure the authorities at Mexico did not yet clearly understand the case and did not appreciate the importance of immediately ratifying the treaty made last May, and he therefore suggested and urgently requested me to come to this city for the purpose of putting the subject before you for such action as you might deem best and proper.

He also at the same time sent Señor Don Juan Zubrian to Mexico to communicate directly to the authorities all the reasons for a prompt approval of the treaty. Señor Zubrian is now in this city on that business.

Whatever may be the ultimate action of the Mexican government, the governor and people of Chihuahua, Don Juan Zubrian, and myself all concur in believing that if this treaty le not adopted and the Indians thereby gradually accustomed to a judicious control and constraint, instruction, &c., a costly war of extermination must be forthwith commenced, involving, of course, a great loss of life and property and expenditure of money far greater than would be required to take control of the Indians on a reservation for many years; they must be controlled and fed, or forthwith be killed.

If it should meet with your approval I would very respectfully beg that an early opportunity be taken to bring this matter to the notice of the Mexican government, and of requesting that the said treaty be carried out at once, inasmuch as it would seem to be the first and best step toward a permanent settlement of Mexican Indian troubles on the frontier of Texas.

I am, &c.,


Hon. J. W. Foster,
United States Minister Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Mexico.