Ambassador Clayton to the Secretary of State.

No. 2711.]


* * * * * * *

I inclose a copy and translation of a note from Mr. Mariscal of the 15th ultimo, stating that before replying to my note therein referred to he had considered it expedient to transmit the same, as well as its inclosures, to the governor of the State of Sonora for report. This report having been received by Mr. Mariscal and a copy transmitted to me, with his note of the 16th instant, I inclose a copy and translation of both.

* * * * * * *

I have, etc.

Powell Clayton.
[Inclosure 1.—Translation.]

The Minister of Foreign Affairs to Ambassador Clayton.

Mr. Ambassador: Referring to your excellency’s note, dated the 11th ultimo, inclosing copies of communications from the “Yaqui Smelting and Refining Company” and the “Mina Grande Mining Company,” relative to the depredations committed by Yaqui Indians against American citizens, I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of a note from the governor of the State of Sonora regarding the matter.

Permit me to call your excellency’s attention to the parts of said note referring to the sale of arms to the Yaquis in the United States. The Mexican consuls at Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., have frequently reported the sale of arms to the Yaquis in Arizona and New Mexico, and have endeavored to prevent it by applying to the respective authorities, and sometimes it has been necessary for this department to communicate with the ambassador of Mexico in Washington, so that the American Federal authorities might call the attention of the local authorities, of all of which there is record in the Department of State of the United States. I would be greatly obliged if your excellency would also call the attention of said Department to this point, because of its importance.

However, and notwithstanding that this does not relate directly to the case, like what I have said above, I deem it advisable to remind your excellency of the Carlos H. Johnson incident, which gentleman asked insistently that he be given permission by the government of Sonora to arm his servants, there having been transmitted to your excellency a report from the said government showing the inexpediency of granting this permission, in view of the fact that it was proved that on various occasions arms which American and Mexican haciendos had been permitted to have passed ultimately into the hands of the Yaquis, who make unlawful use of them, as is well known.

I renew, etc.,

Igno. Mariscal.

The Governor of Sonora to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

Republic of Mexico—Government of the free and sovereign State of Sonora.

This government received your courteous note of the 18th last, issued out of section on America, Asia, and Oceania, under No. 969, with which you were pleased to inclose the translation of the communications from “The Yaqui Smelting and Refining Company” and “Mina Grande Mining Company,” respectively addressed to the ambassador of the United States and to the Secretary of State at Washington, relating to the assaults of Yaqui Indians upon American citizens.

In reply I have the honor to inform you that in connection with the Yaqui campaign the government under my charge and the military commander of the first zone have dictated [Page 642] energetic measures to protect the lives and interests of all the inhabitants of the state, and that the Yaqui Indians have made victims of the reckless people who have ventured into the dangerous districts, knowing of the risks they would run; as at all times have we provided escorts for those who have asked for them for their personal protection or for that of freighters conveying their property from one place to another; and if we have had to regret several murders of American citizens, the same have been due to their recklessness and obstinacy in venturing to travel, disregarding the warnings given to them against the dangers to which they may be exposed. In the particular case of Messrs. Coy and Call I will say that they and their companions were the victims of the suggestions of Mr. Miller (one of the men who was fortunate to escape the assault), who told the others on several occasions in the presence of many persons that they should not lose time waiting for an escort, and gave them as a powerful reason that all Americans here were safe; that “the Yaquis would not hurt the Americans.”

On the other hand, whenever any assault has taken place on the part of the Yaquis the military commander, as well as myself, start out after the criminals, and up to the present time I dare say not a single crime has been left unpunished. So soon as the assault of Coy, Call, and their friends, at La Tasajera, took place we started after the delinquents. Several of the murderers were captured by myself and made them pay with their lives for the crime committed, and we are in active pursuit of the balance.

Besides the above and without entering into many details, I shall confine myself to mention a fact which causes the termination of the Indian question to be a difficult and long task. Through different means we have been able to take and continue to take from the Yaquis arms and ammunition, and by this sole measure we thought at one time that this hard war would be brought to an end; but it happens-that in the towns of the Territory of Arizona adjacent to the State of Sonora the aforesaid Indians provide themselves with arms and ammunition, wherefrom they return anew to continue their depredations. No one fails to know of the large number of Indians there is in the frontier towns to which I refer, and everybody knows that they do not go there for want of work here as the demand for them is large and they are well paid. They go there to provide themselves with ammunition, which they partly buy with the proceeds of their work at such places, but mostly with the results of their robberies on our highways, it being worthy of note that the most important robberies, consisting in hard cash, are generally perpetrated upon citizens of the United States, precisely because they are the ones who venture to travel over our roads without precaution, relying upon the false idea that the Yaquis will respect them.

At the same time I beg to add that prior to the last campaign criminal Yaquis would conceal themselves among those who worked on our plantations; but at the present time they are pursued even there, this being the reason why they leave the state and go to the Territory of Arizona not only to provide themselves with arms and munitions of war, as stated above, but also to find therein a place of refuge, thus evading the prosecution carried on against them.

I beg to insist upon the fact that the military commander of this zone as well as the government under my charge have provided escorts to all the Americans who have applied for the same, and in some cases we have offered them to travelers, and insisted upon it, although they have said that they would travel in sufficient number to be safe without the escorts.

To close, I will say that this government fully appreciates the gravity of the Yaqui problem and that regardless of all sacrifice makes every effort to cause the safety of all the inhabitants living under our laws, it being in condition to assure you that the lives and interests of all foreigners, as well as natives of the state, are protected as well as possible, and that those of cautious travelers who ask for escorts are protected as far as the places where they can not be in danger.

I renew, etc.,

Rafael Izabel.
[Inclosure 2.]

Ambassador Clayton to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s note of the 16th instant and its inclosure, the latter document being a report from the governor of Sonora addressed to your excellency, and both documents relating to the depredations committed by the Yaqui Indians against American citizens.

I inclose for the information of your excellency an extract from an affidavit made by Charles E. Tolerton, who was an eyewitness to the late attack of the Yaquis, resulting in the killing Messrs. R. C. Coy, J. K. McKenzie, M. A. Call, and Walter Stuebinger, which alleges that the officer in charge of the troop that came afterwards upon the scene refused to [Page 643] proceed in pursuit of the Indians for fear, as he stated, that they would kill his entire party. I also invite your excellency’s attention to the discrepancy between the allegations of the governor in his report to you and that of Mr. Tolerton as to the furnishing of escorts to American parties when requested, the governor stating that they had always been furnished and Mr. Tolerton stating that in this tragic occurrence the escort was at first ordered, but afterwards refused.

I note what your excellency and the governor say concerning the Indians buying arms from Americans in Arizona, to which statements I have invited the attention of the Department, having to-day transmitted to it a copy of the correspondence referred to. I also note your reference to the Carlos H. Johnson incident, who requested permission, through this embassy, to purchase and use twelve stands of arms and corresponding ammunition for the protection of himself, family, and servants, which request was declined; and in this connection 1 invite your excellency’s attention to so much of the report of the governor of Sonora, a copy of which was transmitted to this embassy with your excellency’s note of October 28th last, as relates to the confession of the superintendent of El Lapiz; that after purchasing arms by permission of Governor Luis E. Torres, who permitted him to buy them only upon the condition that they would be placed in the hands of Mexicans, and not of Indians; that he had violated his promise by giving them to his Indian servants, from whom they were taken by the authorities; and that at the request of the superintendent the governor returned the arms and ammunition to him. Just why the governor should have, under the circumstances, granted him the permission to keep arms, thus misused, and refused to Mr. Johnson permission to do so does not seem apparent from the correspondence. The latter insists that it arose from the governor’s enmity to him growing out of certain civil and criminal litigation in which Mr. Johnson recovered property illegally taken from him, in which the governor took an adverse interest.

I renew, etc.,

Powell Clayton.

Extract from affidavit by Mr. Charles E. Tolerton.

There was a body of 40 or 50 Mexican soldiers at Cobachi when he arrived there with the bodies, and the officer in command informed him that they had been sent out from La Colorado on account of the massacre of their party, but the officer refused to proceed in pursuit of the Indians for fear, as he stated it, that they would kill his entire party. The officer and entire party of soldiers were intoxicated, and returned to La Colorado, where he saw the same officer the following morning. No attempt was made whatever by the officials to capture the Indians that had ambushed them. The authorities at Hermosillo had given them a written order to the authorities at La Colorado for an escort of soldiers for their return trip to La Colorado. No escort was furnished them, the authorities asserting that their party was so large they would not need an escort and that they would be kept for smaller parties.