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“San Carlos Reservation”

by Asa (Ace) Daklugie

Asa (Ace) Daklugie was the surviving son of the great Apache chief Juh (pronounced Ho) and nephew of Geronimo. Oral historian Eve Ball, who lived near the Mescalero reservation, interviewed him during the 1950s. Daklugie lived on San Carlos reservation as a small boy. Here is his impression.

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San Carlos Apache Encampment at Cattle Sale, 1935“San Carlos Apache Encampment at Cattle Sale, 1935,” Margaret McKittrick (Photographer)

San Carlos! That was the worst place in all the great territory stolen from the Apaches. If anybody had ever lived there permanently, no Apache knew of it. Where there is no grass there is no game. Nearly all of the vegetation was cacti; and though in season a little cactus fruit was produced, the rest of the year food was lacking.

The heat was terrible. The insects were terrible. The water was terrible. What there was in the sluggish river was brackish and warm. Pools alongside the channel afforded places for insects to hatch. They served, as I know now, as breeding places for clouds of mosquitoes. Insects and rattlesnakes seemed to thrive there; and no White Eye could possibly fear and dislike snakes more than do Apaches. There were also tarantulas, Gila monsters, and centipedes.

At times it was so hot that I am sure a thermometer would have registered well above 120 degrees.

Apaches at Fort Union, ca. 1880s“Apaches at Fort Union, ca. 1880s,” Unidentified (Photographer)

At San Carlos, for the first time within the memory of any of my people, the Apaches experienced the shaking sickness [malaria]. Our Medicine Men knew of herbs that would reduce bodily temperature but had nothing effective against the strange and weakening attacks that caused people to alternately suffer from heat and cold. At times attacks came that caused people with high temperatures to feel cold and to shake uncontrollably while covered with blankets. And this sickness sometimes lasted for weeks unless the patient died.

One time, troops had been stationed at old Camp Goodwin, but living at that place was such an ordeal that it was abandoned. It was so unfit for the officers and troops that it was considered a good place for the Apaches—a good place for them to die.