Famous Native American Chiefs: Cochise Essay

1855 words - 7 pages

Cochise was one of the most famous of all the Native American chiefs during the 1800s. He was famous at first because he was seen as an honest and peaceful man. He lived at peace with anyone who came into the area where he lived. Cochise became famous later though because he held out against the United States army and would not surrender until he felt he had no other choice. . When he finally did surrender, it was because most of his people had been killed already and he wanted to save the lives of those that remained. Cochise wrote “I am Alone.” He is not really associated with what many Americans would call patriotism, or at least not white Americans refer to as patriotism. It really depends on how one defines the word patriotism though. If patriotism means being loyal to one’s nation, then Cochise is definitely a patriot. If patriotism means being loyal to the United States, then Cochise is the opposite of a patriot for he made it clear that he detested the United States, its government, its people, and its belief that it had some sort of right to all of the land that it chose to claim in North America. Cochise surrendered only to save the lives of his people, not to surrender his opinion that what the U.S. government did to him and his people was wrong. Those beliefs sound a lot like what the U.S. patriots claimed when they revolted against the British government. They were just luckier and more successful. In the end, Cochise is a patriot just like the colonists of the American Revolution, but his patriotism lies with his own nation, the Apache Nation, yet it is every bit as strong and as honorable as any American’s patriotism.
Cochise’s patriotism was to the Apache Nation. They lived in an area that is now partly the northern Mexican area of Sonora, and partly the states of New Mexico and Arizona. Mostly Native Americans and only a few white people lived in these areas. The Chiricahuas, the Apache tribe that Cochise led, lived in the area that is now southern Arizona and New Mexico. Vivian Boumazian of the website, Many Things, says that the Chiricahuas were used to having white settlers pass through the region and the U.S. army often stopped at what was known then as Apache Pass. All of these people stopped there because it was a watering hole, the only place fresh water could be found for miles, and because they were safe from attack. The Chiricahuas were at peace with the few settlers who stayed in the area and traded with those who passed through. They sold wood to them and the Butterfield Overland Mail Company built a rest area at Apache Pass in 1858 with Cochise’s permission (Bournazian). For years, Cochise and the Chiricahua allowed people heading for the gold rush in California and mail carriers to pass through safely. They never committed an act of violence and there was peace.
Cochise was a respected leader by both the white people who knew him and the Native Americans who lived in the region. His fame as a powerful and wise...

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