Wednesday, July 19, 2006


July 19, 1881: Nana, leading thirteen of the remnants of Victorio's Apache warriors, fights with Lt.John Guilfoyle, and his ninth cavalry troopers, and Indian scouts, near the Arena Blanca River. The Indians manage to escape.

( image courtesy of )

Chief Nana

Nana was a Warm Springs Apache under Victorio but was always close to the Bendonkohe Apache. After Victorio's death at the Tres Castillos massacre in 1880, it was Nana who guided the remains of the tribe into safety. For more than two months he and his group of 40 warriors eluded 1400 troops in a thousand-mile campaign. He later joined forces with Geronimo and Juh, but they never managed to make a common stand against the whites.

Nana was a wise and clever man with the uncanny ability of locating hidden caches of ammunition, food and clothing on the Apache trail. After Victorio's death Nana followed the women and children back to the reservation, but he did not remain with them; he went on with Geronimo.

Nana could outride and outlast any warrior in the saddle, and even in old age he showed no signs of weakness. It is said that Nana's desire to revenge Victorio's death drove him to kill more white men than Victorio had done in his lifetime. It is known that Nana challenged any white man who stood in his way; he brooked no nonsense. Nana, as well as Victorio's sister Lozen, were with Geronimo in their final battle for freedom. When Geronimo surrendered to General Crook in 1886 Nana was given to the Cavalry as a token of good faith that they were truly ready to surrender.

Nana died of old age, and lived his last years on the reservation. He remembered his final days of freedom as something he should never have let go of. In many ways he envied Victorio his fate; to die in combat for his people would have been the ultimate satisfaction for Nana.


Excerpt from "In The Days of Victorio" - Eve Ball, University of Arizona Press, 1970:

"Why do they hunt us?"

"They have orders to kill every Apache, man, woman, or child, found off the reservation."

"But this is our reservation."

"It is no longer ours. The land Ussen created and gave to the Apache, is no longer ours. This, the land promised to Victorio by the Great Nantan in Washington, has been taken from us. He promised it to our Chief and our people forever. And only two summers ago! Perhaps the gold for which the White Eyes grovel in the earth has been found in our mountains. Because of that the word of the Great White Chief means nothing. He has ordered that we go to San Carlos, the worst place in all Apachería, the vast land of our people. I have been to that place when Victorio took his people there. So many died that we fled from it and returned to Warm Springs. You, too, went, but you were too small to remember. Not many babies lived to return.

"Victorio will die fighting before he will permit the Warm Springs Apaches to be forced back to San Carlos again. Instead we go to the Great River where we meet those of us who escape. Grandfather Nana will go to the three chiefs of the Mescaleros, our brothers, and ask for refuge on their reservation. He is to meet us at the river with horses and ammunition."

See also:

Ball, Eve: Indeh, an Apache Odyssey. University of Oklahoma Press, 1980