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Book Review: Apache Nightmare: The Battle at Cibecue Creek (by Charles Collins) : WW

Originally published on Published Online: August 12, 2001 
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Apache Nightmare: The Battle at Cibecue Creek, by Charles Collins, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1999, $27.95.

In the summer of 1881, Army and government officials became concerned with the activities of a Cibecue Apache medicine man on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona Territory. Nock-ay-det-klinne preached to his followers that he would raise two chiefs from the dead. These gatherings involved much drinking of tizwin, a kind of beer made from mescal or corn, and dancing.

Later, when no one had risen from the dead, Nock-ay-det-klinne said "spirits" told him he could raise the dead of all Indians, but only once the whites had gone. Fearing a possible uprising, Colonel Eugene Asa Carr left Fort Apache on August 28 with two cavalry troops and a company of Indian scouts to arrest the medicine man. Although the arrest was made without incident, Nock-ay-det-klinne's followers attacked the troops as they returned to Fort Apache. Indian scouts also fired on Carr's men, "marking," author Charles Collins notes, "the only wholesale mutiny of an Indian scout company in U.S. military history." Seven soldiers were killed and two wounded.

Collins describes the events leading up to the battle and its aftermath in Apache Nightmare: The Battle at Cibecue Creek. He provides a well-chronicled account of the petty arguments and jealousies between Army officers during the campaign, as well as the fear and miscommunication that grabbed hold of the territory after the battle.

Although most accounts come from white sources, Collins also uses Indian testimony, primarily from the court-martial of four Apache scouts. However, he barely touches on the actual trial of Dandy Jim, Dead Shot, Skippy and Mucheco. The four were found guilty. Mucheco received a dishonorable discharge and a life sentence at Alcatraz. The other three were hanged, a fact that Collins glosses over. Apache Nightmare provides an insightful look at an event that should never have happened and that led to five more years of white­Apache hostilities.

Johnny D. Boggs

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