I drove up from the south with a brief detour through the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, but don’t worry, I didn’t lose my shirt at Apache Gold, the tribe’s casino.
This photo was taken from the Lower Cliff Ruin in the Tonto National Forest. Beyond the Saguaro cactus you can see the turquoise water of Roosevelt Lake. We hiked up to the top and I had an idea that I’ll be using in the second book in my upcoming Apache Protectors: Tribal Thunder series.
In Globe, AZ there is a really terrific trading post & store that features many native art and jewelry and the raw material for making camp dresses and regalia, which can be purchased on time.
Just inside the reservation I met two Apache women selling jewelry. I purchased a pair of peridot earrings because I know that San Carlos Reservation as some of the finest peridot in the world. They asked were we were from and I told them from New York. As we were leaving I heard one woman say to the other, “Why would anyone come all the way from New York to see this?” Funny world, isn’t it?
Certain parts of the reservation are open to the public. You can even rent your own lake or hire a guide for some hunting. We visited the museum, Kinishba ruins and bummed around. The ruins are spectacular and had me wondering about the people who once lived there.
The drive up to the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation was full of hairpin turns and steep grades. The Salt River gorge is spectacular.
General George Cook lead Apache scouts in the Apache Wars in a series of bloody conflicts. Many recognize Apache Warriors by their iconic red headbands. Why did they wear them. Some say they were order to wear them others say they chose to wear them. Either way they were chosen to distinguish them from unfriendly Native Americans.
We parked our car and walked in. We were the only humans here but we did meet a few free range cows. Maybe I should call Clay Cosin to come round them up!
The ruins are extensive with many rooms, windows and floor structures still in place. It was hard to imagine three floors, but that was apparently what was once here.
My imagination ran wild at seeing the tribal police SUVs that I had only seen before in photos and YouTube videos. I kept wanting to go up and ask someone if I could speak to Tribal Police Chief Gabe Cosen. We only spent a day in San Carlos and White Mountain Indian Reservations. But the trip really helped me feel and smell and experience a place that until that day, I had only ever imagined. I’m taking that frybread off on my taxes!
“The only stone out there you will find is your tombstone.”
That is supposed to be what soldiers told the founder of the town of Tombstone, AZ. But they were wrong. Ed Schieffelin found silver. A lot of silver. But those soldiers were right about one thing. Bunches of people did find their tombstone there. I know because I recently visited Tombstone, AZ cemetery otherwise known as Boot Hill. Many graveyards are called this because of the number of men who died with their boots on.
Tombstone is a misnomer here because, although each grave is piled with stones to keep out critters, the markers are made of wood. Tombwood just sounds wrong, though. Doesn’t it?
A woman working in the gift shop told me the weather is so rough on the wood they have to remake the markers every seven years.
The most famous residents here are the losers of the shootout at the OK Coral (Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury and Tom McLaury). But there is no shortage of interesting ways to die here.
Some markers have the cause of death but no names.
Some have no name or cause of death.
Sometime you get the name and the cause of death but no real answers as to why or how this happened. Here is the grave of George Hand who was, apparently killed by Indians.
Some markers are just plain tragic. This man’s marker reads: Here lies George Johnson Hanged by Mistake 1882 –He was right and we was wrong, but we strung him up and now he’s gone.
George bought a stolen horse, rode it into Tombstone where he was arrested and hanged for horse theft. No one believed his story and the truth arrived too late for Mr. Johnson.
Most of the deaths were violent, but not all. My brochure, purchased for $2, relates that one cowboy who laid to rest in an unconventional manner. His friends lassoed his ankles and dragged him into his grave because no one really likes to touch a person who died of smallpox.
There are some markers renowned for their poetry, rather than for containing the famous remains of famous folk. This one is often quoted. Perhaps you have heard of it:
FOUR SLUGS FROM A 44
They don’t really know all the stories of all the men and women laid here to rest. I’m left to wonder about just what happened to some of these folks because their graves give no clue.
I can’t really imagine what Tombstone was like in its heyday, but I do know it was not boring.
I am so thrilled to tell you that RT Book Review selected Tribal Law as a TOP PICK for May!
This is my very first top pick and on a book that required a lot of work.
I loved this story and feel a glowing satisfaction at the acknowledgement that hard work (and a great revision letter) did payoff.
“If you’re not reading about the charming Cosen brothers, you’re really missing out.”
~RT Book Reviews on Tribal Law~
Pre-order link for Tribal Law