Chiefs, agents & soldiers: conflict on the Navajo frontier, by William Haas Moore

By William Haas Moore

Publication by way of Moore, William Haas

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L. G. "George" Moses also assisted in locating sources. In addition, George was excellent at editing for style, as was Dr. William Burke of the English Department. Another contributor was Dr. Dan Cothran of the Political Science Department, who insisted that the narrative needed a more coherent thesis. My fellow graduate students at Northern Arizona University offered useful advice and information, especially Laura Graves and G. Dudley Acker. It was Dudley who helped me to understand why the United States Army in the West feared a Navajo war in the late nineteenth century.

As one spokesman said, they were like an eagle tied to the ground, wanting freedom and constantly looking to the sky. These leaders complained that the reservation was unhealthy and that they were doomed if they remained. Even though they pledged they would raid no more, Graves belittled their concerns. 33 In opposition to Graves's optimism were many problems. There was large-scale antipathy toward Carleton's experiment. Called "Fair Carletonia" by New Mexico politicians and newspaper editors, the reservation was not self-supporting.

On July 8, Agent Dodd was informed by two Navajos that they knew of a canyon twenty-five miles south of the fort where outlaws among their own people were hiding stolen horses. Dodd went to see Captain Tarlton, temporary post commandant, with his two informants in tow. Tarlton sent out a detachment of twenty-one men commanded by Second Lieutenant Henry Bragg, whose orders were to exercise caution and return with the horses. 48 Arriving in the canyon at daylight, Bragg, along with a Mexican interpreter, attempted to explain his purpose to the Indians.

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