Tuesday, December 5, 2023

La Niña Bronca by Jim fergus


I have just started Jim Fergus' novel "The Wild Girl", in this novel based on historical facts, Jim Fergus takes us on a journey of magnificent magnitude and heartbreaking consequences populated by unforgettable characters. With prose so vivid that road dust practically rises from the page, The Wild Girl is an epic novel filled with drama, peril, and romance, narrated by probably my favorite novelist. Of course it made me want to know more and share it with you.


 In the 1930s, a tough Sonoran rancher named Francisco Fimbres led a series of extermination campaigns against the Apaches. They had murdered his wife in front of him and stole and later killed one of his small children. Fimbres and his men hunted for Apache camps, and almost invariably they contained only women and children. Nelda Villa, a local historian in the Sierra Madre and a renowned expert on the remnant Apaches, believes that most of the men had already been killed by Mexicans while raiding. Fimbres and his men killed all the Apache women they could find and adopted the children.

In 1930, the tiny band of Indians made international headlines when a Mexican rancher named Francisco Fimbres started recruiting American gunslingers to wipe them out, Meed said.

Fimbres, a ruthless latter-day Indian fighter, was motivated by vengeance and his "Apache Expedition," bankrolled and promoted by publicity-hungry businessmen in Arizona, drew more than a thousand trigger-happy volunteers. The mercenary force even boasted its own airplane to spot elusive Apache camps.
The Mexican government, more alarmed by the prospect of armed Americans overrunning its northern frontier than by hazy reports of renegade Apaches, squelched the crusade before it began. American diplomats heaved a sigh of relief.
"They wouldn't have caught a single Indian anyway," said Pedro Fimbres, a nephew of Francisco Fimbres. "The Apaches moved every day--stealing a horse here, gathering pine nuts there, killing a cowboy over there," said Fimbres, a grizzled saddle-maker. "The Americans would have been running in circles for months."

Despite their dazzling ability to cover 70 miles a day over exhausting terrain, the fugitive Chiricahuas were being slowly picked off by ranchers armed and deputized by the Mexican government. Gunfights often forced the harried Indians to abandon their food caches of acorns and rustled beef.
"When logging took off in the Sierra, it was all over," said Mexican Apache buff Zozaya. "The Sierra was all cut up by new roads, new sawmills, new settlements. There was no place left to hide."

By 1934, Grenville Goodwin, an American anthropologist who had heard about the holdouts while living among their cousins on Arizona reservations, estimated that no more than 30 Apaches were "fighting a losing battle in Mexico and it seems only a question of time till they will be exterminated." Goodwin tried, as did several U.S. government Indian agents at the time, to make contact with the Apaches across the border. He failed.

The Sierra's beleaguered Apaches certainly left no records of their own. Though some Indians doubtless gave up and were absorbed into local Mexican populations, most sources agree that far more were hunted down and shot. Details vary, but the last major Apache battle in North America probably took place in the spring of 1933, in a brushy ravine in Sonora about 300 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Fimbres and others describe how one of the few Apache survivors of that bloodbath fled into the mountain undergrowth, only to be nabbed weeks later by cowboys out hunting mountain lion.
Zozaya believes she was dubbed "Julia Tasahuinora" for the summer month when she was captured and the craggy, pine-studded peaks where she was found. Others, like Guillermo Damiani, remember her simply as "the wild girl." "She died in the jail," Damiani said, waving a hand in disgust. "It took a few days. She starved herself to death."
In the language of the Opata, another Mexican tribe, Tasahuinora means "hill where the sun rises." Whatever her real name, she was the last documented Apache captured alive in the Sierra Madre.

In many ways, Fimbress journey to find his son resembles The Searchers, but one thing sets it apart: Apaches attacked the Fimbres family on October 26, 1926, over 90 years after Cynthia Anns kidnapping and 40 years after the last major Indian attack in the United States. Whereas every other Indian tribe on the North American continent had died, moved on to a reservation, or amalgamated into European culture, the Apaches who had attacked Fimbres had held out in the mountains of Mexico well into the 20th century and continued to live as they had for the last 300 years. A world with trans-Atlantic flight, rockets, and Hitler, was home to unconquered Apaches.

1 comment:

Davis 62 said...

Great article. I had do go online and do further research. Keep up the great stories.