Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/193

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187
LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

These remarks have seemed necessary to the full development of the Apache character, as they, in some sort, serve to account for the clear and explicit understanding which undoubtedly exists among the many detached fragments of that race. Without some such codes of signals, they would be comparatively incapable of the terrible devastations and outrages they have perpetrated. Neither could they collect their scattered bands for any occasion requiring numbers without great loss of time and trouble. Having no reliable means for subsistence beyond what they obtain by marauding excursions, they are wholly incapable of maintaining any considerable number for more than a few days at a time, and they, therefore, depend upon their signals as the means of warning each other, and consolidating whenever the "game is worth the candle." The Apaches brought their system to wonderful perfection, and from this arises their capacity to act conjointly with celerity, vigor and effect, although the operating bodies may not actually meet until just before the time for action arrives. It is to this system that the Apache bands of fives, tens and twenties, separated from each other by twenty, thirty and forty miles, feel that they are operating always in concert, and manage to maintain a rigid police espionage over the vast region they inhabit.

When will the white man ever become wise, and, instead of treating the Indian with scornful indifference, give him credit for his intelligence, his quick and remarkable instincts, his powers of reflection and organization, and his inveterate opposition to all innovation? We have been too much in the habit of treating them with contempt, and underrating our savage enemies. This has been a serious blunder, the rock upon which so many millions of money and so many precious lives have