Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/36

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Copper Mines, the great head-quarters of the redoubtable chief, Mangas Colorado, or the "Red Sleeves," beyond all comparison the most famous Apache warrior and statesman of the present century. The word statesman is used advisedly in his case, as will be made apparent to the reader in the course of his perusal. The term chief will also be found, hereafter, to have a very great modification, in so far as refers to the Apache race.

The Copper Mines of Santa Rita are located immediately at the foot of a huge and prominent mountain, named Ben Moore. These extensive mines had been abandoned for the space of eighty years, but were uncommonly rich and remunerative. They were formerly owned by a wealthy Mexican company, who sent the ore to Chihuahua, where a Government mint existed, and had the ore refined and struck into the copper coinage of the country. Although the distance was over three hundred miles, and every pound of ore had to be transported on pack mules, yet it proved a paying business, and mining was vigorously prosecuted for a space of some twenty years. Huge masses of ore, yielding from sixty to ninety per cent, of pure copper, are still visible all about the mine, and frequently considerable pieces of pure copper are met with by the visitor. The reason for its sudden and long abandonment was asked, and the following story related.

During the period that the Mexicans carried on operations at the mines, the Apaches appeared very friendly, receiving frequent presents, and visiting the houses of the miners without question. But every now and then the Mexicans lost a few mules, or had a man or two killed, and their suspicions were roused against the Apaches, who stoutly denied all knowledge of these acts and put on an air of offended pride. This state of affairs