Murder at skull cave; Arizona battlefield

Remains of 54 Yavapai native Americans at skull cave

It’s no secret that malicious atrocities have been happening to the native Americans for centuries. It is a sad and disgusting part of American history that is still happening today. Greed for land that the Native Americans were killed for, and this is one of hundreds and hundreds of stories.

First, I will explain what led to this battle in the Salt river canyon on December 28th, 1872. See, the land belonged to the Yavapai , “People of the sun”or back then, they were called “Western Apache”. Around the 1860’s, the American settlers were coming to the Yavapai and Tonto land, Apache and Yavapai territory. This triggered the the Indians to go into combat against the U.S. government. The government wanted to move the Native Americans to other reservations. The Indians stood there ground as warriors do.

President U.S. Grant was president during the civil and Indian wars

Ulysses Grant was the American president who made Crook the Man in charge of the Native americans

This battle started the Yavapai wars from 1871 to 1875.

This battle, was the first major engagement during the 1872 Tonto basin campaign under the command of General George Crook.

General George Crook was in charge of the skeleton cave battle

General Crook is mentioned as Nantan Lupan, a name given to him by the Apaches. This means “Chief wolf”, his job was to fight Indians and be in charge of the Indian “Apache scouts. He employed many of the Indians to help the 5th Calvary find tribes who would not surrender. And a brave chief named Chief Nanni-Chadi, led his tribe, to what he thought would be safe for the men, women and children to a “rock shelter” in the cold winter of December 28th, 1872. A total of 76 people. They refused to surrender to the whites. General John Bourke and Captain William H.Brown led 130 troopers, with the help of the Indian scouts, to “skeleton cave”. They shot at the top of the rock, ricocheting the bullets towards the women and children. A horrific massacre, leaving the Chief dead along with 54 Indians. They took the rest to the reservations.General Crook died in Chicago on March 21, 1890.

A map of Salt river to skeleton cave

This cave is actually a rock shelter, it has an overhang st the base of a cliff. I would say about 1200 ft above the backwaters of Apache lake, formed by Horse Mesa dam on the north wall on a canyon on west Mesa dam. This rock shelter is 2,450 feet up in elevation. The bones of the Yavapai were removed in 1933 and reburried at Ft. McDowell.

Salt river canyon this September 24th, 2019

Thank you for reading about this battle, if you decide to go to this location, please respect the native Americans by not littering or spraying graffiti on the rock, as it is a sacred spot. I hope you enjoyed this article, keep following me and keep sharing! Have a great weekend!

Published by Rossi

I am an artist, explorer and writer, I love history and archaeology. I love to research new territories and have a deep passion for ghost towns, and new places! I am also a mother to 2 grown kids!

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