The Bibos Appendix VIII

The Impact of the Frontier On a Jewish Family: The Bibos
by Floyd S. Fierman

Originally published in print by the Southwest Jewish Archives, Fall 1988.


MOORFIELD STOREY Honorary President
HENRY S. PANCOAST Vice-President
Associate Secretary
995 Drexel Building

Philadelphia, Feb. 5, 1925.

DEAR MR. Bibo:

Your letter was a great pleasure to read. It was almost like a visit home. Your clear ideas were very clearly expressed and will be used to great advantage, I have no doubt by this organization.

I am glad you suggested my going home to the people here. I hope I can go soon. I am very, very tired of the East.

The Association like all others of the character, is short of funds. A sum is needed for field work where careful investigation is necessary. Men like you should be paid to go about gathering facts and presenting them by proper publicity, including personal visits to authorities. A good business basis for effective work is needed. Why can't we get together and make a business of Indian business until it is cleared up right? I get my salary from the Rockefellers now. I was a volunteer, unpaid, for a long time and even now I have spent about $400 over the amount I should have spent had I considered my own interest - which I did not.

This organization has the right type of men at the head of it. It has everything it needs but money, which it needs for publicity and other means of getting action.

I spoke to the President and to Mr. Sniffen of your long career of successful business and suggested you as the right man to help present the need of funds to many who would be glad to give if they realized the need and the results. A man of your sane ideas and ability - ought to come to Washington in person to drive facts home to the high officials.

I don't need any salary which I don't already possess, hence am not making a plea for any selfish reason. I realize the need of more means for this organization.

If your Jewish friends in many parts of the world knew the good you could do properly supported for Indian work, I am sure the proverbial Jewish generosity -- would quickly be shown and Indian progress given a great impetus. You could have more influence on independent thinking people, than anybody I can think of if your writings and sensible talks could be "put across."

What do you think of presenting the matter to Jewish citizens? They are among our most progressive today in the world.

My best wishes hastily conveyed.


* * *

Baltimore, Maryland

(May or June 1925)

c/o Leland Stanford University


It will be necessary for me to introduce myself to you, as I cannot expect that you could remember me. I am the senior member of the family of the "Bibos" and since my business in San Francisco was destroyed by the catastrophe of 1906, I had to fall back on my resources left to me in New Mexico, and I have been here ever since.

I take the liberty of addressing myself to you, because I know you have met Salomon Bibo my brother and his wife which is a native of Acoma village of New Mexico.

All my brothers have had their start in western New Mex and since my return to this country, I have taken great interest in the progress of the Pueblo Indians in N. Mex who have always been good friends and neighbors to us.

For the last 10 years I have studied the cause why the Pueblo Indians, have stubbornly adhered to their old religious rites and customs, and why all the efforts of this government to educate them to an equality with their neighbors has been in vain.

I found that out of the many thousand educated in government schools and many of them clever, bright and reasonable young persons, only a very limited number live up to their Christian adopted faith, in Laguna and Acoma, and almost none in the villages on the Rio grande, and northern New Mexico.

The policy of the government is stubbornly opposed by the governing element in the pueblos, and I have found out and it can be verified that the casiques who are the real governing power are the religious recognized power, in each pueblo. These casiques from time immemorial are selected from a clan or two clans pledged to perpetuate their old rites, and permit no education of any school to teach superiority of american institution, or the idea of american citizenship.

My aim is to call the attention of the president of the U.S. to the helpless condition of so many of the progressive Pueblo Indians, who naturally being still in the great minority, and who are not oppose the organized old time government, if they want to live in their parental village.

The pueblos of Acoma and Laguna are an exception on account of the intermarriage with Americans, and also the devotion of my late brother Emil Bibo, whose life and soul was to a great extent devoted to emancipation of the Acoma Indians who regarded him as their honest adviser, and best friend.

(Enclosed a letter written to me as a condolence letter lately by their Governor)

The purpose of this letter is:

the educated progressive pueblo Indians, and I do in particular refer to those educated in Government schools are forced to return into the aboriginal customs and rites against their will, and the Indian department does not protect the individuals, and leaves them at the mercy of a brutal combination who have been using the most cruel methods to enforce the old rut upon them.

The Department of the Interior, and in particular the Department for Indian affairs, either are ignorant, or close their eyes, or the existing laws prevent them to interfere. The government investigations are not successful, because I know there are a lot of fiction writers and artists and others to keep the Indians in their old mode of living, but for selfish motives only.

I would suggest that a committee of three, be appointed by the President, to be composed of 3 local residents, to recommend or report the actual condition directly to the President in order to acquaint him with the actual facts for the purpose of either lay the matter before congress or take such action immediately for the relief of these persecuted younger generation of pueblo Indians referred to.

It seems to be a crime that the department has not taken definite steps to remedy this condition and permit these fanatics to compel to bother members of their pueblo, who are far superior to them, and who should serve as models to the efforts of the governments educational policy. Lately a brother of Mrs. Salomon Bibo by the name of Edward Hunt, who lives at Ranchitos of the Pueblo of Santa Ana near this town, a man whose family is well educated and refined, has been interfered with to such extent that he lost his courage, and had to offer his improvements for sale to the pueblo to get away from them, and locate in some other locality, and probably lose his hereditary rights and leave the other poorer Progressives to their fate, to the mercy of the old time clan.

There are a number of industrious, nice, members in this same village of Santa Ana, and a number at San Domingo who need at once the protection of the government, to impress the old regime, and by proper means compel them if necessary by force to permit the individual progressive members to live in peace.

The mere talking to these Indians which has been done by some of the local Indian agents is of no avail. More forceful and permanent means must now be employed to protect the educational policy of the government.

After spending the many millions of dollars for the purpose of bringing them up to the standard of American citizenship it needs the progressive element needs government aid and protection.

Kindly pardon me, in submitting this matter to you, I beg you to have this my plea, submitted to the president because I know you are familiar with my representation and you know that like Mrs. Salomon Bibo, who is a native born pueblo Indian woman, there are many, still living in their respective pueblos, aspiring for higher ideals, and suffering indignities untold, without having a chance to present their misery, to the agent, whose position does not permit him to protect the individual members of a pueblo.

Kindly endorse my plea as you may deem proper, but be assured that I would highly appreciate it, if I could interest you in a matter of procuring justice to this young generation and also the coming generations of the Pueblo villages, who are opposing the U.S. Government.

I am referring particularly to following Pueblos

Santa Ana, Cochiti, San Felipe, Santa Clara, San Domingo, San Juan, , Taos

Yours very truly,

* * *


Bernalillo, N.M. May 25, 1925

Santa Fé, N.M.

Dear Miss True

Thanks for your kind and complete report, of what transpired at the meeting called by the Pueblo Indian agent Mr. Odel of Albuquerque to settle matters between the representatives (office) of the pueblo of Santa Ana, who represent the old tribal community, and Mr. Edward Hunt one of the progressive or in other words, one of the educated members of the said pueblo, whose desire it is to be, and have his family recognized as american citizens.

It appears that Mr. Hunt and his family feel that they can not further cope with all the harrassing interference continually met with, by the savage old gang, who tried to force them to give up, and fall back into the primitive ranks of idolism and to subject their creed to the old rites perpetuated by the Pueblo Indians.

It seems Mr. Hunt feels, that the government will not take the view, that it must interfere in this tribal question, which now confronts it, which leaves the few educated or Progressives at the mercy of that same ignorant gang which as a matter of fact, had to be compelled by force, to permit pueblo children to be educated.

This same clique of fanatics which are in the majority, are now forcing these sarne students or educated -young ones to forget what they have learned, and they actually force them often in most brutal ways to fall back into the old rut of living.

I claim the government is committing a crime to permit these persecutions to go on, and not take strong measures to back up what the agents tell them, regarding religious liberty. I know that in Mr. Hunt's case, the predecessor of Mr. Odel, told the Indians at Santa Ana, they must leave Mr. Hunt alone and not disturb him, or prevent him from attending to his daily labor. These Indians simply laugh at the agent, as soon as he turns his back, and think it all child play, and just keep on tantalising until the educated Indian either gives in or "leaves his pueblo" "down and out."

This is the case with Mr. Edward Hunt. The U.S. Government, who should with pride and satisfaction hold Mr. Edward Hunt and his family up as a model example of what has been accomplished after all these many years, in the effort of Americanization, abandons them to the mercy of the regular appointed officials within their pueblos, whose brutality is well known to the residents of this section.

As far your action during the meeting at Hunts home is concerned I am glad you have taken the stand of reasonable humanity.

That you had to combat with other self appointed representatives or advisers of these ignorant pueblos who are not understanding or who do not care to understand that the government of the United States has not educated the present numerous generation of Pueblo Indians to be insulted and persecuted, is to your credit.

Your unselfish efforts to see the progressive element those with American ideals, protected, will finally be recognized by the government.

My dead brother Emil Bibo has single handed achieved with the Acoma Indians, what you and myself are striving for in our section. I am sorry that you have not the financial aid of the Indian Welfare Society which I thought you had, and to which you are entitled to. It is to be regretted that such is the case, because you do in reality not alone serve the government of the United States, I mean the people of the United States who pay for the education of the Pueblo Indiana, and with the ultimate object to have them citizens, on equal basis, but you do a grand work of charity I must call it, what you have done and are now doing.

As far as Mr. Odell, the agent at Albuquerque is concerned, I do not know how he could have acted any different, because he called this meeting at the request of Edward Hunt.

I will see Mr. Stringer the party who acts as friend for Mr. Hunt in this case, and tell him to induce Hunt not to leave his place, because it would be an injustice to a number of other Indians, who would be at the mercy of the brutal gang executing primitive methods of punishment for having shown sympathy for Hunt and his family, and for their progressive ideas.

I shall try to reach the attention of the President through Mr. Taft, and shall keep up the work, which I have started in good faith. Please drop me a line. I will always be glad to hear from you.


* * *

Bernalillo, N.M. June 7 1925

President State Federation of Women Clubs
Roswell, N.M.


Permit me to call your kind attention, and the consideration of your worthy federation, to a matter concerning the progressive element of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico. P>I have for several years taken deep interest, and have written a good deal, explaining and calling attention of the Interior Department to the prevailing unsatisfactory condition in which the progressive educated pueblo Indians are left, after they return to their homes again, leaving the government, or other schools. I refer in particular to the pueblos situated in the Rio Grande valley, and probably all pueblos excepting "Laguna and Acoma."

I am glad to state, that my long time efforts regarding sanitation, have been recognized, by the Department, and sanitary laws have been greatly improved, and particularly to ameliorate the prevailing desease amongst the pueblos, also among Navajoes (granulation of the eyelids) (Trachoma). For this purpose clinics are now successfully operated and a large number of cases are being treated.

Only yesterday I visisted a sanatorium, lately established at Albuquerque, superintended by Dr P Eilers, who has performed a number of successful operations, restoring their Eyesight to a number of patients. In this place some twenty Pueblo Indians afflicted with Trachoma are being treated.

However the purpose of this letter to you, is for a more I may say national object.

The very fact that the educational policy of this government is showing such gratifying results, demands now the immediate action of the government, and for this purpose the ooperation of all fair minded american institutions or organizations.

This is to procure for all educated young folks of the Pueblo Indians, and Progressives, an adequate protection after returning home from school, for the reason I shall endeavor to explain.

Every resident of the State of New Mexico knows, that each one of the Pueblos of this state, have their own independent government, which is not elected by popular vote of their respective pueblo, but is simply the ancient perpetuation of one or two societies (Clans) amongst them, from whose membership the casique, and then also the governor and other officers are yearly chosen on each first day of January of each year.

Whenever an old member of this clan or clans dies they select some younger but most intelligent member to fill a vacancy for a life time, and when it comes to a vote in their village (pueblo) only members of this certain clan are proposed to be voted upon for election to hold office.

This clan or society excerts pledges of secrecy concerning their old time rites and customs, and they required the traditional aboriginal oath, to perpetuate their ancient rites, to uphold them, and their religious ceremonies in vogue amongst them, for centuries passed.

It is a well known fact and I have any amount of testimony at my disposal, that these clans have executed and are executing up to this date, their authority in the most brutal, and barbarous manner, executing their absolute authority by compelling every member of the pueblo to recognize and submit to them.

This is the case in all pueblos except Laguna and it appears also Acoma, in which the Progressives are already too numerous and oppose such cruel practices.

The educated progressive Indians are not permitted to execute their religious belief, nor to live in the modern way they have learned to live, and are subject to a permanent persecution in being interfered with, and insulted being in the great minority in the pueblos, below mentioned.

Many of them or nearly all of them have to submit to the old set (clan) greatly on account of fear that the threats against punishment to their parents, or to themselves, compels them to submit, if they have to remain in their pueblos.

By forced means they are finally compelled to abjure their adopted Christian faith, against the laws of the State of New Mexico and the laws of the United States, and again initiated into the aboriginal rites and customs, and to consider them superior to the laws of this country, thus doing away with all the purpose and intention of this government to educate them to the standard of american citizenship, and to cope on equality with their fellow citizens.

I have made an application to the president of the United States setting forth these facts, proofs of which as 1 have said before are at my disposal. This application I had presented to Hon. W. H. Taft, now of the Supreme Court of the United States, who inquired into the problem mentioned now when I had the honor to meet him on the occasion of his visit of New Mexico (at Laguna).

In my petition I have asked for ample protection of all the progressive in Pueblo Indians, who are returning home after they have received their, school education, and those who desire to have protection in their practice of modern living and freedom of thought and belief.

This fanatic old set is defying the laws of this country, while enjoying the protection of the Government for years, is making a burlesque of the agents of the government who it appears have absolutely no instruction nor power to protect the individuals, the real material in these pueblos, who are the educated wards of the government, until they become American citizens.

The government will have to take harsh steps to make this people understand, that stricter laws will be enforced, to respect the laws of our country, and that they cannot further ridicule the kinder ways which have been followed by the agents of the Indian service, who will have, or must have full power to act. If this is not done special officers or inspectors are to be appointed to give ample protection to the individuals in each of the pueblos referred to.

I wish to cite the use of the Melchiors at Cochiti, who on account of religious persecution, were denied their privileges in their pueblo, and the government had to make good, without making the old set pay for the damage done.

Another case that of Edward Hunt at Ranchitos of Santa Ana (pueblo). This is a family of higher education and ideals, and therefore not further desirable, in that pueblo. While the Indians in said pueblo have been admonished, not to interfere with them, they have worried that family until they thought better to sell out and quit ? ? ? Is this justice by the government ? ? ? I submit all this to your kind consideration and beg your assistance in this important matter.

Very truly yours,

* * *

[Copy of article published in Albuquerque Herald, Albuquerque, New Mexico, August 19, 1923]


(By Nathan Bibo)

Charles A. Selden, in the July issue of the Ladies' Home Journal, published an article touching the Pueblo Indian question in New Mexico, and while in a good many instances it is a good treatment of the matter, and well written, it attacks the good name of the state of New Mexico.

The article gives credit to the Association of the Women of America for having saved the Pueblos. The timely action of the Association of Women of New Mexico, protesting against the passage of the Bursum bill, shows that the people of New Mexico are not all of them vandals and thieves, as insinuated in Selden's article. It shows that not all the people of New Mexico favored the Bursum bill as it was drawn. Not one of the many writers bringing such pitiful tales before the world at large, seems to understand the conditions, why a settlement of the land question of the Pueblo Indians, and other problems for their benefit, ought to be concluded at an early date. Nearly all publications touching the Pueblo Indian question are simply based on hear-say or superficial investigation.

The people of New Mexico, and in particular those who are living on or supposed to live on lands of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, must be heard, and their title investigated. As a matter of justice to the Indians, as well as to a great number of towns, villages or ranches which are situated on land formerly belonging to Indians, or formerly claimed by them, the residents are anxious to have a revision of title, by some court of justice designated by the Federal Government. However, the Pueblo Indians under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, have been promised the protection of the Federal Government, and as far as the Pueblo Indians are concerned, it is the Federal Government only, which being directly responsible, must adjudge the pending cases. There is certainly no objection by all fair-minded citizens interested to leave the matter in the hands of the Government of the United States, provided the same is as speedily attended to as possible.

It would be a great injustice to residents of some of the towns, as for instance Bernalillo, where great industries are now being established, to leave people with doubtful title to their property. The site of the town of Bernalillo, in part, is what is well known to have been in olden times part of the Indian village of Sandia, but outside of their established three mile limit. This town of Bernalillo has been populated and settled in the seventeen and eighteenth centuries, by Spanish or Mexican settlers. These people have been invited by the Indians of Sandia, of which all of them are by tradition informed, (and they themselves acknowledge), to have located near them for mutual protection against the roving bands of Apaches and other roving Indian tribes. In the year 1826 a well executed deed was made, by the authorized officials of said Pueblo, conveying a good and sufficient title to about eighty individuals, heads of families for the land to which each of them was entitled. This deed was duly authorized, and stands recorded in the county records of Sandoval county, New Mexico.

Other Cases Cited

There are other similar cases to my own knowledge, like Laguna, Paguate, Cubero, Cebolleta, where Indians and their neighbor settlers fought and bled together in defense of their homes. If these settlers could not have been induced to come to their help, probably many of them would have been abandoned, as many ruins of pueblos had to be in the western part of New mexico and Arizona.

There may be cases, and no doubt there are a good many, where squatters have taken advantage of local conditions, and probably of time concessions made in individual cases by the Indians to them, and have been trying to gain water rights which do not belong to them, which can locally be adjusted by any court. What right have those newcomers, who claim the discovery by them of the Pueblo Indian, to abuse the people of the State of New Mexico, or to attack the Department of Indian Affairs and charge the many faithful and efecient officers and employes in this State of New Mexico of incompetency?

If the Association of American Women keep up their humane efforts to help the Indian, they must know one thing first. The Pueblo Indians of New Mexico have been for many years better off, in many respects, than their less fortunate brothers of the native population. Never since I have been in this country have I seen more suffering amongst them than amongst other natives. If these archaeologists, scientists, painters, and writers had taken pains to make comparisons in the rural districts of the general conditions in this arid country, they would have found that compared with other population the Pueblo Indians live better, as their homes are always provided with every day's requirement.

If the Association of American Women wishes to be convinced of the actual condition of the Pueblo Indians, they must understand that the matter cannot be taken care of on an equal basis for each pueblo, for the reason that almost each one of the pueblos differs from the other. What may be desirable for Isleta is not applicable to San Felipe, and what may be needed for Laguna, or desired by Laguna, may be adverse to Santo Domingo, and so on with all other pueblos.

On one item they all agree, to which they seem to be steadily adhering. They hold the laws governing them from time immemorial supreme to the laws of the United States, that is, in their communities, with very few individual exceptions. All residents are bound by solemn pledges to uphold and to obey or stand the penalties.

There are several different pueblos, and I may say seventeen different conditions to be taken into consideration, for the reason that some, like Santo Domingo, are stubbornly adhering to their old established customs, and want neither the Government nor anybody else to interfere and modernize them. Other pueblos like Acoma, Laguna, Isleta, are from 50 years and more ahead of strikes for equality of American citizenship, and awakening for progress.

The Indian pueblos in the western part of New Mexico are in many respects brighter, caused by intermarriage with some of the best pioneer residents of this state, and are far ahead of the villages above Bernalillo (on the Rio Grande).

To show how the efforts of the department have been opposed and handicapped and showing the stubborn opposition to the government, I relate the following:

About the year 1890 I was in business in San Francisco, California. The officers of the military department were most all of them well known to me, and one day in conversation with General Shafter, he asked me to help out in a case where a number of Pueblo Indians from the Moqui villages were concerned, as he could not find anybody to make them understand, and communicate to them a message.

A few days later Col. Gunther, then in command of Alcatraz Island (military prison), called on me, begging me to come over to make them understand. He placed the government boat General McDowell at my disposal for the trip over to Alcatraz, in San Francisco Bay.

I did go the next day in company with Col. Gunther. He pointed out to me a number of Indians busily occupied making shoes, sitting on the large gallery of a large room in said prison. I called out to them in Spanish to come down, but no answer; then in Laguna Indian, still no answer; lastly I used the well known Navajo "Ho-ko-jeh. Che-kiss." Then they stretched their need to find out what was the matter. I do not remember whether there were fourteen or seventeen of them. Nearly all of them were grey-haired old men. They were the governors of the different villages comprising the Moqui Pueblos in Arizona. These fellows, together with their so-called war captains (younger men), had been incarcerated for nearly eighteen months. They had been court-martialled to serve from four to six years and more.

Opposed School Houses

These Indians had forcibly opposed the orders of the Government when the government school houses were being built, and the small escort or guard had been attacked. To enforce the law several companies of soldiers were sent to the Moqui villages, and after some resistance these Indians were taken prisoners. They signed a pledge in my presence accepting their liberty upon the terms offered to them, not to resist in future any help by the Government, and were provided with transportation to return to their homes. Not over eight years ago when the Government planned the establishing of schools at Santo Domingo the same thing happened. The whole pueblo turned out, armed to resist any attempt to break ground for school buildings within the pueblo village ground of Santo Domingo.

At San Felipe his excellency, the governor, with his officials, met the United States or state surveyors and warned them not to make any survey through their grant for any public highway or paved highway, which is now surveyed to run . parallel within the railroad tracks. This road will absolutely be one of the greatest helps to them in agriculture and facilitate their traffic to their land by easier access thereto. They even refused to accept the building of the iron bridge across the river in front of their pueblo, which leads to their cultivated lands, and is of daily use for them.

The Government of the United States has spent many millions of dollars to fulfill its pledge to the Government of the Republic of Mexico, made in 1846. The Pueblo Indians, self-supporting, peaceful citizens of that country', were to be educated up to the standard of American citizenship. The first step taken by this government was to establish schools in eastern states for the purpose of educating the Indian children from all parts of the country, and many Pueblo Indian children also were sent there.

Years of experience showed that the children sent from this higher altitude contracted pulmonary diseases, and the lower altitude was in many cases fatal to them. Many of them after returning home died of consumption and other pulmonary troubles. The policy was then adopted to establish industrial schools in New Mexico. The schools of Santa Fé and Albuquerque have' been very successfully operated, and by very efficient management have produced a new element of younger Pueblo boys and girls, who are modernizing the ancient customs and ways of living of the older people. The full importance of the education of this younger generation will be felt after a few more years; as also the establishment of schools in their home villages, where they are taught the first elementary studies, and are taught to speak and to read English by government teachers.

For the special benefit of all those scientific writers who are accusing the government officials of mismanaging the Indian question on account of incompetency, and so the world may understand the difficulties in executing the educational policy of the government, I wish to cite a few instances.

The Laguna Indians since 1870-1872 had their first resident teacher (Missionary Society). Several years later they sent many children to eastern schools. About 1874 my brother, Salomon Bibo, was elected governor of the picturesque pueblo of Acoma. (I may here state that he has been the only foreigner or American ever elected by a Pueblo). My brother spoke their language fluently, and using his best efforts to explain to them, and demonstrate the great dvantage offered to them for education at the full expense of the government, quite a number of children were in readiness to go when he called a mass meeting for the purpose of giving them all a chance, and induce more parents to send their children. While he was addressing the meeting a stalwart big fellow commenced to insult my brother in open meeting, and called him a traitor, liar, and vile names, and finally this fellow attacked him bodily, and he would have killed him then if not by good luck he tumbled over some obstacle, and my brother took advantage of knocking him senseless. Plenty of the Indians are still living who witnessed this occurrence. Salomon Bibo alone sent over 200 children to schools from Acoma, notwithstanding the bitter opposition of the older people.

Pursue Agriculture

The Pueblo Indians have always pursued agriculture, and have unlike other tribes been toilers of the soil in the same locality from which they derive their name Pueblo [village] Indians. While their villages of the present time do not any more resemble fortresses, or protected habitations by solid was surrounding their pueblos, the many ruins found all over western New Mexico show that their forefathers could not exist without such precautions. Their villages formerly extended far west into Arizona and Colorado, which is clearly proven by the same identical style of masses of broken pottery which I have seen in hundreds of places. They gradually were forced to abandon the western zone of their habitations, and when the Spaniards conquered New Mexico the most western frontier pueblos were the Zuni villages, Acoma and Laguna. They lived in their community way in or very near their villages to cultivate the soil by their mutual protection. Even their individual houses or habitations each one had the precaution to be accessible only by means of a ladder leading to the flat roof, from which they entered their houses, leaving only small openings for light from the outside, and naturally little or no ventilation in their homes, where they existed huddled together in limited space.

As a consequence many of these pueblos have been entirely wiped out by infectious diseases, while in all remaining pueblos their numbers have been decimated to a few only, by inherited contagious diseases. This is the case in some pueblos which have come under my own observation.

The Pueblo of Zia, when I came to New Mexico in 1867, and when I established myself in Bernalillo in 1872 had at least four times the present amount of male population. The Pueblo of Sandia had four times the present male inhabitants, which is proven by the number of males who take part in their annual dances, celebrated on their feast day of San Antonio. Formerly seventy males took part in actual dancing, while now only seventeen or eighteen are left to do so. There is no other reason than diseases of hereditary nature and intermarriage, and also lack of well ventilated homes. A strict investigation ought to be made by the Federal Government. Competent and special research with the humane object to ameliorate or remedy the conditions at the pueblos of Cochiti, Santo Domingo, San Felipe, Santa Ana, Zia, and others which have not come as much to my absolute knowledge, will reveal unexpected conditions which the government should not tolerate.

* * *

[From Albuquerque Morning Journal, November 5, 1923, Governor's Papers, James F. Hinkle, State Records Center and Archives of New Mexico]


Ancient Customs and Pagan Traditions Prevail in Pueblos Bernalillo Man Declares.

(By Nathan Bibo, Sr.)

Ever since President Taft visited New Mexico, when I had the distinction of being introduced to him as one of the pioneer residents of this state, I have paid close attention to conditions of my neighbors, the Pueblo Indians.

At Laguna, where he stopped, in an address to the Pueblo Indians of that village, Mr. Taft reminded the Indians that he had been informed that nearly all the young folks returning from government schools were falling back into the ancient customs and habits of their pagan traditions.

Mr. Taft explained to them that under the treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo, this government agreed to educate the Pueblo Indians to the standard of American citizenship, and if this would not be accomplished by or for the present generation, this policy or pledge would be continued indellnitely until the Indians appreciated the importance of enjoying equal rights with their fellow citizens and neighbors.

In the lonely hours which for a number of years I passed in my sheep camps I asked myself this question: Why do so many of the clever young Indians returning from school take part again in the ancient ceremonials and subordinate themselves to the rituals of the old Indian clique?

Today, many years after, I have heard and seen and observed, I am prepared to call the attention of the Department of the Interior to the following:

The government has faithfully spent millions of dollars and will keep on spending indefinitely without accomplishing its object as long as it does not take energetic measures to be strictly enforced by the Indian agent in this state. The government cannot as yet expect any of the Pueblo Indians to administer justice because they are under the whip of the old set; or, better, the self-constituted, old-time fanatic clique which in reality is governing the conditions in each pueblo.

The many interferences by meddling artists or writers in periodicals whose interest it is to keep the Indians in their aboriginal way, many of them for selfish ends, have been encouraging the old clannish set.

They tell them mysterious myth stories invented to keep interest alive. They actually fool these people and they think all the people of these United States are in accord with them. As long as these Indians have their agent and live in their reservations, the public ought to be informed that any information wanted regarding the conditions in each pueblo can be had from the agent, (or resident agent).

Commissioner Burke during his visit to New Mexico, remarked that the Pueblo Indians were an asset to this state. They certainly will be an expense to the taxpayers of the nation if present conditions continue. But education and citizenship can be effected only if the younger set, returning from school to their homes, are duly and sufficiently protected to exercise their newly-taught higher ideals of religion and living.

The great majority of the people in each of the pueblos are obliged to uphold the old-time clique, which elects the governor and principals, which is pledged to oppose and prevent, if possible, the education of the children. Not alone this.

Whenever improvements for their benefit are contemplated by the government, such as school-houses, bridges, roads, or even the drilling for wells of pure water for them, only grudgingly do they allow the government this "privilege."

I refer to the cases of the Moqui and the San Domingo Indians, to which I referred in one of my former articles, when the war captain, with all the Indians armed, turned out to drive the government employes away. The Moquis submitted after their seventeen officials, including all their principates, had been confined in the military prison at Alcatraz Island (San Francisco Bay).

I will mention here again how this old clique filled up, near Acomita and also San Domingo, the casing in the drilled holes for pure water which the government service had successfully given them.

I wish further to mention how the Pueblo Indians of San Felipe, by their governor, tried to stop the survey for the main highway along the railroad line through their land, which was bound to be of immense benefit to them.

To show the undue influence and the cruel methods of this old clannish, brutal clique, they actually enter the houses of patients of the visiting government physicians in their pueblos and compel them to destroy the medicines given them, and in their stead to take medicines from the medicine man.

It must be known that the government of nearly all pueblos is not chosen by majority but by the perpetuation of the old customs and rites practiced by the oldest in their pueblos. The people are, by intimidation, forced to submit and are afraid of their lives if they oppose the old custom of choosing their governor or other officials. The new idea of a so-called justice of the peace in the pueblo will not be practicable until the power of the old set has been regulated. It is a public secret that at Santo Domingo two men have been missing who had been sent to Washington as representatives with other pueblos. No doubt they reported conditions as they saw them, and the fanatic clique picked a quarrel with them, put them in an estufa [stovel in order to do away with them.

It is due to the undisturbed practice of intimidation that the government purpose of educating the children is frustrated. While the old set have their right to believe what they please why should they be permitted to interfere with the religion or way of more modem living of the children educated in government schools or other institutions?

Why, then, should the taxpayers of this nation be obliged to support the human endeavors of this government if the government permits these outrages against the educational policy attempted? Why should this people be permitted to live in huddled-up ancient habitations, when they have large holdings of land which their younger folks would willingly cultivate if this spirit of antagonism did not exist amongst them?

They simply do not want this because they are afraid to lose their oldtime influence, which sooner or later they are bound to lose anyway.

If this set of magazine writers knew the number and amount of syphilitic disease, the number of blind among them, the number afflicted with trachoma and other diseases of the eye and pulmonary troubles, they would see the matter from a more human standpoint, and recommend them to be induced to live in new and ventilated farm houses and to be some good for themselves and this country, rather than be considered a pitiful asset, of the state of New Mexico. * * *

[From Governor's Papers, James F. Hinkle, State Records Center and Archives of New Mexico]


Mr. Nathan Bibo of Bernalillo has an interesting communication in the Albuquerque Morning Journal on the Pueblo Indian question, which indicates that Mr. Bibo's general idea of civilizing the Indian is to put a hard collar on him, furnish him with army blankets and golden oak furniture-, and put him in a board house with a tin roof and a pump.

Mr. Bibo represents the point of view that would extinguish the communal mode of life of the Pueblo, bring about his final dispersal, and wipe out his identity. This we believe is utterly wrong. Our idea is conservation of the Pueblo, perpetuation of his unique crafts and communal life, education in more efficient agricultural methods and sanitation, and making a prosperous and useful Indian out of him rather than a mediocre or useless camouflaged white man.

Mr. Bibo cites one or two far separated instances of unruly behavior by the old men of the Pueblos in their resistance to legitimate progress among their people. He thus gives an impression of a general condition which we regard as misleading, although the friction between the old and reactionary element and the young men among the Pueblos has of course always existed. Mr. Bibo's charge that two Santo Domingo Indians who went to Washington with the Pueblo delegation have been "done away with" is a serious one without any evidence to back it up, nor do we believe he is giving a true picture when he seeks to make it appear that the Pueblos, in brief, are clinging to an old barbarious regime and fighting every step taken by the government for their benefit. We cannot escape the feeling that Mr. Bibo regards the Indians as a long standing nuisance which should be "civilized" out of existence.

As to "meddling" by those who have conducted the campaign for Indian rights. Mr. Bibo's lack of understanding of the situation is evident in the following paragraph:

If this set of magazine writers knew the number and amount of syphilitic disease, the number of blind among them, the number afflicted with trachoma and other diseases of the eye and pulmonary troubles, they would see the matter from a more human standpoint and recommend them to be induced to live in new and ventilated farm houses and to be some good for themselves and this country, rather than be considered a pitiful asset of the state of New Mexico.

As Mr. Bibo should know, it is these same "magazine writers" and others who have aroused the nation to look at the Pueblos from a human standpoint, who have called public attention to the ravages of disease, who have worked to procure better nursing and medical attention, and who in a report just published a week ago pointed out the deplorable extent to which trachoma prevails among the villages.

In conclusion, we regard Mr. Bibo's suggestions as not helpful to any constructive policy of Indian betterment.

* * *

[From Governor's Papers, James F. Hinkle, State Records and Archives of New Mexico]


Bernalillo N.Mex
November 6 1923

Governor of New Mexico


For a long while I contemplated to call your attention to the matter of urging the federal authorities to look into cause why the Policy of the Government of raising the standard of the Pueblos (Indians of New Mexico) to American citizenship has been--so ineffective.

Enclosed article I wrote, only partially explains this, and in due time

I am prepared to show, why it would be a matter for generations to come, to accomplish the purpose of human policy, intended by this government.

If you care and take a day off, I would like to show you in a few hours right here, what I mean by protecting the industrial educated people from the persecution of the self appointed old clan in each pueblo, who prevents the modern Indian who is Americanized, to become self supporting and not remain "forever" a pitiful "asset" for the dignity of the State of New Mexico.

My interest in this question for years has culminated in what I am now doing, and it is my intention to call the attention of the Legislature of this state and induce the U. S. Government to demand from the several pueblos, that a certain tract of land be set aside within their large holdings, for the establishment of an agricultural colony of the educated children of their respective villages.

This should be done under the control of the government, where the laws of the United States are supreme to the ceremonial religion, and customs of the old set. This would be the best plan of opening such large tracts of land which otherwise will lay idle for generations to come. All the expense of the U.S. Government of building roads through Indian lands would then be of great help for the many young intelligent Pueblo youth, to open land, and build healthy homes, and make self supporting improvements. I can produce many of them, who are so.

I wish also to resent the custom of these artists and writers of periodicals, to make the Indian believe that his belief and customs are superior to the way of the living of his fellow neighbors.

I do not mean the Government should not assist in their education, but results must be shown one way or the other.

With my personal regards to you, I am

Sincerely yours

Next Appendix VIX