August 30

This Day in History

Old West

Aug 30, 1880:

Apache Chief Diablo is killed

Diablo, a chief of the Cibecue Apache, is killed during a battle with a competing band of Indians.

Known as Eskinlaw to his own people, Diablo was a prominent chief of the Cibecue Apache, who lived in the White Mountains of Arizona. Initially, Diablo had attempted to cooperate with the increasing number of whites who were encroaching on the Apache homeland. In July 1869, he traveled to Fort Defiance, the first American military post in Arizona, in hopes of establishing good relations. Three white men returned with Diablo and regular visits between the two groups began.

Tensions, however, continued amongst the Apache themselves, many of whom were less welcoming to the Americans. In 1873, a warrior from a competing band of Apaches led by Eshkeldahsilah killed a white man working at the army's Fort Apache. Diablo tracked down the offending warrior and killed him, winning the Americans' praise but Eshkeldahsilah's increased enmity.

To avoid further violence, the commander of Fort Apache ordered all the surrounding tribes to move closer to the fort. This may have decreased the attacks on the Americans, but it increased the tensions between the Apache bands. The government further angered Diablo in July 1875, when it ordered that all of the Apaches in the region move to the San Carlos Reservation east of present-day Phoenix.

In apparent frustration at the imperious behavior of the Americans, Diablo finally turned against the whites. In January 1876, he attacked the camp near Fort Apache, and he killed at least one white civilian. He also began attacking a competing band of White Mountain Apache who continued to cooperate with the Americans. Eventually, the White Mountain Apache got their revenge on Diablo. On this day in 1880, the two bands of Apache fought a fierce battle near Fort Apache. By the time the American military arrived on the site, Diablo's opponents had killed him.

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