History of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo
Travel Down the Mission Trail
Scholars' Bookshelf
Missions Bibliography
Ysleta Bibliography
Roster of El Paso Area Tribal Leaders
Native American Water Use Chronology
Tigua Military History
Hueco Tanks Battle  
Tigua Scouts
Last Apache Battles in Texas  
Tigua Scouts as Texas Rangers  
Texas Ranger Station at Ysleta  
Tigua Contributions  
Texas Ranger Commander  
Early Accounts & Bibliography
Tigua Participation at Texas State Fair
Travel Links & More
Ysleta Land Grant Chronology
Acknowledgments / Resources
Tigua Scouts


The Early American Era

Tigua Scouts in the U.S. Army

During the early American period (1848-1881), the Tigua Indians of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo periodically served as scouts to the U.S. Army. During the war with Mexico, U.S. Government authorities recognized that the Indian Pueblo (including the Tigua of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo) were essential regional defense of New Mexico, which was a frequent target of Apache, Navajo, Comanche and Kiowa raids.

On November 10, 1846, Charles Bent, the newly appointed military governor of New Mexico, informed William Medill, Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Washington D.C. about the importance of the Pueblo Indians to the region’s security (U.S. Government 1849-50:185).

Since the 1850’s, Tigua scouts from Ysleta Pueblo enlisted at Fort Bliss, Fort Davis, and Fort Quitman. They were called scouts or guides. Tigua scouts served the army with distinction under generals John Garland, James H. Carleton, and Benjamin H. Grierson.

"Group of Apaches"
by W. Roberts from John Bartlett, 1854
Courtesy of John Carter Brown Library

In 1857, Tigua scouts participated in a major effort to control the Apaches in the Gila River and Black Mountain regions of New Mexico. The Tigua had enlisted for this campaign at Fort Bliss. On June 28, Company F, commanded by Second Lieutenant John Van Deusen DuBois, conducted a reconnaissance along the upper Gila River. The soldiers and scouts attacked and defeated an Apache band. The battle commenced at 4:30 PM and lasted until sunset. In that engagement, some 24 Apaches were killed and 26 prisoners were taken. “Several Apache braves were executed after the encounter by Pueblo Indian Guides” (Hamilton 1949: 49-54; Hammond 1949: 26-27, 29-30, 39-40; Sandstrum, 1962:53).

The tribe’s close association with Anglo-Americans, who supported the southern cause, adversely affected tribal life during the reconstruction period after the Civil War. In 1861, Ben Dowell, El Paso merchant, and several other southern sympathizers, sent Bernardo and Simón Olguín [modern spelling - Holguín] of Ysleta Pueblo to spy on a scouting party of Union Troops led by Captain N.J. Pishon that made a reconnaissance of the El Paso area (Hamilton 1976:32). On December 12th, the two Indian guides accompanied Ben Dowell, Hugh and Robert Beckworth and a half dozen other men traveled on horseback to San Antonio, the nearest Confederate City.

"Apache Head-dress and Boots" c. 1854
by W. Roberts from John Bartlett
Courtesy of John Carter Brown Library

Ben Dowell recruited the Pueblos scouts because they knew the locations of the water holes along the route and would help defend the party in case of attack by Federal forces or hostile Indians (El Paso Times, August 7, 1927). Dowell’s wife, Juana, was the daughter of the tribal governor, José Domingo Márques (Hamilton 1976:11,174; Houser 2000). Several years later, the governor, with a small group of tribal members, relocated across the river and founded the new village of Zaragosa, Mexico. The settlement was made for two reasons – to protect the southern portion (i.e. Mexican side of the river) of the Ysleta Grant from being expropriated by Mexicans and to be free of American abuse (Jenkins 1989:102; Phillips 1931:10).

"From the Red River to the Rio Grande" 1854. (Western Section of the map)
Geological Map of the Route Explored by Capt Jno. Pope,
Corps of Topographical Enigneers, Near the 32nd Parallel of North
Latitude. Purpose of the map was to locate a proposed railroad;
the map includes the Hueco Mountains and the El Paso area.
Courtesy of the U.S. National Archives

At the conclusion of the war, Tigua scouts, once again, served the U.S. Army. On November 15, 1861, after the arrival of the Union troops of the California Column, Captain Roberts left Franklin (El Paso), Texas with twenty Pueblo Indians from Ysleta Pueblo. They traveled by way of Hueco Tanks on a campaign to reoccupy Fort Stanton, which was located in the heart of Mescalero Apache country (Opler 1950:13).

"Apache Woman" c. 1890
 Southern Arizona
Courtesy of the Arizona Pioneer Histroical Society

Jesse Fewkes, anthropologist with the Bureau of American Ethnology, wrote that many Tigua Indians served as army scouts. He recorded twenty names of former scouts, who possessed their discharge papers. He expressed concern that the scouts received no benefits for their service: "...others were killed while in the service of the United States. None of the former receives a pension or rations. They have no resident agent or missionary, and, although poor, they are industrious, self-respecting, law-abiding citizens" (Fewkes 1902:61).

This researcher has found no evidence that former Tigua scouts or their widows received pensions from the U.S. Army or the State of Texas. In the 1920’s, the state made an effort to enroll in a pension program all former rangers, who served between 1877 and 1908. The pension bill became law in 1932, but former Tigua scouts apparently were not enrolled (Dolan Papers, El Paso Public Library, Adj. Gen. Papers; El Paso Herald, March 23, 1923:2,3,6; Stephens 1975:35; Texas State Library and Archives’ Utecht 1932:254-255).

"Victorio" c. 1825-Oct 15, 1880
Mimbres Apache Chief
Courtesy of U.S. National Archives