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Report on Employment of United States Soldiers in Arresting by-a-Lil-Le and Other Navajo Indians

Report on Employment of United States Soldiers in Arresting by-a-Lil-Le and Other Navajo Indians

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Excerpt from Report on Employment of United States Soldiers in Arresting by-a-Lil-Le and Other Navajo Indians: Letter From the Secretary of the Interior, Transmitting a Report, in Response to a Senate Resolution of April 25, 1908, With Respect to the Employment of United States Soldiers During the Year 1907 Within or Near the Navajo Indian Reservation, Ariz;, In A

The situation became so serious that a special agent (R. S. Connell) was sent to the settlement to make a careful investigation and report, which he did on April 6, 1907. He reported that By-a-lil-le and his confederates were heavily armed; that they had made threats to kill the superintendent and his farmer; that they had depredated upon the stock of the whites bordering on the reservation, and done many things which were wrong and reprehensible. The special agent recommended that troops be sent there to disarm the Indians and that the "worst medicine men be deported."

The superintendent brought this matter to the attention of the Office again on September 18, 1907, recommended that at least two troops of cavalry be sent to that part of the Navajo Reservation where By-a-lil-le and his renegades gathered, and that he be arresed.

I presented the matter to the Secretary of War on October 12, 1907, for an expression of his views as to the feasibility of stationing two troops of cavalry at Aneth, Utah, in the vicinity of this hostile band of Indians where the presence of the soldiers would be an object-lesson for them and prevent disturbance.

The Acting Secretary of War directed the commanding general to cause two troops of cavalry from Fort Wingate, N.Mex., under an officer of experience and good judgment, to move northward to the region indicated. The object of the march was to show ill-disposed Indians that there were troops within call should they for any cause resort to violence. It was hoped that no serious trouble would arise.

The soldiers were under the command of Captain Williard. He and his fellow-officers, after reaching the spot and observing the situation, decided that By-a-lil-le and his men should be arrested in order to avoid a serious conflict. Accordingly they made a night march upon him and surprised and captured him and his immediate followers about daybreak the next morning. While their arrest was being made the troops were fired upon by other Indians in the vicinity. The horse of Captain Williard's first sergeant was shot. The troops were ordered to defend themselves and returned the fire, killing two Indians and wounding one, as it appears. By-a-lil-le and nine of his outlaws were arrested. One, Nick Lee, was allowed to return home after the other prisoners had been sent to Fort Huachuca, where they are now confined, except one, named Mele-yon, who has been allowed to return to the southern part of the Navajo Reservation under the jurisdiction of the superintendent in charge of the Navajo Agency at Fort Defiance, Ariz.

Eight of the Navajo prisoners are still in prison, where they are to be confined for an indefinite period at hard labor. They can be released whenever it may be deemed wise to do so, each case to be considered on its own merits. The time for the release of these prisoners has been left to the judgment of the War Department.

I attach copies of the following letters, which give the detail of these facts:

1. First report of Superintendent Shelton to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, dated March 29, 1907.

2. Report of Special Agent R. S. Connell to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, dated April 6, 1907.

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