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The Story of the Apache Warrior Who Captured Herman Lehmann

William Chebahtah

Publication Year: 2007

Here is the oral history of the Apache warrior Chevato, who captured eleven-year-old Herman Lehmann from his Texas homestead in May 1870. Lehmann called him “Bill Chiwat” and referred to him as both his captor and his friend. Chevato provides a Native American point of view on both the Apache and Comanche capture of children and specifics regarding the captivity of Lehmann known only to the Apache participants. Yet the capture of Lehmann was only one episode in Chevato’s life.
Born in Mexico, Chevato was a Lipan Apache whose parents had been killed in a massacre by Mexican troops. He and his siblings fled across the Rio Grande and were taken in by the Mescalero Apaches of New Mexico. Chevato became a shaman and was responsible for introducing the Lipan form of the peyote ritual to both the Mescalero Apaches and later to the Comanches and the Kiowas. He went on to become one of the founders of the Native American Church in Oklahoma.
The story of Chevato reveals important details regarding Lipan Apache shamanism and the origin and spread of the type of peyote rituals practiced today in the Native American community. This book also provides a rare glimpse into Lipan and Mescalero Apache life in the late nineteenth century, when the Lipans faced annihilation and the Mescaleros faced the reservation.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: American Indian Lives


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Monday, May 16, 1870, began innocently enough for the family of Philip Buchmeier, a German settler living with his family in a small cabin located about twenty-five miles northwest of Fredericksburg, Texas. Philip Buchmeier had spent the morning in the fields, returning to the cabin around noon. His wife, Augusta Johanna Lehmann Buchmeier, had spent ...

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pp. xiii-xiv

My name is William Chebahtah, and I was raised as a Comanche Indian. My grandfather, Chevato, was a Lipan Apache who came from Zaragosa, Mexico, so my heritage contains traditions of both the Apache and Comanche. I was told this story by my father. My tribe has, in past years, had a tradition that one child, a male child, ...

Part One. The Lipan Apaches, Zaragosa, and the Mescalero Apaches

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1. The Lipan Apaches

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pp. 3-31

My grandfather came from a little town in Coahuila, Mexico, called Zaragosa. He belonged to the Lipan Apaches that lived in Mexico. In earlier times, the Lipan had moved out of Texas into Coahuila, had taken up residence there and acquired the customs of the people of that time. They had small plots of land, goats, and a few head of horses. They would farm their land...

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2. The Massacre at Zaragosa

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pp. 32-44

The Mexican government had told the Lipan in Zaragosa to convert to the Catholic Church, and the Lipan refused. Then the government told them to stop aiding the Mescalero Apaches who would raid down in Mexico. This, the Lipan refused to do. Soon, everyone was saying that the Lipan were the cause of many problems, so the government decided to take action. ...

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3. The Mescalero Apaches, Mexican Bandits, and Revenge

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pp. 45-56

My grandfather and his brother continued on their way for about a day and a half until they came to a watering hole. They were watering their horses and getting water for themselves when they noticed some Mescalero Apaches standing over them. The boys were in a depression in the ground where a stream led into a small pond. They felt someone was looking at them and looked up, ...

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4. The Vision Quest

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pp. 57-64

There is a ritual among the Indian people called "finding oneself" or "having a vision" if you so desire and you think you are good enough. Not all times can a person get what they are seeking. That's why Chevato wanted to go back to the Mescaleros. He wanted to find out if he had this gift. He went back to the Mescaleros and told them that he wanted a vision quest. ...

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5. The Blackbirds

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pp. 65-69

I was told this story by my father, in order to illustrate the mystic ways of that time. Chevato and Dinero were down in Mexico with a Mescalero raiding party. The raiding party was about fifteen men, and they were camped at a site that had some small rolling hills with a small stream running down in a little valley. They were eating supper and it was just about the time of day...

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6. Chevato and Dinero Leave the Bandits

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pp. 70-73

Chevato and Dinero moved back and forth between the Mescaleros and the bandits for some time. When they were with the bandits, they would steal cattle in the United States and take them into Mexico to sell. One day, they had a lot of cattle, and they had just crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico, headed toward Zaragosa, where they were going to sell them in the market....

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7. The Thirty-two Burros

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pp. 74-75

This story happened on one of the tributaries of the Brazos River in Texas. Chevato was with the Mescaleros, and they were on a raid. At that time, game was not plentiful and they didn't have any food. They were on the Brazos River when they spotted a group of Mexicanos, Mexican men, leading thirty-two burros. I remember the number distinctly. The burros had ...

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8. The Amnesty

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pp. 76-78

My grandfather would have times when he wanted to be alone, away from the Mescaleros, so he would go down to the border at what is now Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras. He would go there and look across the water toward Zaragosa, would look toward home. But he was told that he and his brother were wanted men in Mexico, so he couldn't go home. ...

Part Two. Herman Lehmann and Quanah Parker

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9. The Capture of Herman Lehmann

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pp. 81-94

Chevato and Dinero were with a Mescalero raiding party coming back out of Mexico and headed home to the Mescalero stronghold in New Mexico. They took the old smugglers' route, crossing the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass, Texas, and heading northeast through Uvalde County, turning north through Bandera County, stealing more horses along the way. They continued north, ...

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10. The Capture of Children

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pp. 95-111

Why did the Indians capture young children? For the Mescaleros, I cannot say because I was not raised there. I was raised with the Comanche. Now, the Comanche had been fighting other Indian tribes for centuries, since pre-Colombian times. And they had very hard fights. Each tribe lost people, and sometimes they lost a lot of people. ...

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11. Herman Lehmann Leaves the Apaches and Becomes a Comanche

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pp. 112-125

Herman Lehmann described in his book how he left the Apache and became a Comanche. He said that a medicine man had killed Carnoviste, and he, in turn, killed the medicine man and thus had to leave the Apache. After wandering alone for many months, he says he saw a Comanche camp and approached them. He told them his story, and they adopted him into the band. ...

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12. Geronimo

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pp. 126-137

One day, Chevato met an army officer who told him that the army was looking for Apache scouts. So Chevato rode to Ft. Stanton, New Mexico, to enlist. Once he enlisted, he was assigned as a scout for a group of army surveyors who were surveying the territories of Arizona and New Mexico.They were somewhere in Arizona when they saw a rider coming up real ...

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13. The Murder Trial

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pp. 138-157

While Chevato and Dinero were with the Mescaleros, each had married a Mescalero woman and had children. Chevato and his wife had three children—two boys and a girl. Dinero had also married, but he allegedly began to carry on an affair with a different woman and was found out by that woman's husband. The husband contacted Dinero, and they became very bitter ...

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14. The Bodyguards

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pp. 158-167

When he finished his business in New Mexico, Quanah Parker was ready to leave, to go back home to Oklahoma. He told Chevato to tie up his family ties and to immediately follow him. Quanah Parker had told him in a general way where Ft. Sill was located, and that was where Chevato and Dinero were supposed to go. ...

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15. Pi-he

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pp. 168-172

Chevato continued working for Quanah Parker, who could see, after many years, that he was a good man. One day, Quanah Parker came up to Chevato and asked, "Do you have a wife?" Chevato answered, "I had one in New Mexico, in Mescalero, but she didn't want to come to the Indian Territory, so we were divorced." Quanah Parker asked, "You're not going back to New ...

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16. Quanah Parker and Wild Horse

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pp. 173-190

To understand Quanah Parker, you have to look back to the capture of his mother, Cynthia Ann Parker. Our people say she was five years old when she was captured in a raid. The two men that captured her were brothers, and they were Pi-he's grandfather and uncle. One brother was much younger than the other. After they kidnapped Cynthia Ann, they fled north. When they reached ...

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17. Warriors

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pp. 191-200

Books have been written about the Comanche—about how ruthless they were, about how so many people, especially in Texas, dreaded them. Many have wondered how they could go so far and go for so long without food or water. As long as their horses had water and grass, that was good enough. They knew where the water holes were for the horses and knew where the grass was ...

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18. The Lost Sister

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pp. 201-203

Now, remember the sister of Chevato and Dinero who was kept by the ranchers? Well, here is her story. One day, Chevato and Dinero decided to go visit their sister, but Chevato did not feel there would be good prospects of finding her. He felt the ranchers had misled him when they told him where they lived, and he told his younger ...

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19. The Revolutionary

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p. 204-204

As Chevato got older, he began to travel back home to Zaragosa every year to visit with old friends, particularly Mr. Rodriguez—his friend from the bandit days. Mr. Rodriguez had done quite well for himself and owned a large hacienda; he always treated Chevato with the utmost respect and hospitality. Chevato would ride the train from Oklahoma to south Texas and then ...

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20. The Peyote Singer

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pp. 205-216

When I was a young boy, a Kiowa man named Vandal Apauty asked me if I knew about my grandfather's powers as a healer. Mr. Apauty had known my grandfather, and he related this story to me: . . . I was there when this person was very sick, and they called your grandfather. After a few days, he came, and when he got there, he came into the room and ...

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21. The Community on the Creek

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pp. 217-220

In spite of the kind of life Chevato lived, he did have certain morals. I credit that to his mother and father. He had to do certain things in order to stay alive—for his brother and sister. But he was always compassionate. As an adopted member of the Comanche tribe, he had been given a 160-acre headright. His sons and his wife were also given headrights, so they had ...

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22. The Death of Chevato

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pp. 221-224

Of all my grandfather's sons, my father was the only one who was very interested and cared about the older ways. So it also was with my brother and I; my older brother didn't care as much as I cared about the old things. So my father and I were always the ones attuned to our fathers. One day, when Chevato was quite elderly, he approached my father and ...

Appendix 1. Lipans at the Mescalero Agency, 1869–1903

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pp. 225-232

Appendix 2. Indian Scouts from the Mescalero Reservation, 1883–90

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pp. 233-236

Appendix 3. Pedigree Chart: Chevato and Pi-he

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pp. 237-238

Appendix 4. Descendants of Chevato

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pp. 239-240


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pp. 241-264


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pp. 265-268


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pp. 269-276

E-ISBN-13: 9780803216204
E-ISBN-10: 0803216203

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 14 photos, 4 maps, 2 tables, index
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: American Indian Lives