The Santa Fe Railway tried to portray
the Native Americans in a way that promoted tourism. This wasn't
an entirely one way street, because it also helped the native's
economy. Santa Fe didn't just name their prestigious trains The
Chief, Super Chief, Texas Chief amongst others, they also named
some of their passenger cars after Native American Chiefs and places.
Ten of the Buffet-Library-Baggage cars that were built in 1927 by
Pullman-Standard were named after Native American chiefs. Who were
these chiefs, and what did they do?
Each of the chiefs names are listed below:
- Chief Santanta
- Chief Medicine Wolf
- Chief Yellow Bear
- Chief Old Wolf
- Chief Geronimo
- Chief Manuelito
- Chief Lolomai
- Chief Santiago
- Chief Manakaja
- Chief Sahnni
Some of these Chiefs were well known and in other
cases, it appears that non-American Natives gave individuals the
"honorary" title of Chief, whether they were a chief,
or not. Due to the obscurity of some of the names, it becomes very
difficult to figure out how or why some of the names were chosen
by Santa Fe.
One of the well known chiefs was Geronimo or Goyathlay
("one who yawns"). Born in 1829 in what is now western
New Mexico, he was a Bedonkohe, Apache by birth and a member of
the Nednhi band of the Chiricahua Apache. Gerommo was a leader of
the last American Native fighting force formally to capitulate to
the United States. Because he fought against such daunting odds
and held out the longest, he became the most famous Apache.
In 1858, Geronimo returned from a trading trip and
found his mother, wife, and 3 children murdered by Spanish troops.
From then on, he waged war on Mexican settlements whenever he could.
In 1876 the Chiricahua were forcibly moved to eastern Arizona but
Geronimo fled to Mexico. In 1882, Apache scouts working for the
US Army found him but he escaped and wasn't found until 1886. The
last few months of the campaign took over 5,000 soldiers, one quarter
of the entire Arm of scouts, and up to 3,000 Mexican soldiers to
track down Geronimo and his band. Geronimo and his people surrendered
in 1882 but the government breached its agreement and transported
them to Florida. One year later they moved to Mt. Vernon; Alabama
were a quarter of them died of tuberculosis and other diseases.
In 1894 Geronimo was moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma where he died
Geronimo was never a chief He was a medicine man,
but a seer, a spiritual and intellectual leader.
Chief Manuelito, 1818-1893, was a Navajo and known
as Hashin Ch'ilhaajinii (Man of the Black Plants Place). He was
originally from Utah but moved to New Mexico early in life. He led
many raids acainst the Mexicans, US Army troops and neighboring
Indian tribes, though the Mexicans were his primary enemy due to
their continual slave raids.
Manuelito was a formidable warrior and though signing
peace treaties in 1855, 1861, 1864, and 1868, returned to war each
time because the government breached their bargain (treaty). After
each treaty the wars became harder to fight. Though the Navajos
could evade the army, the additional tribes that were also hunting
them made survival difficult. Starvation was always the main factor
that forced the Navajos to surrender. In 1863, Kit Carson started
his legendary scorched earth war and burned everything in Navajoland.
In 1871 the Navajos were finally allowed to return
to their traditional homeland. Of the 7,304 Navajos counted at Fort
Wingate, 1,500 were lost due to death and capture by Mexican raiders
while on the treck home. Once back home, Manuelito convinced the
last of the warring Navajos to stop fighting. He also helped the
army get live stock for his starving people.
In 1878 Manuelito and other headmen visited Washington
DC and tried to convince President Ulysses G. Grant to cede the
1868 Treaty lands to them. Cattlemen and gold miners were taking
the land. Though the deal fell through, some of the lands were finally
granted to them in small portions later. Manuelito advocated education
and was the chief of the first Navajo Police organization. He died
of pneumonia in 1893. (Native
North American Website) (The
Chief Satanta was Kiowa and his name is the white
man's corruption of Set-tainte, Kiowa for White Bear. Satanta was
known for his eloquence in speaking and represented his tribe at
many meetings with US government officials. He could speak five
different languages fluently, four Native American tongues and Spanish.
He was often termed, "the Orator of the Plains."
Satanta was a fierce warrior and very hostile to
the white man's laws. He was among the signers of the 1867 Medicine
Lodge Peace Treaty. After the treaty, the government withdrew many
of their promises, which precipitated revenge in the form of continued
raids in southwestern Kansas, southern Oklahoma, New Mexico, and
Texas. Satanta was arrested and imprisoned on three separate occasions.
On October 11, 1878 while serving a life sentence in a prison in
Huntsville, Texas, he took his own life by jumping from the second
story of the prison hospital. Chief Satanta was buried unceremoniously
in the Huntsville cemetery for deceased prison inmates. In 1963,
the Kiowa Indians arranged for his remains to be moved to Fort Sill,
Oklahoma. The city of Satanta, Kansas, is named for this Chief.
Chief Santiago: Santiago is a common name, especially
among those tribes who had contact with the Spanish. It's hard to
tell whom they really meant. The one instance where the name is
most commonly associated is in the narrative of Jose de Escandon
and his explorations and settlements.
In 1747, Escandon was exploring areas of what is
now Texas and looking for places to establish settlements. It is
written that one Indian, Chief Santiago, guided Escandon to an excellent
campsite on the south bank of the Rio Grande, about thirty-six leagues
(one Spanish league measures approximately 2.6 miles) from the mouth
of the great river.
Chief Manakaja was a chief of northern Arizona's
Havasupai from 1900-1942, who led the fight to have tribal lands
taken in 1908 for Grand Canyon National Monument returned to the
Havasupai. The ATSF car by this name is preserved at the San
Diego Railway Museum.
Chief Old Wolf is mentioned in a text about John
Hatcher as leading a raid of 300 Comanche warriors against John's
small caravan in 1858 near Wagon Mound, on the Santa Fe trail. (Handbook
of Texas On Line)
Chief Yellow Bear appears to be a Lakota name and
the only thing I could find was a picture of him at the following
web site which gives the date 1874 and credits him as a Comanche.
The only information about Chief Medicine Wolf that
I could find was that his name in Cheyenne is Honeohmaheoneveste.
There doesn't appear to be anything written about
Chief Sahnni so that's a blank page.
The name Lolomai was another name that couldn't
be found. Phil Konstantin, explained that Lo Lo Mai is a Hopi Indian
word that can be used as a greeting with many meanings, as "Aloha"
is used in Hawaiian. It also means "beautiful."
According to Shelley at Lolomia Springs Lodge, Arizona
"In Zane Grey's Call of the Canyon, there was a lodge on Oak
Creek by the name of Lolomia. We understand the meaning, by word
of mouth, to be peace and beauty."
The fact that Santa Fe chose both well-known chiefs
and some extremely obscure names is interesting. In the case of
the well known chiefs, I couldn't help but feel Santa Fe was quite
forward thinking in choosing Native American leaders who though
were formidable warriors, were also the epitome of loyalty and integrity
to their own people. Keep in mind that Santa Fe did this in 1927
when attitudes were much different than they are today.
The search for information about these American
Natives was like looking for a needle in a haystack. For this reason
I want to thank Phil Konstantin
for much of the above information.