Lincoln Canes, Part 2

Governor Zia Pueblo with two canes. 1936

Governor Zia Pueblo with two canes. 1936

A cane, as an official symbol of office, was familiar to the Pueblo people. New MexicoTerritory had previously been part of Mexico. And Spain owned Mexico. Since 1620, the King of Spain had required each Pueblo to choose, at the end of every calendar year, a governor, lieutenant governor, and other officers. Election was by popular vote. Neither Spanish officials nor Catholic church officials could interfere in the elections.
          Each Pueblo had received a silver-headed cane, a vara (meaning “rod” or “pole,” an old Spanish unit of length), as symbol of office. It was passed from one governor to the next in a ceremony held during the first week of every new year.
           The northern territory of Mexico became part of the United States in 1848, after the Mexican American War. Governors of the nineteen Pueblos asked help from Michael Steck, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for New Mexico Territory, in getting United States government patents (titles) to prove that they owned their land. When Steck returned from a trip to Washington City in March 1864, he brought the first batch of completed patents plus new canes as symbols of the Pueblos’ official standing with the government.  
          Despite some stories, President Lincoln did not come to New Mexico Territory to present the canes and the governors did not travel to Washington City to receive them from him in person.

Sources:
Symbolism and Significance of the Lincoln Canes for the Pueblos of New Mexico, 1994, by Martha LaCroix Daily, available at href=”http://www.newmexicohistory.org/featured_projects/nmlincoln200/Symbolism%20and%20Significance%20of%20the%20Lincoln%20Canes.pdf”

Story of the canes: href=”http://www.newmexicohistory.org/featured_projects/nmlincoln200/nm_magazine.pdf”

Photo Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

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Published in: on September 2, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lincoln Canes, Part 1

Ouray with Lincoln Cane presented to him as leader of a Ute Delegation, 1863

In 1863, Ouray led the first Ute delegation to visit Washington City. During their stay in the nation’s capital city, the delegation met with President Abraham Lincoln. It was the President’s habit to present an ebony cane to the leader of each Indian delegation that visited him.
          That same year, nineteen special canes were presented to a group of Indians who did not travel to Washington City.
          In 1846, the United States Army had taken control of what became New Mexico Territory after the Mexican American War. The Pueblo Indians of that territory came forward in peace and did not oppose the invasion. They continued their peaceful stance as the U.S. government pursued nomadic tribes to bring them under control. Similarly, when Civil War activity spilled into the territory, the Pueblos refused to become involved.
          On January 22, 1864, Congress approved appointment of Dr. Michael Steck as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for New Mexico Territory. Steck had been an Indian agent in the territory for the past ten years. He promoted the idea of recognizing the Pueblo people for their peaceful support. While in Washington on government business, he gained Lincoln’s approval for delivering a cane to each Pueblo.
          On February 15, 1864, Steck ordered nineteen canes from John Dold of Philadelphia. Each cane would be inscribed with the name of the Pueblo, the year 1863, and the signature of “A. Lincoln.” The silver-topped ebony canes cost $5.50 each at that time.
          Steck returned to New Mexico on March 27, 1864 with the special gifts, which he presented, on behalf of the President, to the Governor of each Pueblo. Recipients were the Pueblos of Taos, Picuris, San Juan, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Pojoaque, Nambe, Tesuque, Cochiti, Santo Domingo, San Felipe, Jemez, Zia, Santa Ana, Sandia, Isleta, Laguna, Acoma and Zuni.

Sources:

Symbolism and Significance of the Lincoln Canes for the Pueblos of New Mexico, 1994, by Martha LaCroix Daily, available at href=”http://www.newmexicohistory.org/featured_projects/nmlincoln200/Symbolism%20and%20Significance%20of%20the%20Lincoln%20Canes.pdf

Story of the canes:  href=”http://www.newmexicohistory.org/featured_projects/nmlincoln200/nm_magazine.pdf

Photo Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection

Published in: on August 26, 2013 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Surveying Pueblos 1859

Zuni Pueblo 1879 by John K. Hillers

J.L. Collins, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for New Mexico Territory, wrote to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1859:

          “I advised you some time ago that the surveyor general had commenced the survey of the Pueblo land grants…I was advised yesterday by the surveyor general that the survey of the Pueblos…had been suspended on account of some disagreement about the lines, which will make it necessary for him and myself to visit the Pueblos to settle and arrange the matter in dispute.
          “The Indians of several of the Pueblos have met with heavy losses by the Navajos, of whom they very justly complain. In other respects they are quiet and contented. The internal government of these Pueblos is left entirely to themselves.
          “The officers are elected annually, by a vote of the people. In these elections, party divisions not unfrequently (sic) create much excitement among the Indians, and questions arise that have to be referred to this office for settlement. They are always submissive, and acquiesce without further trouble.”
          Collins proposed establishing schools for the Pueblos. “A moderate education would make the Indians of these Pueblos useful and obedient citizens. They are very good farmers, posses excellent land for cultivation, and now raise a surplus which could be greatly increased under proper instruction.”

Photo courtesy National Archives and Records Administration

Text from Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs 1859

Published in: on September 26, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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