Chief Taza's Gravesite

Chief Taza’s Gravesite

There are a number of historic cemeteries in D.C. that serve as the final resting place for many historic and public figures.  From Presidents to celebrities, there are a variety of gravesites that are worth both learning about and visiting.  One  of the more obscure and unusual examples is the grave for Chief Taza at Historic Congressional Cemetery, located at located at 1801 E Street (MAP).

Taza was the eldest son of Cochise and his principal wife Dos-teh-seh, which translated means, “Something-at-the-campfire-already-cooked”.   He was also the older full brother of Naiche, and had two half-sisters named Dash-den-zhoos and Naithlotonz.

Upon his father’s death in 1874, Taza succeeded to the leadership of the Chiricahua Apaches .   Two years later, in and attempted to honor the peace agreement his father had entered into with the U.S. Army, he agreed to relocate his people from the Chiricahua Reservation at Apache Pass, Arizona, to the San Carlos Reservation in Eastern Arizona.

In the summer of 1876, Taza joined the Apache delegation to D.C., to sue for peace.  However, he could not unite the various Apache bands under his leadership as Cochise had done.  During this trip, Taza fell ill and succumbed to pneumonia on September 26, 1876, after only about two years as chief.  There followed, almost inevitably, rumors that he had been poisoned.

Consequently, his brother Naiche not only became chief of the Chiricahua Apaches, but much more militant as well.   Chief Naiche also resisted relocation to the San Carlos Apache Reservation.  He joined together with Geronimo, chief of the Bedonkohe Apaches, and crossed the Mexican border into the Sierra Madre mountains with Geronimo’s band.  While Naiche was certainly the hereditary chief of the Chiricahua Apaches at that time, it appears that Geronimo was viewed as the great leader and probably persuaded Naiche, the younger man, to submit to his leadership. Together they and their followers continued fighting, and became the last American Indian fighting force formally to capitulate to the United States government.  Geronimo died a prisoner of war, while Naiche, as well as his mother Dos-teh-seh, and sisters Dash-den-zhoos and Naithlotonz, lived through the prisoner-of-war period.

 

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