Bascom Affair: the case of the wrong Apache


[Photo from]

If somethin’ happens to ya’

don’t let the situation fool ya’

an’ make sure ya’ get the facts straight from the start.

Too many times we’ve seen it happen,

when the tongue begins its flappin’,

that the truth an’ what is said turn out ta’ be quite far apart.

There’s an Arizona case

which became a big disgrace,

cuz’ two men went about it both half-cocked.

Johnny Ward’s adopted son

an’ some cattle were on the run,

they were took right off his land an’ left him shocked.

So he mixed up some facts

on which Apaches left the tracks,

an’ he told this tale of falsehood to a Second Lieu:

George Bascom was the name

of the Second Looey who would gain “fame”

cuz’ he didn’t wait ta’ find out what was true.

Ward said it was Cochise

that shattered his family’s peace,

by absconding with his boy, an’ his beef.

So Bascom had a message sent,

come sit an’ talk within a tent,

yet it was only a trap ta’ catch the chief.

But Cochise could not be grabbed,

yet six braves of his were nabbed,

so the chief set his tribe on the warpath.

First, Cochise tried an exchange,

Bascom refused… mighty strange,

since it sparked a twelve-year war: a real bloodbath.

In just one week fer’ sayin’ “no”

sixteen whites to death did go,

an’ Bascom hung the six braves in reply.

From eighteen-sixty till seventy-two

this war would not be through,

an’ a heap of lives were lost over a lie.

Major General Howard,

quite the opposite of coward,

came out ta’ see if he can bring some peace.

So he met with the chief,

it was time ta’ end this grief,

an’ he bound the promise with the great Cochise.

The poor abducted boy

faced a life without joy,

he’d been taken by a different Apache band.

He resurfaced ten years late,

with a life he learned ta’ hate,

he was the symbol of the tension in the land.

Felix Tellez had been his name,

it was changed ta’ hide the shame,

the moniker he chose was “Mickey Free.”

Though years beyond his return

the anger still did burn,

cuz’ no one gave Cochise an apology.



John “Liver Eating” Johnson



After the trek from Missouri ta’ Montana,

John Johnson made a name fer’ himself

as both sheriff an’ mountain man.

He took ta’ the hills an’ set his traps;

beaver, deer, bear, an’ buffalo,

all sayin’ “Catch me if ya’ can.”

He loved the life,

even took an Indian wife,

who bore him a healthy child.

But while Johnson was away from home

a band of Crow came callin’,

an’ did things that would make him riled.

They didn’t just take what they wanted,

they killed what was left in the end.

So when Johnson came back,

an’ saw the aftermath of the attack,

he emotionally went over the bend.

He stayed there alone,

warmed by the hate

that countered the cold of his heart.

His private war had begun,

an’ many would fall,

the Crow would pay dearly for their part.

Whenever a Crow came into his sight

it was like steppin’ into a killin’ zone.

Whether man-ta’-man,

or even outnumbered,

Johnson’s skill fer’ killin’ had been honed.

With rifle or knife,

hatchet or rock,

anything at all could be used.

He would never see a human

when he looked at a Crow,

on account of how his wife had been abused.

He saw only animals,

an’ animals were his trade;

ta’ be caught, ta’ be killed, ta’ be eaten.

He even acquired the strange moniker

of “Liver-Eating Johnson”

after a witness saw him kill ‘um, cut ‘um,

an’ then sink his teeth in.

Score upon score of Crow bit the dust,

for ten years his hate found its foe.

Then down from the mountain

ta’ carry a star,

Johnson did finally go.

He put on the badge in Coulson, Montana,

an’ he ruled with a rifle an’ fist.

He never did carry a six-gun,

an’ never started a “Dead Man’s” list.

With his mountain exploits

an’ peculiar peacekeeping,

even Buffalo Bill tried ta’ hire him fer’ shows.

But Johnson had tired of civilized life,

an’ took off ta’ where nobody knows.

He had no need fer’ fame,

but his legend still grew,

even faster after he up an’ disappeared.

“What a crock,” he must think,

 of his legend nowadays,

it would be funny if he suddenly appeared.

His name has been changed,

an’ facts rearranged,

all fer’ the sake of a film.

Just remember what he ate,

after he began ta’ hate,

an’ he stuck in his knife ta’ the helm.



© JW Thomas

Honest Injun


I awoke in L.A.

and was lulled back to sleep

with promise of the American Dream

I was told to work hard

and to save what I made

then my life would be Peaches and Cream


So I worked like a slave

with my eye on the prize;

I held down two jobs while going to school

My first future crumbled

when my first marriage died;

tried to be honest, while others were cruel


Tried to be an “Honest Injun”

but wound-up as the fool

Grandfather tried to warn me

“They will abuse the Golden Rule”

Tried to be an “Honest Injun”

Forgot how the rich man schemed

System’s made by the corrupt

so the rest of us get reamed


My second future fell

wounded in the Army

and finding out the VA is a joke

Next went all my savings

in the crash of oh-nine;

was about to retire but now I’m broke


I was left to flounder

to starve and disappear

while Uncle Sam bailed out the crooked banks

They say that each of us

will get a fighting chance

but the gun they give us only shoots blanks


Tried to be an “Honest Injun”

but wound-up as the fool

Grandfather tried to warn me

“They will abuse the Golden Rule”

Tried to be an “Honest Injun”

Forgot how the rich man schemed

System’s made by the corrupt

so the rest of us get reamed


©JW Thomas

Waya: See the Wolf

wolf cub1


See the wolf.


See the wolf pup.

See it nip.

See it yip.

See it roll.

See it grow.

See it cute.

See it cuddle.

See it whine in the mud puddle.

See its fur shine in the sun.

See the twinkle in its eye,

the joy of life,

and first howl at the sky.

He told Moon a magnificent tale,

how he circled and circled

and caught his own tail.

He ran fast… and then faster

until his tail was in reach.

He bit down and he yelped

and Hawk gave a screech:

“a lesson it is,

a lesson to teach.”

Moon did agree

and spoke quite plain:

“Don’t bite your own tail,

don’t cause yourself pain.

The ruckus you cause

could easily bring Man,

and at this point pup,

you’d fit in his hand.”


See the wolf.


See the wolf grown.

See it bay.

See it play.

See it prowl.

See it growl.

See it chase.

See it bound.

It’s canis lupis:

much more than a hound.

See it hunt:

part of the Pack.

See how deadly:

Nature’s way,

removes the weak

each passing day.

Strength of limb,

strong of heart,

oh how he thought

he’d make a new start.

A challenge he did make

with the Alpha of the Pack.

It was brutal… and muddy

and they both ended bloody.

But he failed in his attack.

Ousted to roam


a lone wolf.

He bit the paw

that led them all

before his time to lead.

He failed the test,

now begin the quest,

maturity is earned in the deed.


See the wolf.


See the wolf rogue.

See it stare.

See it glare.

See it hide.

See it glide.

See its effort.

See its ease.

The smell of prey born on the breeze.



He wins a mate

and makes a stand:

marks his turf,

defends his den.

Alpha male, he bears it well:

this scar and that scar

record his whole tale.

“How goes the Wolf?”

asks Moon of Hawk.

“Waya is good

as you yourself know.

I’ve watched you guide him

with your light and your glow.”

Wolf did howl

to Hawk and to Moon:

“One with insight,

the other so bright,

you both taught me well.

It’s time to take leave

and leave me to live,

go seek a new tale

for you each to tell.”


© JW Thomas

Grandfather’s lesson

sad indian2



            no like talk

            with exception

            one only

            inquisitive child


            like to teach

            oral tradition




            cultural cues




Depth of reason


            one with Earth Mother

            Sky Father

            four seasons







            vision quest

            cannot hide

            Spirit Guide


Warrior Way


            at a loss

            out of time

            out of prey

The World




            so they say




            before eyes

            enough to appease

Era of “please”

            still compete

            against thyself

            and thine own

We still call

            reservations “home”

Have we not learned – anything?

Raping Mother Earth

Mother Earth did not need Freud to come along with words like Oedipus Complex.

She has known, intimately, many men born of Earth with inner desires to wed and bed their mother.

The immaturity of such fantasies foolishly mistake lust for love.

And when rebuffed they respond in infantile manners for that which Mother Earth knows will lead them down a destructive path.

Some go no farther, but many team with likeminded siblings and violently rape Mother Earth.

Greedy, lustful, spoiled children addicted to their deranged desires based on selfish motivation and the misinterpretations of what constitutes treasure, wealth, and the real riches of Mother Earth.

Mother Earth’s daughters are not innocent; they share responsibility for the ongoing rape.

Much of what is ripped from beneath the skirts of Mother Earth – in every orifice and deep within her bowels – is used to tickle the fancy and fashion of women worldwide.

And if they encourage the rape of Mother Earth in order to enjoy the pleasure bought through greed, should they really be surprised when the same childish men rape them?


© JW Thomas

So I am Told

proud shadow1

I am a byproduct of civilization

Blood from two of the five

civilized tribes flows in me

So I am told

Tribes of the Southeast

Why is the Southeast not my home?

Because of the Trail of Tears

So I am told



New roots for ancestral kin

So I am told

Why is Oklahoma not my home?

Because of the “New Deal”

So I am told

Placate the politician

Vacate the reservation

Paddy-cake a new direction

Earn more money

Have jingle-jangle jeans

Forget your language

Homicide your Spirit Guide

Be a “real” American

So I am told

A few went to Texas

A few to Southern Cal

Indian maiden finds white-eyed Prince

Indian brave finds white-eyed gal

Broken water sets me free

Born in Long Beach


As far away from my ancestral home

as I can get

without getting wet

So I am told

Separated geographically

Separated culturally

So I am told

But I have lived




and laughed

But never with a true connection to kin

My inspiration to begin again

A byproduct of civilization

So I am told

More often than not – civilization sucks

© JW Thomas