Bloody Basin is a place of historical significance. It was first visited and ruled by early dinosaurs, and later, home to several prehistoric Indian groups who hunted and gathered wild plants, roots in the rugged mountains there. The Verde River , known as the Green river back then, had formed numerous tributaries, providing water, shelter and food to a group of people known today as the Hohokam. These people were farmers, craftsmen, traders, hunters, and warriors who built villages and dug miles of irrigation canals along the Salt and Gila Rivers and around Phoenix.. About 600 or so years ago, the effects of several hundred years of droughts, floods, and warfare with the US Army cavalry and neighboring tribes took their toll on the Hohokam, and their neighbors, and most of these people left the Basin area, never to return.
This region later was settled by Anglo trappers, miners, cattlemen and settlers who followed in the mid-1800’s, as well as related descendants of earlier Indian cultures. Of all the tribes in the area, the Tonto Apaches were perhaps the most feared. They showed little mercy to the interloping people, they were highly mobile, unpredictable, and difficult to capture. Further south, their cousin Geronimo eluded capture for years using similar tactics in similar terrain. The Army fought the Indians for a decade. As a result and to public outcry, the military organized the Bloody Basin Campaign. The commandant of the operation was General George Cook, recently assigned June 1871 to the Southwest after establishing his reputation as an Indian-fighter in the Snake War in Idaho and Oregon.
1972, to 1973, nine small, mobile detachments, using Apache scouts recruited from the reservations, crisscrossed the basin and the surrounding tablelands in constant pursuit of the militants. They wore down their quarry, forcing as many as 20 or so clashes, during which they killed about 200. One outfit, under captains William Brown and James Burns, won a decisive battle at Salt River Canyon on December 28, the Battle of Skull Cave, against a band of Yavapai hostiles who had fled their reservation at Camp Verde and hid out with the Apaches.
Early 1950s and 60s, Bloody Basin was a popular place for family picnics, archeologists and people who enjoyed searching for past Indian ruins and articles. Today, Bloody Basin is a favorite history place to visit, explore and that the mountains and desert areas there provide recreation for people who enjoy the outdoors.
Jim Heitmeyer . Author . Writer