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Battle of Bear Valley
Part of the American Indian Wars
Mexican Revolution
Sunset and cactus.JPG
A sunset in Southern Arizona.
Date January 9, 1918
Location Bear Valley, Santa Cruz County, Arizona
Result United States victory, successful Yaqui delaying action
 United States Flag of the Yaqui tribe.png Yaqui
Blondy Ryder unknown
unknown cavalry ~30 warriors
Casualties and losses
unknown wounded 1 killed, unknown wounded

The Battle of Bear Valley was a small engagement between the revolutionary Yaqui natives and the United States Army on January 9, 1918 in southern Arizona.[1]



For years, the Yaqui native Americans struggled against Mexico in hopes of establishing an independent state in northern Sonora. In 1918 the fight was still at hand. Yaquis, being poor peasants, would smuggle themselves across the border into Arizona, where they traveled to Tucson to find work in the orange groves. Upon payment, the Yaquis would purchase weapons and return to Mexico to fight their war. In 1917, American farmers and ranchers began reporting their sightings of armed native Americans and butchered livestock in their grazing ranges. This prompted the United States Army to conduct border patrols in the area. Yaqui natives had constructed a base in Bear Valley, along trails widely used by travelers passing to and from Mexico. The natives positioned their camp on a ridge inside the valley.[1]


Yaqui people, c1910

On January 9, 1918, a small force of U.S. 10th Cavalry soldiers detected a band of over two dozen Yaquis, hiking up to their camp. At some point the Yaquis discovered the advancing Americans and hastily began to withdraw, leaving behind ten men to protect their retreat. The U.S. Cavalry stopped and then dismounted. The American's orders were simple, deny the Yaquis their base by advancing and capturing the Yaqui camp. Now on foot the cavalrymen proceeded up to the camp.

Once in range the Yaquis opened fire with minimal accuracy, as did the Americans. Under fire, the U.S. Cavalry moved forward. For thirty minutes the two forces fought in the classic Indian War style. Both sides relied on natural cover. Eventually the Yaquis surrendered, after their chief was wounded in the chest by a bullet that hit his ammo cartridges, triggering an explosion that left an open wound.[1]


No Americans were killed that day but some were reported to have minor injuries. The Yaquis, one of whom was ten years old, were captured. The U.S. Army gave aid to the wounded natives. On their way back to Nogales, the Yaqui chief died of his injury. The rest of the natives, except for the boy, were taken back and put in jail on charges of gun smuggling and other minor crimes. Some of the natives spent a few weeks in jail but were eventually released.

When asked why the Yaquis fired on the approaching Americans, they replied by saying they thought the American buffalo soldiers involved were Mexicans, coming to attack them. The small battle marks the last engagement between the United States Army and native Americans, thus ending the American Indian Wars.[1]


  • (website): Finley, James P. Huachuca Illustrated Vol. 2 Part 5, Buffalo Soldiers at Huachuca: Yaqui Fight in Bear Valley. Library of Congress 1996, ISBN 93-206790
  • (website): 10th Cavalry Squadron History




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