Here is the oral history of the Apache warrior Chevato, who captured eleven-year-old Herman Lehmann from his Texas homestead in May 1870. Lehmann called him “Bill Chiwat” and referred to him as both his captor and his friend. Chevato provides a Native American point of view on both the Apache and Comanche capture of children and specifics regarding the captivity of Lehmann known only to the Apache participants. Yet the capture of Lehmann was only one episode in Chevato’s life.
Born in Mexico, Chevato was a Lipan Apache whose parents had been killed in a massacre by Mexican troops. He and his siblings fled across the Rio Grande and were taken in by the Mescalero Apaches of New Mexico. Chevato became a shaman and was responsible for introducing the Lipan form of the peyote ritual to both the Mescalero Apaches and later to the Comanches and the Kiowas. He went on to become one of the founders of the Native American Church in Oklahoma.
The story of Chevato reveals important details regarding Lipan Apache shamanism and the origin and spread of the type of peyote rituals practiced today in the Native American community. This book also provides a rare glimpse into Lipan and Mescalero Apache life in the late nineteenth century, when the Lipans faced annihilation and the Mescaleros faced the reservation.
William Chebahtah is the grandson of Chevato and the transmitter of the oral history on which Chevato is based. Nancy McGown Minor has a master's degree in history from Texas State University and is an independent researcher.