White Mountain Apache Tribe, Arizona


An official with the America's Buffalo Soldiers Re-enactors Association, under scrutiny for the way it runs a boot camp on the reservation, says stories of abuse were concocted. Grateful Jones, a sergeant said, "There's no abuse ... These kids all plotted to get their stories together. ... It's not as if they're angels." Some boys - 7 to 17, most enrolled by their parents - accused organizers of abuse. The program includes forced marches, black uniforms, in-your-face discipline and a daily diet limited to an apple, a carrot and a bowl of beans. Eighty-three juveniles, about half Apaches, attended the program. On July 11 some youths reported they had been kicked, choked and subjected to other cruelty by drill instructors. They told of being handcuffed together. Nearly half have left the program. Authorities said no juveniles were injured and there were no arrests. The tribal council rescinded a vote to close the operation July 11 after hearing from supporters. Col. Charles Long II, founder and president of the Buffalo Soldiers, has not responded. Jones said one of the boys spit in the colonel's face and said, "You're a dead man." She said a few boys started the accusations by convincing Apache children to run away and make claims of mistreatment.