25 Facts: The Apache


The Apache

  1. The Apache are a predominantly southern people connected with Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.  But historical evidence suggests they once inhabited the Great Plains, Southern Colorado, and Northern Mexico regions too.
  2. Anthropological evidence suggests they migrated from the north, sometime between AD 1200-1500.
  3. There are six major tribes, independent of each other, who sometimes came into conflict.
  4. They are closely connected to the Navajo.
  5. Their language is related to the Athabaskan family.
  6. The Apache are noted for their warfare skills – fierce braves and clever leadership.
  7. They traditionally lived a nomadic life following the buffalo herds, incorporating regional practices into their own culture as they passed through.
  8. They hunted animals, gathered plants, grew domestic food, and traded with neighboring tribes.
  9. The villagers lived in tents, and moved their possessions on travois pulled by dogs.
  10. They traded with – and raided from – the Spanish.
  11. Plains Apaches used portable tipis.  Highland groups lived in a type of wood-framed hut covered with brush called a wickiup.  And in Mexico they built cool, earthen homes known as hogans.
  12. Women were responsible for constructing and maintaining these homes.  And as well as the daily domestic chores, they also gathered food for cooking and plants for medicine.
  13. Men were the hunters.  They prayed and fasted before setting out, and took part in medicine rituals.
  14. Sand painting has always been an important sacred ceremony in many tribes.
  15. Their most important weapon was the bow and arrow.  A successful hunt or battle often depended on cunning strategy.
  16. They followed their tribal leader by choice.  A good chief was industrious, impartial, generous, forgiving, conscientious, and eloquent.
  17. Their clothes were traditionally made from buckskin and decorated with colorful beads.
  18. Eating “bad animals” animals was taboo (including bears, snakes, owls, and coyotes).  Fish were also avoided because they resembled snakes.
  19. Some tribes drank deer-blood for good health.
  20. After they acquired horses and guns, the Apache became a formidable force throughout the southern states.
  21. In 1835, Mexico put a bounty on their scalps.
  22. An influx of white prospectors into the Santa Rita Mountains triggered the Apache Wars of the 1850s.
  23. In 1875 the U.S. military forced an estimated 1,500 Apaches onto a reservation 180 miles away, where they were held in internment for 25 years.
  24. Apache children were taken away from their families, and adopted by white Americans, as part of the government’s assimilation program.
  25. Their most famous warrior was Geronimo.  His tribe of 30-50 people surrendered in 1886, finally defeated by an army of 5,000 U.S. troops.

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