Warrior Women: Lozen

Lozen (c. 1840-1889)

  • Lozen was an Apache Warrior Woman, born sometime around 1840.
  • Her childhood name was Little Sister, which later became Lozen – meaning spirited.
  • Her brother was Chief Victorio.
  • This Apache band resisted confinement on the San Carlos Reservation (Arizona) and sought refuge in Mexico.
  • Lozen fought alongside the men and accompanied Geronimo in the last campaign of the Apache Wars.  After they were forced to surrender she was taken prisoner by the U.S. military.
  • Victorio called Lozen the “shield to her people,” admiring her military strategies and skills.
  • She was a gifted horsewoman.
  • Lozen was also considered to be a Shaman or Medicine Woman.  Legend claims she could predict an enemy approach and that she had magical healing powers.  She was often called on to act as a midwife.
  • One of her famous acts of bravery was to lead her people to safety across the dangerously swollen Rio Grande River.
  • She died from tuberculosis in a military prison in Alabama.

Sources:

McWilliams, John P. Against the Wind: Courageous Apache Woman.  New York: Page, 2016.

Wikipedia, “Lozen,” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lozen

“The Worst Indian Who Ever Lived”

Geronimo (1829-1909)

  • Geronimo was an Apache war leader and medicine man.
  • Although he was highly feared and respected, he was too unpopular to ever be made a chief.
  • He fought the Mexican and U.S. Armies over Apache land.
  • His hatred for Mexicans came after they murdered his mother, young wife, and three children.
  • Although he later had eight other wives, Geronimo’s legendary aggression was fuelled by this horrific crime.
  • He became one of the most brutal warriors on record and committed several infamous atrocities.
  • White settlers called him “the worst Indian who ever lived.”  In one raid he “pillaged ranches, swept up livestock, and killed randomly, torturing men in every conceivable way, roasting women alive, and tossing children into nests of needle-crowned cacti” (Cozzens, 385).
  • Geronimo’s followers believed he had supernatural powers, including prophecy and magical protection.  Rifles jammed when trying to shoot him, and anyone riding with him was also protected from bullets.  It was said he could make rain, and stop the sun from rising.
  • During the Apache wars he “surrendered” three times and was sent to a reservation in Arizona.  Each time he escaped.
  • After his third breakout in 1885 he was exiled to Florida.
  • In later life the war leader became a celebrity, appearing in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade, and signing autographs at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.
  • He died in the Fort Sill hospital of pneumonia following a riding accident.
  • Chatto (an Apache leader) said, “I have known Geronimo all my life up to his death and have never known anything good about him.”
  • Lieutenant Britton Davis (U.S Army) called him a “thoroughly vicious, intractable, and treacherous man,” whose only redeeming qualities were “courage and determination” (Cozzens, 380).

Sources:

Cozzens, Peter. The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West (New York: Knopf, 2016)

History Lists, “7 Things You may Not Know About Geronimo,” at http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-things-you-may-not-know-about-geronimo

Wikipedia, “Geronimo,” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geronimo

 

25 Facts: The Apache

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.

Apache Religion

Geronimo: Apache Chief

geronimo

“We had no churches, no religious organizations, no Sabbath day, no holidays, and yet we worshipped.

Sometimes the whole tribe would assemble and sing and pray; sometimes a smaller number, perhaps only two or three . . .

Sometimes we prayed in silence; sometimes each prayed aloud; sometimes an aged person prayed for all of us.”

(from Native American Wisdom: Philadelphia and London: Running Press, 1994)