The Apache (/əˈpætʃiː/; [a.paʃ]) are culturally related Native American tribes from the Southwestern United States, and have traditionally lived in: Eastern Arizona, Northern Mexico (Sonora and Chihuahua), New Mexico, West Texas, and Southern Colorado. Apacheria. Their collective homelands consist of high mountains, sheltered and watered valleys, deep canyons, deserts, and the southern Great Plains. The Apache tribes fought the invading Spanish and Mexican peoples for centuries. The first Apache raids on Sonora appear to have taken place during the late 17th century. In 19th-century confrontations during the American-Indian wars, the U.S. Army found the Apache to be fierce warriors and skillful strategists.
- Contemporary Apache tribes
- Difficulties in naming
- List of names
- Plains Apache
- Western Apache
- Other terms
- Entry into the Southwest
- Conflict with Mexico and the United States
- Forced removal
- Social organization
- Kinship systems
- Undomesticated plants and other food sources
- Crop cultivation
- Trading raiding and war
- Notable Apache
Apache groups are politically autonomous. The major groups speak several different languages and developed distinct and competitive cultures. The current post-colonial division of Apache groups includes Western Apache, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan, and Plains Apache (also known as the Kiowa-Apache). Apache groups live in Oklahoma and Texas and on reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. Apache people have moved throughout the United States and elsewhere, including urban centers. Many Native American Indians stayed in present-day Mexico in the State of Chihuahua near the Sierra Madre occidental called " Sierra Tarahumara".
Contemporary Apache tribes
The following Apache tribes are federally recognized:
The Jicarilla are headquartered in Dulce, New Mexico, while the Mescalero are headquartered in Mescalero, New Mexico. The Western Apache, located in Arizona, is divided into several reservations, which crosscut cultural divisions. The Western Apache reservations include the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, Yavapai-Apache Nation and Tonto-Apache Reservation.
The Chiricahua were divided into two groups after they were released from being prisoners of war. The majority moved to the Mescalero Reservation and form, with the larger Mescalero political group, the Mescalero Apache Tribe of the Mescalero Apache Reservation, along with the Lipan Apache. The other Chiricahua are enrolled in the Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, headquartered in Apache, Oklahoma.
The Plains Apache are located in Oklahoma, headquartered around Anadarko, and are federally recognized as the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma.
The people who are known today as Apache were first encountered by the Conquistadors of the Spanish Crown, and thus the term Apache has its roots in the Spanish language. The Spanish first used the term "Apachu de Nabajo" (Navajo) in the 1620s, referring to people in the Chama region east of the San Juan River. By the 1640s, they applied the term to southern Athabaskan peoples from the Chama on the east to the San Juan on the west. The ultimate origin is uncertain and lost to Spanish history.
Modern Apache people today, and the US government, maintain use of the Spanish term to describe themselves and tribal functions. Indigenous lineages who also speak the language that was handed down to them would also refer to themselves and their people in that language's term Inde meaning "person" and/or "People". Distant cousins and a subgroup of the Apache, generally, are the Navajo Peoples who in their own language refer to themselves as the Diné.
The first known written record in Spanish is by Juan de Oñate in 1598. The most widely accepted origin theory suggests Apache was borrowed and transliterated from the Zuni word ʔa·paču meaning "Navajos" (the plural of paču "Navajo").
Another theory suggests the term comes from Yavapai ʔpačə meaning "enemy". The Zuni and Yavapai sources are less certain because Oñate used the term before he had encountered any Zuni or Yavapai. A less likely origin may be from Spanish mapache, meaning "raccoon".
The fame of the tribes' tenacity and fighting skills, probably bolstered by dime novels, was widely known among Europeans. In early 20th century Parisian society, the word Apache was adopted into French, essentially meaning an outlaw.
The term Apachean includes the related Navajo people.
Difficulties in naming
Many of the historical names of Apache groups that were recorded by non-Apache are difficult to match to modern-day tribes or their subgroups. Over the centuries, many Spanish, French and English-speaking authors did not differentiate between Apache and other semi-nomadic non-Apache peoples who might pass through the same area. Most commonly, Europeans learned to identify the tribes by translating their exonym, what another group whom the Europeans encountered first called the Apache peoples. Europeans often did not learn what the peoples called themselves, their autonyms.
While anthropologists agree on some traditional major subgrouping of Apaches, they have often used different criteria to name finer divisions, and these do not always match modern Apache groupings. Some scholars do not consider groups residing in what is now Mexico to be Apache. In addition, an Apache individual has different ways of identification with a group, such as a band or clan, as well as the larger tribe or language grouping, which can add to the difficulties in an outsider comprehending the distinctions.
In 1900, the U.S. government classified the members of the Apache tribe in the United States as Pinal Coyotero, Jicarilla, Mescalero, San Carlos, Tonto, and White Mountain Apache. The different groups were located in Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
In the 1930s, the anthropologist Grenville Goodwin classified the Western Apache into five groups (based on his informants' views of dialect and cultural differences): White Mountain, Cibecue, San Carlos, North Tonto, and South Tonto. Since then, other anthropologists (e.g. Albert Schroeder) consider Goodwin's classification inconsistent with pre-reservation cultural divisions. Willem de Reuse finds linguistic evidence supporting only three major groupings: White Mountain, San Carlos, and Dilzhe’e (Tonto). He believes San Carlos is the most divergent dialect, and that Dilzhe’e is a remnant, intermediate member of a dialect continuum that previously spanned from the Western Apache language to the Navajo.
John Upton Terrell classifies the Apache into western and eastern groups. In the western group, he includes Toboso, Cholome, Jocome, Sibolo or Cibola, Pelone, Manso, and Kiva or Kofa. He includes Chicame (the earlier term for Hispanized Chicano or New Mexicans of Spanish/Hispanic and Apache descent) among them as having definite Apache connections or names which the Spanish associated with the Apache.
In a detailed study of New Mexico Catholic Church records, David M. Brugge identifies 15 tribal names which the Spanish used to refer to the Apache. These were drawn from records of about 1000 baptisms from 1704 to 1862.
List of names
The list below is based on Foster and McCollough (2001), Opler (1983b, 1983c, 2001), and de Reuse (1983).
The term Apache refers to six major Apache-speaking groups: Chiricahua, Jicarilla, Lipan, Mescalero, Plains Apache, and Western Apache. Historically, the term was also used for Comanches, Mojaves, Hualapais, and Yavapais, none of whom speak Apache languages.
Chiricahua historically lived in Southeastern Arizona. Chíshí (also Tchishi) is a Navajo word meaning "Chiricahua, southern Apaches in general".
Jicarilla primarily live in Northern New Mexico, Southern Colorado, and the Texas Panhandle. The term jicarilla comes from the Spanish word for "little gourd."
Lipan (also Ypandis, Ypandes, Ipandes, Ipandi, Lipanes, Lipanos, Lipaines, Lapane, Lipanis, etc.) live in Western Texas today. They traveled from the Pecos River in Eastern New Mexico to the upper Colorado River, San Saba River and Llano River of central Texas across the Edwards Plateau southeast to the Gulf of Mexico. They were close allies of the Natagés. They were also called Plains Lipan (Golgahį́į́, Kó'l kukä'ⁿ, "Prairie Men"), not to be confused with Lipiyánes or Le Panis (French for the Pawnee). They were first mentioned in 1718 records as being near the newly established town of San Antonio, Texas.)
Mescaleros primarily live in Eastern New Mexico.
Plains Apache (Kiowa-Apache, Naisha, Naʼishandine) are headquartered in Southwest Oklahoma. Historically, they followed the Kiowa. Other names for them include Ná’įįsha, Ná’ęsha, Na’isha, Na’ishandine, Na-i-shan-dina, Na-ishi, Na-e-ca, Ną’ishą́, Nadeicha, Nardichia, Nadíisha-déna, Na’dí’į́shą́ʼ, Nądí’įįshąą, and Naisha.
Western Apache include Northern Tonto, Southern Tonto, Cibecue, White Mountain and San Carlos groups. While these subgroups spoke the same language and had kinship ties, Western Apaches considered themselves as separate from each other, according to Goodwin. Other writers have used this term to refer to all non-Navajo Apachean peoples living west of the Rio Grande (thus failing to distinguish the Chiricahua from the other Apacheans). Goodwin's formulation: "all those Apache peoples who have lived within the present boundaries of the state of Arizona during historic times with the exception of the Chiricahua, Warm Springs, and allied Apache, and a small band of Apaches known as the Apache Mansos, who lived in the vicinity of Tucson."
Entry into the Southwest
The Apache and Navajo tribal groups of the North American Southwest speak related languages of the Athabaskan language family. Other Athabaskan-speaking people in North America continue to reside in Alaska, western Canada, and the Northwest Pacific Coast. Anthropological evidence suggests that the Apache and Navajo peoples lived in these same northern locales before migrating to the Southwest sometime between AD 1200 and 1500.
The Apaches’ nomadic way of life complicates accurate dating, primarily because they constructed less substantial dwellings than other Southwestern groups. Since the early 21st century, substantial progress has been made in dating and distinguishing their dwellings and other forms of material culture. They left behind a more austere set of tools and material goods than other Southwestern cultures.
The Athabaskan-speaking group probably moved into areas that were concurrently occupied or recently abandoned by other cultures. Other Athabaskan speakers, perhaps including the Southern Athabaskan, adapted many of their neighbors' technology and practices in their own cultures. Thus sites where early Southern Athabaskans may have lived are difficult to locate and even more difficult to firmly identify as culturally Southern Athabaskan. Recent advances have been made in the regard in the far southern portion of the American Southwest.
There are several hypotheses concerning Apache migrations. One posits that they moved into the Southwest from the Great Plains. In the early 16th century, these mobile groups lived in tents, hunted bison and other game, and used dogs to pull travois loaded with their possessions. Substantial numbers of the people and a wide range were recorded by the Spanish in the 16th century.
In April 1541, while traveling on the plains east of the Pueblo region, Francisco Coronado referred to the people "dog nomads." He wrote:
After seventeen days of travel, I came upon a 'rancheria' of the Indians who follow these cattle (bison). These natives are called Querechos. They do not cultivate the land, but eat raw meat and drink the blood of the cattle they kill. They dress in the skins of the cattle, with which all the people in this land clothe themselves, and they have very well-constructed tents, made with tanned and greased cowhides, in which they live and which they take along as they follow the cattle. They have dogs which they load to carry their tents, poles, and belongings.
The Spanish described Plains dogs as very white, with black spots, and "not much larger than water spaniels." Plains dogs were slightly smaller than those used for hauling loads by modern Inuit and northern First Nations people in Canada. Recent experiments show these dogs may have pulled loads up to 50 lb (20 kg) on long trips, at rates as high as two or three miles per hour (3 to 5 km/h). The Plains migration theory associates the Apache peoples with the Dismal River culture, an archaeological culture known primarily from ceramics and house remains, dated 1675–1725, which has been excavated in Nebraska, eastern Colorado, and western Kansas.
Although the first documentary sources mention the Apache, and historians have suggested some passages indicate a 16th-century entry from the north, archaeological data indicate they were present on the plains long before this first reported contact.
A competing theory posits their migration south, through the Rocky Mountains, ultimately reaching the American Southwest by the 14th century or perhaps earlier. An archaeological material culture assemblage identified in this mountainous zone as ancestral Apache has been referred to as the "Cerro Rojo complex". This theory does not preclude arrival via a plains route as well, perhaps concurrently, but to date the earliest evidence has been found in the mountainous Southwest. The Plains Apache have a significant Southern Plains cultural influence.
When the Spanish arrived in the area, trade between the long established Pueblo peoples and the Southern Athabaskan was well established. They reported the Pueblo exchanged maize and woven cotton goods for bison meat, and hides and materials for stone tools. Coronado observed the Plains people wintering near the Pueblo in established camps. Later Spanish sovereignty over the area disrupted trade between the Pueblo and the diverging Apache and Navajo groups. The Apache quickly acquired horses, improving their mobility for quick raids on settlements. In addition, the Pueblo were forced to work Spanish mission lands and care for mission flocks; they had fewer surplus goods to trade with their neighbors.
In 1540, Coronado reported that the modern Western Apache area was uninhabited, although some scholars have argued that he simply did not see the American Indians. Other Spanish explorers first mention "Querechos" living west of the Rio Grande in the 1580s. To some historians, this implies the Apaches moved into their current Southwestern homelands in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Other historians note that Coronado reported that Pueblo women and children had often been evacuated by the time his party attacked their dwellings, and that he saw some dwellings had been recently abandoned as he moved up the Rio Grande. This might indicate the semi-nomadic Southern Athabaskan had advance warning about his hostile approach and evaded encounter with the Spanish. Archaeologists are finding ample evidence of an early proto-Apache presence in the Southwestern mountain zone in the 15th century and perhaps earlier. The Apache presence on both the Plains and in the mountainous Southwest indicate that the people took multiple early migration routes.
Conflict with Mexico and the United States
In general, the recently arrived Spanish colonists, who settled in villages, and Apache bands developed a pattern of interaction over a few centuries. Both raided and traded with each other. Records of the period seem to indicate that relationships depended upon the specific villages and specific bands that were involved with each other. For example, one band might be friends with one village and raid another. When war happened between the two, the Spanish would send troops, after a battle both sides would "sign a treaty," and both sides would go home.
The traditional and sometimes treacherous relationships continued between the villages and bands with the independence of Mexico in 1821. By 1835 Mexico had placed a bounty on Apache scalps (see scalping) but certain villages were still trading with some bands. When Juan José Compà, the leader of the Copper Mines Mimbreño Apaches, was killed for bounty money in 1837, Mangas Coloradas (Red Sleeves) or Dasoda-hae (He just sits there) became the principal chief and war leader; in the same 1837 Soldado Fiero (aka Fuerte), leader of the Warm Springs Mimbreño Apaches, was killed by Mexican soldiers near Janos, and his son Cuchillo Negro (Black Knife) became the principal chief and war leader. They (being now Mangas Coloradas the first chief and Cuchillo Negro the second chief of the whole Tchihende or Mimbreño people) conducted a series of retaliatory raids against the Mexicans. By 1856, authorities in horse-rich Durango would claim that Indian raids (mostly Comanche and Apache) in their state had taken nearly 6,000 lives, abducted 748 people, and forced the abandonment of 358 settlements over the previous 20 years.
When the United States went to war against Mexico in 1846, many Apache bands promised U.S. soldiers safe passage through their lands. When the U.S. claimed former territories of Mexico in 1846, Mangas Coloradas signed a peace treaty with the nation, respecting them as conquerors of the Mexicans' land. An uneasy peace between the Apache and the new citizens of the United States held until the 1850s. An influx of gold miners into the Santa Rita Mountains led to conflict with the Apache. This period is sometimes called the Apache Wars.
United States' concept of a reservation had not been used by the Spanish, Mexicans or other Apache neighbors before. Reservations were often badly managed, and bands that had no kinship relationships were forced to live together. No fences existed to keep people in or out. It was not uncommon for a band to be given permission to leave for a short period of time. Other times a band would leave without permission, to raid, return to their homeland to forage, or to simply get away. The military usually had forts nearby. Their job was keeping the various bands on the reservations by finding and returning those who left. The reservation policies of the United States produced conflict and war with the various Apache bands who left the reservations for almost another quarter century.
Warfare between the Apache peoples and Euro-Americans has led to a stereotypical focus on certain aspects of Apache cultures. These have often been distorted through misunderstanding of their cultures, as noted by anthropologist Keith Basso:
Of the hundreds of peoples that lived and flourished in native North America, few have been so consistently misrepresented as the Apacheans of Arizona and New Mexico. Glorified by novelists, sensationalized by historians, and distorted beyond credulity by commercial film makers, the popular image of 'the Apache' — a brutish, terrifying semi-human bent upon wanton death and destruction — is almost entirely a product of irresponsible caricature and exaggeration. Indeed, there can be little doubt that the Apache has been transformed from a native American into an American legend, the fanciful and fallacious creation of a non-Indian citizenry whose inability to recognize the massive treachery of ethnic and cultural stereotypes has been matched only by its willingness to sustain and inflate them.
In 1875, United States military forced the removal of an estimated 1500 Yavapai and Dilzhe’e Apache (better known as Tonto Apache) from the Rio Verde Indian Reserve and its several thousand acres of treaty lands promised to them by the United States government. At the orders of the Indian Commissioner, L.E. Dudley, U.S. Army troops made the people, young and old, walk through winter-flooded rivers, mountain passes and narrow canyon trails to get to the Indian Agency at San Carlos, 180 miles (290 km) away. The trek resulted in the loss of several hundred lives. The people were held there in internment for 25 years while white settlers took over their land. Only a few hundred ever returned to their lands.
Most United States' histories of this era report that the final defeat of an Apache band took place when 5,000 US troops forced Geronimo's group of 30 to 50 men, women and children to surrender on September 4, 1886 at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona. The Army sent this band and the Chiricahua scouts who had tracked them to military confinement in Florida at Fort Pickens and, subsequently, Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.
Many books were written on the stories of hunting and trapping during the late 19th century. Many of these stories involve Apache raids and the failure of agreements with Americans and Mexicans. In the post-war era, the US government arranged for Apache children to be taken from their families for adoption by white Americans in assimilation programs. These were similar in nature to those involving the Stolen Generations of Australia.
All Apache peoples lived in extended family units (or family clusters); they usually lived close together, with each nuclear family in separate dwellings. An extended family generally consisted of a husband and wife, their unmarried children, their married daughters, their married daughters' husbands, and their married daughters' children. Thus, the extended family is connected through a lineage of women who live together (that is, matrilocal residence), into which men may enter upon marriage (leaving behind his parents' family).
When a daughter was married, a new dwelling was built nearby for her and her husband. Among the Navajo, residence rights are ultimately derived from a head mother. Although the Western Apache usually practiced matrilocal residence, sometimes the eldest son chose to bring his wife to live with his parents after marriage. All tribes practiced sororate and levirate marriages.
Apache men practiced varying degrees of "avoidance" of his wife's close relatives, a practice often most strictly observed by distance between mother-in-law and son-in-law. The degree of avoidance differed in different Apache groups. The most elaborate system was among the Chiricahua, where men had to use indirect polite speech toward and were not allowed to be within visual sight of the wife's female relatives, whom he had to avoid. His female Chiricahua relatives through marriage also avoided him.
Several extended families worked together as a "local group", which carried out certain ceremonies, and economic and military activities. Political control was mostly present at the local group level. Local groups were headed by a chief, a male who had considerable influence over others in the group due to his effectiveness and reputation. The chief was the closest societal role to a leader in Apache cultures. The office was not hereditary, and the position was often filled by members of different extended families. The chief's leadership was only as strong as he was evaluated to be—no group member was ever obliged to follow the chief. The Western Apache criteria for evaluating a good chief included: industriousness, generosity, impartiality, forbearance, conscientiousness, and eloquence in language.
Many Apache peoples joined together several local groups into "bands". Band organization was strongest among the Chiricahua and Western Apache, while among the Lipan and Mescalero, it was weak. The Navajo did not organize local groups into bands, perhaps because of the requirements of the sheepherding economy. However, the Navajo did have "the outfit", a group of relatives that was larger than the extended family, but not as large as a local group community or a band.
On the larger level, the Western Apache organized bands into what Grenville Goodwin called "groups". He reported five groups for the Western Apache: Northern Tonto, Southern Tonto, Cibecue, San Carlos, and White Mountain. The Jicarilla grouped their bands into "moieties", perhaps influenced by the example of the northeastern Pueblo. The Western Apache and Navajo also had a system of matrilineal "clans" that were organized further into phratries (perhaps influenced by the western Pueblo).
The notion of "tribe" in Apache cultures is very weakly developed; essentially it was only a recognition "that one owed a modicum of hospitality to those of the same speech, dress, and customs." The six Apache tribes had political independence from each other and even fought against each other. For example, the Lipan once fought against the Mescalero.
The Apache tribes have two distinctly different kinship term systems: a Chiricahua type and a Jicarilla type. The Chiricahua-type system is used by the Chiricahua, Mescalero, and Western Apache. The Western Apache system differs slightly from the other two systems, and it has some similarities to the Navajo system.
The Jicarilla type, which is similar to the Dakota–Iroquois kinship systems, is used by the Jicarilla, Navajo, Lipan, and Plains Apache. The Navajo system is more divergent among the four, having similarities with the Chiricahua-type system. The Lipan and Plains Apache systems are very similar.
The Chiricahua language has four different words for grandparent: -chú "maternal grandmother", -tsúyé "maternal grandfather", -chʼiné "paternal grandmother", -nálé "paternal grandfather". Additionally, a grandparent's siblings are identified by the same word; thus, one's maternal grandmother, one's maternal grandmother's sisters, and one's maternal grandmother's brothers are all called -chú. Furthermore, the grandparent terms are reciprocal, that is, a grandparent will use the same term to refer to their grandchild in that relationship. For example, a person's maternal grandmother will be called -chú and that maternal grandmother will also call that person -chú as well (i.e. -chú can mean the child of either your own daughter or your sibling's daughter.)
Chiricahua cousins are not distinguished from siblings through kinship terms. Thus, the same word will refer to either a sibling or a cousin (there are not separate terms for parallel-cousin and cross-cousin). Additionally, the terms are used according to the sex of the speaker (unlike the English terms brother and sister): -kʼis "same-sex sibling or same-sex cousin", -´-ląh "opposite-sex sibling or opposite-sex cousin". This means if one is a male, then one's brother is called -kʼis and one's sister is called -´-ląh. If one is a female, then one's brother is called -´-ląh and one's sister is called -kʼis. Chiricahuas in a -´-ląh relationship observed great restraint and respect toward that relative; cousins (but not siblings) in a -´-ląh relationship may practice total avoidance.
Two different words are used for each parent according to sex: -mááʼ "mother", -taa "father". Likewise, there are two words for a parent's child according to sex: -yáchʼeʼ "daughter", -gheʼ "son".
A parent's siblings are classified together regardless of sex: -ghúyé "maternal aunt or uncle (mother's brother or sister)", -deedééʼ "paternal aunt or uncle (father's brother or sister)". These two terms are reciprocal like the grandparent/grandchild terms. Thus, -ghúyé also refers to one's opposite-sex sibling's son or daughter (that is, a person will call their maternal aunt -ghúyé and that aunt will call them -ghúyé in return).
Unlike the Chiricahua system, the Jicarilla have only two terms for grandparents according to sex: -chóó "grandmother", -tsóyéé "grandfather". They do not have separate terms for maternal or paternal grandparents. The terms are also used of a grandparent's siblings according to sex. Thus, -chóó refers to one's grandmother or one's grand-aunt (either maternal or paternal); -tsóyéé refers to one's grandfather or one's grand-uncle. These terms are not reciprocal. There is a single word for grandchild (regardless of sex): -tsóyí̱í̱.
There are two terms for each parent. These terms also refer to that parent's same-sex sibling: -ʼnííh "mother or maternal aunt (mother's sister)", -kaʼéé "father or paternal uncle (father's brother)". Additionally, there are two terms for a parent's opposite-sex sibling depending on sex: -daʼá̱á̱ "maternal uncle (mother's brother)", -béjéé "paternal aunt (father's sister).
Two terms are used for same-sex and opposite-sex siblings. These terms are also used for parallel-cousins: -kʼisé "same-sex sibling or same-sex parallel cousin (i.e. same-sex father's brother's child or mother's sister's child)", -´-láh "opposite-sex sibling or opposite parallel cousin (i.e. opposite-sex father's brother's child or mother's sister's child)". These two terms can also be used for cross-cousins. There are also three sibling terms based on the age relative to the speaker: -ndádéé "older sister", -´-naʼá̱á̱ "older brother", -shdá̱zha "younger sibling (i.e. younger sister or brother)". Additionally, there are separate words for cross-cousins: -zeedń "cross-cousin (either same-sex or opposite-sex of speaker)", -iłnaaʼaash "male cross-cousin" (only used by male speakers).
A parent's child is classified with their same-sex sibling's or same-sex cousin's child: -zhácheʼe "daughter, same-sex sibling's daughter, same-sex cousin's daughter", -gheʼ "son, same-sex sibling's son, same-sex cousin's son". There are different words for an opposite-sex sibling's child: -daʼá̱á̱ "opposite-sex sibling's daughter", -daʼ "opposite-sex sibling's son".
All people in the Apache tribe lived in one of three types of houses. The first of which is the teepee, for those who lived in the plains. Another type of housing is the wickiup, an 8-foot-tall (2.4 m) frame of wood held together with yucca fibers and covered in brush usually in the Apache groups in the highlands. If a family member lived in a wickiup and they died, the wickiup would be burned. The final housing is the hogan, an earthen structure in the desert area that was good for cool keeping in the hot weather of northern Mexico.
Below is a description of Chiricahua wickiups recorded by anthropologist Morris Opler:
Recent research has documented the archaeological remains of Chiricahua Apache wickiups as found on protohistoric and at historical sites, such as Canon de los Embudos where C.S. Fly photographed Geronimo, his people, and dwellings during surrender negotiations in 1886, demonstrating their unobtrusive and improvised nature."
Apache people obtained food from four main sources:
Particular types of foods eaten by a group depending upon their respective environment.
Hunting was done primarily by men, although there were sometimes exceptions depending on animal and culture (e.g. Lipan women could help in hunting rabbits and Chiricahua boys were also allowed to hunt rabbits).
Hunting often had elaborate preparations, such as fasting and religious rituals performed by medicine men before and after the hunt. In Lipan culture, since deer were protected by Mountain Spirits, great care was taken in Mountain Spirit rituals in order to ensure smooth deer hunting. Also the slaughter of animals must be performed following certain religious guidelines (many of which are recorded in religious stories) from prescribing how to cut the animals, what prayers to recite, and proper disposal of bones. A common practice among Southern Athabascan hunters was the distribution of successfully slaughtered game. For example, among the Mescalero a hunter was expected to share as much as one half of his kill with a fellow hunter and with needy people back at the camp. Feelings of individuals concerning this practice spoke of social obligation and spontaneous generosity.
The most common hunting weapon before the introduction of European guns was the bow and arrow. Various hunting strategies were used. Some techniques involved using animal head masks worn as a disguise. Whistles were sometimes used to lure animals closer. Another technique was the relay method where hunters positioned at various points would chase the prey in turns in order to tire the animal. A similar method involved chasing the prey down a steep cliff.
Eating certain animals was taboo. Although different cultures had different taboos, some common examples of taboo animals included bears, peccaries, turkeys, fish, snakes, insects, owls, and coyotes. An example of taboo differences: the black bear was a part of the Lipan diet (although not as common as buffalo, deer, or antelope), but the Jicarilla never ate bear because it was considered an evil animal. Some taboos were a regional phenomena, such as of eating fish, which was taboo throughout the southwest (e.g. in certain Pueblo cultures like the Hopi and Zuni) and considered to be snake-like (an evil animal) in physical appearance.
The Western Apache hunted deer and pronghorns mostly in the ideal late fall season. After the meat was smoked into jerky around November, a migration from the farm sites along the stream banks in the mountains to winter camps in the Salt, Black, Gila river and even the Colorado River valleys.
The primary game of the Chiricahua was the deer followed by pronghorn. Lesser game included: cottontail rabbits (but not jack rabbits), opossums, squirrels, surplus horses, surplus mules, wapiti (elk), wild cattle, wood rats.
The Mescalero primarily hunted deer. Other animals hunted include: bighorn sheep, buffalo (for those living closer to the plains), cottontail rabbits, elk, horses, mules, opossums, pronghorn, wild steers and wood rats. Beavers, minks, muskrats, and weasels were also hunted for their hides and body parts but were not eaten.
The principal quarry animals of the Jicarilla were bighorn sheep, buffalo, deer, elk and pronghorn. Other game animals included beaver, bighorn sheep, chief hares, chipmunks, doves, ground hogs, grouse, peccaries, porcupines, prairie dogs, quail, rabbits, skunks, snow birds, squirrels, turkeys and wood rats. Burros and horses were only eaten in emergencies. Minks, weasels, wildcats and wolves were not eaten but hunted for their body parts.
The main food of the Lipan was the buffalo with a three-week hunt during the fall and smaller scale hunts continuing until the spring. The second most utilized animal was deer. Fresh deer blood was drunk for good health. Other animals included beavers, bighorns, black bears, burros, ducks, elk, fish, horses, mountain lions, mourning doves, mules, prairie dogs, pronghorns, quail, rabbits, squirrels, turkeys, turtles and wood rats. Skunks were eaten only in emergencies.
Plains Apache hunters pursued primarily buffalo and deer. Other hunted animals were badgers, bears, beavers, fowls, geese, opossums, otters, rabbits and turtles.
Influenced by the Plains Indians, Western Apaches wore animal hide decorated with seed beads for clothing. These beaded designs historically resembled that of the Great Basin Paiute and is characterized by linear patterning. Apache beaded clothing was bordered with narrow bands of glass seed beads in diagonal stripes of alternating colors. They made buckskin shirts, ponchos, skirts and moccasins and decorated them with colorful beadwork.
Undomesticated plants and other food sources
The gathering of plants and other foods was primarily done by women. However, in certain activities, such as the gathering of heavy agave crowns, men helped, although the men's job is usually to hunt animals such as deer, buffalo, and small game. Numerous plants were used for medicine and religious ceremonies in addition their nutritional usage. Other plants were utilized for only their religious or medicinal value.
In May, the Western Apache baked and dried agave crowns that were pounded into pulp and formed into rectangular cakes. At the end of June and beginning of July, saguaro, prickly pear, and cholla fruits were gathered. In July and August, mesquite beans, Spanish bayonet fruit, and Emory oak acorns were gathered. In late September, gathering was stopped as attention moved toward harvesting cultivated crops. In late fall, juniper berries and pinyon nuts were gathered.
The most important plant food used by the Chiricahua was the Century plant (also known as mescal or agave). The crowns (the tuberous base portion) of this plant (which were baked in large underground ovens and sun-dried) and also the shoots were used. Other plants utilized by the Chiricahua include: agarita (or algerita) berries, alligator juniper berries, anglepod seeds, banana yucca (or datil, broadleaf yucca) fruit, chili peppers, chokecherries, cota (used for tea), currants, dropseed grass seeds, Gambel oak acorns, Gambel oak bark (used for tea), grass seeds (of various varieties), greens (of various varieties), hawthorne fruit, Lamb's-quarters leaves, lip ferns (used for tea), live oak acorns, locust blossoms, locust pods, maize kernels (used for tiswin), and mesquite beans.
Also eaten were mulberries, narrowleaf yucca blossoms, narrowleaf yucca stalks, nipple cactus fruit, one-seed juniper berries, onions, pigweed seeds, pinyon nuts, pitahaya fruit, prickly pear fruit, prickly pear juice, raspberries, screwbean (or tornillo) fruit, saguaro fruit, spurge seeds, strawberries, sumac (Rhus trilobata) berries, sunflower seeds, tule rootstocks, tule shoots, pigweed tumbleweed seeds, unicorn plant seeds, walnuts, western yellow pine inner bark (used as a sweetener), western yellow pine nuts, whitestar potatoes (Ipomoea lacunosa), wild grapes, wild potatoes (Solanum jamesii), wood sorrel leaves, and yucca buds (unknown species). Other items include: honey from ground hives and hives found within agave, sotol, and narrowleaf yucca plants.
The abundant agave (mescal) was also important to the Mescalero, who gathered the crowns in late spring after reddish flower stalks appeared. The smaller sotol crowns were also important. Both crowns of both plants were baked and dried. Other plants include: acorns, agarita berries, amole stalks (roasted and peeled), aspen inner bark (used as a sweetener), bear grass stalks (roasted and peeled), box elder inner bark (used as a sweetener), banana yucca fruit, banana yucca flowers, box elder sap (used as a sweetener), cactus fruits (of various varieties), cattail rootstocks, chokecherries, currants, dropseed grass seeds (used for flatbread), elderberries, gooseberries (Ribes leptanthum and R. pinetorum), grapes, hackberries, hawthorne fruit, and hops (used as condiment).
They also used horsemint (used as condiment), juniper berries, Lamb's-quarters leaves, locust flowers, locust pods, mesquite pods, mint (used as condiment), mulberries, pennyroyal (used as condiment), pigweed seeds (used for flatbread), pine inner bark (used as a sweetener), pinyon pine nuts, prickly pear fruit (dethorned and roasted), purslane leaves, raspberries, sage (used as condiment), screwbeans, sedge tubers, shepherd's purse leaves, strawberries, sunflower seeds, tumbleweed seeds (used for flatbread), vetch pods, walnuts, western white pine nuts, western yellow pine nuts, white evening primrose fruit, wild celery (used as condiment), wild onion (used as condiment), wild pea pods, wild potatoes, and wood sorrel leaves.
The Jicarilla used acorns, chokecherries, juniper berries, mesquite beans, pinyon nuts, prickly pear fruit, and yucca fruit, as well as many different kinds of other fruits, acorns, greens, nuts, and seed grasses.
The most important plant food used by the Lipan was agave (mescal). Another important plant was sotol. Other plants utilized by the Lipan include: agarita, blackberries, cattails, devil's claw, elderberries, gooseberries, hackberries, hawthorn, juniper, Lamb's-quarters, locust, mesquite, mulberries, oak, palmetto, pecan, pinyon, prickly pears, raspberries, screwbeans, seed grasses, strawberries, sumac, sunflowers, Texas persimmons, walnuts, western yellow pine, wild cherries, wild grapes, wild onions, wild plums, wild potatoes, wild roses, yucca flowers, and yucca fruit. Other items include: salt obtained from caves and honey.
Plants utilized by the Plains Apache include: chokecherries, blackberries, grapes, prairie turnips, wild onions, and wild plums. Numerous other fruits, vegetables, and tuberous roots were also used.
The Navajo practiced the most crop cultivation, the Western Apache, Jicarilla, and Lipan less. The one Chiricahua band (of Opler's) and the Mescalero practiced very little cultivation. The other two Chiricahua bands and the Plains Apache did not grow any crops.
Trading, raiding, and war
Some interchanges between the Apache and European-descended explorers and settlers were based on trading. The Apache found they could use European and American goods.
Although the following activities were not distinguished by Europeans or Euro-Americans, Apache tribes made clear distinctions between raiding (for profit) and war. Raiding was done with small parties with a specific economic target. The Apache waged war with large parties (often clan members), usually to achieve retribution.
Though raiding had been a traditional way of life for the Apache, Mexican settlers objected to their stock being stolen. As tensions between the Apache and settlers increased, the Mexican government passed laws offering cash rewards for Apache scalps.
Apache religious stories relate to two culture heroes (one of the Sun/fire:"Killer-Of-Enemies/Monster Slayer", and one of Water/Moon/thunder: "Child-Of-The-Water/Born For Water") that destroy a number of creatures which are harmful to humankind.
Another story is of a hidden ball game, where good and evil animals decide whether or not the world should be forever dark. Coyote, the trickster, is an important being that often has inappropriate behavior (such as marrying his own daughter, etc.) in which he overturns social convention. The Navajo, Western Apache, Jicarilla, and Lipan have an emergence or Creation Story, while this is lacking in the Chiricahua and Mescalero.
Most Southern Athabascan "gods" are personified natural forces that run through the universe. They may be used for human purposes through ritual ceremonies. The following is a formulation by the anthropologist Keith Basso of the Western Apache's concept of diyí’:
The term diyí’ refers to one or all of a set of abstract and invisible forces which are said to derive from certain classes of animals, plants, minerals, meteorological phenomena, and mythological figures within the Western Apache universe. Any of the various powers may be acquired by man and, if properly handled, used for a variety of purposes.
Medicine men learn the ceremonies, which can also be acquired by direct revelation to the individual. Different Apache cultures had different views of ceremonial practice. Most Chiricahua and Mescalero ceremonies were learned through the transmission of personal religious visions, while the Jicarilla and Western Apache used standardized rituals as the more central ceremonial practice. Important standardized ceremonies include the puberty ceremony (Sunrise Dance) of young women, Navajo chants, Jicarilla "long-life" ceremonies, and Plains Apache "sacred-bundle" ceremonies.
Certain animals are considered spiritually evil and prone to cause sickness to humans: owls, snakes, bears, and coyotes.
Many Apache ceremonies use masked representations of religious spirits. Sandpainting is an important ceremony in the Navajo, Western Apache, and Jicarilla traditions, in which healers create temporary, sacred art from colored sands. Anthropologists believe the use of masks and sandpainting are examples of cultural diffusion from neighboring Pueblo cultures.
The Apaches participate in many religious dances, including the rain dance, dances for the crop and harvest, and a spirit dance. These dances were mostly for influencing the weather and enriching their food resources.
The five Apache languages are Apachean languages, which in turn belong to the Athabaskan branch of the Eyak-Athabaskan language family. All Apache languages are endangered. Lipan is reported extinct.
The Southern Athabascan branch was defined by Harry Hoijer primarily according to its merger of stem-initial consonants of the Proto-Athabascan series *k̯ and *c into *c (in addition to the widespread merger of *č and *čʷ into *č also found in many Northern Athabascan languages).
Hoijer (1938) divided the Apache sub-family into an eastern branch consisting of Jicarilla, Lipan, and Plains Apache and a Western branch consisting of Navajo, Western Apache (San Carlos), Chiricahua, and Mescalero based on the merger of Proto-Apachean *t and *k to k in the Eastern branch. Thus, as can be seen in the example below, when the Western languages have noun or verb stems that start with t, the related forms in the Eastern languages will start with a k:
He later revised his proposal in 1971 when he found that Plains Apache did not participate in the *k̯/*c merger to consider Plains Apache as a language equidistant from the other languages, now called Southwestern Apachean. Thus, some stems that originally started with *k̯ in Proto-Athabascan start with ch in Plains Apache while the other languages start with ts.
Morris Opler (1975) has suggested that Hoijer's original formulation that Jicarilla and Lipan in an Eastern branch was more in agreement with the cultural similarities between these two and the differences from the other Western Apachean groups. Other linguists, particularly Michael Krauss (1973), have noted that a classification based only on the initial consonants of noun and verb stems is arbitrary and when other sound correspondences are considered the relationships between the languages appear to be more complex.
Apache languages are tonal languages. Regarding tonal development, all Apache languages are low-marked languages, which means that stems with a "constricted" syllable rime in the proto-language developed low tone while all other rimes developed high tone. Other Northern Athabascan languages are high-marked languages in which the tonal development is the reverse. In the example below, if low-marked Navajo and Chiricahua have a low tone, then the high-marked Northern Athabascan languages, Slavey and Chilcotin, have a high tone, and if Navajo and Chiricahua have a high tone, then Slavey and Chilcotin have a low tone.