*** ethnic clothing and costume: Native American tribes Apache

Native American Tribes: The Apache

Figure 1.--Here are two images of Apache boys. This photograph reportedly taken in 1866 shows a boy wearing the typical Apache knee moccasins. These moccasins were very useful to protect by thorns, when they left camp. Click on the image to see the second photograph. It was reportedly taken in 1880. It shows two children wearing loincloths, the only clothing which little children often wore during the summer. I do not know who took these photographs.

The Apache are perhaps the best known American Native American tribe. This is not because they were the largest are most important. Tt probably reflects their war-like nature and the fact they were the last tribe the Calvalry succeeded in pacifying. Their dramatic resistance at atime in which other tribes had been driven into reservations made them dramatic subjects for both books and movie depictions. Their charasmatic leader, Geronimo, ws another factor.


Native American people in North America were essentially stone-age nomatic peoples. They did not write hostories and publish books. This the tribal names are often not what the tribes called themselves. The Apache are one such people. The Apache in fact called themselves "Inde" or "Nide" meaning "the people". The name "Apache" probably is a Zuni word meaning "enemy".


The Apache Nation is composed of six sub-tribes. These are the: Bedonkohe, Chieahen, Chihenn (Ojo Caliente), Chokonen, Chiricahua, Nedni (White Mountain Apache).


The Apache people and the related Navajo migrated from the North. They are believed to have come from northwestern Canada. It is not clear when they arrived there and how long they resided there. Neither do we know just why they began their migration south at the time. This follows the general migrational pattern of the Naive Amercan peoples. The Apache settle the Great Plains and Southwest of North America (both the southwesterb United States and norther Mexico) about 850 AD. They settled in three principal ratherarid areas: the Great Basin, the Sonoran, and the Chihuachuan.


The Apache speak Athabscan, a language they share with the Navajo. In the years before DNA, language was an important tool in assessing relations between ancient peoples.


The Apache were not a politically unified tribe. The Apache were essentially a tribal grouping with cultural and linguistic affinities. Linguists have organized the Apache into six different linguistic groups based upon dialects of the Athabscan language: Western Apache (Coyotero), Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan, and Plains (formerly Kiowa) Apache.


The Apaches like other Plains peoples depended heavily on the buffalo. They traded buffalo products like hides, tallow and meat, abd even bones. The bnes could be fashioned into tools like needles and scrapers. They also produced salt from desert locations. These products they trades with the more settled Pueblo people for pottery, cotton, blankets, turquoise, corn and a variety of other goods. The Apache were not always peaceful traders, but also attacked settle communities to seize what they wanted. This is why the Zuni reffered to them as the Apache--the Enemy. The basic economy was hunter gattering supplemented by war party raids. The hunted gme. On the Plais it was the buffalo, the the southest it was more deer and rabbits. They gathered wild berries, roots, cactus fruit and seeds of the mesquite tree. The Apache were strongly affected by the tribes they traded with, especially the more settled Pueblo peoples. Thus the Apache licing in proxiity ith the Pueblos were more likely to farm. Crops inclided corn, beans, and squash. Generally they had, however, less productive land which made farming less rewarding. Likewise the Plainsd Apaches became more like the Plains peoples. The Jicarilla and Kiowa-Apache acquired horses and developed a life style similar to the Kiowa.

War-like Tradition

Human civilization with rge development of agricylture can often be seen as a conflict between the settled agriculturists and the more war-like nomadic peoples. This is what occurred in the Middlke East and was the major problem faced ny the European, Middle Eastern and Chinese prople -- war-like raiders from the Steppe. The same appears to have occured in North America. The Pueblo people seized some of the best agriculturalareas in the Southwest and developed an agrarian culture. The nomadic Apache envied the affluence of the Pueblo people. To both survive and to seize the riches of the Pueblos, the Apache developed a war-like tradition. (This same basic story evolved in the Central Valley of Mexico where the Aztecs seized control.) Boys were trained from an early age to be warriors. This occurred well before the Spanish arrived. The fortress like dewlings of the Pueblo pueoples in part relects the threat posed by the Apache and other war-like nomadic tribes. The coming of the Spanish if anything intensified the war-like tradition. The Spanish raided Natibe-American villages to obtain slaves for their silver mines in Chihuahua. The Apache responded by raiding Spanish settlements.


The Apache wre nomadic people without permanent settlements. This was a factor that made them more difficult for the Spanish to subdue them than the more settled Pueblo people. They put up shelters using brush or hide which thy called wikiups. They constructed dome shaped lodges with wood poles that they covered with brush, grass, or reed mats. At the center was a fire pit. The wikiup had a hole for smoke which served as a kind of chimney. These constructions were affected by what materals were availavke. The Kiowa and other Plains tribes commonly used buffalo hides. The Chiricahua where buffalo were less common more commonly used brush.




Mexico gained its independence from Spain (1821). The new Mexican Republic came into contact with the Apache who were determined to maintain their independence. Violent indidents werecreported throughout the 1820s and 30s. Mexican officials put a bounty on Apache scalps (1835). The Mexicans killed Juan Jose Compas, the tribal leader of the Mimbreno Apaches, for bounty money (1837). Mangas Coloradas or Dasoda-hae (Red Sleeves) assumed command as tribal chief and war leader. He comenced a retaliatory raids against Mexican communities. As a result, the Apache, when war broke out between the United States ad Mexico (1845) offered the U.S. Army safe passage through Apache controlled-areas of the Southwest.

United States

The Mexican-American War resulted in an American victory and U.S. jurisfiction over of much of the Apache lands. Mangas Coloradas signed a peace treaty with the Americans. There was for a few years limited contact between the Americans and the Apache. Gold changed this. Of course the discovey of gold in California (1848) intensified the migration west. This was outside the Apache labds, until gold was found in the Santa Rita Mountains. This was in Apache lands and quickly led to coflict with the prospectors and miners who ignored the treaty with the Apache. Miners at a camp near Pinos Altos attacked amd beat Mangas (1851). Reprisals by Apacje bands followed. Miners attacked an encampmet of the Bedonkohes Apache located along the Mimbres River. The miners killed four Apache and wounded and captured others (1860). Apache reprisals followed. At the eve of the the Civil War, Lieutenant George N. Bascom commanding a Calvalry unit lured Cochise, principal chief of the Chokonen Apache, into a trap at Apache Pass. While Cochise managed to escape, his family and several warriors were captured. There was an attempt to negotiate, but this failed and hostilities erupted. The Army hung Cochise�s brother and five other warriors. Cochise and his father-in-law Mangas Coloradas formed an alliance with the objective of driving Anglos out of Apache lands (1861). Other Apaches joined them, including chief Juh and Geronimo. Their objective was beyonf their capability, but the Civikl War meant that the Calvalry could not concentratecresources in the Southwest. The Apaches did succeed in driving many Anglos away. Mangas was wounded and decided to seek peace. He met undr a flag of peace with Brigadier General Joseph Rodman West at Fort McLane (January 1863). West had him arrested and that night he was tortured and shot. His severed head was boiled and the scull sent to the Smithsonian. The incident made it very difficult to achieve any peacful settlement. Fighting continued for three decades despite the overwealming military supperority of the Calvalry. The White Mountain Reservation was established (1871). It encompased today's Fort Apache and the San Carlos reservations. The final Apache tribe to surrender was the Chiricahuas (1886). Apaches were deported to Florida and Alabama, where they were held by the U.S. Army. The Apache lands were divided into two independent reservations (1897).


The Apache like other Native American tribes took captives. This included both other Native Americans and well as white settlers. These were commonly children. Adults were often killed. Captives were variously treated. Adults might be tortured. Others were treated as slaves or adopted into the tribe. Americans generally did not have racial concepts. Thus membership in the tribe was not a acial matter. Actual experiences varied widely. This depended both on individual tribal members and well as individual captives. One captive was Santiago McKinn, who was taken in 1885 by Chiricahua Apaches from his home near Mimbres, New Mexico Territory. He was well treated during his 5 months with the Apaches, and learned to speak their language. The photo was taken by Tombstone's famous photographer, C. S. Fly.


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Created: 10:27 PM 7/17/2006
Last updated: 12:45 AM 3/26/2010