Member of an American Indian people who migrated from Canada to Arizona, and parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and north Mexico, between AD 850 and 1400. The Apache language belongs to the Athabaskan linguistic group, through which they are related to the neighbouring Navajo. Buffalo hunting and raiding were traditional. Known as fierce horse warriors from the 18th century, the Apache fought prominently against US settlement, Cochise and Geronimo being notable 19th-century leaders. The Apache now live on reservations in Arizona, southwest Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Government agencies, tourism, and ranching form the basis of their modern economy. Their population numbers about 57,000 (2000).
Each Apache group was made up of 10 to 20 bands. A band was a unit of about 50 families that lived, travelled, hunted, gathered, and raided together, led by an informal chief. Several bands might be united under one informal chief, who was recognized as the strongest headman.
The Apache fought to stake out their territory and protect it. From the late 1500s to the 1800s, they fought Spanish settlers in northern Mexico and New Mexico. More warring broke out around 1740 when another horseriding, raiding people, the Comanche, invaded Apache territory. Later, the Apache attacked the early Anglo-Americans who crossed their territory. In 1861 Cochise began the Apache and Navajo wars, which were the most fiercely fought Indian wars on the frontier. Many Apache surrendered 1871-73, and were moved from their traditional homelands to the San Carlos reservation in Arizona. A large number refused to settle, however, and intermittent raids, led by Geronimo and Victorio (another Apache leader), continued until 1886 when the few remaining warriors surrendered. The members of Geronimo's Chiricahua Apaches were taken to Florida and then Alabama, where they were held prisoner; many died of tuberculosis during their 27-year imprisonment. In 1913 the remaining Chiricahua were allowed to move to Oklahoma or New Mexico.
Culture and lifestyle
The Apache include groups that, although connected by origin and continued relationships such as intermarriage, had cultural differences, including different dialects. The groups included San Carlos, Aravaipa, White Mountain, Northern Tonto, Southern Tonto, Cibecue, Chiricahua, Mimbreno, Mescalero, Lipan, Jicarilla, and Kiowa-Apache. The terms Eastern Apache and Western Apache are sometimes used to divide the Apache culturally into two categories.
Known as warriors, the Apache often raided nearby farming villages, such as those of the Anasazi, for food and goods. They also hunted buffalo or smaller game such as antelope, deer, and rabbit, and gathered berries and plants, such as cacti. They dressed in clothes made of deerskin. They lived in wickiups, dome-shaped buildings made with a pole frame and a brush, reed, or grass covering, and tepees. Their crafts included basketry.
As they were frequently on the move, the Apache encountered and adopted traits from other cultures, including those of other American Indian peoples, the Spanish, Mexicans, and, later, Anglo-Americans. For instance, the Western Apache took up farming, influenced by the example of the Pueblo Indian cultures. Introduced to horses by the Spanish, the Jicarilla Apache rode horses to hunt buffalo and eventually got into the horse trade. The Lipan Apache bred dogs for food, following the practice of some of the American Indian peoples of Mexico.
The Eastern Apache live on reservations in New Mexico, and the Western Apache on reservations in eastern central Arizona. The largest reservations in Arizona are the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, established in 1871 (population 10,500 in 1994) and the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (population 12,000 in 1994), which covers 64,000 ha/1.6 million acres. The larger communities are governed by tribal councils composed of a tribal chair, vice chair, and three council members who are all elected by registered tribal members of voting age. They often have their own court system, law-enforcement services, and other municipal services such as a fire department.
The main employers are government agencies, especially in health and education services, and enterprises such as casinos, tourism, ski resorts, and cattle ranches. Indian lands and Indian-owned property on reservations are not taxed by state authorities, nor are incomes of Indians living on reservations if derived wholly from reservation sources, although their incomes are subject to federal tax. The use of the Apache language, which has its own orthography (letters and spelling), is widespread.
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