Apache Indians


Apache (əpăch´ē), Native North Americans of the Southwest composed of six culturally related groups. They speak a language that has various dialects and belongs to the Athabascan branch of the Nadene linguistic stock (see Native American languages), and their ancestors entered the area about 1100. The Navajo, who also speak an Athabascan language, were once part of the Western Apache; other groups E of the Rio Grande along the mountains were the Jicarilla, the Lipan, and the Mescalero groups. In W New Mexico and Arizona were the Western Apache, including the Chiricahua, the Coyotero, and the White Mountain Apache. The Kiowa Apache in the early southward migration attached themselves to the Kiowa, whose history they have since shared. Subsistence in historic times consisted of wild game, cactus fruits, seeds of wild shrubs and grass, livestock, grains plundered from settlements, and a small amount of horticulture. The social organization involved matrilocal residence, a rigorous mother-in-law avoidance pattern, and the husband's working for the wife's relatives.

Historically the Apache are known principally for their fierce fighting qualities. They successfully resisted the advance of Spanish colonization, but the acquisition of horses and new weapons, taken from the Spanish, led to increased intertribal warfare. The Eastern Apache were driven from their traditional plains area when (after 1720) they suffered defeat at the hands of the advancing Comanche. Relations between the Apache and the white settlers gradually worsened with the passing of Spanish rule in Mexico. By the mid-19th cent., when the United States acquired the region from Mexico, Apache lands were in the path of the American westward movement. The futile but strong resistance that lasted until the beginning of the 20th cent. brought national fame to several of the Apache leaders—Cochise, Geronimo, Mangas Coloradas, and Victorio.

Today the Apache, numbering some 50,000 in 1990, live mainly on reservations totaling over 3 million acres in Arizona and New Mexico and retain many tribal customs. Cattle, timber, tourism, and the development of mineral resources provide income. In 1982 the Apaches won a major Supreme Court test of their right to tax resources extracted from their lands.

See G. C. Baldwin, The Warrior Apaches (1965); D. L. Thrapp, The Conquest of Apacheria (1967); K. Basso and M. Opler, ed., Apachean Culture and Ethnology (1971); J. U. Terrell, Apache Chronicle (1972).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Apache Indians: Selected full-text books and articles

Culture and Customs of the Apache Indians
Veronica E. Velarde Tiller.
Greenwood, 2011
The Apache Indians
Frank C. Lockwood.
University of Nebraska Press, 1987
The Apache Indians: In Search of the Missing Tribe
Helge Ingstad; Janine K. Stenehjem.
University of Nebraska Press, 2004
An Apache Life-Way: The Economic, Social, and Religious Institutions of the Chiricahua Indians
Morris Edward Opler.
University of Nebraska Press, 1996
White Justice in Arizona: Apache Murder Trials in the Nineteenth Century
Clare V. McKanna Jr.
Texas Tech University Press, 2005
Kiowa, Apache, and Comanche Military Societies
William C. Meadows.
University of Texas Press, 2002
Apache Voices: Their Stories of Survival as Told to Eve Ball
Sherry Robinson; Eve Ball.
University of New Mexico Press, 2000
Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache
Keith H. Basso.
University of New Mexico Press, 1996
Geronimo and the End of the Apache Wars
C. L. Sonnichsen.
University of Nebraska Press, 1990
The Apache Diaries: A Father-Son Journey
Grenville Goodwin; Neil Goodwin.
University of Nebraska Press, 2000
Myths and Tales of the Jicarilla Apache Indians
Morris Edward Opler.
University of Nebraska Press, 1994
Life among the Apaches
John C. Cremony.
University of Nebraska Press, 1983
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