Apache Tribe

Apache Indians (probably from ápachu, ‘enemy,’ the Zuñi name for the Navaho, who were designated “Apaches de Nabaju” by the early Spaniards in New Mexico). A number of tribes forming the most southerly group of the Athapascan family. The name has been applied also to some unrelated Yuman tribes, as the Apache Mohave (Yavapai) and Apache Yuma. The Apache call themselves N’de, Dĭnë, Tĭnde, or Inde, `people.’

They were evidently not so numerous about the beginning of the 17th century as in recent times, their numbers apparently having been increased by captives from other tribes, particularly the Pueblos, Pima, Papago, and other peaceful Indians, as well as from the settlements of northern Mexico that were gradually established within the territory raided by them, although recent measurements by Hrdlicka seem to indicate unusual freedom from foreign admixture. They were first mentioned as Apaches by Oñate in 1598, although Coronado, in 1541, met the Querechos (the Vaqueros of Benavides, and probably the Jicarillas and Mescaleros of modern times) on the plains of east New Mexico and west Texas: but there is no evidence that the Apache reached so far west as Arizona until after the middle of the 16th century. From the time of the Spanish colonization of New Mexico until within twenty years they have been noted for their warlike disposition, raiding white and Indian settlements alike, extending their depredations as far southward as Jalisco, Mexico.

No group of tribes has caused greater confusion to writers, from the fact that the popular navies of the tribes are derived from some local or temporary habitat, owing to their shifting propensities, or were given by the Spaniards on account of some tribal characteristic; hence some of the common names of apparently different Apache tribes or bands are synonymous, or practically so; again, as employed by some writers, a name may include much more or much less than when employed by others.

Apache Indians History

Although most of the Apache have been hostile since they have been known to history, the most serious modern outbreaks have been attributed to mismanagement on the part of civil authorities. The most important recent hostilities were those of the Chiricahua under Cochise, and later Victorio, who, together with 500 Mimbrenos, Mogollones, and Mescaleros, were assigned, about 1870, to the Ojo Caliente reserve in west New Mexico.

Cochise, who had repeatedly refused to be confined within reservation limits, fled with his band, but returned in 1871, at which time 1,200 to 1,900 Apache were on the reservation. Complaints from neighboring settlers caused their removal to Tularosa, 60 miles to the northwest, but 1,000 fled to the Mescalero reserve on Pecos River, while Cochise went out on another raid. Efforts of the military agent in 1873 to compel the restoration of some stolen cattle caused the rest, numbering 700, again to decamp, but they were soon captured. In compliance with the wishes of the Indians, they were returned to Ojo Caliente in 1874. Soon afterward Cochise died, and the Indians began to show such interest in agriculture that by 1875 there were 1,700 Apache at Ojo Caliente, and no depredations were reported. In the following year the Chiricahua reservation in Arizona was abolished, and 325 of the Indians were reproved to the San Carlos agency; others joined their kindred at Ojo Caliente, while some either remained on the mountains of their old reservation or fled across the Mexican border.

This removal of Indians from their ancestral homes was in pursuance of a policy of concentration, which was tested in the Chiricahua removal in Arizona. In April 1877, Geronimo and other chiefs, with the remnant of the band left on the old reservation, and evidently the Mexican refugees, began depredations in south Arizona and north Chihuahua, but in May 433 were captured and returned to San Carlos.

At the same time the policy was applied to the Ojo Caliente Apache of New Mexico, who were making good progress in civilized pursuits; but when the plan was put is action only 450 of 2,000 Indians were found, the remainder forming, into predatory bands under Victorio. In September 300 Chiricahua, mainly of the Ojo Caliente band from San Carlos, but surrendered many engagements. These were returned to Ojo Caliente, but they soon ran off again. In February, 1878, Victorio rendered in the hope that he and his people night remain on their former reservation, but another attempt was made to force the Indians to go to was Carlos, with the same result. In June the fugitives again appeared at the Mescalero agency, and arrangements were at last made for them to settle there; but, as the local authorities found indictments against Victorio and others, charged them with murder and robbery, this chief, with his few immediate follower, and some Mescaleros, fled from the reservation and resumed marauding. A call was trade for an increased force of military, but in the skirmishes in which they were engaged the Chiricahua met with remarkable success, while 70 settlers were murdered daring a single raid. Victorio was joined before April, 1880, by 350 Mescaleros and Chiricahua refugees from Mexico, and the repeated raids which followed struck terror to the inhabitants of New Mexico, Arizona, and Chihuahua, On April 13 1,000 troops arrival, and their number was later greatly augmented. Victorio’s hand was frequently encountered by superior forces, and although supported during most of the time by only 250 or 300 fighting men, this warrior usually inflicted severer punishment than he suffered. In these raids 200 citizens of New Mexico, and as many more of Mexico, were killed. At one time the band was virtually surrounded by a force of more than 2,000 cavalry and several hundred Indian scouts, but Victorio eluded capture and fled across the Mexican border, where he continued his bloody campaign. Pressed on both sides of the international boundary, and at times harassed by United States and Mexican troops combined, Victorio finally suffered severe losses and his band became divided.

In October, 1880, Mexican troops encountered Victorio’s party, comprising 100 warriors, with 400 women and children, at Tres Castillos; the Indians were surrounded and attacked in the evening, the fight continuing throughout the night; in the morning the ammunition of the Indians became exhausted, but although rapidly losing strength, the remnant refused to surrender until Victorio, who had been wounded several times, finally fell dead. This disaster to the Indians did not quell their hostility. Victorio was succeeded by Nana, who collected the divided force, received reinforcements from the Mescaleros and the San Carlos Chiricahua, and between July, 1881, and April, 1882, continued the raids across the border until he was again driven back in Chihuahua. While these hostilities were in progress in New Mexico and Chihuahua the Chiricahua of San Carlos were striking terror to the settlements of Arizona.

In 1880 Juh and Geronimo with 108 followers were captured and returned to San Carlos. In 1881 trouble arose among the White Mountain Coyoteros on Cibicu Creek, owing to a medicine-man named Nakaidoklini, who pretended power to revive the dead. After pacing him liberally for his services, his adherents awaited the resurrection until August, when Nakaidoklini avowed that his incantations failed because of the presence of whites. Since affairs were assuming a serious aspect, the arrest of the prophet was ordered; he surrendered quietly, but as the troops were making camp the scouts and other Indians opened fire on them. After a sharp fight Nakaidoklini was killed and his adherents were repulsed. Skirmishes continued the next day, but the troops were reinforced, and the Indians soon surrendered in small bands. Two chiefs, known as George and Bonito, who had not been engaged in the White Mountain troubles, surrendered to Gen. Wilcox on Sept. 25 at Camp Thomas, but were paroled.

On Sept. 30 Col. Riddle was sent to bring these chiefs and their bands back to Camp Thomas, but they became alarmed and fled to the Chiricahua, 74 of whom left the reserve, and, crossing the Mexican border, took refuge with the late Victorio’s band in Chihuahua. In the same year Nana made one of his bloody raids across the line, and in September Juh and Nahche, with a party of Chiricahua, again fled from the reservation, and were forced by the troops into Mexico, where, in April, 1882, they were joined by Geronimo and the rest of the hostile Chiricahua of San Carlos, with Loco and his Ojo Caliente band. The depredations committed in river Chihuahua under Geronimo and other leaders were perhaps even more serious than those within the limits of the United States. In March, 1883, Chato with 26 followers made a clash into New Mexico, murdering a dozen persons. Meanwhile the white settlers on the upper Gila consumed so much of the water of. that stream as to threaten the Indian crops; then coal was discovered on the reservation, which brought an influx of miners, and an investigation by the Federal grand jury of Arizona on Oct. 24. 1882, charged the mismanagement of Indian affairs on San Carlos reservation to local civil authorities.

Gen. G. H. Crook having been reassigned to the command, in 1882 induced about 1,500 of the hostiles to return to the reservation and subsist by their own exertions. The others, about three-fourths of the tribe, refused to settle down to reservation life and repeatedly went on the warpath; when promptly followed by Crook they would surrender and agree to peace, but would soon break their promises.

To this officer had been assigned the task of bringing the raiding Apache to terms in cooperating with the Mexican troops of Sonora and Chihuahua. In May, 1883, Crook crossed the boundary to the headwaters of the Rio Yaqui with 50 troops and 163 Apache scouts; on the 13th the camp of Chato and Bonito was discovered and attacked with some loss to the Indians. Through two captives employed as emissaries, communication was soon had with the others, and by May 29 354 Chiricahua had surrendered. On July 7 the War Department assumed police control of the San Carlos reservation, and on Sept. 1 the Apache were placed under the sole charge of Crook, who began to train them in the ways of civilization, with such success that in 1884 over 4,000 tons of grain, vegetables, and fruits were harvested.

In Feb. 1885, Crook’s powers were curtailed, an act that led to conflict of authority between the civil and military officers, and before matters could be adjusted half the Chiricahua left the reservation in May and fled to their favorite haunts. Troops and Apache scouts ware again sent forward, and many skirmishes took place, but the Indians were wary, and again Arizona and New Mexico were thrown into a state of excitement and dread by raids across the American border, resulting in the murder of 73 white people and many friendly Apache.

In Jan. 1886, the American camp under Capt. Crawford was attacked through misunderstanding by Mexican irregular Indian troops, resulting in Crawford’s death. By the following March the Apache became tired of the war and asked for a parley, which Crook granted as formerly, but before the time for the actual surrender of the entire force arrived the wily Geronimo changed his mind and with his immediate band again fled beyond reach. His escape led to censure of Crook’s policy; he was consequently relieved at his own request in April, and to Gen. Nelson A. Miles was assigned the completion of the task.

Geronimo and his band finally surrendered Sept. 4, 1886, and with numerous friendly Apache were sent to Florida as prisoners. They were later taken to Mt. Vernon, Ala., thence to Ft Sill, Okla., where they have made progress toward civilization. Some of the hostiles were never captured, but remained in the mountains, and as late as Nov. 1900, manifested their hostile character by an attack on Mormon settlers in Chihuahua.. Apache hostility in Arizona and New Mexico, however,has entirely ceased.

  • Consult: Hodge in Encyclopedia Britannica, “Indians,” 1902.

Apache Indians Culture

Being a nomadic people, the Apache practiced agriculture only to a limited extent before their permanent establishment on reservations. They subsisted chiefly on the products of the chase and on roots (especially that of the maguey) and berries. Although fish and bear were found in abundance in their country they were not eaten, being tabued as food. They had few arts, but the women attained high skill in making baskets. Their dwellings were shelters of brush, which were easily erected by the women and were well adapted to their arid environment and constant shifting. In physical appearance the Apache vary greatly, but are rather above the medium height. They are good talkers, are not readily deceived, and are honest in protecting property placed in their care, although they formerly obtained their chief support from plunder seized in their forays.

The Apache are divided into a number of tribal groups which have been so differently named and defined that it is sometimes difficult to determine to which branch writers refer. The most commonly accepted divisions are the Querechos or Vaqueros, consisting of the Mescaleros, Jicarillas, Faraones, Llaneros, and probably the Lipan; the Chiricahua; the Pinaleños; the Coyoteros, comprising the White Mountain and Pinal divisions; the Arivaipa; the Gila Apache, including the Gilenos, Mimbrenos, and Mogollones; and the Tontos.

Apache Nation

The official designation of the divisions, with their population in 1903, is as follows:

  • White Mountain Apache (comprising the Arivaipa, Tsiltaden or Chilion, Chiricahua, Coyoteros, Mimbrenos, Mogollones, finals, ‘”San Carlos,” and Tontos), under Ft Apache agency, 2,058;
  • Apache consisting of the same divisions as above, under San Carlos agency, 2,275;
  • Apache at Angora, Ariz., 38;
  • Jicarillas under school superintendent in New Mexico, 782; Mescaleros under Mescalero agency, N. Mex., 464;
  • Chiricahua at Ft Sill, Okla., 298;
  • Kiowa Apache, under Kiowa agency, Okla., 156.

Besides these there were 19 Lipan in northwest Chihuahua, some of the survivors of a tribe which, owing to their hostility, was almost destroyed, chiefly by Mexican Kickapoo cooperating with Mexican troops. This remnant was removed from Zaragoza, Coahuila, to Chihuahua in Oct., 1903, and a year later were brought to the U. S. and placed under the Mescalero agency in New Mexico. Until 1904 there lived with the Apache of Arizona a number of Indians of Yuman stock, particularly “Mohave Apache,” or Yavapai, but these are now mostly established at old Camp McDowell. The forays and conquests of the Apache resulted in the absorption of a large foreign element, Piman, Yuman, and Spanish, although captives were treated with disrespect and marriages with them broke clan ties.

The Pinal Coyoteros, and evidently also the Jicarillas, had some admixture of Pueblo blood. The Tontos were largely of mixed blood according to Corbusier, but Hrdlicka’s observations show them to be pure Apache. Tribes or bands known or supposed to be Apache, but not otherwise identifiable, are the following: Alacranes, Animas, Bissarhar, Chafalote, Cocoyes, Colina, Doestoe, Goolkizzen, Janos, Jocomes, Tejua, Tremblers, Zillgaw.

The Apache are divided into many clans which, however, are not totemic and they usually take their names from the natural features of localities, never from animals. Like clans of different Apache tribes recognize their affiliation.

The Juniper clan found by Bourse among the White Mountain Apache at San Carlos agency and Ft Apache 1 , called by them Yogoyekayden, reappears as Chokonni among the Chiricahna and as Yagoyecayn among the final Coyoteros.

The White Mountain Apache have a clan called Destchin (Red Paint), which is correlated to the Chic clan of the Chiricahua and appears to have separated from the Satchin (Red Rock) clan, both being represented among the Navaho by the Dhestshini (Red Streak). The Carrizo clan, Klokadakaydn, of San Carlos agency and Ft Apache is the Khugaducayn (Arrow Reed) of the Pinal Coyoteros. Tutzose, the Water clan of the Pinal Coyoteros, is found also among the White Mountain Apache, who have a Walnut clan, called Chiltneyadnaye, as the Pinal Coyotero have one called Chisnedinadinave.

Natootzuzn (Point of Mountain), a clan at San Carlos agency, corresponds to Nagosugn, a Pinal Coyotero clan.

Tizsessinaye (Little Cottonwood Jungle of the former) seems to have divided into the clans Titsessinaye of the Pinal Coyotero, of the same signification, and Destchetinaye (Tree in a Spring of Water). Kayhatin is the name of the Willow clan among both, and the Navaho have one, called Kai. Tzisequittzillan (Twin Peaks) of the White Mountain Apache, Tziltadin (Mountain Slope) of the Pinal Coyotero, and Navaho Dsilanothilni (Encircled Mountain), and Tsayiskidhni (Sagebrush Hill), are supposed by Bourke to have had a common origin. And there are many others traceable in the various Apache divisions and in the Navaho.

Apache Bands

The Apache Tribe was broken down into bands which is similar to a clan. Very little information is known about these bands or they no longer exist.

Akonye (people of the canyon). An Apache band at San Carlos agency and Ft Apache, Ariz., in 1881; probably coordinate with the Khonagani clan of the Navaho. 2

Apaches del Perrillo (Span.: Apaches of the little dog ). A band of Apache occupying, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the region of the Jornada del Muerto, near the Rio Grande, in s. N. Mex., where a spring was found by a dog, thus saving the Spaniards much suffering from thirst. They were probably a part of the Mescaleros or of the Mimbreños of later date. (F. W. H. )

Apaches del Quartelejo. A band of Jicarillas which in the 17th and 18th centuries resided in the valley of Beaver cr., Scott co. , Kans. The district was called Quartelejo by Juan Uribarri, who on taking possession in 1706 named it the province of San Luis, giving the name Santo Domingo to the Indian rancheria. See Quartelejo. (F. W. H.)

Apaches Mansos ( Span.: tame Apaches ). An Apache band of Arizona consisting of 100 persons 3 . Apparently so called by the Mexicans in contradistinction to the more warlike Apache.

Apatsiltlizhihi (black [tlizhi] Apache). A division of the Jicarilla Apache who claim the district of Mora, N. Mex., as their former home. (J.M.)

Bissarhar ( Indians with many bridles) . A division of the Apache under chiefs Goodegoya and Santos in 1873-75. 4

Calchufines. A band of Jicarilla Apache living in 1719 on Arkansas r., in the present s. E. Colorado. 5

Carrizo A small band of Apache, probably the clan Klokadakaydn, Carrizo or “Arrow-reed people, q. v. The name is also applied to a Navaho locality and to those Indians living about Carrizo mts., northeast Arizona. 6 . In the latter case it has no ethnic significance.

Chafalote. An Apache tribe or band of Sonora, Mexico, mentioned in connection with the Gileños and Faraones by Orozco y Berra 7 and by Malte-Brun 8 ; otherwise unknown.

Chiltneyadnaye (walnut). An Apache clan or band at San Carlos agency and Ft Apache, Ariz., in 1881; coordinate with the Chisnedinadinaye of the Final Coyoteros. 9

Chisnedinadinaye (walnut) A clan or band of the Pinal Coyoteros 10 , coordinate with the Chiltneyadnaye clan of the White Mountain Apache.

Colina (small hill). A wild tribe of New Mexico in the 18th century 11 ; not identified, but probably an Apache band.

Conejeros (Span.: rabbit men ). An unidentified Apache band, mentioned by Barcia 12 : ” In 1596 the Apaches called Conejeros destroyed a people they described as red and white who had come from Florida. The Spaniards could not ascertain of what nation they were nor find traces of their journey.”

Destchin (red paint). An Apache band or clan at San Carlos agency and Ft Apache, Ariz., in 1881 13 ; coordinate with the Chie of the Chiricahua and the Theshchini of the Navaho.

Doestoe (live where there are large falls of water). A subdivision of Apache under chiefs Chiquito and Disalin in 1875.

Gadinchin (‘rush, reed grass’). Given as a clan of the Pinal Coyotero living in 1881 at San Carlos agency, Ariz. Bourke in Jour. Am. Folk-lore, in, 112, 1890.

Gontiel (broad river). Given as an Apache clan at San Carlos agency and Ft Apache, Ariz., in 1881 14 . The name indicates a former habitat on Gila r.

Goolkizzen (spotted country). A band of Apache, probably Coyoteros, formerly under chief Nakaidoklini. 15

Guhlkainde (Gû´l‘ka-ĭ´nde, ‘plains people’). A division of the Mescalero Apache who claim as their original habitat the Staked plains region E. of Pecos River, in New Mexico and Texas.

Indelchidnti (pine). An Apache clan or band at San Carlos agency and Ft Apache, Ariz., in 1881 16 ; identical with Indilche-dentiene, ‘Live in country with large pine trees, 17 a band formerly under chief Narchubeulecolte.

Inoschuochn (bear berry). An Apache clan or band at San Carlos agency and Ft Apache, Ariz., in 1881.

Iyaaye (I-ya-áye, sunflower). An Apache clan or band at San Carlos agency and Ft Apache in 1881. 18

For Further Study on Apache Tribe:


  1. Bourse, Jour. Am. Folklore, III, 112, 1890[]
  2. Bourke in Journ. Am. Folk-Lore, III, 1890.[]
  3. Browne, Apache Country, 291, 1869[]
  4. White, Apache Names of Indian Tribes, MS., B. A. E.[]
  5. Villa-Señor y San chez, Theatre Am., pt. 2, 412, 1748.[]
  6. Cortez, 1799, in Pac. R. R. Rep., in, pt. 3, 119, 1856[]
  7. Orozco y Berra, Geog., 59, 1864[]
  8. Malte-Brun Congres Amer., II, 37, 1877[]
  9. Bourke in Jour. Am. Folk-lore, III, 112, 1890.[]
  10. Ibid.[]
  11. Villa-Senor, Theatro Am., II, 412, 1748[]
  12. Barcia, Ensayo Cronologico, 169, 1723[]
  13. Bourke, op. cit., III, 111, 1890[]
  14. Bourke, op. cit., III, 112, 1890[]
  15. White, Apache Names of Indian Tribes, MS., B. A. E., 1875.[]
  16. Bourke, op.cit., III, 111, 1890[]
  17. White, Apache Names of Indian Tribes, MS., B. A. E.[]
  18. Ibid.[]


Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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