Apache Indians

Apache Indians. Probably from ápachu, “enemy,” the Zuni name for the Navaho who were designated “Apaches de Nabaju” by the early Spaniards in New Mexico. The name has also been applied to some Yuman tribes, the Apache Mohave (Yavapai) and the Apache Yuma. Also called:

  • Ahuádjĕ, Havasupai name for at least Tonto and White Mountain Apache.
  • Ai-a’-ta, Panamint name.
  • Atokúwe, Kiowa name.
  • Awátch or Awatche, Ute name.
  • Chah’-shm, Santo Domingo Keres name.
  • Chïshyë, Laguna name.
  • Ha-ma-kaba-mitt kwa-dig, Mohave name, meaning “far-away Mohave.”
  • H’iwana, Taos name.
  • Igihua’-a, Havasupai name.
  • Inde or Nde, own name.
  • Jarosoma, Pima name (from Kino).
  • Mountain Comanche, by Yoakum (1855-56).
  • Muχtsuhintan, Cheyenne name.
  • Oop, Papago name.
  • Op, or Awp, Pima name.
  • Póanin, Sandia and Isleta name (Hodge, 1895).
  • P’ónin, Isleta name (Gatschet, MS., B. A. E.)..
  • Shis-Inday, own name meaning “men of the woods,” because their winter quarters were always in the forest.
  • Tá-ashi, Comanche name, meaning “turned up,” and having reference to their moccasins.
  • Tagúi, Old Kiowa name.
  • Tágukerésh, Pecos name.
  • Trishǐn, Comanche name (Mooney, 1898).
  • Taχkáhe, Arapaho name.
  • Thah-a-i-nin’, Arapaho name, meaning “people who play on bone instruments,” meaning two bison ribs, one notched, over which the other is rubbed.
  • Tinnä’-ash, Wichita name.
  • Tshishé, Laguna name.
  • Utce-cí-nyu-mûh or Utsaamu, or Yotché-eme, Hopi name.
  • Xa-hë’-to-ño’, Cheyenne name meaning “those who tie their hair back.”

Connections. Together with the Navaho, the Apache constituted the western group of the southern division of the Athapascan linguistic stock (Hoijer, 1938).

Location. In southern New Mexico and Arizona, western Texas, and southeastern Colorado, also ranging over much of northern Mexico. (See also Kansas, Oklahoma, and Mexico.)

Apache Subdivisions

On linguistic grounds Hoijer (1938) divides the southern Athapascans into two main groups, a western and an eastern. The latter includes the Jicarilla, Lipan, and Kiowa Apache, the two former being more closely related to each other than either is to the Kiowa Apache. In the western group Hoijer again distinguishes two major subdivisions, the Navaho, and the San Carlos-Chiricahua-Mescalero. The Navaho are always regarded as a distinct tribe and will be so treated here. Separate treatment is also being given to the Jicarilla, Lipan, and Kiowa Apache. The rest of the southern Athapascans will be placed under the present head, it being freely admitted at the same time that such treatment is mainly a matter of convenience and that it is impossible to say how many and what southern Athapascan divisions should be given tribal status. What is here called the Apache Tribe may be classified as follows with the locations of the divisions, basing the scheme on the classifications of Hoijer and Goodwin (1935) :

  1. 1. San Carlos Group:
    • San Carlos proper:
      • Apache Peaks Band, in the Apache Mountains, northeast of Globe.
      • Arivaipa Band, on Arivaipa Creek.
      • Pinal Band, between Salt and Gila Rivers in Gila and Pinal Counties.
      • San Carlos Band, in the region of San Carlos River between Gila and Salt Rivers.
    • White Mountain Group:
      • Eastern White Mountain Band, in the region of the upper Gila and Salt Rivers in southeastern Arizona.
      • Western White Mountain Band, in the same region between the Eastern Band and the San Carlos Band.
    • Cibecue Group:
      • Canyon Creek Band, centering on Canyon Creek in Gila and Navajo Counties.
      • Carrizo Rand, on Carrizo Creek in Gila County.
      • Cibicue Band, on Cibecue Creek between the two last.
    • Southern Tonto Group:
      • Mazatzal Band, about the Mazatzal Mountains.
      • Six semibands: north of Roosevelt Lake; on the upper Tonto Creek; between the upper Tonto and the East Verde; west of the preceding between the East Verde, Tonto, and Verde; north of the East Verde; and from Cherry Creek to Clear Creek.
    • Northern Tonto Group:
      • Bald Mountain Band, about Bald Mountain, south of Camp Verde.
      • Fossil Creek Band, on Fossil Creek between Gila and Yavapai Counties.
      • Mormon Lake Band, centering on Mormon Lake south of Flagstaff.
      • Oak Creek Band, about Oak Creek south of Flagstaff.
  2. 2. Chiricahua-Mescalero Group:
    • Gilefios Group:
      • Chiricahua Band, about the Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona.
      • Mimbrefio Band, centered in the Mimbres Mountains in southwestern New Mexico.
      • Mogollon Band, about the Mogollon Mountains in Catron and Grant Counties, N. Mex.
      • Warm Spring Band, at the head of Gila River.
    • Mescalero Group:
      • Faraon or Apache Band of Pharaoh, a southern division of the Mescalero. Mescalero Band, mainly between the Rio Grande and Pecos Rivers, N. Mex.

The term Querecho, as well as Vaquero, was applied rather generally to Apache by the Spaniards but probably more particularly to the Mescalero and their allies.
Under Llanero were included Mescalero, Jicarilla, and even some Comanche. The term Coyotero has been applied to some of the San Carlos divisions and recently by Murdock (1941) to all.

Apache History. The Apache tribes had evidently drifted from the north during the prehistoric period, probably along the eastern flanks of the Rocky Mountains. When Coronado encountered them in 1540 under the name Querechos, they were in eastern New Mexico and western Texas, and they apparently did not reach Arizona until after the middle of the sixteenth century. They were first called Apache by Onate in 1598. After that time their history was one succession of raids upon the Spanish territories, and after the United States Government had supplanted that of Mexico in the Southwest, the wars with the Apache constituted some of the most sensational chapters in our military annals. Except for some Apache in Mexico and a few Lipans with the Tonkawa and Kiowa in Oklahoma, these people were finally gathered into reservations in New Mexico and Arizona.

Apache Population. Mooney (1928) estimated that all of the Apache proper numbered 5;000 in 1680. The census of 1910 gives 6,119 Apache of all kinds, excluding only the Kiowa Apache, and the Report of the United States Indian Office for 1923 enumerates 6,630. If an increase has actually occurred, it is to be attributed to the captives taken by these people from all the surrounding tribes and from the Mexicans. The census of 1930 returned 6,537 but this includes the Jicarilla and Lipan. The Apache proper would number about 6,000. However, the Indian Office Report for 1937 gives 6,916 exclusive of the Jicarilla.

Connection in which the Apache have become noted. Apache is one of the best-known Indian tribal names. This is due:

  1. To the warlike character of the people bearing it.
  2. To their constant depredations along the Spanish and American frontiers.
  3. To the severe and difficult fighting made necessary before they were forced to give up their ancient raiding proclivities.

The word Apache has, therefore, been taken over to some extent into literature when it is desired to describe fierce and ruthless individuals, and in this sense it has been given local application to some of the criminal elements of Paris.

The name Apache is given to villages in Cochise County, Ariz., and Caddo County, Okla., and Apache Creek is a place in Catron County, N. Mex.


Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

3 thoughts on “Apache Indians”

  1. I am 40% Apache just found out would like to know more info on how I would go about finding my ancestors heritige and family.

  2. I know my great grandmother was on a reservation in Demming,New Mexico.I am eager to find my Apache heritage but have been estranged from my entire family for over 40 years.Not having much information how do I find out about my Apache heritage?I have so little information.

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