The Apache: A Culturally Rich and Politically Autonomous Native American GroupThe Apache are a group of culturally related Native American tribes in the Southwestern United States, which include the Chiricahua, Jicarilla, Lipan, Mescalero, Mimbreño, Ndendahe (Bedonkohe or Mogollon and Nednhi or Carrizaleño and Janero), Salinero, Plains (Kataka or Semat or "Kiowa-Apache") and Western Apache (Aravaipa, Pinaleño, Coyotero, Tonto). Distant cousins of the Apache are the Navajo, with whom they share the Southern Athabaskan languages. Apache people have moved throughout the United States and elsewhere, including urban centers. The Apache Nations are politically autonomous, speak several different languages, and have distinct cultures.
Homelands and ReservationsHistorically, the Apache homelands have consisted of high mountains, sheltered and watered valleys, deep canyons, deserts, and the southern Great Plains, including areas in what is now Eastern Arizona, Northern Mexico (Sonora and Chihuahua) and New Mexico, West Texas, and Southern Colorado. These areas are collectively known as Apacheria.
Today, Apache communities exist in Oklahoma and Texas, and reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. The largest reservation belongs to the White Mountain Apache Tribe, located in eastern Arizona.
Historical ConflictsThe Apache tribes fought the invading Spanish and Mexican peoples for centuries. The first Apache raids on Sonora appear to have taken place during the late 17th century. In 19th-century confrontations during the American-Indian wars, the U.S. Army found the Apache to be fierce warriors and skillful strategists.
According to historian Edwin R. Sweeney, "No other Native American people was more feared and more respected by the United States Army." Despite being greatly outnumbered and outgunned, the Apache were able to resist and fight back against the U.S. military for several decades.
Cultural SignificanceThe Apache have a rich cultural heritage that includes storytelling, music, and art. One of the most famous Apache leaders, Geronimo, was also a skilled craftsman who made intricate baskets and beadwork.
The Apache were also known for their spiritual beliefs and practices, which included a deep reverence for nature and the land. As stated by historian Morris Edward Opler, "The Apache were deeply religious and had many ceremonies for healing, renewing life, and ensuring success in hunting and warfare."
ConclusionThe Apache are a culturally rich and politically autonomous Native American group with a fascinating history and heritage. Despite centuries of conflict and adversity, the Apache have persevered and continue to thrive in modern times. Their contributions to American culture and history are significant and deserve recognition.