Native American Tribes Nations and Confederacies: Apache

Apache, the native North Americans tribe of the Southwest is composed of six culturally related groups who originally came to the area around 1100. The Apache language has various dialects and belongs to the Athabascan branch of the Nadene linguistic stock.

The Navajo, Chiricahua, the Coyotero, and the White Mountain Apache, were once part of the Western Apache; the other groups east of the Rio Grande along the mountains were the Jicarilla, the Lipan, and the Mescalero groups. The Kiowa Apache attached themselves to the Kiowa in the early southward migration, and this has lead to their history being entwined ever since.

In the historic times of the Apache tribe, subsistence 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 matri-local residence, a rigorous mother-in-law avoidance pattern, and the husband's working for the wife's relatives.

Historically the Apache are known for their fierce fighting qualities as they successfully resisted the advance of Spanish colonization, however the acquisition the horses and new weapons that they had taken from the Spanish, led to increased intertribal warfare. The Eastern Apache were driven from their traditional plains area when they suffered a defeat at the hands of the advanced Comanche.

Relations between the Apache and the white settlers gradually worsened with the passing of Spanish rule in Mexico and by the mid-19th century Apache lands were in the path of the American westward movement bringing the conflict to a head.

The strong but futile resistance that lasted until the beginning of the 20th century 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 in Arizona and New Mexico and retain many tribal customs. Cattle, timber, tourism, and the development of mineral resources provide their income. In 1982 the Apaches won a major Supreme Court test of their right to tax resources extracted from their lands and in 1995, after much debate, the Mescalero Apache agreed to build a nuclear-waste storage site on their New Mexico reservation. The project is expected to produce about $250 million in income over the 40-year life of the site.




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