The Apache (/əˈpætʃiː/; French: [a.paʃ]) are culturally related Native American tribes from the Southwestern United States, and have traditionally lived in Eastern Arizona, Northern Mexico (Sonora and Chihuahua), New Mexico, West Texas, and Southern Colorado.
These areas are collectively known as Apacheria. Their collective homelands consist of high mountains, sheltered and watered valleys, deep canyons, deserts, and the southern Great Plains. The 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.
Apache groups are politically autonomous. The major groups speak several different languages and developed distinct and competitive cultures. The current post-colonial division of Apache groups includes Western Apache, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan, and Plains Apache (also known as the Kiowa-Apache). Apache groups live in Oklahoma and Texas and on reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. Apache people have moved throughout the United States and elsewhere, including urban centers.
Essa-queta, Plains Apache chief
Many American Indians stayed in present-day Mexico in the State of Chihuahua near the Sierra Madre occidental called “Sierra Tarahumara”.
Many of the historical names of Apache groups that were recorded by non-Apache are difficult to match to modern-day tribes or their subgroups. Over the centuries, many Spanish, French and English-speaking authors did not differentiate between Apache and other semi-nomadic non-Apache peoples who might pass through the same area. Most commonly, Europeans learned to identify the tribes by translating their exonym, what another group whom the Europeans encountered first called the Apache peoples. Europeans often did not learn what the peoples called themselves, their autonyms.
While anthropologists agree on some traditional major subgrouping of Apaches, they have often used different criteria to name finer divisions, and these do not always match modern Apache groupings. Some scholars do not consider groups residing in what is now Mexico to be Apache. In addition, an Apache individual has different ways of identification with a group, such as a band or clan, as well as the larger tribe or language grouping, which can add to the difficulties in an outsider comprehending the distinctions.
In 1900, the U.S. government classified the members of the Apache tribe in the United States as Pinal Coyotero, Jicarilla, Mescalero, San Carlos, Tonto, and White Mountain Apache. The different groups were located in Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
In the 1930s, the anthropologist Grenville Goodwin classified the Western Apache into five groups (based on his informants’ views of dialect and cultural differences): White Mountain, Cibecue, San Carlos, North Tonto, and South Tonto. Since then, other anthropologists (e.g. Albert Schroeder) consider Goodwin’s classification inconsistent with pre-reservation cultural divisions. Willem de Reuse finds linguistic evidence supporting only three major groupings: White Mountain, San Carlos, and Dilzhe’e (Tonto). He believes San Carlos is the most divergent dialect, and that Dilzhe’e is a remnant, intermediate member of a dialect continuum that previously spanned from the Western Apache language to the Navajo.
John Upton Terrell classifies the Apache into western and eastern groups. In the western group, he includes Toboso, Cholome, Jocome, Sibolo or Cibola, Pelone, Manso, and Kiva or Kofa. He includes Chicame (the earlier term for Hispanized Chicano or New Mexicans of Spanish/Hispanic and Apache descent) among them as having definite Apache connections or names which the Spanish associated with the Apache.
In a detailed study of New Mexico Catholic Church records, David M. Brugge identifies 15 tribal names which the Spanish used to refer to the Apache. These were drawn from records of about 1000 baptisms from 1704 to 1862.
A Western Apache woman from the San Carlos tribe
Western Apache include Northern Tonto, Southern Tonto, Cibecue, White Mountain and San Carlos groups. While these subgroups spoke the same language and had kinship ties, Western Apaches considered themselves as separate from each other, according to Goodwin. Other writers have used this term to refer to all non-Navajo Apachean peoples living west of the Rio Grande (thus failing to distinguish the Chiricahua from the other Apacheans). Goodwin’s formulation: “all those Apache peoples who have lived within the present boundaries of the state of Arizona during historic times with the exception of the Chiricahua, Warm Springs, and allied Apache, and a small band of Apaches known as the Apache Mansos, who lived in the vicinity of Tucson.”
- Cibecue is a Western Apache group, according to Goodwin, from north of the Salt River between the Tonto and White Mountain Apache, consisting of Ceder Creek, Carrizo, and Cibecue (proper) bands.
- San Carlos. A Western Apache group that ranged closest to Tucson according to Goodwin. This group consisted of the Apache Peaks, Arivaipa, Pinal, San Carlos (proper) bands.
- Arivaipa (also Aravaipa) is a band of the San Carlos Apache. Schroeder believes the Arivaipa were a separate people in pre-reservation times. Arivaipa is a Hispanized word from the O’odham language. The Arivaipa are known as Tsézhiné (“Black Rock”) in the Western Apache language.
- Pinal (also Pinaleños). One of the bands of the San Carlos group of Western Apache, described by Goodwin. Also used along with Coyoteroto refer more generally to one of two major Western Apache divisions. Some Pinaleño were referred to as the Gila Apache.
- Tonto. Goodwin divided into Northern Tonto and Southern Tonto groups, living in the north and west areas of the Western Apache groups according to Goodwin. This is north of Phoenix, north of the Verde River. Schroeder has suggested that the Tonto are originally Yavapais who assimilated Western Apache culture. Tonto is one of the major dialects of the Western Apache language. Tonto Apache speakers are traditionally bilingual in Western Apache and Yavapai. Goodwin’s Northern Tonto consisted of Bald Mountain, Fossil Creek, Mormon Lake, and Oak Creek bands; Southern Tonto consisted of the Mazatzal band and unidentified “semi-bands”.