Apache people are one of the native/indigenous Americans who came from far north to settle on the plains and southwest around 850 A.D. They established homes in the three desert regions, the great basin, the Sonsran and the Chihuachuan. This group moves in some areas that were occupied at the same time or recently abandoned by other communities leaving more austere set of tools and material goods behind.
A tribe called the Navojo shared Athabscan language with Apache which originated in their homeland of Northwestern Canada. Linguistic similarity shows Apache and Navojo were once a single ethnic group. Apache tribe consisted of six sub tribes which are: Western Apache, Western Apache, Kiowa, Jicarilla, Chiricahua, Lipan and Mescalero.
Apache tribe was traditionally powerful and skillful warfare wise. Other tribes feared the Apachean; they raided for food and other economic benefits. “Of the hundreds of peoples that lived and flourished in native North America, few have been so consistently misrepresented as the Apacheans of Arizona and New Mexico. Glorified by novelists, sensationalized by historians, and distorted beyond credulity by commercial film makers, the popular image of ‘the Apache’ — a brutish, terrifying semi human bent upon wanton death and destruction — is almost entirely a product of irresponsible caricature and exaggeration.
Indeed, there can be little doubt that the Apache has been transformed from a native American into an American legend, the fanciful and fallacious creation of a non-Indian citizenry whose inability to recognize the massive treachery of ethnic and cultural stereotypes has been matched only by its willingness to sustain and inflate them.”
Western Apache historically occupied large part of eastern Arizona which included White Mountain, and Carlos, southern and northern Tonto bands. Due to their nomadic nature of living, the apache people created less significant habits than other southern groups.
Almost all the Apachean people lived in extended family units. An extended family generally consisted of a husband and wife , their unmarried children, their married daughters and their families including husbands hence , the extended family combine women that live together in which men leave their parents family behind. All men avoided wife’s close relatives and mother in-laws. They were not allowed to be on sight of his relatives that he was in a restricted relationship with.
Political control was present at the local group level. Local group levels were several extended families working together, they carried out certain ceremonies, economic and military activities. Local groups were headed by a chief who was a male who had considerable influence in the group due to his effectiveness and reputation.
The chief was almost the leader in Apachean cultures. The position was not hereditary and was filled by different members of different extended families. Many Apachean people united several local groups into bands.
Women were the one to make house for the families. The house was a circular dome-shaped with the floor at ground level. It was about seven feet high at the centre and about eight feet in diameter. It had grass thatched roof with a smoke hole above the central fire place. A hide suspended at the entrance acted as a door. In the interior, it was lined with brush and grass beds making it warm and comfortable.
Apache people hunted for food, clothing, shelter and blankets. They hunted deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, fox, buffaloes, bears and mountain lions. Food was important to Apache people but they considered some animals unclean to consume them for food. These animals are; fish, dogs and snakes. Eagles were also hunted not for food but for their feathers.
Every man in the Apache community hunted to feed his family, boy were taught how to move quickly and quietly in the forest to get the target for food. The first thing an Apache man did is to grease his body with animal fat to get ride of the human smell from his body thus attracting the prey.
Gathering of plants and other foodstuffs was the work of the females. However, gathering of heavy and bulky agave crowns men helped. Different Apachean groups grew domestic plants. Some like Navojo, jicarilla and Lipan did cultivation but in lesser extent. The tribe exchanged buffalo hides, tallow and meat, bones that were used as needles and scrappers for hides and salt from the desert with other communities for cotton pottery, turquoise, blankets and other goods.
RELIGION AND CEREMONIES
They referred ceremonies as dances. They included the sunrise dance for young women, a puberty right, spirit dance, rain dance and the harvest and good crop dance. The Apache people were very devoted to religion and prayed on many occasions, their spirit was believed to dwell in land of peace free from disease and death.
Several reservations of the Apache people have lead in commercial development of reservation resources. These include; the White Mountain Apache of Arizona that today manages the Fort Apache Timber Company and the Sunrise Park Ski Resorts.
There are about 560 federal recognized tribal governments in the united state with a total membership of about 1.7 million. There still other several hundred groups seeking recognition, a process that sometime to accomplish. Being recognized federally is to posses the right to establish your own government, enforce laws both criminal, and civil, to tax, to license and regulate and to zone. All these were carried out by federal recognized tribes. But they had some limitations which include; no power to make war, engage in foreign relations or make money (note currency or coins).
For a tribe to receive federal recognition and benefits it gets, it must prove their continuous existence since 1900. Each of the criteria demands exceptional historical, genealogical and anthropological research and presentation of solid evidence to support the research. Tribes became recognized legally through treaties, presidential proclamation or through executive orders.
Federal recognition is important for tribes because it formally establishes a government to government relationship giving the tribe the sovereign status which has significant rights, including exemption from state and local jurisdiction. In addition the federally recognized tribes are qualified to participate in federal assistance program which helped them provide community services from the funds they get from the programs.
Native Americans have been living in America long before the white people settled in on the American soil. There was approximately tem millions Native Americans living in North America when the Europeans arrived. It is understood that the natives arrived 20,000-30,000 years ago. All this Natives had their mode of living and some shared cultural values like the Apache and the navojo.
Most federally recognized tribes benefited from the government programs such as scholarships, development and even cultural conservation initiatives.
- Basso, Keith H. (1969). Western Apache witchcraft. Anthropological papers of the University of Arizona (No. 15). Tucson: University of Arizona Press
- Opler, Morris E. (1983). The Apachean culture pattern and its origins. In A. Ortiz (Ed.), Handbook of North American Indians: Southwest (Vol. 10, pp. 368-392).
- Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. Terrell, John Upton. (1972). Apache chronicle. World Publishing. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/2897/