Apache Nation Historical Timeline
The first intruders were the
Spanish, who penetrated Apache territory in the late 1500s. The Spanish
drive northward disrupted ancient Apache trade connections with
neighboring tribes and nations.
Cochise a tall man, six feet, with broad shoulders and a commanding
appearance. He never met a man his equal, and, like Crazy Horse, was
never photographed. They both were buried in secret locations on their
Cochise angered by the murder of his Father-in-law, Mangas Coloradas
took upon a war campaign.
The Cochise Stronghold, nestled in the Dragoon's canyons, was their
impregnable fortress for many years. Cochise eventually signed the
Broken Arrow Peace Treaty at a prominent area landmark, Council Rock.
His son Naiche signaled the signing with a white flag from atop Treaty
Cochise died in 1874 of natural causes. His body was dress in war
garments. He was decorated in war paint, and feathers. His body was then
wrapped in a brilliant red blanket, and place on his horse. The horse
was guided to a remote place in the Dragoons. The horse was shot and
lowered into the chasm along with Cochise's gun and other arms. Lastly
Cochise was lowered into the rocky cavern by lariats. The location of
this burial site remains a mystery to this day.
There are no formal churches, no religious organizations, no sabbath
day, no holidays, and yet they worship. Sometimes the whole tribe
assembles to sing and pray; sometimes a smaller number, perhaps only two
or three. The songs have a few words, but are not formal. The singer
will occasionally put in such words as he wished instead of the usual
tone sound. Sometimes they prayed in silence; sometimes each one prays
aloud; sometimes an aged person prays for all of us. At other times they
rise and speak to us of our duties to each other and to Usen. The
services are short.
When disease or pestilence abound we assemble and are questioned by our
leaders to ascertain what evil we had done, and how Usen could be sought
for guidance. Sometimes sacrifice is deemed necessary. Sometimes the
offending one is punished.
If an Apache has allowed his aged parents to suffer for food or shelter,
if he has neglected or abused the sick, if he has profaned our religion,
or has been unfaithful, he can be banished from the tribe.
The Apaches have no prisons as white men have. Instead of sending their
criminals into prison they send them out of their tribe or nation. These
faithless, cruel, lazy, or cowardly members of the tribe are excluded in
such a manner that they cannot join any other tribe. Neither can they
have any protection from our unwritten tribal laws.
Frequently these outlaw Indians band together and commit depredations
which were charged against the regular tribe. However, the life of an
outlaw Indian is a hard lot, and their bands never become very large;
besides, these bands frequently provoke the wrath of the tribe and
secured their own destruction.
Assigned in 1855
Established by treaty in 1873
Present reservation established in 1883
According to information furnished by Ellyn Bigrope, Mescalero Museum
Curator, the Executive Order setting aside these lands uses the term
"Mescalero Apache Indians and such other Indians as the Department may
see fit to locate thereon."
The Lipan Apaches from northwest Chihuahua, Mexico were brought to the
United States about 1903 and placed on the Mescalero Reservation. In
1913 almost 200 members of the Chiricahua and Warm Springs bands of
Apaches who had been held as military prisoners since the capture of
Geronimo were moved from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to the Reservation.
The population at the time the Reservation was established was about 400
but now exceeds 3,300 enrolled members of the Tribe. The Lipan and
Chiricahua bands became members of the Mescalero Apache when the Tribe
was organized formally in 1936 under provisions of the Indian
Reorganization Act. All the land within the boundaries is owned by the
Tribe, with the exception of a few privately owned acres. Individual
Indians may be granted the right to use specific tracts called
"assignments," but title and control remains with the Tribe.
Jicarilla reservation established by treaty in 1852
Jicarilla reservation established in 1887
Chiricahua after the death of Cochise (1874) can be found here, as the
Chiricahuas' reservation was terminated and many of the Chiricahua bands
were sent to San Carlos in May 1876.
Geronimo and his band were taken to Fort Bowie and shipped out on a
train to Florida. The rest of the Chiricahua who had remained peaceful
at Turkey Creek were also shamefully shipped to Florida. They had done
nothing to deserve this fate, but General Miles meant to "teach them all
a lesson." Even the Chiricahua scouts who had helped find Geronimo were
sent to Florida! Eventually, the Chiricahua (who managed to survive the
disease and neglect in the East) were sent to Oklahoma, where Geronimo
died in February 1909. In the spring of 1913 most of the Chiricahua
requested that they be allowed to live with their friends the Mescalero
Apaches in New Mexico. They are there to this day. However, some of the
Chiricahua remained in Oklahoma, and some of their descendants also live
It is important to note in there
remained many Chiricahua who escaped capture dispersing onto both sides
of the United States and Mexican borders. Since one could hold property
as a Mexican, Italian, or for that matter any identity that could be
assumed Chiricahua went into deep hiding after war time campaigns. Today
thousands of descendants live as recognized Apache Indians on various
reservations with thousands more dispersed globally. Descendants of
children shipped into Europe and south America live today all efforts to
assimilate the Chiricahua.
Then, in the summer of 1875 eight hundred Apaches were forced from Fort
Apache to the San Carlos Reservation (to what is now Bylas). Over the
next few years 800 more were transferred there. However, 600 refused to
move, and the government finally let them stay at Fort Apache.
Eventually, most of these Apaches returned to Fort Apache (to become the
current White Mountain Apaches), but some remained at Bylas. They live
there to this day.
In May 1876 Clum then was ordered to transfer rebellious Chiricahua to
San Carlos. Their reservation was also terminated. However, Clum was
able to transfer only 325. They settled at what is now Geronimo (near
Fort Thomas). However, 140 Chiricahua fled to their friends the Mimbreño
Apaches on their reservation at Warm Springs, New Mexico. Another 400
escaped from all control whatsoever. Among these 400 was the famous
Bedonkohe medicine man Geronimo (born near the head waters of the Gila
River in what is now known as New Mexico).
But even the peaceful Chiricahua and Mimbreños were not to be left
alone. In the spring of 1877 the Warm Springs Reservation was also
terminated, and the people were removed to San Carlos. The famous
Mimbreño leader Victorio was outraged, as were his friends the
Chiricahua. Geronimo was put in chains by Clum and sent in a wagon to
San Carlos. They were all settled at what is now Geronimo, at that time
a malaria-infested area along the Gila River. The Chiricahuas and
Mimbreños hated the confinement. They were used to ranging far down into
the Sierra Madre of Mexico. Conditions quickly became volatile.
After Clum resigned from his position, no one could control the
Mimbreños and Chiricahuas. Victorio finally broke out in September 1877.
His people were hounded by United States and Mexican armies for hundreds
of miles. They were finally driven deep into the desolate Chihuahua
desert south of Texas. Finally, in October 1880, at Tres Castillos,
Victorio and most of his people were massacred by Mexican troops under
Joaquín Terrazas. Only the remarkable 70-year-old Nana and a few of his
followers escaped. For two months in the summer of 1881 Nana eluded 1400
troops in a thousand-mile campaign with only 40 warriors. He later
joined with Geronimo.
Cibecue Massacre Site
By the summer of 1881 conditions were truly unbearable on the San Carlos
Reservation. Soon, an austere medicine-man at Fort Apache,
Noch-ay-del-klinne, began preaching that two dead beloved Indian leaders
would be resurrected and the white man would leave Apache country. The
military began to fear his influence. In August 1881 the troops killed
the medicine man at Cibecue, and Geronimo decided that he could no
longer live in peace. In the spring of 1882 he returned to San Carlos
and made what Chiricahuas he could go with him to Mexico.
Today many Chiricahua are
identifiable on every Apache reservation. Many more are now coming
together in various groups and sub groups even taking steps towards
nationhood. The important fact is the Chiricahua Apache Nation still
exists and has an ongoing history that to this day is filled with the
same passion that made such famous leaders of the people. Blood lines
are strong for these fierce brave people who remain the strength of the