Apache National 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 homeland.

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 Hill.

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 there.

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 Nde People.

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