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In these he was expected to fulfill a warrior's role, do all of the work at each camp, and learn from veterans. If he conducted himself properly, after four raids he was accepted as a warrior. Many youths refused to go on raids, and others were rejected as unfit.


Those who failed to qualify as warriors were treated with contempt. The hardy warrior produced by this exacting process was a relentless and pitiless foe, a master at stealth, surprise, and flight. His endurance was incredible; a warrior on foot could cover seventy miles in a day.

Apaches scorned heroics: if they could not gain overwhelming advantage over an enemy by stealth, it was foolish to risk battle. There were too few men—none of the Apache divisions numbered more than a few thousand, including women and children—and Apache warriors could not afford to be cavalier with their lives. When cornered or protecting their women and children, however, they fought with reckless abandon, and it was a frontier adage that an Apache became more dangerous when he was wounded. Once out of range of enemy weapons, Apaches often slapped their buttocks and made other derisive gestures at their foes.

Both the Apaches and their kinsmen, the Navajos, belonged to the widespread Athapascan linguistic family, apparently the last migratory wave from Asia before the Eskimos reached this continent. Despite their late arrival in North America Athapascans were soon scattered from northwestern Canada to northern Mexico. It is not certain just when the ancestral groups of Apaches reached the Southwest, but they were well entrenched in some of their favorite ranges when Spaniards first visited their lands during the sixteenth century.

Although anthropologists disagree on the approximate arrival time, many are convinced that the Athapascans were relative latecomers to the region. The Apaches were thoroughly at home, however, in the Southwest, and it seems unlikely that they could have become so acclimated to the rigorous desert and mountain environment in a short time.

Apaches found life-sustaining food and water where others would have perished, and their intimate knowledge of a vast and uninviting terrain indicates that they had lived in the region long enough to become completely at home in it. The names by which we know these bands were ones the Spaniards had applied to them by the late eighteenth century. Although the Navajos could be included and considered as Apaches along with the other southern Athapascans, they are customarily treated separately and will, therefore, be omitted here.

Jicarilla means "little basket" in Spanish and was the name given the Apache band skilled in making vessels of basketry. The Jicarillas, who roamed over northeastern New Mexico and southern Colorado, were never numerous, numbering less than one thousand. For much of the period since they were on friendly terms with the Mescaleros but not with the Navajos, though all spoke the same Athapascan language. The Jicarillas had periods of both hostility and friendship with the Spaniards, often joining them on expeditions against other tribes.

The Mescaleros literally, "mescal-makers" of central and southeastern New Mexico and western Texas were so called because of their custom of using mescal for food. Although the name was applied only to this group, most Apache bands used mescal. Both were closely related to the Chiricahuas of southern Arizona—so closely, in fact, that they are frequently designated as Eastern Chiricahuas. This was Cochise's band. Because all of these bands lived in rough, arid country, they did not attempt to plant crops but obtained food exclusively by hunting and gathering.

Indigenous peoples of the North American Southwest

Although all Apaches were nomads, each group had a favorite base, a refuge in which to store food for winter and from which to set out on raids. Because of their remoteness from Spanish settlements, these peoples and the regions they occupied were little known to the Spaniards before Jesuit missionaries moved north from Sonora late in the seventeenth century. The various Apache divisions they were not tribes in the usual sense were known to Spaniards by a multitude of descriptive names before their modern designations were adopted.

Because of this, and because some Apache bands changed locations, it is not always clear from Spanish accounts which band was involved in any particular incident. In addition to the divisions and bands listed above, there were other warlike peoples who may also have been members of the Athapascan linguistic family, who were nearly always mentioned in conjunction with Apaches, and who were occasionally given that designation.

A number of tribes forming the most southerly group of the Athapascan family. They were evidently not so numerous about the beginning of the 17th century as in recent times, their numbers apparently having been increased by captives from other tribes, particularly the Pueblo, Pima, Papago, and other peaceful Indians, as well as from the settlements of northern Mexico that were gradually established within the territory raided by them, although recent measurements by Hrdlicka seem to indicate unusual freedom from foreign admixtures.

From the time of the Spanish colonization [page 4]. Being a nomadic people, the Apache practiced agriculture only to a limited extent before their permanent establishment on reservations.

They subsisted chiefly on the products of the chase and on roots especially that of the maguey and berries. Although fish and bear were found in abundance in their country, they were not eaten, being rejected as food.

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They had few arts, but the women attained high skill in making baskets. Their dwellings were shelters of brush, which were easily erected by the women and were well adapted to their arid environment and constant shifting. In physical appearance the Apache vary greatly, but are rather above the medium height.

They are good talkers, are not readily [page 5]. The Apaches were divided into a number of tribal groups which have been so differently named and defined that it is sometimes difficult to determine to which branch writers refer. The most commonly accepted divisions were the. The forays and conquests of the Apache resulted in the absorption of a large foreign element, Piman, Yuman, and Spanish, although captives were treated with disrespect and marriages with them broke clan ties.

The Pinal Coyoteros, and evidently also the Jicarillas, had some admixture of Pueblo blood. The Tontos were largely of mixed blood according to Corbusier, but Hrdlicka's observations show them to be pure Apache. An Apache tribe whose home was in the canyon of Aravaipa creek, a tributary of the Rio San Pedro, southern [page 6]. An important division of the Apache, so called from their former mountain home in southeastern Arizona. Their own name is Aiaha. The Tartar Chinese speak the dialect of the Apaches.

The Apaches bear a striking resemblance to the Tartar. About the year , W. His kitchen adjoined his sleeping apartment, and one evening while in his [page 13]. In this connection it may be stated that the swastika, which is an oriental emblem, is found on the painted rocks in the range of mountains south of Phoenix, according to Herbert R. Patrick, and this sign is used by most of the Arizona Indians in their basketry. Prairies, 1, , ]; but it seems more probable that the name was applied on account of their roving habit, living on the natural products of the desert rather than by agriculture or hunting.

A division of the Apache, geographically [page 14]. They ranged, however, about the sources of the Gila, over the Mogollon mesa, and from northern Arizona to the Gila, and even southward. They are now under the San Carlos and Fort Apache agencies, where they are officially classed as Coyoteros. They are reputed by tradition to have been the first of the Apache to have penetrated below the Little Colorado among the pueblo peoples, with whom they intermarried.

They possessed the country from the San Francisco Mountains to the Gila, until they were subdued by General Crook in Since then they have peaceably tilled their land at San Carlos. White, for several years a surgeon at Fort Apache, says that they have soft, musical voices, uttering each word in a sweet, pleasant tone. He noted also their light hearted, childish ways and timid manner, their pleasant expression of countenance, and the beauty of their women. Married women [page 15]. A division of the Apache, evidently more closely related to the Chiricahua than to any other group.

They are now under the San Carlos and Fort Apache agencies, Arizona, being officially known as Pinals, but their numbers are not separately reported. The term Tontos was therefore applied by writers of the 19th century to practically all the Indians roaming between the White Mountains of Arizona and the Colorado river, comprising parts of two linguistic families, [page 16]. A part of the Apache dwelling at the San Carlos agency, Arizona.

The name Gila, or Xila, was apparently originally that of an Apache settlement west of Socorro, in southwestern New Mexico, and as early as was applied to those Apache residing for part of the time on the extreme headwaters of the Rio Gila in that territory, evidently embracing those later known as Mimbrenos, Mogollons and Warm Springs Chiricahua Apaches, and later extended to include the Apache living along the Gila river in Arizona.

The latter were seemingly the Aravaipa and Chiricahua, or a part of them. There were about 4, Indians under this name in , when some of their bands were gathered at Fort Webster, New Mexico, and induced by promises of supplies for a number of years to settle down and begin farming.

They kept the peace and made some progress in industry, but were driven back to a life of pillage when the supplies were stopped, the treaty not having been confirmed.


They are no longer recognized under this name. A branch of the Apache who took their popular name from the Mimbres mountains, southwestern New Mexico, but who roamed over the country from the east side of the Rio Grande in New Mexico to the San Francisco river in Arizona, a favorite haunt being near Lake Guzman, west of El Paso, in Chihuahua.

The Apaches: Eagles of the Southwest

In habits they were similar to the other Apache, gaining a livelihood by raiding settlements in New Mexico, Arizona and Mexico. They made peace with the Mexicans from time to time, and before were supplied with rations by the military post at Janos, Chihuahua. They were sometimes called Coppermine Apaches on account of their occupancy of the territory in which the Santa Rita mines in southwestern New Mexico are situated.

The Indians of this tribe under Mangus Colorado, intermarried with the Chiricahuas, and upon the death of that chief joined with Cochise. Geronimo, Loco and Victorio, were among their noted chiefs. Formerly the Sierra Blanca Apache, a part of the Coyoteros, so called on account of their mountain home.

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