“I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us. There is one God looking down on us all. We are all the children of one God. The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what we have to say.
The soldiers never explained to the government when an Indian was wronged, but reported the misdeeds of the Indians. We took an oath not to do any wrong to each other.
I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.”
~Geronimo, Apache Medicine Man~
The Apache were (and still are) composed of many different nations, and there are some differences in their history, language and culture, but all of the people are still related and are known as Apache. The Apache were known for their skills as warriors, especially their guerilla war tactics. The name Apache struck fear in the hearts of the Pueblo tribes, and others including the Spanish, Mexican and American settlers. The Apache raided the Pueblo villages for food and livestock. When the Spaniards arrived they hunted Indians to serve as slaves in the silver mines of Chihuahua in northern Mexico. This in turn, caused the Apache to raid the Spanish settlements for cattle, horses, firearms and captives. The fighting prowess of the Apaches became legendary.
White Mountain Apache History
After the Mexican-American War, the United States took control of the New Mexico and Arizona regions. In July of 1869, United States Colonel John Green led a scouting expedition into the White Mountain area, with the intent of killing or capturing any Apache people they encountered. The following is an excerpt of that encounter:
…Army scouts reported finding over 100 acres of cornfields along the White River… An Apache chief that the Anglos called Miguel, visited the camp, and invited Colonel Green to visit his village. Green sent Captain John Barry, urging him “if possible to exterminate the whole village.”
When Captain Barry arrived at Miguel’s village, however, he found white flags “flying from every hut and from every prominent point,” and “the men, women and children came out to meet them and went to work at once to cut corn for their horses, and showed such a spirit of delight at meeting them that the officers [said] if they had fired upon them they would have been guilty of cold-blooded murder…
Green returned to the White Mountains in November, and met again with the Apache leaders…They agreed to the creation of a military post and reservation, and directed Green to the confluence of the East and North Forks of the White River. Green selected the site for a military post. His reasons were the good climate, especially the air which the Indians claimed was healthy and free from malaria. In addition, the land was well wooded and contained an abundance of water. The soil was perfect and fertile. Lumber was readily available from the the pine timber.
The greatest advantage according to Green: This post would be of the greatest advantage for the following reasons: It would compel the White Mountain Indians to live on their reservation or be driven from their beautiful country which they almost worship. It would stop their traffic in corn with the hostile tribes, they could not plant an acre of ground without our permission as we know every spot of it. It would make a good scouting post, being adjacent to hostile bands on either side. Also a good supply depot for Scouting expeditions from other posts, and in fact, I believe, would do more to end the Apache War than anything else.
In 1879, after many different names, the area was finally renamed Fort Apache. In 1922, Fort Apache was abandoned by the army. In 1923 the site was the home for the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Theodore Roosevelt Indian Boarding School. Originally it was intended for Navajo children, but by the 1930s the majority of the children were Apache. The school is still in use today, as an Apache middle school, and is under the administration of the Tribal Council.
Today the White Mountain Apache tribe, located predominately in east-central Arizona, consists of approximately 15,000 members. There are several educational institutions such as the Theodore Roosevelt School and the John F. Kennedy School under the supervision of the Indian Education Division. There are tourists spots, wildlife recreation and a ski resort. The tribe also has a casino.
Tribalpedia’s Questions for Comprehension and Discussion
1. Why did Colonel Green wish to kill the Apache people?
2. What stopped Captain Barry from carrying out Colonel Green’s orders to “exterminate the whole village”?
3. What reasons did Green give for selecting the White Mountain area as military post?
4. According to Green what were the greatest advantages?
5. What was the final name given to the military post ?
6. Who was Geronimo?
Click HERE for Complete Lesson Plan with Answer Key
Apache Myth: Coyote Shows How He Can Lie
Coyote came into a group of camps. The men were all sitting around. They knew Coyote was always telling lies. The men called Coyote over. “Coyote,” they said, “you are the biggest liar we’ve ever known.”
“How do you know I lie?”
“Oh you always make trouble and then you lie. You get away with things like that. You are very good at it . Why don’t you teach us how to lie so we can lie successfully too?”
“Well” said Coyote, “I had to pay a big price for that power. I learned it from my enemy.”
“What did you pay?”
“One horse. But it was my best buffalo horse, with a fine bridle.”
“Is that all?”
They did not think that was much, for in those days there were plenty of horses. One man brought out a fine white buffalo horse, his best.
“Yes,” said the Coyote. “This is a good-looking horse. This is the kind I mean. It was with a horse like this that I paid for my power.”
Then Coyote said, “Let me try the horse. If he doesn’t buck, I’ll explain my power.”
They agreed and Coyote got on the horse. Now Coyote had never been on a horse before and he dug in with his claws to hold on. The horse began to buck.
“Oh! This horse needs a blanket, that is the trouble,” said Coyote. They put a blanket on the horse.
But Coyote’s claws were sharp and they went through the blanket and the horse jumped again.
“Oh! He wants something more over his back. He wants a good saddle on. So they got a good saddle and helped Coyote put it on the horse. Coyote got on again and then his turned his head as though he were listening for something.
“That is my power speaking,” he said. “That voice tells me he wants a whip too.” They gave him one.
He said, “I’m going around now and try this horse to see if he still bucks. I’ll come right back and tell you about it.”
He rode off a little way and then turned around and shouted back, “This is the way I lie. I get people to give me horses, blankets and saddles and other fine things,” Then he rode away and the people couldn’t do anything about it.
White Mountain Apache History
Four Directions Institute: Apache
Website for Apache Myths