"The people have prevailed."
Mescalero Apache Nation
The word "Apache" comes from the Yuma word for "fighting-men". It also comes from a Zuni word meaning "enemy". The Zuni name for Navajo was called "Apachis de Nabaju" by the earliest Spaniards exploring New Mexico. Their name for themselves is N'de, Inde or Tinde ("the people"). The Apaches are well-known for their superior skills in warfare strategy and inexhaustible endurance, and their techniques are taught in military universities to this day. Continuous wars among other tribes and invaders from Mexico followed the Apaches' growing reputation of warlike character. When they confronted Coronado in 1540, they lived in eastern New Mexico, and reached Arizona in the 1600s. The Apache are described as a gentle people; faithful in their friendship.
They belong to the Southern Athapascan linguistic family. The Apache are composed of six regional groups: the Western Apache, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan, and Kiowa Apache. On marriage, men customarily take up residence with their wives' kin. Maternal clans exist among the Western Apache, who depend more on cultivation than did other groups. All Apache rely primarily on hunting of wild game and gathering of cactus fruits and other wild plant foods. The Western Apache (Coyotero) traditionally occupy most of eastern Arizona and include the White Mountain, Cibuecue, San Carlos, and Northern and Southern Tonto bands. The Chiricahua occupy southwestern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona, and adjacent Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora. The Mescalero (Faraon) live east of the Rio Grande in southern New Mexico, with the Pecos River as their eastern border. The Jicarilla (Tinde) range over southeastern Colorado, northern New Mexico, and northwest Texas, with the Lipan occupying territory directly to the east of the Jicarilla. The Kiowa Apache (Gataka), long associated with the KIOWA, a Plains people, range over the southern plains of Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas.
The Apache attained their greatest fame as guerrilla fighters defending their mountainous homelands under the Chiricahua leaders Cochise, Geronimo, Mangas Coloradus, Victorio, and Juh. Today the Apache occupy reservations in New Mexico and Arizona, with some Chiricahua, Lipan, and Kiowa Apache in Oklahoma. In 1680 the Apache population was estimated at 5,000; in 1989 it was estimated at about 30,000, of whom most live on reservations. While accommodating to changed economic conditions, the Apache on reservations have maintained much of their traditional social and ritual activities. Their invincible spirit is still shown today by an energy and fire that makes them a strong and hardy people in modern day society.
The Jicarilla are part of the Apache people. The name Jicarilla means "little basket," deriving from the expertise of their women in making baskets of all sizes, shapes, and colors. Within recent times, they make their homes in southeastern Colorado and northern New Mexico, though a few groups went to Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Originally they came from northwestern Canada among the migration of Athapascan language tribes, then along the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains. When first met by explorers in the 1540s, they were called the Vaqueros by the Spanish. Though the Spanish established a mission for Jicarillas in 1733 near Taos, New Mexico, it did not succeed. Later, in 1880, the government set aside a reservation for the Jicarillas in the Tierra Amarilla region of New Mexico. Today they live on their reservations in Arizona and in Rio Arriba and Sandoval Counties, New Mexico.
Apaches have always been inherently aware of earth and sky spirits. From their early morning prayers to the Sun-God, through their hours, days, and their entire lives--for them every act has sacred significance.