Map of Apache Land

Apache INDIANS Leaders

Chiricahua Chief Cochise Chiricahua Chief Cochise

Chief Cochise

COCHISE c.1815-1874, Chief of the Chiricahua APACHE in Arizona, noted for courage, integrity, and military skill. From 1861, when soldiers unjustly hanged some of his relatives, he warred relentlessly against the U.S. army. Peace talks in 1872 promised him a reservation on his native territory, but after
he died his people were removed.

Shi-ka-she was a tall man, six feet, with broad shoulders and a commanding appearance. He never met a man his equal with a lance, and, like Crazy Horse, was never photographed. However a California gallery owner named Charles Parker recently uncovered a painting, identified as "Cochise, 1872", that Apache authority Edwin R. Sweeney says "appears to be the real thing". Both Cochise and Crazy Horse were buried in secret locations on their homeland.

In 1861, Cochise, Chief of the Chokonen band of the Chiricahua Apache tribe, was wrongfully suspected of abducting the children of a rancher, and stealing his cattle. Lieutenant George Bascom, who led the investigation, lured Cochise to a meeting. Bascom wasted no time in accusing the Indian of the raid, although the Chief claimed innocence. When Bascom tried to arrest him, Cochise slashed through the tent with his knife and escaped, suffering three bullets wounds in the process.

After several weeks of fighting, two dragoon companies out of Fort Breckinridge finally drove the rampaging Apaches into Mexico. But before leaving, they killed their hostages. In retaliation, Bascom hanged all his male hostages including Cochise's brother. The Apaches, with bitter vengeance, swept down from their mountain hiding places in more attacks, killing, it is estimated, 150 whites and Mexicans during the next two months. By the end of 1861, the troops had abandoned the forts in Chiricahua country because of the Civil War in the East. Lt. Bascom was later killed during battle by a cannonball from the Southern side.

On the morning of April 30, 1871, 150 Anglos, Mexicans, and Papago Indian mercenaries attacked a sleeping Indian camp, massacred from 86 to 150 of the innocents, mostly women and children. Of the survivors, women were raped and children carried into slavery. The American President Ulysses S. Grant, who had devised his post-Civil War Peace Policy to avoid such massacres, was outraged and sent a peace commission to Arizona, led by General Oliver Howard and Vincent Coyler. Howard also finally arranged a meeting with Cochise of the Chiricahuas that autumn, through the intercession of the frontiersman Thomas Jeffords.

Cochise was bitter, but he also realized that he fought a battle he could not win. He expressed his resignation in the following way: "My people have killed Americans and Mexicans and taken their property. Their losses have been greater than mine. I have killed ten white men for every Indian slain, but I know that the whites are many and the Indians are few. Apaches are growing less every day". Still the great Chief did not want to get locked up in a Reservation: "Nobody wants peace more than I do. Why shut me up on a reservation? We will make peace; we will keep it faithfully. But let us go around free as Americans do. Let us go wherever we please".

After 11 days of negotiations, the general granted Cochise's request for a reservation in the Chiricahua homeland, the Apache Pass, with Jeffords as the agent. Cochise, who promised Howard to keep order along the pass, proved good as his word, his people lived peaceful until his death in 1874.

In the end, Cochise's skill as a diplomat helped his people retain the lands they so cherished. Many have said that he was the most powerful Apache leader in history. At his death, it was reported that his people wailed loudly for more than a day. After his death, the Government broke the historic treaty made with Cochise and in 1876 moved the Chiricahua from the ancient mountain homeland to the hot, flat, dry, Arizona desert. Cochise's youngest son Naiche and Geronimo led a group of Chiricahua Apaches that fled into the mountains, and over the border to Mexico eluding the troops for over a decade, refusing to surrender until 1886.

More information about Chief Cochise.

Mescalero Warrior Woman Dahteste

Warrior Woman Dahteste

(pronounced ta-DOT-say) Mescalero Apache

Dahteste is described as a very beautiful woman who took great pride in her appearance and, even though she married and had children, she chose the life of the warrior. No one challenged Dahteste lightly for it was widely known that she could out-ride, out-shoot, out-hunt, out-run, and out-fight her peers, male and female, and she did so with grace. She was credited as being courageous, daring and skillful, and she took part in battles and raiding parties alongside her husband, and a good friend of her family, Geronimo.

Fluent in English, Dahteste became a trusted scout, messenger and mediator between her people and the U.S. Cavalry. Along with another woman Apache warrior named Lozen, Dahteste was instrumental in the final surrender of Geronimo to the U.S. Government and, as thanks for her efforts in their behalf, she was imprisoned with Geronimo and shipped to prison with his remaining followers. Dahteste was as strong in her personal spirit as her warrior spirit, and she survived both tuberculosis and pneumonia while imprisoned. Both diseases killed untold thousands of Natives across the land, but not Dahteste.

After 8 years in the Florida prison, Dahteste was shipped to the military prison at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. After 19 years at Ft. Sill, she was finally given permission to return to her homeland. She lived the balance of her life on the Mescalero Apache Reservation until she died there of old age.

More information about Dahteste.

Chiricahua Leader Geronimo Chiricahua Leader Geronimo


(1829 - 1909)

Geronimo was the most legendary and feared of all the Apache warriors. He was known as a chief, which he wasn't. To his people he was a very powerful medicine man and shaman that could foretell the future. He became a war leader for a small group of the Bedonkohe band of the Chiricahua Apache Indians in Southeastern Arizona during the 1850's through 1880's. He was born in present-day Clifton, Arizona with the name Goyahkla, which means "one who yawns." However some Ft. Sill Apaches gave the meaning as "intelligent, shred and clever." He was given his name Geronimo from the fear he produced in his Mexican enemies. As he would attack they would yell out the name of their patron saint Jerome.  This translated into Geronimo, so he took this as his nickname.

One of the first spirit communications he received was shortly after the death of his family in Kaskiyeh. He went to a top of a mountain and heard a voice call his name four times. The voice told him "No gun can ever kill you. I will take the bullets from the guns of the Mexicans, so they will have nothing but powder and I will guide your arrows." After his wife, children, and mother were killed by Mexicans in 1858, he participated in a number of raids against Mexican and American settlers, but eventually settled on a reservation.

After the death of the Great Apache Chief Cochise in 1874, the Americans wanted to move the Chiricahuas to the Arizona desert. Geronimo and hundreds of the Apaches bolted and started a war against the Whites. He surrendered in January 1884 and returned to reservation in San Carlos, but the sudden arrest and imprisonment of the Apache warrior Kayatennae, together with rumors of impending trials and hangings, prompted Geronimo to flee on May 17, 1885, with 35 warriors, 8 boys and 101 women. In January 1886, Apache scouts penetrated Chief Juh's seemingly impregnable hideout. This action induced Geronimo to surrender.

Geronimo's final surrender on September 4th 1886 was the last significant Indian guerrilla action in the United States. At the end, his group consisted of only 16 warriors, 12 women, and 6 children. Because he fought against such daunting odds and held out the longest, he became the most famous Apache of all.

Later in life he adopted Christianity and took part in the inaugural procession of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905.

Geronimo was wounded many times but never killed by a bullet. After the surrender he and many of the Apache warriors were transported to Florida and never returned to Arizona. Geronimo's last wish was to see his homeland once more. This he was never allowed to do, but died as a prisoner of war on February 17, 1909 in Ft. Sill, OK.

More information about Geronimo.

Warrior Woman Lozen

Photo taken after her arrest
to be taken to prison


Lozen was the younger sister of the mighty Apache war leader Victorio, and the most famous of the Apache War Women. Lozen was born in a section of New Mexico / Arizona / Northern Mexico known at that time as Apacheria, somewhere in the late 1840s. She was born within sight of the Sacred Mountain near Ojo Caliente where the People began.

She let it be known at a very early age that she had no interest in learning the women's duties of the tribe, and set out on the warrior's path - taught by her famous brother. She learned to ride a horse at age seven and soon became one of the best riders in the band. She loved the rough games of the boys. All of the girls of the band started hard physical training at the age of 8. Their physical endurance would be necessary to survive the harsh way of life they lived. A few women went on raids or with hunting parties to take care of chores and of their husbands, but Lozen took part in the warrior training and never married.

When Lozen was born, the leader of the People was a tough, grizzled, canny warrior named Juan Jose Compa. The Chihenne lived then mostly in the Animas Mountains. Some Mexicans came into the area and made friends with them and brought with them slave Indians from other bands and drove those slaves ceaselessly to work in the caves of the earth.

Mangas Coloradas liked the golden metal the Mexicans were digging for and also like the mescal that the Mexicans taught them to use, so he made peace with the Mexicans. The warriors profited by trading horses and cattle and other things with the Mexicans.  

The Mexicans also brought a white man into the area whose name was John James Johnson. Juan Jose led the People to an area to Santa Rita where the Mexicans had barrels of mescal and piles of presents. They watched warily the other white eyes who had bristled hair on their faces.  But the whole fiesta scene was a trap and John Johnson shot many of the Indians dead on the spot. They shot even the women and children. Johnson and the other white eyes and Mexicans seized the hair off the heads of the Indians to sell back in Mexico. The People feared the dead and the 'chindi' spirits that lingered after a death.

Mangas Coloradas took charge of the survivors and determined to take revenge on the white eyes and Mexicans and Santa Rita. The People believed in revenge. Over 100 warriors took part in the raids that followed and they killed as many of the white eyes and Mexicans who had taken part in the murder of the People. When the Mexicans and white eyes were captured and brought to camp, the wives, mothers and daughters of the murdered Indians killed the men in revenge. The crushed them under horses hooves, beat them to death with clubs and even hacked them to pieces with knives. This is what Lozen learned as a child.

Lozen was quite unlike her counterpart, Dahteste. Lozen had no concern for her appearance and, even though she is in several famous photos of Geronimo with his warriors, there is nothing to indicate that she is a woman. She was manly in her appearance, dressed like a man, lived and fought like a man. She devoted her life to the service of her people.

Victorio is quoted as saying, "Lozen is my right hand . . . strong as a man , braver than most, and cunning in strategy, Lozen is a shield to her people."

Legend has it that Lozen was able to use her supernatural powers in battle to learn the movements of the enemy and that she helped each band that she accompanied to successfully avoid capture. She also had the ability to use song and herbs to help heal people and was considered a Shaman.

After Victorio's death, Lozen continued to ride with Chief Nana, and eventually joined forces with Geronimo's band, eluding capture until she finally surrendered with this last group of free Apaches in 1886. She died of tuberculosis at the Mount Vernon Barracks in Mobile, Alabama at the approximate age of 50.

More information about Lozen.

Apache Chief Mangas Coloradas

Chief Mangas Coloradas


The exact time of Mangas Coloradas' birth is unknown, he was said to have been seventy in the year 1863. At first he was called Don-Ha. After he married Lost Pony's sister Placid (One without cares in the world), and later Firefly, because Placid wanted her as her second, it i said that he brought shame on his family by taking a Mexican girl from Santa Rita to his teepee. Because of that he had to fight one of Placid's brothers, and one of Firefly's brothers, killing them both in battle. From that day forward he was known as "Red Sleeve" or Mangas Coloradas (the Spanish translation), earning his name in the battle. Mangas emerged as a prime leader of the Warm Springs (Mimbreño) Apaches in southwestern New Mexico after the Mexican-instigated massacre of many Mimbreños in 1837.

After the Americans started to occupy the region, searching for gold, Mangas tried several peaceful ways to get the Whites out of his land. On one occasion he tried to lure gold-miners away from the land, by telling them about better areas for mining further south. The miners tied him to a tree and lashed him nearly to death, before releasing him. For Mangas this was the biggest humiliation of them all, and upon recovering he gathered his forces and drove the miners out.

In 1861, Mangas joined forces with Chiricahua and White Mountain Apaches and went to war against the Americans. They focused their attacks on stagecoaches on the trail near Apache Pass. Mangas tried to make peace with the Americans on several occasions, and on January 17th 1863 the old Chief decided to take up a truce offer from Captain Edmond Shirland's camp of the California Volunteers. Arriving at the camp soldiers jumped from some nearby underbrush and took him prisoner. The Volunteers took him to Fort McLean where General Joseph West's orders were: "I want him dead or alive tomorrow morning, do you understand, I want him dead." A miner who'd been travelling with the Volunteers, one Daniel Conner, later said that the soldiers assigned to guard Mangas were tormenting him by heating their bayonets in a nearby fire, and touching them to Mangas's feet and legs. When Mangas jumped to his feet in pain, the soldiers drew muskets and shot him. One soldier took his scalp: another boiled the flesh from his head, and sold the skull to a phrenologist in the East. Mangas's body was dumped in a ditch.

Mangas Coloradas son Mangus continued the fight against the Whites alongside Victorio, Nana and Geronimo. Upon surrendering in 1886 the group was nearly eliminated, counting only a handful of warriors and a few women and children.

More information about Chief Mangas Coloradas.

Apache Chief Nana


Nana was married to Geronimo's sister. To his people he as a wise kind grandfather type figure, but as far as the whites were concerned he was uncompromising. Nana was a Warm Springs Apache under Victorio but was always close to the Bendonkohe tribe. After Victorio's death at the Tres Castillos massacre in 1880, it was Nana who guided the remains of the tribe into safety. For more than two months Nana eluded 1400 troops in a thousand-mile campaign with only 40 warriors. He later joined forces with Geronimo and Juh, but they never managed to make a common stand against the whites, and thus the forces became to small and outnumbered to make an impact in the struggle.

Nana was a wise man and wherever he went he carried his good fortune with him and his followers. He had the strength to find hidden treasures in the shape of ammunition, food and cloths on the Apache trail. No Apache cache was hidden from Nana, and his powers were highly rated by the other Chiefs and Braves. After Victorio's death Nana followed the women and children back to the reservation, but himself fled with Geronimo for their last escapes.

Even at old age and almost with a crippled leg, Nana could out-ride and out-last any warrior in the saddle. He showed no signs of weakness, and challenged any white man that stood in his way. It is said that to revenge of Victorio's death Nana was responsible for killing more white men than Victorio had done in his lifetime. Because of his powers he was never caught unguarded, and with Victorio's sister Lozen he formed a lethal pair of support for Geronimo in their final battle for freedom. During the surrender by Geronimo to Crook in 1886, Nana was given to the Cavalry as a good faith token that they were ready to surrender.

Nana died of old age, and lived his last years in reservation. He remembered his final days of freedom as something he should never have let go of. In many ways he envied Victorio his fate. To die in combat for his people would have been the ultimate satisfaction for Nana.

Warm springs Apache Chief Victorio

Chief Victorio


Victorio was chosen by Mangas Coloradas as his follower as Chief of the Warm Springs Apache band. Victorio was a terrific strategist and horrendous opponent. Victorio and his people lived under terrible conditions in the reservation in San Carlos, New Mexico. After numerous appeals to the government that they should be returned to their homeland was turned down, they escaped in 1879 and wreaked havoc throughout the southwest on their way to Mexico. Colonel Grierson and the 10th Cavalry attempted to prevent Victorio's return to the U.S., and particularly his reaching New Mexico where he could cause additional problems with the Apaches still on the reservations.

The soldiers outpaced Victorio to the water holes in Rattlesnake Springs (Sierra Diablo Mountains), and after two unsuccessful attempts to reach water, the indians had to retreat into Mexico. At a waterhole at Tres Castillos on Oct. 14th 1880 Victorio and his people were surprised by Mexican troops and during the fight many of the Apaches were killed. When Victorio and a handful of his men realized that escape was not possible they decided to take their own life. After Victorio's death his uncle, the 80 year old Nana, took charge of the group.

More information about the Buffalo Soldiers and the battle against Victorio.

Today they live on reservations totaling over 3 million acres in Arizona and New Mexico and retain many tribal customs. Cattle, timber, tourism, and the development of mineral resources provide income. In 1982 the Apaches won a major Supreme Court test of their right to tax resources extracted from their lands. In 1990 there were 50,051 Apaches in the U.S.

Some references about the indian people:

  • Ball, Eve: In the days of Victorio. University of Arizona press 1970.
  • Ball, Eve: Indeh, an Apache odyssey. University of Oklahoma press 1980.
  • Brown, Dee: Bury my heart at Wounded Knee. BCA 1970.
  • Davis Lt, Britton: The truth about Geronimo. Yale University press 1929.