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Who are the Apache Indians?

By Patti Kate
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Apache Indians are one of the native American Indian tribes that reside in the southwestern United States. These are native Americans who live primarily in the states of New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. Most members of the Apache tribes are English-speaking American Indians, although many also still speak the original Apache language. Of the 13 assemblies of Apache tribes residing in the southwest today, each clan or organization lives on a designated reservation.

American history depicts the Apache Indians as being true warriors who were fiercely dedicated to fighting. While this is true to a large degree, the Apache tribe members were also devoted to their clans and families. Today they have grown to populations of well over 50,000 people. Their primary sources of income are cattle raising and farming, as well as tourism. Among the Apaches are talented artists who sell their crafts at markets.

Apache Indians are well-known for their skillfully displayed arts and crafts. Many excel in the making of intricate baskets and beaded jewelry. They also work in sculpting and weaving. Paintings, pottery, and designer rugs created by the Apache Indians are commodities sold in today's market.

Modern Apache women primarily are caretakers and homemakers. Some Apache Indians, however, are in favor of women being trained in weaponry and self defense, although this was typically a way of the past. A majority of Apache children will learn how to ride a horse at an early age and become expert equestrians. The Apache children also enjoy fishing and hunting with their fathers. Today's Apache Indians wear modern and traditional styles of clothing, although they wear moccasins and buckskin occasionally.

Among the most famous people from this tribe was an Apache chief and tribal leader who was notorious as a medicine man and warrior of the late 19th century. Mexicans had given him the name of Geronimo, meaning "sacred man." Although many reports have documented Geronimo's war activities as being fearsome, bloody, and ruthless, some experts believe those reports are greatly exaggerated. Geronimo died in 1909, and was buried in the state of Oklahoma.

The culture of the native Americans has long held a deep fascination for tourists. Arizona highway 88 features a well known tourist attraction called The Apache Trail. Tourists and visitors revel in the rich history there, featuring ghost towns and folklore. Desert scenery and wildlife enhance the natural beauty and surroundings. Campgrounds and lodgings are generally open year round and feature various activities involving the culture of the Apache Indians and their tribes.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By StormyKnight — On Dec 30, 2010

@purplespark: Geronimo was the most famous Apache guerilla fighter we have ever seen. He defied the U.S. government for more than 25 years. He surrendered twice but he was never defeated.

Geronimo was born in what is now considered western New Mexico in 1829. His people referred to him as Goyathlay which means “one who yawns”. Mexican soldiers gave him the name “Geronimo”.

In 1858, Geronimo’s life changed forever. He was on a peaceful trading expedition in Mexico and, while he was away, Mexican soldiers raided his camp where the women and children were left. Geronimo’s mother, wife, and 3 small children were killed. When he came home, he burned everything belonging to his family, even his teepee. From that day forward, it was an ongoing battle full of hatred with the Mexicans.

By PurpleSpark — On Dec 29, 2010

I have to do a report on the Apache Indians with detailed information about Geronimo. Does anyone have any more specific information to offer?

By SnowyWinter — On Dec 27, 2010

There were many misconceptions regarding the Apache Indians. One was that the Apache Indians had no religious beliefs. That is not true. Apache Indians believed that other Apache who died stayed with their tribe in spirit. They would ask these spirits for their help by performing different rituals and dances. If they needed help growing a crop or healing a tribe member, they would ask the spirits to help. When good things happened, they thanked the spirits and provided food offerings.

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