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Apache

Apache, group of six culturally related Native American tribes descended from
Athapaskan-speaking peoples. The tribal groups are the Kiowa Apache, who lived
between the northern border of New Mexico and the Platte River; the Lipan of
eastern New Mexico and western Texas; the Jicarilla of southern New Mexico;
the Mescalero of central New Mexico; the Chiricahua of the Chiricahua mountain
range in southwestern Arizona; and the Western Apache of central Arizona.

Early Apache inhabitants of the southwestern United States were a
nomadic people; some groups roamed as far south as Mexico. They
were primarily hunters of buffalo, but they also practiced
limited farming. For centuries they were fierce warriors, adept in
desert survival, who carried out raids on those who encroached on their
territory.

The first intruders were the Spanish, who penetrated Apache territory in the late
1500s. The Spanish drive northward disrupted ancient Apache trade connections
with neighboring tribes. When New Mexico became a Spanish colony in 1598,
hostilities increased between Spaniards and Apaches. An influx of Comanche into
traditional Apache territory in the early 1700s forced the Lipan and other
Apaches to move south of their main food source, the buffalo. These displaced
Apaches began raiding for food.

Apache raids on settlers accompanied the American westward movement and
the United States acquisition of New Mexico in 1848. The Native Americans and
the United States military authorities engaged in fierce wars until all Apache
tribes were eventually placed on reservations. Most of the tribes were subdued
by 1868, except for the Chiricahua, who continued their attacks until 1872,
when their chief, Cochise, signed a treaty with the U.S. government and moved
with his band to an Apache reservation in Arizona. The last band of Apache
raiders, led by the chief Geronimo, was hunted down in 1886 and was confined in
Florida, Alabama, and finally Oklahoma Territory.


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