The North American Indian
by Edward S. Curtis
1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

The Pool - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1906 by E.S. Curtis

The North American Indian

Being A Series Of Volumes Picturing And Describing The Indians Of The United States And Alaska

Written, Illustrated, And Published By Edward S. Curtis

Edited By Frederick Webb Hodge

Foreword By Theodore Roosevelt

Field Research Conducted Under The Patronage Of J. Pierpont Morgan

In Twenty Volumes This, The First Volume, Published In The Year Nineteen Hundred And Seven

JOHNSON REPRINT CORPORATION 111 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10003

JOHNSON REPRINT COMPANY LTD. Berkeley Square House, London, W1X6BA

Copyright 1907, by Edward S. Curtis

Landmarks in Anthropology, a series of reprints in cultural anthropology General Editor: Weston La Barre

First reprinting 1970, Johnson Reprint Corporation




[The consonants are as in English, except when otherwise noted]

a as in father a as in cat a as aw in awl ai as in aisle e as ey in they e as in net i as in machine i as in sit o as in old o as in not o as owin how oi as in oil u as in ruin u as in nut ue as in German huette u as in push h always aspirated q as qu in quick th as in thaw w as in wild y as in year ch as in church sh as in shall, sash n nasal, as in French dans zh as z in azure ' a pause


The Pool - Apache Nayĕnezgani - Navaho Illustration: Theodore Roosevelt White River - Apache By The Sycamore - Apache The Fire Drill - Apache A Noonday Halt - Navaho Apache Camp Typical Apache Tenokai - Apache At The Ford - Apache The Bathing Pool - Apache Alchise - Apache Mescal Hills - Apache Primitive Apache Home Cutting Mescal - Apache Mescal - Apache Filling the Pit - Apache The Covered Pit - Apache Apache Still Life Among the Oaks - Apache Mescal Camp - Apache Sacred Buckskin - Apache Apache Girl The Ford - Apache Apache Medicine-man Maternity Belt - Apache Medicine Cap and Fetish - Apache Dan Lan - Apache Apache Village Sand Mosaic - Apache Apache Gaun Apache Maiden Lone Tree Lodge - Jicarilla A Jicarilla A Jicarilla Feast March Jicarillas Jeditoh - Navaho Lake Lajara - Navaho Into the Desert - Navaho Nature's Mirror - Navaho Canon Hogan - Navaho A Drink in the Desert - Navaho Under the Cottonwoods - Navaho Cornfields in Canon Del Muerto - Navaho The Blanket Maker - Navaho Pikĕhodiklad - Navaho Hastin Yazhe - Navaho Navaho Hogan Navaho Still Life Navaho Medicine-man Through the Canon - Navaho Evening in the Desert - Navaho Haschĕlti - Navaho Haschogan - Navaho Antelope Ruin - Canon del Muerto Nayĕnezgani - Navaho Tobadzischĭni - Navaho Haschĕzhini - Navaho Ganaskidi - Navaho Tonenili - Navaho Zahadolzha - Navaho Haschebaad - Navaho Gan askidi. Zahadolzha. Haschĕlti - Navaho Tonenili, Tobadzischĭni, Nayĕnezgani - Navaho Yebichai Sweat - Navaho Pikehodiklad - Navaho Shilhne'ohli - Navaho Zahadolzha - Navaho Yebichai Hogan - Navaho Yebichai Dancers - Navaho Mescal Harvest - Apache White River Valley - Apache Nalin Lage - Apache Infant Burial - Apache Tobadzischĭni - Navaho Ganaskidi - Navaho Zahadolzha - Navaho Haschĕlti, Haschebaad, Zahadolzha—Navaho Navaho Women

Photogravures by John Andrew & Son, Boston.

Nayĕnezgani - Navaho

From Copyright Photograph 1904 by E.S. Curtis


In Mr. Curtis we have both an artist and a trained observer, whose pictures are pictures, not merely photographs; whose work has far more than mere accuracy, because it is truthful. All serious students are to be congratulated because he is putting his work in permanent form; for our generation offers the last chance for doing what Mr. Curtis has done. The Indian as he has hitherto been is on the point of passing away. His life has been lived under conditions thru which our own race past so many ages ago that not a vestige of their memory remains. It would be a veritable calamity if a vivid and truthful record of these conditions were not kept. No one man alone could preserve such a record in complete form. Others have worked in the past, and are working in the present, to preserve parts of the record; but Mr. Curtis, because of the singular combination of qualities with which he has been blest, and because of his extraordinary success in making and using his opportunities, has been able to do what no other man ever has done; what, as far as we can see, no other man could do. He is an artist who works out of doors and not in the closet. He is a close observer, whose qualities of mind and body fit him to make his observations out in the field, surrounded by the wild life he commemorates. He has lived on intimate terms with many different tribes of the mountains and the plains. He knows them as they hunt, as they travel, as they go about their various avocations on the march and in the camp. He knows their medicine men and sorcerers, their chiefs and warriors, their young men and maidens. He has not only seen their vigorous outward existence, but has caught glimpses, such as few white men ever catch, into that strange spiritual and mental life of theirs; from whose innermost recesses all white men are forever barred. Mr. Curtis in publishing this book is rendering a real and great service; a service not only to our own people, but to the world of scholarship everywhere.


October 1st, 1906.

White River - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1903 by E.S. Curtis


The task of recording the descriptive material embodied in these volumes, and of preparing the photographs which accompany them, had its inception in 1898. Since that time, during each year, months of arduous labor have been spent in accumulating the data necessary to form a comprehensive and permanent record of all the important tribes of the United States and Alaska that still retain to a considerable degree their primitive customs and traditions. The value of such a work, in great measure, will lie in the breadth of its treatment, in its wealth of illustration, and in the fact that it represents the result of personal study of a people who are rapidly losing the traces of their aboriginal character and who are destined ultimately to become assimilated with the "superior race."

It has been the aim to picture all features of the Indian life and environment—types of the young and the old, with their habitations, industries, ceremonies, games, and everyday customs. Rather than being designed for mere embellishment, the photographs are each an illustration of an Indian character or of some vital phase in his existence. Yet the fact that the Indian and his surroundings lend themselves to artistic treatment has not been lost sight of, for in his country one may treat limitless subjects of an aesthetic character without in any way doing injustice to scientific accuracy or neglecting the homelier phases of aboriginal life. Indeed, in a work of this sort, to overlook those marvellous touches that Nature has given to the Indian country, and for the origin of which the native ever has a wonder-tale to relate, would be to neglect a most important chapter in the story of an environment that made the Indian much of what he is. Therefore, being directly from Nature, the accompanying pictures show what actually exists or has recently existed (for many of the subjects have already passed forever), not what the artist in his studio may presume the Indian and his surroundings to be.

The task has not been an easy one, for although lightened at times by the readiness of the Indians to impart their knowledge, it more often required days and weeks of patient endeavor before my assistants and I succeeded in overcoming the deep-rooted superstition, conservatism, and secretiveness so characteristic of primitive people, who are ever loath to afford a glimpse of their inner life to those who are not of their own. Once the confidence of the Indians gained, the way led gradually through the difficulties, but long and serious study was necessary before knowledge of the esoteric rites and ceremonies could be gleaned.

At times the undertaking was made congenial by our surroundings in beautiful mountain wild, in the depths of primeval forest, in the refreshing shade of canon wall, or in the homes and sacred places of the Indians themselves; while at others the broiling desert sun, the sand-storm, the flood, the biting blast of winter, lent anything but pleasure to the task.

The word-story of this primitive life, like the pictures, must be drawn direct from Nature. Nature tells the story, and in Nature's simple words I can but place it before the reader. In great measure it must be written as these lines are—while I am in close touch with the Indian life.

At the moment I am seated by a beautiful brook that bounds through the forests of Apacheland. Numberless birds are singing their songs of life and love. Within my reach lies a tree, felled only last night by a beaver, which even now darts out into the light, scans his surroundings, and scampers back. A covey of mourning doves fly to the water's edge, slake their thirst in their dainty way, and flutter off. By the brookside path now and then wander prattling children; a youth and a maiden hand in hand wend their way along the cool stream's brink. The words of the children and the lovers are unknown to me, but the story of childhood and love needs no interpreter.

By The Sycamore - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1906 by E.S. Curtis

It is thus near to Nature that much of the life of the Indian still is; hence its story, rather than being replete with statistics of commercial conquests, is a record of the Indian's relations with and his dependence on the phenomena of the universe—the trees and shrubs, the sun and stars, the lightning and rain,—for these to him are animate creatures. Even more than that, they are deified, therefore are revered and propitiated, since upon them man must depend for his well-being. To the workaday man of our own race the life of the Indian is just as incomprehensible as are the complexities of civilization to the mind of the untutored savage.

While primarily a photographer, I do not see or think photographically; hence the story of Indian life will not be told in microscopic detail, but rather will be presented as a broad and luminous picture. And I hope that while our extended observations among these brown people have given no shallow insight into their life and thought, neither the pictures nor the descriptive matter will be found lacking in popular interest.

Though the treatment accorded the Indians by those who lay claim to civilization and Christianity has in many cases been worse than criminal, a rehearsal of these wrongs does not properly find a place here. Whenever it may be necessary to refer to some of the unfortunate relations that have existed between the Indians and the white race, it will be done in that unbiased manner becoming the student of history. As a body politic recognizing no individual ownership of lands, each Indian tribe naturally resented encroachment by another race, and found it impossible to relinquish without a struggle that which belonged to their people from time immemorial. On the other hand, the white man whose very own may have been killed or captured by a party of hostiles forced to the warpath by the machinations of some unscrupulous Government employe, can see nothing that is good in the Indian. There are thus two sides to the story, and in these volumes such questions must be treated with impartiality.

Nor is it our purpose to theorize on the origin of the Indians—a problem that has already resulted in the writing of a small library, and still with no satisfactory solution. The object of the work is to record by word and picture what the Indian is, not whence he came. Even with this in view the years of a single life are insufficient for the task of treating in minute detail all the intricacies of the social structure and the arts and beliefs of many tribes. Nevertheless, by reaching beneath the surface through a study of his creation myths, his legends and folklore, more than a fair impression of the mode of thought of the Indian can be gained. In each instance all such material has been gathered by the writer and his assistants from the Indians direct, and confirmed, so far as is possible, through repetition by other members of their tribe.

Ever since the days of Columbus the assertion has been made repeatedly that the Indian has no religion and no code of ethics, chiefly for the reason that in his primitive state he recognizes no supreme God. Yet the fact remains that no people have a more elaborate religious system than our aborigines, and none are more devout in the performance of the duties connected therewith. There is scarcely an act in the Indian's life that does not involve some ceremonial performance or is not in itself a religious act, sometimes so complicated that much time and study are required to grasp even a part of its real meaning, for his myriad deities must all be propitiated lest some dire disaster befall him.

Likewise with their arts, which casual observers have sometimes denied the Indians; yet, to note a single example, the so-called "Digger" Indians, who have been characterized as in most respects the lowest type of all our tribes, are makers of delicately woven baskets, embellished with symbolic designs and so beautiful in form as to be works of art in themselves.

The great changes in practically every phase of the Indian's life that have taken place, especially within recent years, have been such that had the time for collecting much of the material, both descriptive and illustrative, herein recorded, been delayed, it would have been lost forever. The passing of every old man or woman means the passing of some tradition, some knowledge of sacred rites possessed by no other; consequently the information that is to be gathered, for the benefit of future generations, respecting the mode of life of one of the great races of mankind, must be collected at once or the opportunity will be lost for all time. It is this need that has inspired the present task.

The Fire Drill - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1906 by E.S. Curtis

In treating the various tribes it has been deemed advisable that a geographic rather than an ethnologic grouping be presented, but without losing sight of tribal relationships, however remote the cognate tribes may be one from another. To simplify the study and to afford ready reference to the salient points respecting the several tribes, a summary of the information pertaining to each is given in the appendices.

In the spelling of the native terms throughout the text, as well as in the brief vocabularies appended to each volume, the simplest form possible, consistent with approximate accuracy, has been adopted. No attempt has been made to differentiate sounds so much alike that the average student fails to discern the distinction, for the words, where recorded, are designed for the general reader rather than the philologist, and it has been the endeavor to encourage their pronunciation rather than to make them repellent by inverted and other arbitrary characters.

I take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to those who have so generously lent encouragement during these years of my labor, from the humblest dwellers in frontier cabins to the captains of industry in our great commercial centres, and from the representatives of the most modest institutions of learning to those whose fame is worldwide. Without this encouragement the work could not have been accomplished. When the last opportunity for study of the living tribes shall have passed with the Indians themselves, and the day cannot be far off, my generous friends may then feel that they have aided in a work the results of which, let it be hoped, will grow more valuable as time goes on.


A Noonday Halt - Navaho

From Copyright Photograph 1904 by E.S. Curtis


While it is the plan of this work to treat the tribes in the order of their geographic distribution, rather than to group them in accordance with their relationship one to another, we are fortunate, in the present volume, to have for treatment two important southwestern Indian groups—the Navaho and the Apache—which are not only connected linguistically but have been more or less in proximity ever since they have been known to history.

Because of his cunning, his fearlessness, and his long resistance to subjection both by the missionary and by the governments under whose dominion he has lived, but until recent times never recognized, the Apache, in name at least, has become one of the best known of our tribal groups. But, ever the scourge of the peaceable Indians that dwelt in adjacent territory, and for about three hundred years a menace to the brave colonists that dared settle within striking distance of him, the Apache of Arizona and New Mexico occupied a region that long remained a terra incognita, while the inner life of its occupants was a closed book.

There is little wonder, then, that we have known practically nothing of the Apache and their customs beyond the meagre record of what has been given us by a few army officers; consequently their study was entered into with especial interest. Although much time was expended and much patience consumed before the confidence of their elders was gained, the work was finally successful, as will be seen particularly by the creation legend and the accompanying mythologic picture-writing on deerskin, which give an insight into the mode of thought of this people and a comprehensive idea of the belief respecting their genesis. Not satisfied with the story as first related by the medicine-men lest error perchance should have crept in, it was repeated and verified by others until no doubt of its entire accuracy remained. It is especially fortunate that the chief investigations were made in the summer of 1906, when the new "messiah craze" was at its height, thus affording exceptional opportunity for observing an interesting wave of religious ecstasy sweep over this primitive folk.

The Navaho tribe, second only to the Sioux in numbers, have been the least affected by civilizing influences. The Navaho is the American Bedouin, the chief human touch in the great plateau-desert region of our Southwest, acknowledging no superior, paying allegiance to no king in name of chief, a keeper of flocks and herds who asks nothing of the Government but to be unmolested in his pastoral life and in the religion of his forebears. Although the mythology and ceremonials of this virile people would alone furnish material for many volumes, it is believed that even with the present comparatively brief treatment a comprehensive view of their character and activities will be gained.

It is with pleasure that I acknowledge the able assistance rendered by Mr. W. W. Phillips and Mr. W. E. Myers during the last two years of field work in collecting and arranging the material for this volume, and the aid of Mr. A. F. Muhr in connection with the photographic work in the laboratory.


Apache Camp

From Copyright Photograph 1906 by E.S. Curtis

Typical Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1906 by E.S. Curtis



The Indian and his history present innumerable problems to the student. Facts seemingly contradict facts, well-founded theories contradict other theories as well founded. Linguistically the Apache belong to the great Athapascan family, which, according to the consensus of opinion, had its origin in the far North, where many tribes of the family still live. Based on the creation legends of the Navaho and on known historical events, the advent of the southern branch of this linguistic group—the Navaho and the Apache tribes—has been fixed in the general region in which they now have their home, at about the time of the discovery of America. Contrary to this conclusion, however, the legend of their genesis gives no hint of an origin in other than their historical habitat. The history and the legendary lore of the Indian are passed down from generation to generation, so that it would seem hardly credible that all trace of this migration from a distant region should have become lost within a period of somewhat more than four hundred years.

Again, judging by the similarity in language, the Apache and the Navaho in prehistoric times were as nearly a single group as the present bands of Apache are; and, likewise, there is sufficient similarity in the underlying principles of their mythology to argue a common tribal origin. The names as well as the functions of several of the mythic characters are identical in both tribes, as, for example, the war gods Nayĕnezgani and Tobadzischĭni. These miracle-performing twins in each case are the sons of a woman (who occupies an almost identical position in both Navaho and Apache mythology) and the sun and water respectively. Pollen also is deified by each—as Hadintin Boy among the Apache and Taditin Boy among the Navaho. If, therefore, we may concede that the Navaho and the Apache were originally one tribe, as their language certainly indicates, we have many arguments in favor of the theory of long residence in the South-west of this branch of the Athapascan family, for the striking differences in the details of their myths would seem to indicate that the tribal separation was not a recent one, and that the mythology of the two tribes became changed in the course of its natural development along different lines or through accretion of other peoples since the original segregation. The Apache story of their creation portrays human beings in their present form, while in the Navaho genesis myth occurs the remarkable story, unquestionably aboriginal, of the evolution of the lower animals through successive underworlds until the present world is reached, then as spirit people miraculously creating human life.

The beautiful genesis myth of the Apache is complete; it does not reflect an incipient primitive culture, but one developed by age. The mythology and ceremonial of the Navaho exhibit unquestioned signs of being composite in origin. Their ceremonials are perhaps the most elaborate of any Indians except the Pueblos; indeed the very life of this people so teems with ceremony as almost to pass comprehension. The Navaho ritual probably reached its highest phase about the beginning of the nineteenth century. It would seem impossible for a religion so highly developed as this to have attained such a stage within a comparatively short time.

Before the early years of the seventeenth century the Spanish chroniclers give us nothing definite regarding the Apache of what is now Arizona and New Mexico, but there are numerous accounts of their aggressiveness from this time onward.

Tenokai - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1906 by E.S. Curtis

Father Francisco Garces, who in 1775-76 journeyed from his mission of San Xavier del Bac, in southern Arizona, to San Gabriel, California, thence to the Hopi country, and back to his mission by way of the Colorado and the Gila rivers, had sufficient knowledge of the Apache to keep well out of their country, for they had ever been enemies of Garces' peaceful neophytes, the Papago and the Pima. To the warlike, marauding Apache Garces gave much thought, drawing up a plan for holding them in subjection by the establishment of a cordon of presidios. To read his simple plan and compare the ineffectual efforts of the Americans, who had the Apache country virtually surrounded by military posts for many years, will convince one that while Garces held the Apache in justifiable fear, he little knew the true character of those with whom he was reckoning.

So far as diligent field research reveals, there was but one tribe or band of Indians living within proximity of the Apache Indians of Arizona in early times who ever affiliated with them, or associated with them in any way save on terms of enmity. This tribe was the Apache-Mohave, of Yuman stock, whose domain extended along the Rio Verde in central Arizona, immediately adjacent to the territory over which the Apache proper held undisputed sway. With these, affiliation practically became fusion, for in outward semblance, characteristics, mode of living, and handicraft they are typically Apache; but their mother tongue, though impaired, and remnants of their native mythology are still adhered to. Through the Apache-Mohave, allied with the Apache since early times, and resembling them so closely as to have almost escaped segregation until recent years, did the tribe now so widely known as Apache undoubtedly receive its name.

The Apache-Mohave call themselves Apatieh, which means, simply, "people." The Walapai, another Yuman tribe farther north, whose dialect resembles that of the Apache-Mohave more closely than do the dialects of the Mohave and the Yuma, also call themselves Apatieh. Although the pronunciation of this word is indicated more nearly correctly by this spelling than by "Apache," only a trained ear can distinguish the difference in sound when the average Yuman Indian utters it. Etymologically it comes from apa, "man," and the plural suffix -tieh.

The mountain fastness of the Apache in Arizona permitted easiest approach from the south and the west for all who wished to seek peace or revenge. The Apache-Mohave, living as Apache in close affiliation, were on the western border of this stronghold, whence they made raids upon several other Yuman groups, north, west, and south, in company with the Apache. They were also the first to be attacked by enemies waging offensive warfare, hence any name by which they designated themselves might readily have been transmitted to the whole Apache group. Early Spanish missionaries alluded to the Apache-Mohave as true Apache. Contradistinguished from the Apache proper, the Apache-Mohave are called Yavapai and Yavapeh by their congeners of the Colorado river, a term that has been employed by early writers, misled through the close association of the Apache-Mohave with the Apache, to designate also the latter people. It is further evident that the term Apache came to be applied to this great division of the Athapascan family indirectly, as its component tribes are not known by that name in any of the Indian languages of the Southwest, and there is no evidence of its being of other than Indian origin.

At The Ford - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1903 by E.S. Curtis

Since known to history, the many bands of Apache have occupied the mountains and plains of southern Arizona and New Mexico, northern Sonora and Chihuahua, and western Texas—an area greater than that of the states of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia. They were always known as "wild" Indians, and indeed their early warfare with all neighboring tribes, as well as their recent persistent hostility toward our Government, which precipitated a "war of extermination," bear out the appropriateness of the designation. An admission of fear of anything is hard to elicit from the weakest of Indian tribes, but all who lived within raiding distance of the Apache, save the Navaho, their Athapascan cousins, freely admit that for generations before their subjugation the Apache were constantly held in mortal terror.

Through the constant depredations carried on against the Mexican settlements in northern Sonora and Chihuahua, under the leadership of Juan Jose, an Apache chief educated among the Mexicans, those two states were led, in 1837, to offer a bounty for Apache scalps. The horror of this policy lay in the fact that the scalp of a friendly Indian brought the same reward as that of the fiercest warrior, and worse still, no exception was made of women or children. Nothing could have been more effective than this scalp bounty in arousing all the savagery in these untamed denizens of the mountains, and both Mexico and the United States paid dearly in lives for every Apache scalp taken under this barbarous system. Predatory warfare continued unabated during the next forty years in spite of all the Mexican government could do. With the consummation of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in 1848, the Apache problem became one to be solved by the United States as well.

In 1864, under General James H. Carleton, the "war of extermination" was begun in a most systematic manner. On April 20 this officer communicated a proposal of co-operation to Don Ignacio Pesqueira, Governor of Sonora, saying: "If your excellency will put a few hundred men into the field on the first day of next June, and keep them in hot pursuit of the Apaches of Sonora, say for sixty or ninety days, we will either exterminate the Indians or so diminish their numbers that they will cease their murdering and robbing propensities and live at peace."

This request was met. The settlers in Arizona, under agreement, placed a force in the field provisioned with army supplies. Several hundred Pima, Papago, and Maricopa Indians also were supplied with guns, ammunition, and clothing, and pressed into service; but a year's effort netted the combined forces little gain. Although two hundred Apache were killed and many head of stolen stock recovered, practically no advance toward the termination of hostilities was accomplished.

In April, 1865, Inspector-General Davis arranged a conference at the Copper Mines in New Mexico with Victorio, Nane, Acosta, and other chiefs, among whom were Pasquin, Cassari, and Salvador, sons of Mangas Coloradas, through which he learned of the existence of dire destitution among the Apache and a desire for peace on condition that they be permitted to occupy their native haunts. But the Government had adopted a policy of removal by which the Arizona Apache desiring peace should join the Mescaleros at the Bosque Redondo in New Mexico. To this they flatly refused to agree, and the warfare continued.

The Bathing Pool - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1906 by E.S. Curtis

Practically all the Apache were assembled in Arizona in 1865, and waged hostilities with renewed energy for the next five years, being joined by the Walapai in 1868. The close of this period found the situation quite as unsettled as ever.

On June 4, 1871, General George Crook was placed in command. Crook was not an exterminator. In the fall of the same year he said:

"I think that the Apache is painted in darker colors than he deserves, and that his villainies arise more from a misconception of facts than from his being worse than other Indians. Living in a country the natural products of which will not support him, he has either to cultivate the soil or steal, and as our vacillating policy satisfies him we are afraid of him, he chooses the latter, also as requiring less labor and being more congenial to his natural instincts. I am satisfied that a sharp, active campaign against him would not only make him one of the best Indians in the country, but it would also save millions of dollars to the Treasury, and the lives of many innocent whites and Indians."

Crook's policy was one of peace, but he made it plain to the Indians that if they did not agree to peace when liberal terms were offered, they could expect a campaign against them hitherto unequalled in vigor. It was thus that by 1873 the Tontos, Coyoteros, and Apache-Mohave were subdued and the backbone of Apache resistance broken.

The Apache-Mohave and the Tontos were placed on a reservation on the Rio Verde; the Coyoteros were taken to the White Mountain district near Fort Apache; the Pinalenos and parts of other bands surrendered and were established at San Carlos; in all, approximately three thousand Apache had been brought under control. About one thousand hostiles yet remained in the mountains, but by 1874 they had become so nearly subjugated as to make it seem advisable to transfer the Arizona reservations from the War Department to the Office of Indian Affairs, which was done. The policy of the Indian Office from the beginning had been to concentrate the various bands upon one reservation at San Carlos. Disaffection arose between different bands until this became a despicable place to nearly all, while continued adherence to the removal policy drove the Chiricahua from their southern Arizona reservation to seek refuge with the Ojo Caliente Apache in southwestern New Mexico, in 1876, although they had been living in comparative peace for four years. In 1877 these Chiricahua and the Ojo Caliente band were forcibly removed to San Carlos, but while en route Victorio and a party of forty warriors made their escape. In September of the same year three hundred more fled from San Carlos and settler after settler was murdered. In February, 1878, Victorio and his notorious band surrendered at Ojo Caliente, but gave notice that they would die fighting before submitting to removal to San Carlos. The major portion of the three hundred Chiricahua who had left San Carlos surrendered at Fort Wingate, New Mexico, shortly before. All these were taken to the Mescalero reservation in New Mexico.

Haunted by the dread of removal to San Carlos, the appearance of a party of Grant County officials at the Mescalero agency on a hunting tour a few months later caused Victorio and his band to flee with a number of Chiricahua and Mescaleros to the mountains of southern New Mexico.

For two years, until he met his death at the hands of Mexican troops in the fall of 1880, Victorio spread carnage throughout the southern portions of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, and the northern states of Mexico, enlisting the aid of every willing renegade or refugee of whatever band or tribe in that section. After him Nane, Chato, Juh, Geronimo, and other doughty hostiles carried the fighting and raiding along until June, 1883, when Crook, reassigned to the Arizona district, followed the Chiricahua band under Geronimo into the Sierra Madre in Chihuahua, whence he brought them back whipped and ready to accept offers of peace. The captives were placed upon the San Carlos and White Mountain reservations, where, with the various other Apache bands under military surveillance, and with Crook in control, they took up agriculture with alacrity. But in 1885 Crook's authority was curtailed, and through some cause, never quite clear, Geronimo with many Chiricahua followers again took the warpath. Crook being relieved at his own request, Gen. Nelson A. Miles was assigned the task of finally subduing the Apache, which was consummated by the recapture of Geronimo and his band in the Sierra Madre in September, 1886. These hostiles were taken as prisoners to Florida, later to Alabama, and thence to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where, numbering 298, they still are, living as farmers in peace and quiet, but still under the control of the military authorities.

Alchise - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1906 by E.S. Curtis

One of the last hostile movements of note was the so-called Cibicu fight in 1882. In the spring of that year an old medicine-man, Nabakelti, Attacking The Enemy, better known as Doklini, started a "medicine" craze in the valley of the Cibicu on the White Mountain reservation. He had already a considerable following, and now claimed divine revelation and dictated forms of procedure in bringing the dead to life. As medicine paraphernalia he made sixty large wheels of wood, painted symbolically, and twelve sacred sticks, one of which, in the form of a cross, he designated "chief of sticks." Then with sixty men he commenced his dance.

One morning at dawn Nabakelti went to the grave of a man who had been prominent in the tribe and who had recently died. He and his adherents danced about the grave and then dug up the bones, around which they danced four times in a circle. The dancing occupied the entire morning, and early in the afternoon they went to another grave, where the performance was repeated. In each instance the bones were left exposed; but later four men, specially delegated, went to the graves and erected a brush hut over the remains.

Nabakelti told the people that they must pray each morning for four days, at the end of which time the bleached bones would be found clothed with flesh and alive again. By the end of the second day the Apache band on the Cibicu became excited almost to the degree of frenzy. They watched the little grave-houses constantly and gathered in groups about other graves.

Some of the Apache employed as scouts with the detachment stationed at Fort Apache heard of the craze and obtained leave of absence to investigate. They returned and informed the commanding officer, then acting as agent, that their people were going mad, whereupon a number of scouts and troopers were sent to learn the cause of the trouble and to ask Nabakelti to come to the fort for an interview. Though angered by the message, the old man agreed to come in two days. Meanwhile he had the little brush houses over the bones tightly sealed to keep out preying animals and curious Indians. He then explained to his people that, owing to the interruption by the whites, it was probable that the bones would not come to life at the end of four days, as predicted, but that he would make a new dance later and prove the efficacy of his creed.

Then he started for the fort with his entire band of dancers, sixty-two in number, each with his "sacred medicine"—wheels, sticks, and drums. They journeyed afoot, stopping occasionally to dance, and reached the grounds of the fort late in the afternoon of the second day. On they passed, dancing in a spectacular manner, and camped that night on the flat a little above the fort, where they waited for someone to come over to interview them. The agent did not send for Nabakelti that night, so at daybreak he started up White river with his band, passing by the present agency site, and crossing into Bear Springs valley. Thence they took the trail toward the Cibicu again, reaching the Carrizo in the evening, where they camped for the night and performed another dance. The following morning they took the trail for their home, which they reached rather early in the day.

As soon as the band had reached its destination, another summons was delivered to Nabakelti to appear before the agent at the fort. This time the old man sent back word that he would not come: he had gone once, and if any had wished to see him, they had had their chance.

On receipt of this reply, sixty mounted soldiers, armed and provisioned, were sent over to the Cibicu to put a stop to the dancing. Apache scouts had been stationed to watch the manoeuvres of the Indians and to keep the officials informed. They met the troopers, who made a night ride to the stream, and informed them where the old medicine-man was encamped. Early in the morning the soldiers reached the Cibicu at a point about two miles above Nabakelti's camp, whence a detachment was despatched to arrest the medicine-man and bring him to the place where headquarters were being established. It was the intention merely to arrest and hold him while the troops rested for the day, preparatory to taking him back to the fort; but it was deemed necessary to send a force sufficiently large to cope with the Indians should they attempt resistance.

Mescal Hills - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1906 by E.S. Curtis

Nabakelti yielded without hesitation to the demands of the soldiers, and forthwith rode up to headquarters. Everything seemed very quiet. There was no demonstration against the soldiers, who stacked their arms and unloaded the pack-trains. The mules were hobbled and turned loose, and the cavalry horses tethered and fed.

While this apparently peaceful condition prevailed, a brother of the medicine-man, angered because of the arrest, dashed into camp on a pony and shot and killed the captain in command. Instantly, hardly realizing whence the shot had come, one of the troopers struck Nabakelti on the head with a cudgel, killing him. Assured that a fight was imminent, the soldiers receded to higher ground, a short distance back, where they hurriedly made preparations for defence.

On learning that Nabakelti had been killed, and deeming the soldiers wholly to blame, a small party of Apache attacked the troopers while retreating to the higher ground. Six of the soldiers were killed, the mules stampeded, and the provisions burned, all within a short space of time. The hostiles made their escape, practically all of them leaving the valley.

The Government probably never lost money faster in an Indian campaign than it did as a result of its interference with Nabakelti's harmless medicine craze. Had he been left alone his inevitable failure, already at hand, to bring the dead to life would have lost him his following, and in all probability his ill-success would have cost his life at the hands of one of his tribesmen. As it was, the hostilities that followed extended over several months, costing many lives and a vast sum of money.


The present Apache population is approximately six thousand, including the Jicarillas and Mescaleros of New Mexico. It is doubtful if the number ever exceeded ten thousand. In population, therefore, the Apache seem almost too insignificant to have kept the other tribes of the vast Southwest, as well as two civilized nations, in constant dread for so long a period.

At the present time the greater part of the Apache reside on the White Mountain reservation, Arizona, comprising more than 3,500,000 acres, with agency headquarters at Whiteriver and San Carlos. This reservation is a part of the great tableland of southeastern Arizona, being a succession of mountains and high, park-like mesas, broken here and there with valleys and watered by limpid streams. The highlands are wooded with pine, cedar, fir, juniper, oak, and other trees, while in the valleys are mistletoe-laden cottonwood as well as willow, alder, and walnut, which, with smaller growths, are interwoven with vines of grape, hop, and columbine, in places forming a veritable jungle. On every hand, whether on mountain or in valley, many varieties of cactus grow in profusion; and in springtime canon and vale, mountain-side and mesa, are all aglow with wild flowers.

In midsummer the temperature of the lower reaches seems as great as that of a furnace. At the same season in the mountain and high mesa country, especially in the shade of the beautiful forests, the atmosphere is ideal; but in winter these higher levels are covered deep with snow, swept by fierce winds that chill one to the very marrow.

The typical Apache habitation, called kowa, consists of a framework of poles loosely thatched with native grass, through which the smoke from the central fire finds its outlet and the rain and snow sift in, rendering it anything but a comfortable shelter in time of storm. The kowa is erected by the women, who are little more than drudges, and as an Apache may have as many wives as he feels able to support, he may have as many homes as circumstances require. The various wives are prone to be quarrelsome among themselves, for which reason a man usually maintains one wife on one part of the reservation and another wife perhaps many miles away.

Primitive Apache Home

From Copyright Photograph 1903 by E.S. Curtis

In the good old days the radius of Apache wandering centred in the mountains of what is now southeastern Arizona; this was their stronghold, their lair, whence they raided to the south, well down into Sonora and Chihuahua, westward to the Colorado river, northward into the Hopi and Navaho country, and eastward as far at least as western Texas. From this mountain rendezvous they swept down upon the Mexicans and Indians of Sonora and Chihuahua, and on the Pueblo villages of the north, while in later years they terrorized the white settlers of the entire Southwest. To follow them was a fruitless task which often led to the destruction of the pursuers.

The primitive Apache was a true nomad, a wandering child of Nature, whose birthright was a craving for the warpath, with courage and endurance probably exceeded by no other people, and with cunning beyond reckoning. Although his character is a strong mixture of courage and ferocity, the Apache is gentle and affectionate toward those of his own flesh and blood, particularly his children. Fear, to him, is unknown. Death he faces with stolid indifference; yet Apache men have been known to grieve so deeply over the loss of a friend as to end their troubles by self-destruction.

No people could be better fitted than the Apache to conduct continuous predatory warfare. Every form of plant and animal life pays him tribute. An entirely naked Indian, without implements of any sort, would stop on a mountain slope and in a few minutes be sitting by a cheerful fire preparing a welcome meal. With a fragment of stone he would shape fire-sticks from the dead stalk of a yucca. Sitting with the flattened piece held firmly by his feet, a pinch of sand at the point of contact between the two sticks, with a few deft whirls of the round stick over his improvised hearth the lone traveller would soon have a fire kindled. Into the blaze he would cast a few sections of green, juicy mescal(1) stalk which, when cooked, would afford him both food and drink. This part of his meal finished, the Apache might gather other dead yucca stalks, split them, and often find within small stores of honey.

Many plants furnish small seeds rich in nutriment. These are gathered in a basket, ground on a metate, and the oily mass formed into a ball with the hands. The Apache assert that a lump as large as one's two fists would subsist a man for two days; but in addition he would eat wild greens of various kinds, either cooked or raw. One of the principal vegetal foods of the Apache is the mescal—in their language, nata. Nothing can give a better idea of the economic life of these people than a description of one of their annual mescal harvests.

The mescal harvest occurs in the season of new life and growth, when the call from the wild is strong in the blood, and like a class of children—for they are but grown-up children—they pour out into the wilds. From the camp where they have passed the winter they take to the trails which lead to the mescal hills.

For some hours after leaving the huts on White river the path leads across the hot, dusty desert; then it reaches the rim of White river canon and follows its edge so closely that a pebble tossed from the saddle would drop into the torrent more than a thousand feet below. How musical the roar of the stream, and how cool its waters look! As the trail passes some especially dizzy spot the Indian women lean away from the sheer edge in fear. For miles the trail traverses the bluff. At times the river is out of sight and hearing, then it emerges again and both eye and ear receive its greeting. At the hour when the pinon trees stretch their long shadows across the land the Indians urge their horses down a steep, winding trail and arrive at the river's bank. Here they ford, follow the course of the stream for a while, and then at a bend reach an open flat dotted here and there with shapely live-oaks. In this park-like opening the long straggling line comes to a halt.

Cutting Mescal - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1906 by E.S. Curtis

All the worldly possessions of the Apache woman are packed on the horse which she and her children have ridden. The mother, with the youngest in her arms, first clambers down, followed by the little girl four years of age; she then removes the blankets that cover the pack, then the burden basket containing her cooking utensils, next the water bottle, and from across the saddle seat the large rawhide carryall that contains the family supplies and extra clothing. A smaller rawhide bag holds those little essentials necessary to the comfort of the family. The unloading finished, the woman fills the water bottle at the stream and gathers fuel for preparing the simple meal, which is soon over. If anything is more simple than the cooking it is the preparation of the bed. A small circular spot is cleared and an armful of grass, if any exists, is spread over it; the blankets are laid on the grass, and the bed is made. The blankets may not be clean, and certainly the pallet is not downy, but this matters little to a people inured to hardship; they are happy.

With a laugh the children tumble upon the blankets. Being dressed in a single garment a little girl innocently exposes more of her body than meets with her modest mother's approval. The scolding is full and positive. Little Miss Apache, sitting in the middle of the blanket with her knees drawn to her chin and with scant skirt now tucked carefully about her feet, looks up with roguish smile, then down at her wiggling toes in coquettish defiance.

From far down the stream resound the splash of water and the merry laughter of matrons and maidens bathing in the clear pools, and from above the more boisterous shouts of men and boys. Surely he who says the American Indian is morose, stolid, and devoid of humor never knew him in the intimacy of his own home.

With the coming of light the women are at work building the campfires, and the rising sun finds them at their morning meal. The breaking of camp is a brief task. To-day they are to cross the divide, ford Black river, and continue on to the mountains where the mescal grows abundantly. Travel in the cool morning hours is a delight, and seven o'clock finds the party well on its way. The long cavalcade winds slowly over the mountain trail. Just ahead is a mother with two children, a little girl astride behind her and a two-year-old boy standing in her lap. The mourning dove sounds its melancholy note from the forest, and the children take up the call. The little boy is not very proficient in the imitation, and sister corrects him time after time. Truly, in Indian-land, nature study begins early in life.

There is noticeable change in the vegetation. The giant yuccas appear almost as a forest to-day; yesterday there was none. Soon the party gains the summit of the range, before which winds the valley of the Black with miles of placid stream in view. Quite different is this from White river, which is ever hurrying, rushing along. The Black flows within its grassy banks for long distances with scarcely a ripple; then a whirling rapid is passed, beyond which glides another long stretch of almost silent water.

However, mescal does not grow by cool streams, and the trail again leads up into high mountains. On a broad slope well toward the summit the final halt is made. Close by is the mescal pit, perhaps twenty feet in diameter and three feet deep; it may have been used a hundred years or a thousand, abandoned for a long period, and then brought into use again. Each time it is employed it must first be cleaned of the refuse from the last burning; this done, a large supply of fuel is gathered and thrown in, and over all are piled great quantities of stones.

Then begins the harvest of the mescal. With baskets on their backs the women go out to gather the plants. Their implements consist of a stick about two inches in diameter and three feet long, wedge-shaped and sharpened at one end, and a broad hatchet-like knife. On reaching a plant, the woman places the sharp end of the stick at its base and by a blow with a stone severs the root and pries it up. Nothing could be more primitive. The women of the Stone Age who gathered mescal on the same ground, and perhaps used the same pit, thus far must have used identical tools.

Mescal - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1906 by E.S. Curtis

When the plant is cut from its root it is turned over and trimmed. For the latter the women employ the hatchet-like knife, cutting off the outer ends of the leaves. The plant now resembles a large head of cabbage and weighs from five to twenty pounds. As fast as the plants are cut the women place them in the burden baskets and carry them to the pit, load after load. To make it possible for each woman to identify her mescal after the cooking, each piece is branded with a distinguishing device—a property mark. The gathering of the mescal continues for several days, an area covering a radius of perhaps two miles being stripped of its budding plants, for such only are harvested.

The pit being ready and the mescal gathered, the work of cooking commences. Just at daylight the old woman in charge takes her place at the rim of the pit and prays that the cooking may be successful and that the people may be in condition to partake of the food. In igniting the fuel the old-fashioned fire-sticks must be employed; to use matches would bring ill fortune. When the fuel in the pit becomes a blazing mass the women go to prepare breakfast, but are soon at work again gathering brush and grass to cover the mescal. Within four hours the fuel is entirely consumed and the red-hot stones have settled to the bottom of the pit. When it is certain that no fuel remains unburned, as even a small amount of smoke would spoil the quality of the mescal, the head-woman says, "It is good," and with great eagerness her followers begin to fill the pit. There is need for haste in throwing in and covering the mescal, as the steam must be confined to prevent the hot stones from scorching it. The covering consists of alternate layers of green brush, grass, dry leaves, and finally a layer of earth, about six inches in thickness. After forty-eight hours of steaming the seething mass is uncovered and each woman removes her portion.

The greater part of the product of this cooking is now to be prepared for winter use by pulling the leaves apart and pounding them into pulp. This can be kneaded and handled much the same as dough, and while in this plastic state is formed into large cakes two inches thick and perhaps three feet long. These are dried in the sun, when they have all the appearance of large slabs of India rubber, and are easily packed on horses for the homeward journey.

This dried mescal may be eaten without further preparation, but it is generally made into a gruel by mixing with water. Alone it is very sweet, and berries of the aromatic sumac, and frequently walnuts, are crushed with it to give it flavor.

The fruit of the opuntia, or prickly-pear cactus, which the Apache call hush, is much used for food both in its fresh state and dried. It is picked from the plant with pincers of split sticks. When the tŭtza, or burden basket, is filled its contents are poured on the ground and the fruit is brushed about with a small grass besom until the spines are worn off. In preparing hush the women grind seeds and pulp into a mass, thus retaining the full food value of the fruit.

Manzanita, pinon nuts, juniper berries, acorns of the scrub oak, fruit of the yucca, wild potatoes, wild onions, mesquite pods, and many varieties of fungi also furnish food. As a drink the Apache make a tea from the green or dried inner bark of the pinon.

The intoxicant and curse of their lives is tulapai, or tizwin as it is sometimes called. Tulapai means "muddy or gray water." It is, in fact, a yeast beer. In preparing it corn is first soaked in water. If it be winter time the wet corn is placed under a sleeping blanket until the warmth of the body causes it to sprout; if summer, it is deposited in a shallow hole, covered with a wet blanket, and left until the sprouts appear, when it is ground to pulp on a metate. Water and roots are added, and the mixture is boiled and strained to remove the coarser roots and sprouts. At this stage the liquid has the consistency of thin cream soup. It is now set aside for twenty-four hours to cool and ferment, when it is fit for drinking. As the tulapai will spoil in twelve hours it must be drunk quickly. Used in moderation it is not a bad beverage, but by no means a pleasant one to the civilized palate. The Apache, however, knows no moderation in his tulapai drinking. He sometimes fasts for a day and then drinks great quantities of it,—often a gallon or two—when for a time he becomes a savage indeed.

Filling the Pit - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1906 by E.S. Curtis

Another intoxicant, more effective than tulapai, is made from the mescal—not from the sap, according to the Mexican method, but from the cooked plant, which is placed in a heated pit and left until fermentation begins. It is then ground, mixed with water, roots added, and the whole boiled and set aside to complete fermentation. The Indians say its taste is sharp, like whiskey. A small quantity readily produces intoxication.

Of game foods the Apache has deer, antelope, and wild turkey, with quail, some water fowl, smaller birds, rabbits, and wood-rats. Fish and bear meat are strictly tabooed.

The graphic art of the Apache finds expression chiefly in ceremonial paintings on deerskin, and in basketry. Only rarely have they made pottery, their roving life requiring utensils of greater stability. Such earthenware as they did make was practically the same as that of the Navaho, mostly in the form of small cooking vessels. Usually the pictures are painted on the entire deerskin, but sometimes the skin is cut square, and at others ceremonial deerskin shirts are symbolically painted. Occasionally the Apache attempts to picture the myth characters literally; at other times only a symbolic representation of the character is made. In addition to the mythic personages, certain symbols are employed to represent the incident of the myth. These paintings are made under the instruction of a medicine-man and are a part of the medicine paraphernalia. On some skins the most sacred characters in Apache mythology are represented symbolically—Nayĕnezgani, the War God; Tubadzischĭni, his younger brother; Kuterastan, the Creator of All; Stenatlihan, the chief goddess. In fact the symbolism on an elaborately painted deerskin may cover every phase of Apache cosmology.

In their basketry the Apache women display great taste in form, and in their more superior work employ much symbolic decoration. Since the beginning of the present "messiah craze" all baskets display the sacred symbols believed to have been revealed to Das Lan by Chuganaai Skhin—a combination of the cross and the crescent. There are many baskets, made before this new religious wave swept over the tribe, into which the symbolism has since been woven.

The basket most used is the tŭtza, or burden basket, roughly and loosely woven, ornamented with circular lines as often painted on as woven in. Previous to a messiah craze, which had its origin with the Apache about 1901, the designs in these baskets were purely decorative, without attempt at symbolism; but now, by order of a crafty old medicine-man, every tŭtza must display the combined cross and crescent.

The tus is a water bottle, made invariably of withes of the aromatic sumac, loosely woven, and coated inside and out with pinon gum. To use material other than sumac would be considered very bad. In the Apache deluge myth the people, instructed by Stenatlihan, built a monster tus of pinon branches in which they floated away.

The tsa-naskŭdi is a bowl or tray-shaped basket of splendid form, with symbolic decoration of intricate pattern.

The most pretentious basket is the tus-naskŭdi, in general form like the tus, but much larger; it is used for the storage of grain. Its lines are most beautiful, as are also its inwoven symbolic designs.

Owing to the extremely secretive nature of the Apache, it is difficult for the casual student to learn anything of the relations between their mythology and the designs used in their basketry. Questioned, they will perhaps say, "We don't know," or "To make it look pretty." But an intelligent and trustworthy interpreter will tell you, "That woman knows, but she will not tell." A law of the cult brought about by the recent messiah religion is that every woman must have in readiness for use during the migration to the future world a tus, a tŭtza, a tsa-naskŭdi, and a gourd drinking-cup, all decorated with the cross and crescent. These are not used and are carefully preserved.

The clan and gentile systems of the American Indians have been the bulwark of their social structure, for by preventing intermarriage within the clan or the gens the blood was kept at its best. Added to this were the hardships of the Indian life, which resulted in the survival only of the fittest and provided the foundation for a sturdy people. But with advancing civilization one foresees the inevitable disintegration of their tribal laws, and a consequent weakening of the entire social structure, for the Indians seem to have absorbed all the evil, and to have embodied little of the good, that civilized life teaches.

The Covered Pit - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1906 by E.S. Curtis

The Coyoteros are divided into five bands, each consisting of a number of clans, although in one band there are now survivors of a single clan only, while in others as many as seven or eight clans are still to be found. Descent among the Apache generally is reckoned through the mother; that is, the children belong to their mother's clan. An exception to this rule is said by "Peaches," an old Apache scout under Crook, to exist among the Chiricahua, where the children take the gens of the father. Among the Apache some of the younger generation are inclined to disregard tribal laws respecting marriage, but in former times they were rigidly enforced, marriage within the clan or the gens being regarded as incestuous. When asked what would happen if a man and a woman belonging to the same clan should marry, one old man answered that both would be quickly put to death.

In the Appendix are given the clan names of the Coyoteros, also of the Arivaipa and the Chiricahua. Geronimo, Chato, and Cochise were members of the Aiahan, People of the East, clan. Most of the clan names are derived from localities in which the ancestors of the clan are supposed to have first lived.

With the Apache, as with other tribes, the clan organization has an important bearing on property right. Regardless of what property either spouse may hold or own at the time of marriage, the other immediately becomes possessed of his or her moiety. Should the wife die, her husband retains possession of the property held in common so long as he does not remarry, but what might be termed the legal ownership of the wife's half interest becomes vested in her clan. Should he attempt to dissipate the property the members of the deceased wife's clan would at once interfere. If the widower wishes to marry again and the woman of his choice belongs to the clan of his former wife, then he and the new wife become owners in common of all personal property held by him; but if the second wife belongs to a different clan from that of the former wife, then the husband must make actual transfer of half of the common property to the clanspeople of the deceased woman, who inherited the legal interest in it at their relative's death. The same tribal law applies in the case of a widow.

Much internal strife naturally results whenever an actual distribution of property is made. In the first place the surviving spouse unwillingly relinquishes the moiety of the property to the relatives of the deceased, and the immediate relatives often disagree with the remainder of the clan. In former times death of one or more members of contending clans often resulted when the division of much property was made. Having no tribunal for making an equitable division, the matter was left to mutual agreement, resulting in disputes and frequently murder.

With the breaking up of the clans, together with the rapid disintegration of ancient customs and laws, this property law is fast becoming forgotten; but so recently as 1906 such disputes as those mentioned occurred under both the Fort Apache and San Carlos agencies, creating no little ill-feeling. In one instance a man refused to deliver possession of half of his little herd of horses to his deceased wife's clanspeople when contemplating marriage with another woman, and appealed to the missionaries for aid. He was compelled to make the division, however, before he could remarry.


There was a time when nothing existed to form the universe—no earth, no sky, and no sun or moon to break the monotony of the illimitable darkness. But as time rolled on, a spot, a thin circular disc no larger than the hand, yellow on one side and white on the other, appeared in midair. Inside the disc sat a bearded man but little larger than a frog, upon whom was to fall the task of creating all things. Kuterastan, The One Who Lives Above, is the name by which he is now known, though some call him Yuadistan, Sky Man.

Apache Still Life

From Copyright Photograph 1903 by E.S. Curtis

Kuterastan, as if waking from a long sleep, sat up and rubbed his face and eyes with both hands. Then bending forward, he looked up into the endless darkness, and lo! light appeared everywhere above him. He then looked down, and all below became a sea of light. A glance to the east created yellow streaks of dawn, another to the west the saffron tints of the dying day, both soon becoming obscured by numerous clouds of many hues, formed by his looking around and about in all directions.

Again with both hands Kuterastan wiped his eyes and sweating face and, rubbing his hands together as if he were rolling a small pebble between the palms, suddenly parted them with a quick downward fling, and there before him on a shining, vaporless, mirage-like cloud sat a little girl no larger than a doll. Kuterastan directed her to stand up, asking where she intended to go, but she replied not. He cleared his vision once more with his hands, then proffered his right hand to the girl, Stenatlihan, Woman Without Parents, who grasped it, with the greeting "Whence came you?"

For reply Kuterastan merely repeated her question, adding, "Look to the east, it is light! There will be light in the south, in the west, and in the north." And as she looked she saw light. He then came out upon the cloud.

"Where is the earth?" asked Stenatlihan, to which Kuterastan replied by asking:

"Where is the sky?" Then requesting that he be not disturbed, he began to sing: "I am thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking what shall I do next." Four times he thus sang, at the end of the fourth time brushing his face with his hands, which he rubbed briskly together and parted quickly; and there before him stood Chuganaai, the Sun. Raising his left hand to his brow, from the sweat thereon, which he rolled in his hands as before, Kuterastan let drop from his right palm a small boy, Hadintin Skhin.

The four sat upon that still cloud for a time as if in reverie, the first to break the silence being he who commenced the creation: "What shall we do next? I do not like this cloud to live upon, but we are to rule and must stay together. How dreary it is here! I wish we had some place to go." And then he set to work again, creating Nacholecho, the Tarantula, who was later to help in completing the earth, and Nokuse, the Big Dipper, whose duty it would be to befriend and to guide. The creation of Nilchidilhkizn, the Wind, Ndidilhkizn, the Lightning Maker, and the clouds in the west to house Ndisagochan, Lightning Rumbler, whom he placed in them at the same time, next occupied his attention. Then turning to Stenatlihan, Kuterastan said, "Truly this is not a fit place in which to live; let us make the earth." And so saying he at once began to sing, "I am thinking of the earth, the earth, the earth; I am thinking of the earth," which he repeated four times. As he ceased, Stenatlihan, Chuganaai, and Hadintin Skhin each shook hands with him. Sweat from their hands adhered to his. He at once began rubbing his palms, when suddenly there slipped from between them a small brown body, no larger than a bean. Kuterastan kicked it and it expanded; Stenatlihan then kicked it and its size further increased; Chuganaai next gave it a severe blow with his foot and it became larger still; a kick from Hadintin Skhin made it greater yet. Nilchidilhkizn, the Wind, was told to go inside and blow outward in all directions. This he did, greatly expanding the dimensions of that body, now so wide that they could hardly see its edge. The Lightning was next directed to exert his strength, so with a terrific flash and roar he penetrated the body to its centre, spreading it still wider. Then Tarantula was called on to assist, and accordingly he started off to the east, spinning a strong black cord, on which he pulled with all his might; another cord of blue was spun out to the south, a third of yellow to the west, and a fourth of glistening white to the north. A mighty pull on each of these stretched the surface of that dark brown body to almost immeasurable size. Finally Kuterastan directed all to cover their eyes with their hands, and when they opened them a moment later they beheld Nigostŭn, the Earth, complete in extent. No hills or mountains were there in sight, nothing but a smooth, treeless, reddish-brown plain.

Nilchidilhkizn, the Wind, scratched his chest and rubbed his fingers together, when out from between them flew Datilye, the Humming-bird. Datilye was told to make a circuit of the earth and report what he saw. He started off toward the east, circled south, west, north, and back from the east. All was well; the earth was most beautiful, very smooth, and covered with water on the western side.

But the Earth was not still; it kept shifting and rolling and dancing up and down, so Kuterastan made four great posts—colored black, blue, yellow, and white—to support it. Then he directed Stenatlihan to sing a song. She sang, "The world is made and will soon sit still." These two then stood and faced Chuganaai and Hadintin Skhin, when into their midst came Nilchidilhkizn, who dashed away to the cardinal points with the four posts, which he placed under the sides of the earth; and upon them it sat and was still. This pleased Kuterastan, so he sang a song, repeating, "The world is now made and sits still."

Then Kuterastan began another song, referring to the sky. None existed as yet, and he felt there ought to be one. Four times he chanted the song, at the end of the fourth time spreading his hands wide before him, when lo! there stood twenty-eight men and women ready to help make a sky to cover the earth. He next chanted a song for the purpose of making chiefs for the sky and the earth, and at its close sent Ndidilhkizn, the Lightning Maker, to encircle the world. Ndidilhkizn departed at once, but returned in a short time with three very uncouth persons, two girls and a boy, whom he had found in the sky in a large turquoise bowl. Not one of them had eyes, ears, hair, mouth, nose, or teeth, and though they had arms and legs, they had neither fingers nor toes.

Chuganaai at once sent for Doh, the Fly, to come and erect a kachĕ, or sweat-house. It took but a short time to put up the framework, which Stenatlihan covered closely with four heavy clouds: a black cloud on the east, a blue one on the south, a yellow one on the west, and a white one on the north. Out in front of the doorway, at the east, she spread a soft red cloud for a foot-blanket after the sweat. Twelve stones were heated in a fire, and four of them placed in the kachĕ. Kuterastan, Stenatlihan, Chuganaai, and Hadintin Skhin each inspected the sweat-house and pronounced it well made. The three newcomers were bidden to enter and were followed by Chuganaai, Nilchidilhkizn, Ndidilhkizn, Nokuse, and Doh. The eight sang songs as their sweat began. Chuganaai led, singing four songs, and each of the others followed in turn with the same number. They had had a good sweat by the time the songs were finished, so Stenatlihan removed the black cloud and all came out. She then placed the three strangers on the red-cloud blanket, and under the direction of Kuterastan made for them fingers, toes, mouth, eyes, ears, hair, and nose. Then Kuterastan bade them welcome, making the boy, whom he called Yadilhkih Skhin, Sky Boy, chief of the sky and its people. The second he named Nigostŭn Nalĭn, Earth Daughter, and placed her in charge of the earth and its crops; while to the third, Hadinin Nalĭn, Pollen Girl, was assigned the care of the health of the earth's people. This duty also devolved upon Hadintin Skhin, but each looks more to the welfare of his own sex than to that of the other.

Among the Oaks - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1903 by E.S. Curtis

The earth was smooth, flat, and barren, so Kuterastan made a few animals, birds, trees, and a hill. Then he sent Agocho, the Pigeon, to see how the world looked. Four days later Agocho returned and said all was beautiful, but that in four days more the water on the opposite side would rise and flood the land. Kuterastan at once created a pinon tree. This Stenatlihan skilfully tended until it grew to be of gigantic size at the end of four days. Then with four great limbs as a framework she made a very large water bottle, tus, covering it with gum from the pinon. When the water appeared as predicted, Kuterastan went up on a cloud, taking his twenty-eight helpers with him, while Stenatlihan summoned all the others and put them into the tus, into which she climbed last, closing the mouth at the top.

Mescal Camp - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1903 by E.S. Curtis

The flood completely submerged the earth for twelve days. Then the waters subsided, leaving the tus on the summit of the hill Kuterastan had made. The rush of the waters had changed the once smooth, level plain into series of mountains, hills, rivers, and valleys, so that Stenatlihan hardly knew where they were when she opened the tus and came out. Tazhi, the Turkey, and Gage, the Crow, were the first to make a tour of the land. At the base of the hill they descended into a small muddy alkaline creek, in which the Turkey got the tips of his tail-feathers whitened, and they have been white ever since. On return they reported that all looked beautiful as far as they had travelled. Stenatlihan then sent Agocho to make a complete circuit and let her know how things appeared on all sides. He came back much elated, for he had seen trees, grass, mountains, and beautiful lakes and rivers in every direction.

Directing the others to remain where she left them, Stenatlihan summoned Hadintin Skhin, Hadintin Naln, Ndidilhkizn, and Agocho, and took them up in a cloud, in which they drifted until they met Kuterastan and his band of workers, who had completed the sky during the time of the flood. The two clouds floated to the top of the hill on which stood the tus. All descended to the valley below, where Stenatlihan marshalled them into line, that Kuterastan might talk to them. He briefly told them that he was going to leave them and wished each one to do his part toward making the world perfect and happy. "You, Ndisagochan, shall have charge of the clouds and the water. You, Yadilhkih Skhin, I leave in charge of the sky. Nigostŭn Nalĭn, you are to look after the crops of our people; and you, Hadintin Skhin, must care for their health and guide them." He then called Stenatlihan to him and placed her in charge of all.

The people stood in line facing their god, with hands extended as if in supplication. Kuterastan and Stenatlihan stood facing each other. Each rubbed their thighs with their hands, then cast their hands downward, and there arose between them a great pile of wood. Stenatlihan knelt and slipped a hand under it, and as she did so Kuterastan passed his hand over the top. Great white billowy clouds of smoke at once issued forth, rising straight skyward. Into these Kuterastan disappeared. All the other gods and goddesses soon followed, leaving the twenty-eight whom Kuterastan had made to build the sky to remain upon the earth and people it. Chuganaai went east to travel with the sun; Stenatlihan departed westward to make her home in clouds on the horizon, while Hadintin Skhin and Hadintĭn Nalin sought homes among the clouds in the south, and Nokuse may still be seen in the northern sky at night.

The Apache is inherently devoutly religious; his life is completely moulded by his religious beliefs. From his morning prayer to the rising sun, through the hours, the days, and months—throughout life itself—every act has some religious significance. Animals, elements, every observable thing of the solar system, all natural phenomena, are deified and revered. Like all primitive people, not understanding the laws of nature, the Apache ascribe to the supernatural all things passing their understanding. The medicine-men consider disease evil, hence why try to treat evil with drugs? Disease is of divine origin, so to the beneficent and healing gods the Apache naturally make supplication for cure.

The Apache, even if willing, could not directly impart their religious beliefs or their philosophy. It is only by study of their myths, myth songs, and medicine practices, and by close observance of their life, that a comprehensive idea of such beliefs can be gained.

A concise outline of the mythology of the Apache is given in the following description of the painted medicine skin(2) shown in the accompanying plate.

A—The nucleus of the universe, called Chalhkĕlh Naliin, Night Girl. In the beginning it was merely a spot of color in which, during the course of time, a form appeared, and later emerged. This was Kuterastan, the Creator.

B—Kuterastan, the Creator of All, is standing on the clouds, his first home, holding lightning in each hand. To his left is the tus, or water bottle, in which the people of the earth took refuge from the flood shortly after their creation. Above him are four clouds, those into which he departed when leaving the earth for his celestial abode. He first created several assistants, who in turn created others by rubbing sweat and small particles of cuticle from the face and body.

C—Stenatlihan, the chief goddess, first helper of Kuterastan, is seen standing on the clouds. In her right hand is a pinon tree, from the branches and gum of which the large tus was made at the time of the deluge. Above her flies Datilye, the Humming-bird, who was sent as a messenger about the world to note how its creation progressed.

D—Chuganaai Skhin was the second person created by Kuterastan. He followed Stenatlihan, and is therefore third in importance of the many deities. Not only does he give light to the day, but he has the power to relieve and cure disease with the aid of the first beams of his morning light. The Apache ask his blessing before sunrise, generally imploring his beneficence "as soon as you look upon me." The serrated circles typify the abodes of these gods, which are protected by insurmountable barriers.

E—Here the sun as first made by the great creator is pictured. As time wore on, it grew to become the full round disc it now is.

F—The moon as first made by Stenatlihan, at the behest of Kuterastan, who asked that she make something to illumine the night. The streaks represent catamenia, and the gradual growth of the moon is assumed to be parallel with prenatal growth.

G—This single symbol, a maltese cross, represents the four personages who made the stars. They have to do with the stars only, and are not prayed to as deities having power over the people on earth.

Sacred Buckskin - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1903 by E.S. Curtis


A—Chalhkĕlh Nalin, Night Girl B—Kuterastan, The One Who Lives Above C—Stenatlihan, Woman Without Parents D—Chuganaai Skhin, Sun Boy E—Chuganaai, The Sun F—Kleganaai, The Moon G—Yadilhkih Binalze, Sky Messengers H—Nigostŭn Bika Binalze, Earth Messengers I, J—Nastĕlh, Makers of Dreams and Visions K—Hadilhkih, Lightning

Disc L 1—Nayĕnezgani, Slayer of Alien Gods 2—Dutlĭshi Skhin, Turquoise Boy 3—Yolkai Skhin, White-Shell Boy 4—Hadintin Skhin, Pollen Boy

Disc M 1—Tubadzischĭni, Born From Water 2—Yadilhkih Skhin, Sky Boy 3—Yolkai Skhin, White-Shell Boy 4—Hadintin Skhin, Pollen Boy

Disc N 1—Yolkai Nalĭn, White-Shell Girl 2—Dutlĭshi Nalĭn, Turquoise Girl 3—Enasho Dilŭhklĭshen, Black Alien Talker 4—Hadintin Nalĭn, Pollen Girl

Disc O 1—Hadintin Nalĭn, Pollen Girl 2—Nilchidilhkizn, The Wind 3—Yolkai Naliĭn, White-Shell Girl 4 —Yakosha Skhin, Frost Boy

P—Gauncho - Gods Q—Gaunchinĕ - Gods R—Gaun - Gods S—Gaunchi - Gods

H—Another maltese cross, symbolizing four spirits of the air, who act as messengers of the gods. They are supposed to communicate with the medicine-men, bringing to them words of wisdom from the several gods as they sit and chant in ceremony, or when they are fasting. Their name, Nigostŭn Bika Binalze, Earth Messengers, indicates that their powers extend to both the earth and the sky.

I and J symbolize spirits of the air who reveal to the medicine-men the wonders they claim to know in a priestly way. Such revelations are made to them in visions as they sit and drum and sing when endeavoring to discover some new cure for an affliction, or to initiate new customs that might be pleasing to the gods. The priests often take a medicine skin of this sort and go out into the mountains, where they fast and sing over it for hours at a time, awaiting the coming of the spirits.

K—It is supposed that any of the various gods have the power of calling on the lightning to carry messages from one to the other. Wherever shown in the symbolism of the Apache, lightning lines are drawn to indicate communication from one god to another.

Disc L 1—Nayĕnezgani is the first son of Stenatlihan, who was made to conceive by the sun's rays as she lay asleep on the eastern slope of a mountain. He is the War God and miracle performer, the culture hero who in parallel legends appears in many North American aboriginal cults. Great monsters in the form of giant antelopes, rolling stones, and beasts of hideous conception are supposed to have inhabited the earth for a time, destroying its people. These monsters typify only the evils of this life; in fact death itself is spoken of in many legends as one of the monsters, in such form engaging in a long discussion with the miracle performer to prove that he should not be destroyed; if he were, the earth would become overpopulated. With his bow and arrow and turquoise lance Nayĕnezgani banished these curses from earth. He himself was invulnerable as he appeared before these monsters, for the reason that he always buried his veins near a tree before attacking them. After he had killed them all, he and his younger brother, Tubadzischĭni, quarrelled. The Bluebird revealed to the latter the spot where Nayĕnezgani kept his veins buried, so he sought them out and shot arrows into them, thus killing him. Other myths relate how Nayĕnezgani was later resurrected, and he is still prayed to as the chief War God.

Apache Girl

From Copyright Photograph 1906 by E.S. Curtis

2—Dutlĭshi Skhin was created within the blue clouds at the time they were made, and emerged from them. He took part in the creation, assisting Kuterastan and Stenatlihan in finishing their work. At their direction he made a few people and many birds and animals.

3—To Yolkai Skhin is attributed the creation of all white things. He himself was brought into existence in the white cloud, and on emerging therefrom immediately began the work of making white rock and shells under the direction of Kuterastan and Stenatlihan.

4—Hadintin Skhin is the God of Disease and Health. It is he who causes much sickness and he who can cure any disease, if he be so disposed. Especial care is taken by the Apache not to arouse his displeasure, and he is supplicated and propitiated whenever disease appears among them.

Disc M 1—Tubadzischĭni, the second son of Stenatlihan, is the God of Water, because his mother conceived as she slept one afternoon under a ledge of rock from which drops of water trickled upon her. In the dance for rain all prayers and songs are addressed to him. It was he who created the ocean.

2—Yadilhkih Skhin is Chief of the Sky. In the origin story the Lightning was sent to encircle the earth to find how things appeared on all sides. On his return he brought back with him a large turquoise bowl containing three ill-formed persons, one of whom was Sky Boy. Later all three were put through a sweat-bath and their bodies perfected.

3—Yolkai Skhin, described above.

4—Hadintin Skhin, described above.

The Ford - Apache

From Copyright Photograph 1903 by E.S. Curtis

Disc N 1—Yolkai Nalĭn, one of the most venerated and greatly feared personages in the Apache mythology. She is the Goddess of Death, or rather of the after-life, for she controls all souls that pass on to the future world. The road to this afterworld is supposed to cross her shoulders and is symbolized by the Milky Way, a trail made by the departing spirits. The Apache will not utter the name of a deceased person, because they say the dead have gone on to Yolkai Nalĭn and are her people. If they talked of them it might anger her, and when their death ensues she might refuse them admittance to the eternal paradise. This goddess is supposed to preside over the birth of children, hence supplications and offerings are made to her immediately before childbirth. She is invoked at other times to withhold her call, for it is believed that she can cause death. These prayers are addressed to Yolkai Nalĭn through the medium of small white shells and white stone beads. The white beads are symbolic of purity, and through them Yolkai Nalĭn is asked to keep the minds of the people free from evil thoughts or deeds.

2—Dutlĭshi Nalĭn, the Turquoise Girl, is the creator of all things green. She has to do with the crops in the fields, and the devout Apache prays to her every morning during the season of growth.

3—Enasho Dilhklĭshen is the God of Intellect. He controls the minds of the people, making their thoughts good or evil at will. It was he who first talked to the people on earth. When a child is born its parents often pray that Kuterastan will make it grow to be like Enasho Dilhklĭshen, to whom prayers are addressed for aid when one must talk to the people. In such case no offering of pollen is made unless the request be presented to an image representing this god, when pollen is sprinkled upon it.

4—Hadintin Nalĭn is Chieftainess of Pollen, because she causes pollen to grow on the trees. The Indians know the function of pollen in plants and pray that their corn and other products of the fields, as well as the nuts and fruits that grow wild, may be fructified early in the season, to insure good harvests.

Disc O 1—Hadintin Nalĭn, described above.

2—Nilchidilhkizn, Chief of the Winds. The Apache never complains of the wind, for should he become impatient about them and give vent to sacrilegious utterances he might anger the Wind God and thereby bring on destructive storms.

3—Yolkai Nalĭn, described above.

4—Yakosha Skhin, God of Moisture and also Controller of Rain. Since snow, ice, hail, frost, dew, and fog are derived from the clouds, Yakosha Skhin is sometimes termed Chief of the Clouds, but in general the clouds are regarded as his workshop, for there is another who has direct charge and control of them.

P, Q, R, and S—These figures represent gods, or, in Apache, gaun, who are supposed to have been made by the Sun for the purpose of curing people stricken with bodily disease. Diseases of the body are regarded as distinct from those of the mind. The gaun live in the four cardinal directions and are impersonated in medicine ceremonies by men wearing stick masks, who always take stations at the four sides of the patient. These doctors are not called in case of illness until after the four chief deities have been supplicated, when, as a last resort, the medicine-man prays to the gaun. If the gaun cannot help, there is believed to be no hope for the patient. In ancient times all animals could talk, and many were used as beasts of burden. The bear and the deer were the horses of that time. In the graphic representations of the Apache these four spirits are often pictured riding deer and bear.


The medicine-men of the Apache are most influential personages. They are usually men of more than ordinary ability, claiming, through their many deities and their knowledge of the occult and ominous, to have supernatural power. In sickness any individual may make supplication to the deities, but the prayers of the medicine-men are accepted as being most efficacious.

Apache Medicine-man

From Copyright Photograph 1907 by E.S. Curtis

Many of the medicine-men have some knowledge of the medicinal properties of plants and generally make use of them in the treatment of disease, but their treatment consists more of incantation than aught else. Even in collecting the plants they invoke the deities, usually facing the cardinal points in turn. In case the prescription calls for a combination of herbs or other vegetal products, the number four is always strictly adhered to; it might be a decoction made of four roots of one variety or of a single root from each of four varieties of plants.

Every Apache medicine-man has a medicine skin, his epŭn ezchi, inscribed with the symbolism of the tribal mythology. With his prayer wands he rehearses the symbolic figures, praying to the mythical characters who are regarded as most efficacious in the particular ailment under treatment. In his own little kowa, or dwelling, with the painted deerskin spread before him, on which are delineated the symbolic representations of a score of gods comprising the Apache pantheon, a medicine-man will sit and croon songs and pray all day and all night in the hope of hearing the voices of celestial messengers.

Many of the prayers and songs of the Apache medicine-men are very beautiful. The following is an example:

1 Stena pehĭnda nzhoni, togonil adahe bĕoishkan.

2 Inatĕsh nzhoni bĕoishkan.

3 Enudĕtsos nzhoni bĕoishkan.

4 Inyatil nzhoni bĕoishkan.

5 Bĕhnandahi inkehi togonil adahe bĕoishkan.

6 Indŭh binandahe bĕoishkan.

7 Beh nashalolezh nde; nasheyo shichĩsigon zhondolezh.

8 Nde shinkloho beh sanandahe bĕoishkan.

9 Beh sanashado bĕoishkan.

10 No oskongo adishni dahazhi behnashado ti nde ta nasheyo gonzhodo.

11 Shagocho paogo nasha.

12 Akud nde sa nzhoni yĕsitchi yĕatido.

13 Pidi yŭgga sa nzhoni yĕkissin shĩdil ĕndo.

14 Shitŭh gozhondolezh pogo hadishndi.

1 Stenatlihan, you are good, I pray for a long life.

2 I pray for your good looks.

3 I pray for good breath.

4 I pray for good speech.

5 I pray for feet like yours to carry me through a long life.

6 I pray for a life like yours.

7 I walk with people; ahead of me all is well.

8 I pray for people to smile as long as I live.

9 I pray to live long.

10 I pray, I say, for a long life to live with you where the good people are.

11 I live in poverty.

12 I wish the people there to speak of goodness and to talk to me.

13 I wish you to divide your good things with me, as a brother.

14 Ahead of me is goodness, lead me on.

While this prayer is worded as if uttered by the supplicant, it is in reality offered by the medicine-man in his behalf.

There are head medicine-men and medicine-men of lesser degree. The man who becomes influential enough to be considered the head medicine-man of the tribe is more of a politician than a doctor of diseases, and in important cases only is he called to treat in a healing ceremony. It requires a particularly capable Indian to attain the position of head medicine-man, for to do so he must not only make the people subservient to his will, but must wrest the leadership from some other and usually older medicine-man who is himself an influential character. Unfortunately it is apt to be the most crafty, scheming man who gains such power over his tribesmen.

1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse