Apache shelter facts

Apache shelter facts DEFAULT

Apache facts for kids

For the web server, see Apache HTTP Server.

Total population
111,810 alone and in combination
Regions with significant populations
Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Mexico, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas
Apache, Jicarilla, Plains Apache, Lipan Apache, Mescalero-Chiricahua, Western Apache, English, and Spanish
Native American Church, Christianity, traditional tribal religion
Related ethnic groups
Navajo, Dene, Tarahumara
Group of Apaches

Apache are a group of culturally related Native Americantribes in the Southwestern United States. These indigenous peoples of North America speak a Southern Athabaskan (Apachean) language, which is related linguistically to the languages of Athabaskan speakers of Alaska and western Canada.

The modern term Apache excludes the related Navajo people. Since the Navajo and the other Apache groups are clearly related through culture and language, they are all considered Apachean. Apachean peoples formerly ranged over eastern Arizona, northern Mexico, New Mexico, west and southwest Texas, and southern Colorado. The Apachería consisted of high mountains, sheltered and watered valleys, deep canyons, deserts, and the southern Great Plains.

The Apachean groups had little political unity; the major groups spoke seven different languages and developed distinct and competitive cultures. The current division of Apachean groups includes the Navajo, Western Apache, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan, and Plains Apache (formerly Kiowa-Apache). Apache groups live in Oklahoma and Texas and on reservations in Arizona and New Mexico.

Some Apacheans have moved to large metropolitan areas. The largest Apache urban communities are in Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Phoenix, Denver, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Some Apacheans were employed in migrant farm labor and relocated to the central agricultural regions of Southern California, such as the Coachella, Imperial and Colorado River valleys, where now tens of thousands of Apacheans live.

The Apachean tribes were historically very strong and strategic, opposing the Spanish and Mexican peoples for centuries. The first Apache raids on Sonora appear to have taken place during the late 17th century. In 19th-century confrontations, the U.S. Army found the Apache to be fierce warriors and skillful strategists.

Pre-reservation culture

Social organization and Government

Apache bride

All Apachean peoples lived in extended family units (or family clusters); they usually lived close together, with each nuclear family in separate dwellings. An extended family generally consisted of a husband and wife, their unmarried children, their married daughters, their married daughters' husbands, and their married daughters' children. Thus, the extended family is connected through a lineage of women who live together (that is, matrilocal residence), into which men may enter upon marriage (leaving behind his parents' family).

When a daughter was married, a new dwelling was built nearby for her and her husband.

Several extended families worked together as a "local group", which carried out certain ceremonies, and economic and military activities. Political control was mostly present at the local group level. Local groups were headed by a chief, a male who had considerable influence over others in the group due to his effectiveness and reputation. The chief was the closest societal role to a leader in Apachean cultures.

The office was not hereditary, and the position was often filled by members of different extended families. The chief's leadership was only as strong as he was evaluated to be—no group member was ever obliged to follow the chief. The Western Apache criteria for evaluating a good chief included: industriousness, generosity, impartiality, forbearance, conscientiousness, and eloquence in language.

Many Apachean peoples joined together several local groups into "bands". Band organization was strongest among the Chiricahua and Western Apache, while among the Lipan and Mescalero, it was weak. The Navajo did not organize local groups into bands, perhaps because of the requirements of the sheepherding economy. However, the Navajo did have "the outfit", a group of relatives that was larger than the extended family, but not as large as a local group community or a band.

Kinship systems

Naiche ChiriApache hidepainting 1900 OHS
Hide painting depicting Apache girl's puberty ceremony, by Naiche (Chiricahua Apache), ca. 1900, Oklahoma History Center

The Apachean tribes have two distinctly different kinship term systems: a Chiricahua type and a Jicarilla type. The Chiricahua-type system is used by the Chiricahua, Mescalero, and Western Apache. The Western Apache system differs slightly from the other two systems, and it has some similarities to the Navajo system.

The Jicarilla type, which is similar to the Dakota–Iroquois kinship systems, is used by the Jicarilla, Navajo, Lipan, and Plains Apache. The Navajo system is more divergent among the four, having similarities with the Chiricahua-type system. The Lipan and Plains Apache systems are very similar.


Chiricahua medicine man
Chiricahua medicine man in wickiup with family
Ribs of Apache wickiup

All people in the Apache tribe lived in one of three types of houses. The first of which is the teepee, for those who lived in the plains. Another type of housing is the wickiup, a 8-foot-tall (2.4 m) frame of wood held together with yucca fibres and covered in brush usually in the Apache groups in the highlands. If a family member lived in a wickiup and they died, the wickiup would be burned. The final housing is the hogan, an earthen structure in the desert area that was good for cool keeping in the hot weather of northern Mexico.


Apache-still-life restored-2
Various Apache containers: baskets, bowls and jars. The women-made baskets could hold heavy loads and were made mainly from yuccaor willowleaves or juniperbark.

Apache people obtained food from four main sources:

  • hunting wild animals,
  • gathering wild plants,
  • growing domesticated plants
  • trading with or raiding neighboring tribes for livestock and agricultural products.

The Western Apache diet consisted of 35–40% meat and 60–65% plant foods.

As the different Apachean tribes lived in different environments, the particular types of foods eaten varied according to their respective environment.


Hunting was done primarily by men, although there were sometimes exceptions depending on animal and culture (e.g. Lipan women could help in hunting rabbits and Chiricahua boys were also allowed to hunt rabbits).

Apache jug (UBC-2011)

Hunting often had elaborate preparations, such as fasting and religious rituals performed by medicine men before and after the hunt. In Lipan culture, since deer were protected by Mountain Spirits, great care was taken in Mountain Spirit rituals in order to ensure smooth deer hunting. Also the slaughter of animals must be performed following certain religious guidelines (many of which are recorded in religious stories) from prescribing how to cut the animals, what prayers to recite, and proper disposal of bones. A common practice among Southern Athabascan hunters was the distribution of successfully slaughtered game. For example, among the Mescalero a hunter was expected to share as much as one half of his kill with a fellow hunter and with needy people back at the camp. Feelings of individuals concerning this practice spoke of social obligation and spontaneous generosity.

The most common hunting weapon before the introduction of European guns was the bow and arrow. Various hunting strategies were used. Some techniques involved using animal head masks worn as a disguise. Whistles were sometimes used to lure animals closer. Another technique was the relay method where hunters positioned at various points would chase the prey in turns in order to tire the animal. A similar method involved chasing the prey down a steep cliff.

Eating certain animals was taboo. Although different cultures had different taboos, some common examples of taboo animals included bears, peccaries, turkeys, fish, snakes, insects, owls, and coyotes. An example of taboo differences: the black bear was a part of the Lipan diet (although not as common as buffalo, deer, or antelope), but the Jicarilla never ate bear because it was considered an evil animal. Some taboos were a regional phenomena, such as of eating fish, which was taboo throughout the southwest (e.g. in certain Pueblo cultures like the Hopi and Zuni) and considered to be snake-like (an evil animal) in physical appearance.

The Western Apache hunted deer and pronghorns mostly in the ideal late fall season. After the meat was smoked into jerky around November, a migration from the farm sites along the stream banks in the mountains to winter camps in the Salt, Black, Gila river and even the Colorado River valleys.

The primary game of the Chiricahua was the deer followed by pronghorn. Lesser game included: cottontail rabbits (but not jack rabbits), opossums, squirrels, surplus horses, surplus mules, wapiti (elk), wild cattle, wood rats.

The Mescalero primarily hunted deer. Other animals hunted include: bighorn sheep, buffalo (for those living closer to the plains), cottontail rabbits, elk, horses, mules, opossums, pronghorn, wild steers and wood rats. Beavers, minks, muskrats, and weasels were also hunted for their hides and body parts but were not eaten.

The principal quarry animals of the Jicarilla were bighorn sheep, buffalo, deer, elk and pronghorn. Other game animals included beaver, bighorn sheep, chief hares, chipmunks, doves, ground hogs, grouse, peccaries, porcupines, prairie dogs, quail, rabbits, skunks, snow birds, squirrels, turkeys and wood rats. Burros and horses were only eaten in emergencies. Minks, weasels, wildcats and wolves were not eaten but hunted for their body parts.

The main food of the Lipan was the buffalo with a three-week hunt during the fall and smaller scale hunts continuing until the spring. The second most utilized animal was deer. Fresh deer blood was drunk for good health. Other animals included beavers, bighorns, black bears, burros, ducks, elk, fish, horses, mountain lions, mourning doves, mules, prairie dogs, pronghorns, quail, rabbits, squirrels, turkeys, turtles and wood rats. Skunks were eaten only in emergencies.

Plains Apache hunters pursued primarily buffalo and deer. Other hunted animals were badgers, bears, beavers, fowls, geese, opossums, otters, rabbits and turtles.


Influenced by the Plains Indians, Western Apaches wore animal hide decorated with seed beads for clothing. These beaded designs historically resembled that of the Great Basin Paiute and is characterized by linear patterning. Apache beaded clothing was bordered with narrow bands of glass seed beads in diagonal stripes of alternating colors. They made buckskin shirts, ponchos, skirts and moccasins and decorated them with colorful beadwork.

Undomesticated plants and other food sources

Apache girl with basket
Apache girl with basket, 1902

The gathering of plants and other foods was primarily done by women. However, in certain activities, such as the gathering of heavy agave crowns, men helped. Numerous plants were used for medicine and religious ceremonies in addition their nutritional usage. Other plants were utilized for only their religious or medicinal value.

In May, the Western Apache baked and dried agave crowns that were pounded into pulp and formed into rectangular cakes. At the end of June and beginning of July, saguaro, prickly pear, and cholla fruits were gathered. In July and August, mesquite beans, Spanish bayonet fruit, and Emory oakacorns were gathered. In late September, gathering was stopped as attention moved toward harvesting cultivated crops. In late fall, juniper berries and pinyonnuts were gathered.

The most important plant food used by the Chiricahua was the Century plant (also known as mescal or agave). The crowns (the tuberous base portion) of this plant (which were baked in large underground ovens and sun-dried) and also the shoots were used. Other plants utilized by the Chiricahua include: agarita (or algerita) berries, alligator juniper berries, anglepod seeds, banana yucca (or datil, broadleaf yucca) fruit, chili peppers, chokecherries, cota (used for tea), currants, dropseed grass seeds, Gambel oak acorns, Gambel oak bark (used for tea), grass seeds (of various varieties), greens (of various varieties), hawthorne fruit, Lamb's-quarters leaves, lip ferns (used for tea), live oak acorns, locust blossoms, locust pods, maize kernels (used for tiswin), and mesquite beans.

Also eaten were mulberries, narrowleaf yucca blossoms, narrowleaf yucca stalks, nipple cactus fruit, one-seed juniper berries, onions, pigweed seeds, pinyon nuts, pitahaya fruit, prickly pear fruit, prickly pear juice, raspberries, screwbean (or tornillo) fruit, saguaro fruit, spurge seeds, strawberries, sumac (Rhus trilobata) berries, sunflower seeds, tule rootstocks, tule shoots, pigweed tumbleweed seeds, unicorn plant seeds, walnuts, western yellow pine inner bark (used as a sweetener), western yellow pine nuts, whitestar potatoes (Ipomoea lacunosa), wild grapes, wild potatoes (Solanum jamesii), wood sorrel leaves, and yucca buds (unknown species). Other items include: honey from ground hives and hives found within agave, sotol, and narrowleaf yucca plants.

The abundant agave (mescal) was also important to the Mescalero, who gathered the crowns in late spring after reddish flower stalks appeared. The smaller sotol crowns were also important. Both crowns of both plants were baked and dried. Other plants include: acorns, agarita berries, amole stalks (roasted and peeled), aspen inner bark (used as a sweetener), bear grass stalks (roasted and peeled), box elder inner bark (used as a sweetener), banana yucca fruit, banana yucca flowers, box elder sap (used as a sweetener), cactus fruits (of various varieties), cattail rootstocks, chokecherries, currants, dropseed grass seeds (used for flatbread), elderberries, gooseberries (Ribes leptanthum and R. pinetorum), grapes, hackberries, hawthorne fruit, and hops (used as condiment).

They also used horsemint (used as condiment), juniper berries, Lamb's-quarters leaves, locust flowers, locust pods, mesquite pods, mint (used as condiment), mulberries, pennyroyal (used as condiment), pigweed seeds (used for flatbread), pine inner bark (used as a sweetener), pinyon pine nuts, prickly pear fruit (dethorned and roasted), purslane leaves, raspberries, sage (used as condiment), screwbeans, sedge tubers, shepherd's purse leaves, strawberries, sunflower seeds, tumbleweed seeds (used for flatbread), vetch pods, walnuts, western white pine nuts, western yellow pine nuts, white evening primrose fruit, wild celery (used as condiment), wild onion (used as condiment), wild pea pods, wild potatoes, and wood sorrel leaves.

The Jicarilla used acorns, chokecherries, juniper berries, mesquite beans, pinyon nuts, prickly pear fruit, and yucca fruit, as well as many different kinds of other fruits, acorns, greens, nuts, and seed grasses.

The most important plant food used by the Lipan was agave (mescal). Another important plant was sotol. Other plants utilized by the Lipan include: agarita, blackberries, cattails, devil's claw, elderberries, gooseberries, hackberries, hawthorn, juniper, Lamb's-quarters, locust, mesquite, mulberries, oak, palmetto, pecan, pinyon, prickly pears, raspberries, screwbeans, seed grasses, strawberries, sumac, sunflowers, Texas persimmons, walnuts, western yellow pine, wild cherries, wild grapes, wild onions, wild plums, wild potatoes, wild roses, yucca flowers, and yucca fruit. Other items include: salt obtained from caves and honey.

Plants utilized by the Plains Apache include: chokecherries, blackberries, grapes, prairie turnips, wild onions, and wild plums. Numerous other fruits, vegetables, and tuberous roots were also used.

Crop cultivation

The Navajo practiced the most crop cultivation, the Western Apache, Jicarilla, and Lipan less. The one Chiricahua band (of Opler's) and Mescalero practiced very little cultivation. The other two Chiricahua bands and the Plains Apache did not grow any crops.

Trading, raiding, and war

Some interchanges between the Apache and European-descended explorers and settlers were based on trading. The Apache found they could use European and American goods. They also believed in taking what they needed, for instance, horses.

Although the following activities were not distinguished by Europeans or Euro-Americans, all Apachean tribes made clear distinctions between raiding (for profit) and war. Raiding was done with small parties with a specific economic target. The Apache waged war with large parties (often using clan members), usually to achieve retribution.

Though raiding had been a traditional way of life for the Apache, Mexican settlers objected to their stock being stolen.

Images for kids

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What Kind of Homes Did the Apaches Live in?

The traditional lands of the Apache people comprise the American Southwest from the edge of the Great Plains to western Arizona. Those who lived close to the plains lived in tipis, and those in the desert lived in wikiups. Because Apaches were nomadic, both types of structures were easy to erect.

1Tipis of the Plains Apaches

The Jicarilla, Kiowa-Apache and some Chiricahua tribes lived near the plains and relied to a great extent on bison, so they had to be ready to move in order to follow the herds. They constructed tipis by erecting long poles to form a conical shape and covering them with buffalo hide. These were easy to take down and transport. A tipi was tall and open at the top, so it was possible to build a fire inside in order to stay warm.

2Wikiups for the Desert

The tribes that lived in the desert, including the Mescalero and Lipan tribes, were also nomadic, but they didn't move as frequently, so their structures, called wikiups, weren't movable. The people made them by digging a pit in the ground and erecting a domed structure over it with branches and twigs. In the summer, when people needed ventilation and shade, they covered the dome with brush and leaves that they collected from the immediate environment. In the winter, they fortified the covering with buffalo hides to protect them from the cold.

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The Apaches lived in three kinds of shelter - Wickiups, Teepees, and Hogans.  Most Apache Indians lived in simple wooden frames covered by a matting of brush and a buffalo hide( skin) tarp called Wickiups.  Some of the Apaches lived in teepees, which were made of buffalo hides.  Another type of shelter, Hogans were shaped like an igloo, but made of clay.  Teepees were mostly built in plains.  Hogans were mostly built in the deserts of Northern Mexico.

Wickiups were often circular and dome shaped shelters.  They were small, and could be built in a few days if brushes were available.  The interior is lined with brush and grass beds over which robes were spread. The Teepees were much bigger and easier to heat than Wickiups.  It was difficult to heat up Wickiups because they may not have enough room to sit around the fire, and also the brushes might catch fire.  The Hogans kept the interior of the shelter cool from the hot desert weather outside. 

The Apache shelters were mostly built by women.  They were responsible for the construction, maintenance, and repair of the dwelling and for the arrangement of furnishing in it.  They collected the grass and made brush beds.   They would replace beds when they become too old and dry.  However, they had no permanent homes, so they didn't bother with cleaning.  When the Apaches settled down for a long period of time at a place, they built Wickiups.  For shorter durations, they built Teepees.

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The Apache Tribe

Native Americans

Apache Peoples

History >> Native Americans for Kids

The Apache peoples are made up of a group of American Indian tribes that are similar in culture and speak the same language. There are six tribes that make up the Apache: the Chiricahua, Jicarillo, Lipan, Mescalero, Western Apache, and Kiowa.

Geronimoby Ben Wittick

The Apache traditionally lived in the Southern Great Plains including Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. They are closely related to the Navajo Indians.

Apache Home

The Apache lived in two types of traditional homes; wikiups and teepees. The wikiup, also called a wigwam, was a more permanent home. Its frame was made from tree saplings and formed a dome. It was covered with bark or grass. Teepees were a more temporary home that could be moved easily when the tribe was hunting buffalo. The teepee's frame was made of long poles and then covered with buffalo hide. It was shaped like an upside down cone. Both types of homes were small and cozy.

Apache Clothes

Most of the Apache clothing was made from leather or buckskin. The women wore buckskin dresses while the men wore shirts and breechcloths. Sometimes they would decorate their clothing with fringes, beads, feathers, and shells. They wore soft leather shoes called moccasins.

An Apache Woman
Apache Bride by Unknown.

Apache Food

The Apache ate a wide variety of food, but their main staple was corn, also called maize, and meat from the buffalo. They also gathered food such as berries and acorns. Another traditional food was roasted agave, which was roasted for many days in a pit. Some Apaches hunted other animals like deer and rabbits.

Apache Tools

To hunt, the Apache used bows and arrows. Arrowheads were made from rocks that were chipped down to a sharp point. Bow strings were made from the tendons of animals.

To carry their teepees and other items when they moved, the Apache used something called a travois. The travois was a sled that could be filled with items and then dragged by a dog. When the Europeans brought horses to the Americas, the Apache started using horses to drag the travois. Because horses were so much bigger and stronger, the travois could be bigger and carry a a lot more stuff. This also allowed the Apache to make larger teepees.

Apache Baskets
Apache Still Life by Edward S. Curtis.

The Apache women wove large baskets to store grain and other food. They also made pots from clay to hold liquids and other items.

Apache Social Life

The Apache social life was based around the family. Groups of extended family members would live together. The extended family was based on the women, meaning that when a man married a woman he would become part of her extended family and leave his own family. A number of extended families would live near each other in a local group which had a chief as the leader. The chief would be a man who had earned the position by being the strongest and most capable leader.

The women Apache were responsible for the home and cooking the food. They would also do crafts, make clothes, and weave baskets. The men were responsible for hunting and were the tribal leaders.

Europeans and the Apache Wars

In the late 1800s the Apache's fought a number of battles against the United States government. They were trying to fight back from the aggression and takeover of their land. Several great Apache leaders arose such as Cochise and Geronimo. They fought with ferocity for decades, but finally had to surrender and were forced into reservations.

Apaches Today

Today many of the Apache tribes live in reservations in New Mexico and Arizona. Some also live in Oklahoma and Texas.

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Facts apache shelter

Apache Indian Facts

Native American Indian Facts
Essa queta Plains Apache Chief

Apache Indians Introduction

The Southwest desert area including Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and even the northern tip of Mexico is considered home to the Apache Indians, also known as the Southwest American Indians. A small but very separate band of Plains Apache also resided in parts of Oklahoma and many still live there today. Today there are approximately 30,000 Apache tribe members living in Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. They were nomadic Native Americans who relied heavily on hunting and gathering for survival in a desert region. Below are some key facts and important information on this tribe.

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Apache Indian Facts List

  • Their primary source of food was buffalo, especially after the arrival of horses to assist them, but they also hunted deer, elk, turkey, fox and other animals.
  • English is spoken by nearly all Apache Indians today, yet many Apaches also still speak their native language. There are two Apache languages, an Eastern Apache and a Western Apache and within the language there are several dialects to each. It's a complicated language to master due to various tones and vowel sounds.
  • Although children began doing chores at an early age, they still were able to play like children today. They played with toys and dolls enjoyed playing games that kept them in good physical shape such archery and toe toss. They even began riding horses at the early age of five.
  • Apache Indians were very religious and had many ceremonies centered around spiritual singing and dancing. They also spent a lot of time praying to spirits and gods and believed that supernatural beings were everywhere.
  • There were two ceremonies that took place for all children. One was held just after the baby outgrew the traditional cradleboard and it involved cutting the baby's hair off in a haircutting ritual done by a medicine man. It was believed this would promote good health as the child grew up. In later years haircuts were thought to actually bring bad luck so adults did not cut their hair. The moccasin ceremony was held at age two to ensure a favorable journey throughout life. New clothes and shoes were put on the child and the child was to walk an eastward direction over a pollen trail.
  • Apache women were responsible for all domestic life including cooking, making clothing, taking care of children, gathering firewood and even helping to defend their Apache village if attacked. They were also responsible for building the houses or shelter they lived in, called wickiups.
  • Apache men were trained for combat and war at a very young age. They were warriors and hunters and some became chiefs and political leaders.
  • Primitive Apache women wore clothes made out of buckskin, specifically dresses. They usually had long hair that was either worn long and free or was tied into a bun and sometimes fastened with hair ornaments called nah-leens. Just like men, the women wore warrior shirts which were often decorated with beads or fringe. Moccasin shoes or boots with beads were the standard footwear worn by both sexes.
  • The men wore leather war shirts and breechcloths in the warm weather. In the cooler weather, they wore buffalo skin for warmth. The Mexicans eventually influenced their style of dress. They began wearing vests, white tunics and more colorful clothing made from cotton.
  • Storytelling is very important to the Apache Indian culture. Since they were not governed by any set of laws or rules and there were no jails for poor behavior, the Apache relied on passing down a code of conduct orally, from one generation to the next.
  • The Apache were talented in arts and crafts. They were known for their beadwork in which they used shells, glass, and turquoise. They would often sew good luck beads onto war shirts. Basket weaving one of the Apache's oldest known forms of art . The burden basket and bread basket were the most common baskets. They also made jewelry, necklaces, earrings, and barrettes. Both sexes liked to wear shell jewelry.
  • In the early 1800's, the relationships with the first white men to enter the region were solid. By the 1850's things had changed and as the Apache were being driven out of their homes and hunting and gathering was becoming scarse, raids and scalping began to take place.
Southwest American Indian Facts
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Native American History for Kids - An insightful look into the history of the Native Americans

Apache Tribe

What did the Apache tribe live in?
The Apaches were a nomadic tribe who lived in brush shelters or wickiups that were used for sleeping. A  wickiup is cone-shaped and made of a wooden frame covered with branches, leaves, and grass (brush). The brush shelters, or wickiups, to enable them move quickly and without having to travel with cumbersome materials such as hides and wooden poles.

What language did the Apache tribe speak?
The members of Apache tribe spoke in the Southern Athabaskan (Apachean) language.

What did the Apache tribe eat?
The food that the Apache tribe ate depended on the natural resources of the area they roamed in. Small game, such as rabbit was a staple part of their diet together with corn, sheep and goats that they often traded with the farming Native Indians that lived in the Southwest. Other food items included beans, sunflower seeds and squash. The Apache drank a beer made from corn called tiswin (tesguino, tulipai) To make tiswin green corn sprouts or corn stalks were pressed for the juices, which then were heated. The Apache tribe were a resourceful people and could subsist on herbs and roots. They were able to satisfy their thirst when traveling through the desert regions by chewing on a piece of bark or moss which started the flow of saliva.

What weapons did the Apache tribe use?
The weapons used by Apache tribe were originally bows and arrows, stone ball clubs, spears and knives. The rifle was added as their favored weapon with the advent of the white invaders.

What clothes did the Apache men wear?
The picture at the top of the page depicts the typical clothing worn by men. The clothes worn by the men always included breechcloths which were made from a long rectangular piece of animal skin or cloth which was worn between the legs and tucked over a belt. They also wore war shirts (epuntltesis) which were made of leather. Special, highly decorated aprons were worn over breechcloths and worn on special occasions. During the 1800's men started to wear cotton tunics with a leather belt fastened around the waist. They wore long-legged  high, boot-like moccasins made of soft leather. The hair of Apache men always hung loose, it was never braided. In times of mourning their hair was cut horizontally just above the shoulder line. The traditional headdress worn by the Apache were simple cloth or leather headbands which they placed rather low on the head to keep the hair from the eyes. The early headbands consisted of a band braided from the long leaves of the yucca, but were replaced by cloth headbands, often red in color. The Apache also wore elaborately decorated medicine shirts and medicine sashes. The symbolism was different for each garment but typical, potent symbols of the sun, moon, stars, rainbows, lightning, clouds, snakes and centipedes were often included in the designs as were depictions of their principle gods called the "kan".

What clothes did the Apache women wear?
The type of clothes worn by the women of the Apache Tribe were simple and consisted of cotton calico dresses or blouses and skirts. The original dress of the Apache women consisted of a short deerskin skirt, high boot-legged moccasins, and a loose-waisted blouse which extended to the hips and was worn outside the skirt. The women kept their hair long that they usually braided. On special occasions their braids were decorated with bright strips of cloth and shells. Like all women they liked jewelry and wore Turquoise jewelry and bead choker necklaces.

What was the religion and beliefs of the Apache tribe?
The religion and beliefs of the Apache tribe was based on Animism that encompassed the spiritual or religious idea that the universe and all natural objects animals, plants, trees, rivers, mountains rocks etc have souls or spirits. The Gila Monster was important and its symbol was to signify preservation and survival. The Apache tribe believed that its breath could kill a man.

What were the divisions of the Apache tribe?
The Apache tribe lived in extended family groups. The major tribes were the Chiricahua, Jicarillo, Lipan, Mescalero and Western Apache. The bands of the Apache tribe were divided into the Arivaipa, Chiricahua, Coyotero, Faraone Gileno, Llanero, Mescalero, Mimbreno, Mogollon, Naisha, Tchikun and Tchishi bands.

Who were the enemies of the Apache?
The Apache tribe were a strong, proud war-like people. There was inter-tribal warfare and conflicts with the Comanche and Pima tribes but their main enemies were the white interlopers including the Spanish, Mexicans and Americans with whom they fought many wars due to the encroachment of their tribal lands. The Apache tribe were involved in several major conflicts including:

  • 1849: Apache Wars (1849–1924)

  • The Jicarilla War fought between the Jicarilla Apaches and Ute warriors against the United States

  • 1860: The Chiricahua Wars (1860–1886)

  • 1861: The Apache Wars in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas (1861 - 1900). Leaving the reservation attacks were made on outposts led by Geronimo and Cochise. Geronimo surrendered in 1886 but others carried on the fight until 1900

  • 1873: Campaigns against Apache Indians in Arizona and New Mexico

  • 1879: Victorio's War (1879–1880)

  • 1881: Geronimo's War (1881–1886)

  • 1881: The Apache shaman, Noch-del-klinne (meaning the prophet) began to teach dances and rites similar to the ghost dance which led to the Battle of Cibecue in Arizona

  • The battle of Big Dry Wash on July 17, 1882 was the last major fight with Apaches in Arizona Territory

Who were the most famous leaders and chiefs of the Apache tribe?
The most famous leaders and chiefs of the Apache tribe included Mangas Coloradas, Cochise, Geronimo, Victorio, Natchez, Nantiatish, Chaffee and Ouray.

Apache History: What happened to the Apache tribe?
The Apaches fought long and hard but were eventually confined in reservations in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma, including the San Carlos Reservation. The final surrender of the tribe took place in 1886, when the Chiricahua band were deported to Alabama and Florida where many were imprisoned in military establishments.

The Story of Apache
For additional facts and information refer to the legend and the Story of Apaches.


  • Interesting Facts and information about the way of the Apache tribe
  • The clothes worn by men and women of the Apache Tribe
  • Description of the homes and the type of food the Apache tribe would eat
  • Fast Facts and info about the Apache tribe
  • Names of famous chiefs and leaders and the wars of the Apache Tribe
  • Interesting resource for kids

Pictures and Videos of Native American Indians and their Tribes
The Apache Tribe was one of the most famous tribes of Native American Indians. Discover the vast selection of pictures on the subject of the tribes of Famous Native Americans such as the Apache nation. The pictures show the clothing, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes, such as the Apache tribe, that can be used as a really useful educational resource for kids and children of all ages. We hope you enjoy watching the video - just click and play - a great social studies homework resource for kids.

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Apache Indian Fact Sheet (Ndee)

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Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Apache Indian tribe for school or home-schooling projects. We encourage students and teachers to visit our Apache language and culture pages for in-depth information about the tribe, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with Apache pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages.

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   Apache Tribe

How do you pronounce the word "Apache"? What does it mean?
Apache is pronounced "uh-PAH-chee." It means "enemy" in the language of their Zuni neighbors. The Apaches' own name for themselves was traditionally Nde or Ndee (meaning "the people"), but today most Apache people use the word "Apache" themselves, even when they are speaking their own language.

Where do the Apaches live?
The Apache are natives of the Southwest deserts (particularly in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas). Some Apache people were also located across the border in northern Mexico. One Apache band, the Na'ishan or Plains Apache, lived far away from the other Apaches, in what is now Oklahoma. Their customs were different from other Apaches, more similar to their Kiowa allies. For that reason, the Americans often called the Na'ishan "Kiowa-Apaches." Here are some maps of the different Apache communities today.

The Plains Apaches are still living in Oklahoma today. Some Apaches from other bands were captured and sent to live in Oklahoma by the Americans in the 1800's, while other Apaches resisted being moved and remain in Arizona and New Mexico today. The total Apache Indian population today is around 30,000.

How is the Apache Indian nation organized?
There are thirteen different Apache tribes in the United States today: five in Arizona, five in New Mexico, and three in Oklahoma. Each Arizona and New Mexico Apache tribe lives on its own reservation. Reservations are lands that belong to Indian tribes and are under their control. The Oklahoma Apaches live on trust land. Each Apache tribe has its own government, laws, police, and services, just like a small country. However, the Apaches are also US citizens and must obey American law.

In the past, each Apache band was led by its own chief, who was chosen by a tribal council. Most important decisions were made by the council, and all the Apache councilmembers had to agree before an action could be taken. An Apache chief was more like a tribal chairman than a president. Most of his job was mediating between other Apaches. Most Apache tribes still use tribal councils for their government today.

What language do the Apache Indians speak?
Almost all Apache people speak English today, but many Apaches also speak their native Apache language, which is closely related to Navajo. Apache is a complex language with tones and many different vowel sounds. Most English speakers find it very difficult to pronounce. If you'd like to know a few easy Apache words, "ash" (rhymes with 'gosh') means "friend" in Western Apache, and "ahéhe'e" (pronunciation ah-heh-heh-eh) means "thank you." You can read a Apache picture dictionary here.

What was Apache culture like in the past? What is it like now?
Here are the homepages of the Jicarilla Apache Nation and White Mountain Apache Tribe. On their sites you can find information about the Apache people from ancient times until today. You can also visit this site about the Apache Jii Festival, which has information and photographs about San Carlos Apache culture for kids.

How do Apache Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?
They do the same things all children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Apache children like to go hunting with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play in their daily lives, just like colonial children. But they did have dolls, toys, and games to play. Apache children liked to run footraces and play archery games. Once the Apaches acquired horses, girls and boys as young as five years old learned how to ride. An Apache mother traditionally carried her baby in a cradleboard on her back. Here is a website with Apache cradleboard images.

What were men and women's roles in the Apache tribe?
Apache women were in charge of the home. Besides cooking and taking care of children, Apache women built new houses for their families every time the tribe moved their location. Though it was rare for an Apache woman to become a warrior, girls learned to ride and shoot just like the boys did, and women often helped to defend Apache villages when they were attacked. Apache men were hunters, warriors, and political leaders. Only men were chiefs in the Apache tribe. Both genders took part in story-telling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine.

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What were Apache homes like in the past?
Most Apache people lived in wickiups, which are simple wooden frames covered by a matting of brush and sometimes a buffalo-hide tarp. Wickiups were small dwellings, often the size of a modern camp tent, and an Apache woman could build a new wickiup in two hours if there was enough brush available. Here are some pictures of Indian brush houses. The Plains Apaches and some Lipan Apaches used buffalo-hide tipis as housing instead, which are more spacious and easier to heat than wickiups.

Apache people today do not normally use old-fashioned houses like a teepee or wickiup for shelter, any more than you live in a log cabin. Most Apaches live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you. However, some followers of the traditional Apache religion do live in modified larger wickiups, because their beliefs require them to burn down and rebuild their houses whenever there is a death in the family, which can't be done in an apartment.

What was Apache clothing like? Did the Apaches wear feather headdresses and face paint?
Originally Apache women wore buckskin dresses and the men wore leather war shirts and breechcloths. In the 1800's, many Apache men started to wear white cotton tunics and pants, which they adopted from the Mexicans, and many Apache women wore calico skirts and dresses. The Apaches wore moccasins or high moccasin boots on their feet, and rabbit-skin cloaks in cooler weather. An Apache lady's dress or warrior's shirt was often fringed and decorated with beaded designs. Here is a site about the symbolism of Plains Indian war shirts, and some photos and links about Indian costume in general.

The Apaches did not traditionally wear feather warbonnets, but the Plains Apaches adopted these headdresses from their friends the Kiowas. Other Apache people wore leather or cloth headbands instead. For ceremonies Apache people sometimes wore special wooden headdresses and masks, like these Apache Crown Dancers. Women usually wore their hair long and loose or gathered into a bun. Many young Apache women fastened their buns with hourglass-shaped hair ornaments called nah-leens. We haven't yet found a good photo of a nah-leen to share with you, but here is a photograph of some Caddo women wearing the same type of hair fastener. Apache men often cut their hair to shoulder length (except in the Plains Apache tribe.) Here is a website with pictures of these Indian hair styles. Both sexes liked to wear shell jewelry, especially choker-style necklaces. The Apaches also painted their faces for special occasions. They used different patterns for war paint, religious ceremonies, and festive decoration.

Today, some Apache people still have moccasins or a buckskin dress, but they wear modern clothes like jeans instead of breechcloths... and they only wear traditional regalia on special occasions like a wedding or a dance.

What was Apache transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?
No--the Apache Indians weren't coastal people, and rarely traveled by river. Originally they just walked. There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe, so the Apaches used dogs pulling travois (a kind of drag sled) to help them carry their belongings. Once Europeans brought the horse to America, the Apaches quickly became expert riders and could travel much more quickly than before.

What was Apache food like in the days before supermarkets?
The Apaches were not farming people like their cousins the Navajos. Primarily they were hunters. Apache men hunted buffalo, deer, antelope, and small game, while women gathered nuts, seeds, and fruit from the environment around them. Most traditional Apache people do not go fishing, since eating fish is prohibited in their religion. However, some Plains Apache people did pick up the custom of eating fish from their Kiowa neighbors. Although most Apache people were not farmers, the Apaches still used to eat corn frequently. They got it by trading with the Pueblo tribes and the Spanish, or by capturing it during raids. Favorite Apache recipes included cornbread, sunflower cakes, and acorn stew. Here is a website with more information about Southwest Indian food.

What were Apache weapons and tools like in the past?
Apache hunters used bows and arrows. In war, Apache men fired their bows or fought with long spears and buffalo-hide shields. Here is a website with pictures and more information about Apache Indian weapons.

What other Native Americans did the Apache tribe interact with?
The Apaches traded regularly with other tribes of the Southwest. They particularly liked to trade for corn from agricultural tribes like the Navajo and Pueblo tribes. More often, though, the Apaches were known for raiding neighboring tribes and stealing horses, corn, and other goods. The Apaches had different ideas about war than Europeans did. The Europeans considered a direct attack honorable but thought sneaking in and stealing things was cowardly. But to the Apaches, stealthily raiding another tribe's camp was a brave deed because it meant risking their own lives, but attacking the camp openly would be shameful, because children and old people were likely to be hurt. Apache warriors usually only fought real wars over matters of revenge or defending their territory from invaders, like when they fought against the Mexicans and Americans. At other times, Apache men went on raids primarily to prove their courage.

What are Apache arts and crafts like?
Apache artists are famous for their fine beadwork and basketry. Eastern Apache people sometimes made Southwestern pottery like the Pueblo Indians. Here is a website with many pictures of Apache baskets, and one about the history of Apache pottery.

What is Apache Indian music like?
Music is very important to Apache Indian culture. There are different types of traditional Apache songs for ceremonial, social, and entertainment purposes. Singing together in the Apache language is the most important part of Apache music, but musical instruments such as drums, flutes, and rattles are also used. Drums and rattles are especially used during dances, while flutes are particularly associated with love songs. Some Apache groups also played a sort of fiddle made out of agave stalks. Here is a website with some examples of traditional Apache Indian songs you can listen to, and a YouTube video of Apache singers and dancers performing at Fort Sill.

What kinds of stories do the Apaches tell?
There are lots of Apache legends and oral traditions. Storytelling is very important to the Apache Indian culture. Here is a Jicarilla Apache myth about how fire came to the Apaches, and here are some funny Western Apache folktales about the trickster Coyote swindling people. Here's a page where you can read more about Apache mythology.

What about Apache religion?
Spirituality and religion were important parts of Apache life, and many people continue to practice traditional beliefs today. It is respectful to avoid imitating religious rituals for school projects since some Apache people care about them deeply. You can read and learn about them, however. You can visit this site to learn more about Mescalero Apache spiritual beliefs or this site about Native American belief in general.

Can you recommend a good book for me to read?
You may enjoy this book of Chiricahua Apache legends, or the charming illustrated legend The Flute Player for a younger child. Or you may enjoy reading this interesting biography of Geronimo, the famous warrior and holy man of the Chiricahuas. If you want to know more about Apache culture and history, two good books for children are The Apache Indians and Apache Children and Elders Talk Together. For older kids, we recommend Culture and Customs of the Apache Indians, a much more in-depth book on Apache culture and family life. You can also browse through our reading list of recommended Native American books in general. Disclaimer: we are an Amazon affiliate and our website earns a commission if you buy a book through one of these links. Most of them can also be found in a public library, though!

How do I cite your website in my project's bibliography?
You will need to ask your teacher for the report format he or she wants you to use. The authors' names are Laura Redish and Orrin Lewis and the title of our site is Native Languages of the Americas. We are a nonprofit educational organization working to preserve and protect Native American languages and culture. You can learn more about our organization here. Our website was first created in 1998 and last updated in 2020.

Thanks for your interest in the Apache Indian people and their language!

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Apache Indian Tribe
An overview of the Apache people, their language and history.

Apache Language Resources
Apache language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Apache Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Apache tribe past and present.

Apache Words
Apache Indian vocabulary lists.

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