THE SAN CARLOS APACHE
The history of the Apache Indians has been
influenced by movies, television, and fiction writers. The origin of
the word, "Apache" was derived from the Zuni word, "Apachu"
meaning "the enemy". The first known mention of Apaches was in
documents on Spanish exploration by Onate in 1598. Apaches reached
as far west as Arizona after the middle of the 16th Century. The Apaches,
a nomadic people, were constantly moving in small bands. They subsisted
on game, native roots, berries and on the spoils captured in
raids on other Indians and later from raids on wagon trains and
settlers. From the time of the Spanish colonization, they were noted
for their warlike disposition. Famous Apache leaders include Cochise, Victorio, and Geronimo. Geronimo and his band finally surrendered to
U.S. troops on September 4, 1886. Today, approximately 12,000 San
Carlos Apaches live in two communities–San Carlos and Bylas; a
majority of them are full-blooded Apaches. Today the old Apache
people still recognize and maintain relationships with their
relatives through clans. The Apaches trace their descendents through the
female line. The family is the most important unit among them. An
individual cannot marry anyone who is related to him. Young Apache
people are shy in their relationships with one another. Any
public display of affection is considered very improper.
The San Carlos
Apache Indian Reservation is located in the east south-central
portion of Arizona. It is bound on the north by the Salt River and
Black River; on the west by the Tonto National Forest; on the east
by the Gila and Apache National Forest, and on the south by Public
Domain lands. The southern boundary is marked by a mountainous rim,
the highest elevation of which is Mount Turnbull at 7,874 feet. The
mountainous terrain supporting pine and oak makes an excellent
habitat for numerous wild turkeys. Deer may be found on
most of the reservation at about 4,000 feet. Elk and javelina (wild
pigs) are also found.
The San Carlos Apache Tribe was organized
under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. It is governed by a
Tribal Council, a popularly elected representative body operating
under a written constitution and charter. The Council appoints all
judges and law enforcement officers. It is also authorized to
exercise all management functions under the corporate chapter.
The San Carlos
Apache are known as the "Cowboy Indians of the Southwest". The Tribe
is raises pure-bred registered bulls and has developed one of the
best cattle herds in the country which is the principle income to
the Apaches. Many of the Apache people are employed by mining
companies near the reservation and at a lumber company which is
located on the reservation while others are employed in agriculture.
Due to lack of employment on the reservation, many of the young
Apaches either migrate to urban areas for employment or remain on
diet of the Apache people was a very wide variety. Wild herbs,
fruit, berries, wild game, and pinto beans were the basic foods and
were eaten with tortillas and fry bread. Beef, bacon, potatoes,
melons, squash, and Indian corn were also enjoyed when available.
With the trading posts on the reservation, a variety of new food has
been introduced. Acorn soup and fry bread are a common dish at
family gatherings on the reservation. Maybe you would like to try
making fry bread. Here’s a recipe for you.
5 lbs. of flour
1 ½ cups of dry powdered milk
2 T. of baking powder
1 T. salt
Add enough water
until flour mixture is all mixed, is soft, and will form into a firm
ball. Knead very well and form into large egg size balls. Cover and
let stand for 20 minutes. Take one ball of dough and flatten between
your hands. Pull and stretch, keeping as round as possible. Flip
from hand to hand until dough is about 1/4 inch thick. Cook both
sides in hot oil until puffy and golden brown. Lift from pan
allowing excess oil to drip into pan. Lay on paper towel in a dish
until ready to serve. Best when served hot. They can be filled with
meat and salsa as tacos or with honey or powdered sugar for dessert.
The Apache people have available to them the facilities
of the United States Public Health Service including an
up-to-date hospital, clinics, doctors, and dentists. When further
treatment is needed, arrangements are made for patients to enter
such specialized hospitals or clinics. Where formerly ill people
were taken to the "medicine man," many of the Apaches now use the
services of the hospital.
grades one through twelve are taught on the reservation. At San
Carlos, there are public schools in operation, as well as two
parochial schools in the lower grades. At Bylas, the pupils are
transported to non-reservation public schools. Many
children attend Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding schools at several
Modern dress has been
adopted by many of the Apaches. The men favor blue jeans, modern
clothing, boots, and wide-brimmed hats. Most of the older women wear
the traditional "camp dress" with their hair long.
Most of the people are bilingual, speaking
both English and Apache. Elderly Apache still
cling to their old language and customs and are slow to accept the
modern way unless they see practicality in it.
Here are some
familiar words and their translation in Apache:
"How are you?"
daa go te’e’
later" ii na go dzi
Travel is often
by pickup truck. Horses are used only for rodeos and for cattle
traditional home of the Apache is a round structure built with
branches and bear grass called a wickiup. Modern housing with
plumbing and electricity is now available on the reservation.
Indian babies are wrapped in soft blankets and placed on cradle
boards where they are safe and warm. This cradle board serves as a
bed or a cradle either at home or on a long trip by automobile.
The babies seem to like this cradle board and often fret when taken
out of it.
people have historically been very athletic. In the earlier years,
one of the favorite games were foot races. Both the men and the
women competed, and often the women were the winners in the races!
They also played a version of tug-of-war. A rawhide rope was
fastened around the waist of an especially strong warrior. Three
others held the loose end of the rope and tried to pull the warrior
down. There were knots in the rope for a good grip. If the warrior
managed to stand, he was the winner.
The Apache are
known for their beautiful baskets and beadwork. Burden baskets were
carried by the women on their back with a strap that came up around
the forehead. These baskets were used to haul both water and food
over long distances.
Did you know that there are 51 million
Native Americans in the western hemisphere. In the United States, the
native population is over two and a half million souls. There are
554 Federally-recognized tribes speaking 250 native languages. Each
of our nation's 293 Indian reservations are like a country within
our country. Unlike any other people group, they have been granted
by treaty a sovereign nation status.
leadership indicates that alcohol is one of the greatest problems
facing them. It continues to devastate the native population with
many tribes reporting its impact on their people as high as 90%.
Indians are six times more likely to die of alcohol and twice as
likely to die of murder. In Canada, natives represent 3% of the
country's population. In many of the provincial prisons, they are 85%
of the prison population. Per capita, they are the most imprisoned
people in the world!
For the most
part, American Indians continue to remain skeptical of the dominant
culture whose government has lied repeatedly to them. Missionaries
have historically been viewed as an extension of the Anglo
government's attempt to take from them their culture and civilize
them in the white man's way. Their response of resentment and
resistance has made evangelism among the tribes very difficult. Only
about 8% are professing Christians. Many reservations still have
never had any fundamental Gospel witness. 98% of the native
population do not attend church. There remain at least 200 native
people groups in the U.S. and Canada yet unreached with the Gospel.
To read two accounts of
Native men who searched for Truth, click your curser on:
A Search For Truth and
An Apache Chief Finds Truth.