Published on September 24, 2012 by Casey
The first conflicts between the Apache (who call themselves T`Inde, Inde, N`dee, N`ne, meaning the “people”) and the American settlers of the Southwest began in 1847 during the Mexican-American War, particularly during the Taos Revolt.
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The first United States Army campaigns specifically against the Apache began in 1849 and the last major one would end with the surrender of Geronimo in 1886. However, Apache attacks on American settlers continued as late as 1906. In 1915 renegade Chiricahua Apaches still lived in the Sierra Madre of northern Mexico. The Apache had fought against colonial encroachment by the Spanish and Mexicans for decades before the conflict began with United States settlers. The major campaigns of the period occurred around present-day Tucson, Arizona. The Apache failed to drive the Spanish and Mexicans out of areas conquered from other Native American tribes, and eventually from their own homeland. This led to the later Apache conflicts. The various Apache groups ruled a vast area of land stretching from southern California to western Texas, northern Arizona to Mexico and a region in Oklahoma.
In the early years of the wars, roughly from 1849 to 1875, armed conflict often arose as a result of Apache raids, in which they stole property and sometimes killed Americans and Mexicans. From 1875 to 1886, the army engaged the Apache in order to settle them on Indian reservations or then to keep them from escaping the reservations. From 1886 until as late as 1906, minor skirmishes occurred between United States Cavalry expeditionary forces, settlers, and small groups of Apache, who had evaded the army’s reservations.
Although the Americans did not distinguish between raiding parties and warfare, all Apache tribes did. Historically, they had raided enemy tribes and sometimes each other, for horses, food or captives. They considered such raids different than warfare. They raided with small parties, for a specific economic purpose. The Apache waged war with large parties, often using clan members, usually to achieve retribution.
Sometimes the Apache were provoked by American and Mexican settlers, and traders who speculated on the supplies that were promised to the reservations. Apache leaders such as Mangas Coloradas of the Bedonkohe; Cochise of the Chokonen; Victorio of the Chihenne band; Juh of the Nednhi band; Delshay of the Tonto; and Geronimo of the Bedonkohe led war or raiding parties against non-Apache. They resisted the military’s attempts, by force and persuasion, to relocate their people to various reservations.