The word "Apache" comes from two places. It is a Yuma word for "fighting men" and a Zuni word for "enemy". The Apaches are famous for their warfare skills and incredible endurance, meaning they can run fast and far without getting tired. The reason for such a violent reputation is that they were frequently attacked by other tribes and invaders from Mexico. Inside the Apache community, though, they are actually surprisingly kind towards each other.
The Apache people originally settled three desert regions with the Navajo around A.D. 850: the Great Basin, the Sonoran Desert, and the Chihuachuan Desert. The Navajo were never actually part of the Apache nation, and all they have in common is the language, which long ago came from northern Canada. The Apache consisted of six main big groups which all spoke different dialects of the Athabscan language. The Western Apache, or Coyotero, mostly lived in eastern Arizona, Chiricahua and Mimbreno in Arizona and New Mexico, Mescalero, or Faraon, in Mexico and New Mexico, Jicarilla, or Tinde, in New Mexico and Colorado, Kiowa-Apache, or Gataka, in Oklahoma, and Lipan in Texas and Mexico.
Most of Apache food was made up of wild game, cactus fruits, and other wild plants. Hunting was probably the biggest part of their daily life. It was necessary for food, clothing, shelter, and many other important things. They mainly hunted deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, buffalo, bears, and mountain lions, but for some reason they did not fish. Eagles were also hunted and their feathers used for ceremonial purposes and headdresses.
Trade was very important to the Apache tribe. They could trade buffalo hides, meat, sharp bones which could be used for needles, and salt from the desert. In return they could get pottery, cotton, blankets, turquoise, corn and other such goods. Yet sometimes they just took something from their neighbors when they wanted it, and this got them involved in lots of warfare. They became known among the Pueblo villages by another name, the Apachu, "the enemy".
The first actual intruders in the area were the Spanish, who came in the late 1500s. Their coming changed everything. They colonized much of the land on the Apache trade routes, making it more difficult for them to trade, and they often enslaved Apaches to work in silver mines. The Apache, in return, raided Spanish settlements to steal cattle, horses, firearms, and take captives of their own. Now Apache raiders became a legend. It was said that an Apache warrior could run 50 miles without stopping and travel more swiftly than a troop of mounted soldiers. Apaches became more hostile when New Mexico became a Spanish colony. The moving of Comanches into the Apache food source of buffalo forced them to move south, and that caused the Apaches to now raid American settlers just for food. The United States sent out large and organized armies in return. Thousands of Apaches were killed and the rest put on reservations. The...