Early Apache inhabitants of the southwestern United States were a nomadic people; some groups roamed as far south as Mexico. They were primarily hunters of buffalo but they also practiced limited farming. For centuriesthey were fierce warriors, adept in desert survival, who carried out raids on those who encroached on their territory.
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 with his own flesh and blood, particularly his children.
he Apache people (including the Navajo) came from the Far North to settle the Plains and Southwest around A.D. 850. They settled in three desert regions, the Great Basin, the Sonoran, and the Chihuachuan.
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.
The first intruders were the Spanish, who penetrated Apache territory in the late 1500s. The Spanish drive northward disrupted ancient Apache trade connections with neighboring tribes.
When New Mexico became a Spanish colony in 1598, hostilities increased between Spaniards and Apaches. An influx of Comanche into traditional Apache territory in the early 1700s forced the Lipan and other Apaches to move south of their main food source, the buffalo. These displaced Apaches began raiding for food.
Apache raids on settlers accompanied the American westward movement and the United States acquisition of New Mexico in 1848. The Native Americans and the United States military authorities engaged in fierce wars until all Apache tribes were eventually placed on reservations.
Most of the tribes were subdued by 1868, except for the Chiricahua, who continued their attacks until 1872, when their chief, Cochise, signed a treaty with the U.S. government and moved with his band to an Apache reservation in Arizona.
The last band of Apache raiders, led by the chief Geronimo, was hunted down in 1886 and was confined in Florida, Alabama, and finally Oklahoma Territory.