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Today the pride Apache feel in our homeland and way of life is evident. Through our unique culture, a spiritual holistic possession of our home territory; a traditional mobile lifestyle organized as bands, with a hunting and gathering subsistence, strict social conduct and physical superiority, the Chiricahua ruled an area that now extends over five states and two nations.


Famous Chiricahua leaders who called the Gila region home include Pluma, Mangas Coloradas, Victorio, Loco, Nana and Geronimo. Geronimo was born near the headwaters of the Gila river, just above the Middle Fork confluence. The Apache┤s heartland is represented today by the Gila National Forest, wild and a monument to our culture. To the Chiricahua, this region was a treasure of resources: timber, wildlife, waterways, food abundant transition zones, grassy valleys, plains, sheltering mountain ranges, minerals and the open space for our mobile lifestyle.

The Chiricahua people take pride in the memory of the powerful and wise leaders who embodies the Apache way of life for a millenium. Mangas Coloradas, “red sleeves,” of the Chihene band or Red PaintRP-10image people, was of enormous physical stature and a great leader. As a warrior, diplomat, and through strategic marriages of his daughters to neighboring bands and tribes, he was often able to raise large raiding and war parties to provide for and protect his people. Many warriors followed Mangas Coloradas throuout Apacheria on successful campaigns. His home country was the reaches of the Mogollon and Burro mountains, and like many, he preferred life in the wild and far from any settlements.

After Mangas Coloradas┤ murder at the hands of American military, mysteriously shot while “trying to escape,” Victorio provided direction for the Chiricahua bands. Victorio┤s tactical and strategic abilities as a guerrilla fighter are legendary and though, he advocated for peace and a permanent home and reservation, he was driven to war by the greed and deception of the dominant society. During Victorio┤s band exodus into Nednhi country seeking shelter from persecution, they were ambushed by an Apache hunting Mexican militia and many killed or sold into slavery. The survivors, including Lozen eventually joined Geronimo┤s mixed Chiricahua band and continued do defy two invading nations.

Lozen, the epitome of a warrior woman, served her people in deeds and ability and love. Her power as a medicine woman healed and saved many warriors and people. Apache culture provided for the acquisition of power, “Benah Gutsi,” a great responsibility and burden. Such power used wisely, was greatly respected, as Lozen┤s ability to sense and foretell the direction of approaching enemy, allowing the band to avoid detection.

Apache are religious, and believe in the creator, Ussen. Fasting and prayer are the way to honor all aspects of life. The Ga-he dancers, unique to Apache culture represent the mountains spirits that protect Apaches and guide our ceremonies, and bestow power.

RPimage-2dancersBy 1885 many Apaches had accepted life on the reservation. History remembers the Chiricahua Apache unwilling to surrender. Led by Geronim÷, a group of 35 Apache warriors, women and children evaded thousands of troops on both sides of the now US-Mexico border. Inexhaustible, Geronimo considered fighting to the last warrior, but members of his band missed their families, and the promise of a reunion at last persuaded them to discuss surrender.

However, once shipped in boxcars to captivity in Florida as prisoners of war, they were not allowed to see their families as agreed in the terms of surrender. Thus ended the freedom of the Chiricahua Apaches on their traditional territory.

Today, descendants of these desert mountain people live in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and a few still reside in the Gila watershed. One of these descendants esplains that the roads of the Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenec Byway are ancient trails and routes used by Apache to migrate seasonally or evade pursuit. Apaches survive today scattered across the American southwest, defiant of the manifest destiny genocidal war waged upon them and still resting acculturation. Chiricahua Apache across the region have not forgotten their past, when our ancestors roamed freely from the Sierra Madre to the Horse Mountains and beyond. Apache have accommodated immense change, while persaving many aspects of our culture, and will till the end of time.


WolfHorse Outfitters is a Native American Guide Service specializing in  horseback riding adventures into the Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness,  New Mexico. Take the journey to see what your heart and senses will  experience and never forget with WolfHorse Outfitters...


Nana from brochure

Loco from brochure

Victorio from brochure

Mangas from brochure

Taza from brochure




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