Warm Springs Apaches: 1600 to 1890

Selected Readings
   Much has been written and published about the Apaches of the American Southwest. At the center of most of these accounts has been the Chirichahua Apaches. It was the Warm Springs band (Chihende, or Red Paint People) of the Chiricahuas who considered Cañada Alamosa and the waters of Ojo Caliente the heart of their ancestral homeland.

   The short annotated bibliography that follows is meant to provide students, teachers, and other inquiring minds with a variety of entry ways into the lives and history of the Red Paint People and their fellow Chiricahuas. They are, mostly, secondary sources, chosen for their availability, reliability, readability, and relevance to gaining a basic understanding of the Chihende, their compatriots, and the fate that befell them.

   Anyone seeking a starting point for this story—a thoroughly-researched, well-written, consistently compelling overview—should begin with David Robert’s "Once They Moved Like the Wind: Cochise, Geronimo, and the Apache Wars" (Simon & Shuster, 1993). Its engrossing narrative is well illustrated with maps and photographs of the people and places that are the chief settings and players in the saga of the Chiricahua Apaches.

   Similarly, the best introduction to the Apache people—their language, religious beliefs, material culture, warfare, household economy, kinship practices, and political bonds—is Morris E. Opler’s "An Apache Life-Way: The Economic, Social, & Religious Institutions of the Chiricahua Indians" (University of Chicago Press, 1941, reprinted with an introduction by Charles R. Kaut, University of Nebraska Press, 1996). Opler conducted interviews in the 1930s with more than 30 Chiricahua men and women who were born in the years before the Apaches tasted defeat and captivity, and wove their stories with additional, extensive research into a comprehensive ethnographic study.  


   Another starting point is the "Smithsonian Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 10," by Alfonso Ortiz and William C. Sturtevant. It is comprehensive and reliable.

   The life-way of Chiricahua Apache, such as the Warm Springs band, was sustained by an economy of hunting, gathering, raiding, and small-scale agriculture. The Chihende, for example, would move freely from the western flanks of the San Mateo Mountains of New Mexico to the Sierra Madres in Chihuahua, Mexico and back over the course of a year. This way of life was threatened, first marginally then with dramatically increasing pressure, by European invaders and settlers. 

   In 1848, in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico ceded to the United States thousands of square miles of land that included the homelands of the Chiricahua. Now Americans—trappers, miners, cattlemen, farmers, soldiers—came, and with them came conflict, reprisals, treaties, and wars of removal and extermination. 





   The climax of this bloody confrontation of cultures is well told in Edwin R. Sweeney’s "From Cochise to Geronimo: The Chiricahua Apaches, 1874-1886" (University of Oklahoma Press, 2010) A shorter work than Sweeney’s but one covering a longer time span is Dan L. Thrapp, "The Conquest of Apacheria" (University of Oklahoma, 1967). 


   Two principals of the Cañada Alamosa Project have written studies of particular battles involving Warm Springs Apache war chiefs Victorio and Nana. Much can be learned from these up-close, on the ground views of war between Chihende “hostiles” and the United States Army. They are Karl W. Laumbach’s "Hembrillo: An Apache Battlefield of the Victorio War" (White Sands Missile Range, 2000), and Stephen H. Lekson’s "Nana’s Raid: Apache Warfare in Southern New Mexico, 1881"(Texas Western Press, 1987).

   Biographies have proven to be a particularly appealing way for both readers and writers to engage and find meaning in the Apaches’ story. The Chihende’s last war  chief was Victorio, whose story is capably told in Dan L. Thrapp’s "Victorio and the Mimbres Apaches" (University of Oklahoma Press, 1974). More recently, Kathleen P. Chamberlain has added additional insights into Victorio and the Red Paint People’s struggle to defend their homeland in "Victorio: Apache Warrior and Chief" (University of Oklahoma Press, 2007).

  Before Victorio, it was, first, Mangas Coloradas then Cochise who rose to preeminence among all Chiricahuas and led their resistance to Mexican and then American encroachments. Mangas’s story is comprehensively told in Edwin R. Sweeney’s "Mangas "Coloradas: Chief of the Chiricahua Apaches" (University of Oklahoma Press, 1998). After the death of Mangas in 1863, his son-in-law Cochise earned his place of preeminence in the affairs of the Chiricahua. Sweeney is also the author of the authoritative account of his life in "Cochise: Chiricahua Apache Chief" (University of Oklahoma Press, 1991).

    The last Chiricahuas to surrender to the government of the United States, in 1886, were Geronimo and the small war party he led. This iconic figure is brought to life in Angie Debo’s "Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place" (University of Oklahoma Press, 1976). Larry McMurtry, author of "Crazy Horse" and numerous other essays and novels on the American west, praises Debo’s biography as “a book that takes us as close as we will ever get to the period and the man.” “…she manages—while remaining faithful to the history—to tell much of the celebrated story from the Apache, rather than the white, point of view.” 

     That Angie Debo and other writers could give voice to the Apaches who participated in the last battles to defend their  land and ways, and who then endured captivity and forced resettlement, was due, in large part, to Eve Ball. Starting in 1949, Ball, a retired English teacher and writer of articles on the American West, lived among the Mescalero and Chiricahua Apaches on their reservation in the Sacramento Mountains of south central New Mexico. Over the years, as she slowly gained the confidence of some of the survivors, their children and grandchildren, she began recording their reminiscences and recollections, typing them up and filing them away in her growing bank of file cabinets. Two books resulted: "In the Days of Victorio: Recollections of a Warm Spring Apache" (The University of Arizona Press, 1970), which are the recollections of James Kaywaykla as told to and composed by Eve Ball, and Ball’s "Indeh: An Apache Odyssey" (Brigham Young University, 1980), which widens and deepens the Chiricahua’s own story. Sherry Robinson has continued to mine Eve Ball’s files and papers, with "Apache Voices: Their Stories of Survival As Told to Eve Ball" (University Press of New Mexico, 2000), her most recent publication.

   Apache women from 1848 to the present are given voice in "Apache Mothers and Daughters" (University of Oklahoma Press, 1992) by Ruth McDonald Boyer and Narcissus Duffy Grafton. Apache women warriors, including Victorio’s sister Lozen, Apache women from Mescalero, and Apache women from Fort Sill are the focus of H. Henrietta Stockel’s "Women of the Apache Nation" (University of Nevada Press, 1991).

   Geronimo spoke for himself in "Geronimo: His Own Story As Told to S.M. Barrett" (Duffield, 1906, newly revised and edited by Meridian, 1996). Jason Betzinez was Geronimo’s cousin, fighting with him, enduring captivity, then leaving the reservation and entering and making his way in the world of the white conquerors. "I Fought With Geronimo" by Jason Betzinez with Wilbur Sturtevant Nye (Stackpole Company, 1959; University of Nebraska Press, 1987), is his autobiography.

   The voices of the Apaches’ military opponents—those of  white officers and black enlisted men they commanded— can be heard best in Lt. Charles Gatewood & His Apache Wars Memoir (University of Nebraska, 2005), General George Crook, "Crook’s Resume of Operations Against Apache Indians, 1882-1886" (Johnson-Taunton Military Press, 1971), and Frank N. Schubert’s "Voices of the Buffalo Soldier" (University of New Mexico Press, 2003).


   Peter Cozzens brings together numerous contemporary accounts of the Chiricahua Apaches and their opponents in the late 1800s in his "The Struggle for Apacheria: Eyewitnesses to the Indian Wars 1865-1890" (Stackpole Books, 2001). This volume provides access to period articles and manuscripts that were previously difficult to find. For instance, E.C. Kemble’s “Victorio and His Young Men”, first published in the New York Times in 1880, describes Col. Edward Hatch’s first visit to Cañada Alamosa (now Monticello) and his later meeting with Victorio at the Ojo Caliente Indian Agency.

    Finally, to read Keith H. Basso’s "Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apaches" (University of New Mexico Press, 1996) is to come as close as a non-Apache is likely to come to understanding the world as Western Apaches did and do. Whether the Chiricahua viewed their world in the same way is a matter than needs research.


Ojo Indian Agency



Buffalo Soldiers

Geranimo, Nana, Etc.