Before I go further, though, it’s important to note each of the different Apache tribes listed below (I listed those tribes recognized by the USGOV – Within each tribe there were bands, which operated semi-autonomously from their particular affiliated Apache tribe. For example, Geronimo was a member of the Bedonkohe band of the Chiricahua Apache). Some such as the White Mountain Apache lived in ponderosa pine forests. Others lived in deserts or on the plains.
- Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
- Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation
- Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
- Jicarilla Apache Nation
- Mescalero Apache Tribe of the Mescalero Reservation
- San Carlos Apache Tribe of the San Carlos Reservation
- Tonto Apache Tribe
- White Mountain Apache Tribe of the Fort Apache Reservation
- Yavapai-Apache Nation of the Camp Verde Indian Reservation
In our present day, long after the fact, you see photos of Apaches wearing elaborate face paint to ‘recreate’ the past, but the truth is that most Apache wore more symbolic spiritual markings such as the warrior (left) and Geronimo, dressed as a medicine man rather than as a raider. (above right).
Not all Apache tribes painted their faces elaborately but many warriors wore caps when they went on the war path of the sort illustrated (below).
The young Apache used the ceremonial warpath language, which replaced words for common objects during the raid. The scratcher was used to scratch him and the drinking tube to ensure water did not touch the lips. When eating, the young Apache would eat only when the food was cold in order to bring the raiders good luck. He was also subservient to the other warriors and would fetch their water and wood. If he did well on the first raid, he would be invited back for another raid. Upon completing four successful raids without deviations in his conduct, the young Apache received the coveted reward of recognition as an Apache warrior. Often, the shaman would show him the pattern of paint that he should wear and presented him with a medicine cap.
For any of you who served in the military or hunted, you will know that a flash from glasses, a bright face or reflective object will mark your position many miles from the observer.