Apache Indians, a group of tribes of the Athapascan linguistic family. In the late 17th century, the Apaches ranged over the present states of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Utah, and also into northern Mexico. At that time, they numbered about 5,000. The Apaches were divided into two major groups: the Eastern Apaches, which included the Jicarilla, Lipan, Mescalero, Chiricahua, and Kiowa-Apache; and the Western Apaches, which included the Cibecue, White Mountain, Coyotero, Northern Ton-to, and Southern Tonto. (The Kiowa-Apaches are often classified with the Kiowa Indians, to whom they are culturally but not linguistically related.)Geronimo was a fierce Apache warrior.
Apache bands were nomadic. They lived by hunting and by gathering berries and roots, and did little farming. They had no central authority and seldom formed alliances. The Apaches were often at war with each other and long warred against Spanish, Mexican, and American settlers. Apache leaders such as Mangas Coloradas, Victorio, Cochise, Juh, and Geronimo led small bands fighting white settlers and soldiers. The so-called Apache Wars lasted from the 1870's, when the Apaches were first placed on reservations, until 1886, when Geronimo and his Chiricahua band surrendered.
At present, about 55,000 Apaches live on or near reservations. They are involved in various tribal enterprises, including lumbering, stock raising, oil and gas leasing, and operating visitor centers and motels. The Western Apaches occupy the Fort Apache and San Carlos reservations in Arizona; the Jicarilla live on a reservation in northern New Mexico; and the Mescalero, Lipan, and Chiricahua occupy the Mescalero reservation in southern New Mexico. A small band of Chiricahua live in southwestern Oklahoma.