Cochise , (1812?–1874), a chief of the Chiricahua Apache tribe. One of the most famous chieftains in American Indian history, he fought white settlers and soldiers in the Southwest during the so-called Apache Wars. Little is known of his early life except that he probably was born in what is now Arizona and was married to the daughter of his ally Mangas Coloradas, chief of the Mimbreño Apaches.
Cochise and his band fought their traditional enemies, the Mexicans, along the Arizona-Mexico border but were on friendly terms with Americans when they first began to arrive in Arizona in the 1850's. In 1861, however, following an incident in which Cochise was falsely accused of abducting a white child and several of his band were killed by soldiers, warfare broke out. More than 4,000 lives were lost during a decade of Indian raids and skirmishes that nearly forced white settlers from the territory. Finally in 1872, Cochise signed a peace treaty with General Oliver O. Howard and went to live on a reservation established for the Chiricahua in southeastern Arizona.