Museum of Northern Arizona exterior


The Western Apache tribes reside in east and central Arizona. Their language is southern Athabaskan in origin. Linguistic and archaeological evidence suggest that they arrived in the Southwest between 1000 and 1500 A.D., although little is known about their migrations.

Originally the Apache were hunters and gatherers, but likely contact with Pueblo Native Americans probably moved them into a hybrid system of farming as well as hunting and gathering. The Spanish introduced horses, and in time Apaches became “legendary” horseman and added livestock herding to their way of life.

In the late 1800’s the United States government began forcible removal and extermination of western Indians, including the Apache.  Most historians agree the final defeat of the Apache happened with Geronimo’s defeat on September 4, 1886.

Many Apache continue to live today on reservations in eastern and central Arizona. Distinct tribes include the White Mountain Apache and San Carlos Apache, in eastern and southeastern Arizona. The Yavapai-Apache tribe is located in central Arizona and consists of two distinct people, the Yavapai, who refer to themselves as “Wipuhk’a’bah” and speak the Yuman language, and the  Apache who refer to themselves as “Dil’zhe’e” and speak the Athabaskan language.

To learn more:

Yavapai-Apache Nation

White Mountain Apache

San Carlos Apache Nation