Many believe that the great San Carlos Apache people entered this region sometime around the 11th century A.D. (or perhaps even later). Many Apaches, however, believe that they have always lived in the area. Perhaps some of them may have intermarried with the Salado or similar peoples. At any rate, by 1500 they were in complete control of all eastern Arizona, western New Mexico, and the central part of northern Mexico. They call themselves Nnee or Indeh, "the people." Their language is closely related to the Navaho. See my brief introduction to Apache pronunciation.
The Apache who settled in the Pinal Mountain region state that they originally came from the north, near what is now Cibecue (Dish Chii' Bikoh, "red canyons"). Most traveled down the eastern edge of the Sierra Ancha ("wide mountain") range and then up Pinal Creek. They then settled in and around the eastern and northern slopes of the Pinal Mountains, where they called themselves the t'iis ebah nnee ("grey cottonwood people"). Some later settled south of the "Pinals" around what is now known as Aravaipa Creek (Aravaipa means "little wells" in Pima). The Spanish called the Apaches north of the Pinals the "Pinal Apaches." Those south of the Pinals were called the "Aravaipa Apaches." A small group living further north of the Pinals were the Apache Peaks band, and a small group was also located along the San Carlos River--the San Carlos band. Still another group was located in what is now Tonto Basin--the Tonto band.
In the last part of the 19th century all these bands were concentrated on the San Carlos Reservation, at the junction of San Carlos River and the Gila River. The San Carlos Apache now consider themselves a unified people, even though they were originally quite disparate bands.
The San Carlos Apache people have a truly incredible history, and a fascinating, beautiful culture. If you would like to visit their official homepage, their URL is http://www.sancarlosapache.com
Furthermore, they have just recently developed, for their first time, an excellent cultural center, whose URL is http://www.sancarlosapache.com/San_Carlos_Culture_Center.htm
They have also recently completed a large, successful casino known as "Apache Gold Casino."
The White Mountain Apache Reservation site is located at http://www.www.wmat.nsn.us
Good books to consult about the Apaches are:
Goodwin, Grenville. The Social Organization of the Western Apache. Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1969.
Haley, James L. Apaches: A History and Culture Portrait. New York: Doubleday, 1981.
Mails, Thomas E. The People Called Apache. New York: BDD Promotional Book Co., 1993.
Perry, Richard. Western Apache Heritage. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1971.
Schroeder, Albert H. Apache Indians IV. New York: Garland Publishing, 1974.
Return to Zybt's Homepage