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The Apache Tribes


     Originally the people of this tribe did not refer to themselves as Apaches.   Edwin R. Sweeney writes in his acclaimed biography of Cochise that the term probably came from the Zuñi word "apachu" which translates to "enemy".   As was the case with many of the Indian tribes, the term the Apaches used for themselves was a word that loosely translates to "the people".

     It is interesting to note that somewhere along the way the Apaches came to embrace this title and wear the emblem proudly.  The fact that it was bestowed upon them by their enemies may have played a part in this acceptance.  This seems to be a fairly common practice within the Apache tribe, as many warriors took upon themselves names that their enemies gave to them.  The most famous example is the case of a young Bedonkohe Apache warrior whose name was Goyahkla. 

     The story goes that during a time when he and most of the other men of his camp were away trading in a small town in Mexico, the camp was set upon by  Mexican soldiers and Goyahkla's young wife, his mother, and his three children were among the slain.  At this time, Goyahkla had little influence within his band, but since he had lost more than anyone else he was given the honor of leading the war party to avenge this loss.  His vengeance it is said knew no bounds and he conducted himself with such daring and bravery that his own people began calling him by the name the Mexicans had taken to shouting during the horrendous battle that ensued:  Geronimo.  Geronimo wore this appellation with great pride all the rest of his many days.

    Such seems to be the case with the Apache people.  Several speeches by Cochise himself have been recorded word-for-word, and in some of them he seems to refer to his people as Apaches.  It is possible, however, that the designation comes about as a result of translation, and that in fact he used the word of his native language, which would have been "inde" or something related.   I tend to doubt this, myself.  By the time Cochise was giving speeches before the Americans, he would have been well aware that the word "Apache" struck terror in the hearts of his newest enemies, the "White Eyes".   I believe he would have been more than happy to take on this moniker and, like Geronimo, wear it with pride.

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