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Eastern Apache, also known as “Chiricahua Apache” Droe, Anj


The Central Band of the Eastern Apache are a Native American group residing in what is now New Mexico. This entry focuses on ethnographic evidence that reconstructs Eastern Apache life and beliefs in 1870, prior to the reservation era, at which time the Eastern Apache occupied territory west of the Rio Grande in what is now southern Arizona and New Mexico. The second half of the 19th century was marked by violent conflict between the United States government and the Eastern Apache, which ended in 1886 with the surrender of the Eastern Apache chief, Geronimo, to United States forces. Following his surrender, the Eastern Apache people were considered prisoners of war and imprisoned first in Florida, then in Alabama, and lastly, in Oklahoma. The combination of violence, imprisonment, and forced migration resulted in severe population loss among the Eastern Apache. In 1913, most of the Eastern Apache were again transferred, this time to the Mescalero Reservation in New Mexico (Beierle, 2012:2). In 1870, the Eastern Apache lived in autonomous settlements that engaged in warlike raids of both external societies and other Eastern Apache communities. Eastern Apache religion centered around the personal relationship that each individual had with a supernatural, animating principle known as “the power.” Those with especially strong relationships with the power were known as shamans. Power was believed to come from different supernatural sources, including one of many supernatural beings, and could be used for multiple reasons, from curing to cursing people. For the Eastern Apache, religious beliefs were inseparable from almost all aspects of social and political life. Therefore, this entry considers the religious group to be coterminous with the society at large.

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