The Apache are believed to be one of the last cultures to have migrated to the North American Southwest between A.D. 1300 and 1600. In fact, evidence suggests that the Apache came to the American Southwest through Canada, only later moving to the area now known as New Mexico and Arizona. The Apache have always denied this theory, however, and they still believe they have always been a part of the American Southwest.
The Apache were a nomadic tribe, and their homelands have extended as far as Mexico. They have always been buffalo hunters and were famous for their skill as warriors. They speak a language part of the Athapaskan family of languages and are believed to be the last tribe speaking this language to have migrated to America from Asia. Most of their families lived in wickiups, which are dome-shaped brush huts, or in buffalo-hide tepees. Religion is a major part of Apache life and one of the best known supernatural beings were the ga'ns, protective mountain spirits represented in religious rites still performed by Western Apaches. .
The Apache have resisted the European settlers from the first Spanish intruders in the late 1500s until 1872, when their chief, Cochise, signed a treaty with the U.S. and moved the tribe to an Apache reservation in Arizona. The Apache were one of the last tribes to admit defeat.
There were 57,073 people claiming to be of Apache descent as of the year 2000. Many of these people currently live on and of reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. Although a small minority in the United States today, the Apache are still a proud people, struggling to retain their heritage and honor the ancient traditions of their ancestors.