Some fine examples of the remarkable baskets which the Apache women weaved:
Howdy folks and greetings from the Great Plains of North Texas!
We're in a series about the Wild West and the story of an 11 year old German boy, Hermann, who was captured by an Apache war party from his family's farm in 1870 in Central Texas.
By this time in the story Hermann has been with the Apache for probably 6 months and has become, through great pain and training, a bonafide tribe member and warrior.
In the last post the Apache and Comanche chiefs agreed to make peace between them and focus on defeating the Palefaces together.
Hermann doesn't talk much about girls or the women of the tribe except when he talked about the chief's wife who adopted him as her own, for which he was extremely grateful.
A beautiful girl for a saddle? No thanks!
But otherwise he didn't say much because at 11 years old at the time he wasn't interested in girls yet. He was even offered a pretty girl for a saddle he'd stolen and turned it down!
Lol..he had no idea how good a deal that was but he wasn't ready to get married.
It was probably a relief to the girl too. She was probably like..."great, ya mean I gotta marry this scrawny white boy???"
At any rate, since women have been mentioned a few times I thought I'd share what I found out about the role of the tribe females, this is information taken from interviews of Apache women and all tribes seemed to be different and there were many different tribes and sub-tribes so these are just general traditions.
From what I understand there are still over 500 different American Indian tribes in this country so one of them may read this and say that's TOTALLY different from our tribe and heritage. But speaking in a general sense about the Apache it looks to me like the women did all the work.
Sure, the men hunted for game and had the role of warriors to fight the enemies and protect the villages. And they spent a great deal of time training, hunting, guarding, scouting, and things of that nature.
Gather and store food for the winter
But the Apache women's role was to find food and prepare it. We're talking about plant food like nuts, roots, berries and the like. They had to forage for those and prepare them. The most important plant source, at least for the tribes in the desert climates were the Agave plant.
I had no idea about this but they would cut out the heart of the plant and roast them in large pits and when they were thoroughly roasted they'd lay them out to dry. This was a main source of food for the winter months. I wonder what those tasted like?
They were the home builders
Some homes were beautiful grass huts and some were tepees. They also made huts covered with cloth like the one showed here called a wickiup, with two Apache women:
This photo was taken in 1880, apparently after they were moved onto worthless scrub desert land, look at that landscape. But anyway, the women would all get together and help each other build their homes.
It also was their job to tan the hides of the buffalo and other animals and make the clothing. They were the healers of the tribe too and knew which herbs to gather and how to prepare them for various medicinal purposes.
Tragically, I think most of this knowledge has been lost.
Keepers of the Way
The Apache women were the given the responsibility of learning all the history, customs, culture and ways of the Apache and to pass that knowledge down to the next generation. All the traditions of her family and tribe. So because of that role, they were the center of their culture.
Having and raising the children
No comment necessary, everyone knows how hard that is! Can you imagine doing it without electricity and modern facilities?
Cooking, cleaning and water
Of course they also had to perform the daily chores of cooking the food, cleaning, washing the utensils and a big one here is hauling water. Everyone knows how heavy water is right?
Well, they had no wells or running water so it had to be hauled from the nearest stream, river or lake, which could be a good distance. That's some brutal work.
Here's a photo of a little girl with a water basket. It's hard to believe that she'd be able to carry that on her head when it's full:
That's an amazing basket she has but it gives me a headeache just looking at it!
Here's another basket rigged up so they can strap it to their heads but it looks painful. They call this a Burden Basket. I'd say so!
Here's a couple of Apache women cooking on a camp fire:
And an Apache woman with her baby(just because I like this picture):
Last but no least
This is an unusual aspect for American Indians but the Apache women were also given the chance to train and even fight alongside the men if they chose to do so.
Their greatest female warrior, Lozen, chose to forgo the traditional female role to become a warrior alongside her brother Victorio, who we talked about yesterday.
And in case you haven't heard about her, that's because it was a closely guarded secret for generations until just recently.
Lozen was unsurpassed as a strategist and warrior, equal to any man, and her story is fascinating but I don't know if there is enough information to even do a series about her.
I'll end with this quote by the great Chiricahua Apache Chief Geronimo:
"When a child my mother taught me the legends of our people; taught me of the sun and sky, the moon and stars, the clouds and storms.
She also taught me to kneel and pray to Usen for strength, health, wisdom, and protection. We never prayed against any person, but if we had aught against any individual we ourselves took vengeance. We were taught that Usen does not care for the petty quarrels of men."
In the next post Hermann goes on raids against his old neighborhood.
Thanks for reading folks, God bless you all!