Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma

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The Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma is made up of the descendants of the Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apache people that lived in Southern New Mexico until 1886, when they were forcibly removed and held by the U.S. Government as prisoners in Florida for 28 years.   The Chiricahua were the last American Indian group to be relocated to Indian Territory.

Official Tribal Name: Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma

Oklahoma Office

Address: 43187 US Hwy 281, Apache, OK 73006

Phone:  877-826-0726
Fax:  580-588-3133

New Mexico Office

Address:  20885 Frontage Rd, Deming, NM 88030

Phone: 877-826-0726
Fax:  575-544-0224

Official Website: http://www.fortsillapache-nsn.gov/ 

Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

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Region: Southwest

State(s) Today: Oklahoma

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Confederacy: Apache

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The Fort Sill Apache Tribe of Oklahoma is a federally recognized tribe. They have established tribal governments under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 (25 U.S.C. 461-279), also known as the Wheeler-Howard Act, and they successfully withstood attempts by the U.S. government to implement its policy during the 1950s of terminating Indian tribes.

The Wheeler-Howard Act, however, while allowing some measure of self-determination in their affairs, has caused problems for virtually every Indian nation in the United States, and the Apaches are no exception. The act subverts traditional Native forms of government and imposes upon Native people an alien system, which is something of a mix of American corporate and governmental structures.

Invariably, the most traditional people in each tribe have had little to say about their own affairs, as the most heavily acculturated and educated mixed-blood factions have dominated tribal affairs in these foreign imposed systems.

Frequently these tribal governments have been little more than convenient shams to facilitate access to tribal mineral and timber resources in arrangements that benefit everyone but the Native people, whose resources are exploited. The situations and experiences differ markedly from tribe to tribe in this regard, but it is a problem that is, in some measure, shared by all.

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Origins: Origins of the Apache Indians

Apache Bands and Clans

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For the Apaches, the family is the primary unit of political and cultural life. Apaches have never been a unified nation politically, and individual Apache tribes, until very recently, have never had a centralized government, traditional or otherwise.

Extended family groups acted entirely independently of one another. At intervals during the year a number of these family groups, related by dialect, custom, inter-marriage, and geographical proximity, might come together, as conditions and circumstances might warrant.

In the aggregate, these groups might be identifiable as a tribal division, but they almost never acted together as a tribal division or as a nationnot even when faced with the overwhelming threat of the Comanche migration into their Southern Plains territory.

The existence of these many different, independent, extended family groups of Apaches made it impossible for the Spanish, the Mexicans, or the Americans to treat with the Apache Nation as a whole. Each individual group had to be treated with separately, an undertaking that proved difficult for each colonizer who attempted to establish authority within the Apache homeland.

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Apache Museums:

Albuquerque Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico
American Research Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Art Center in Roswell, New Mexico
Bacone College Museum in Muskogee, Oklahoma
Black Water Draw Museum in Portales, New Mexico
Coronado Monument in Bernalillo, New Mexico
Ethnology Museum in Santa Fe, NM
Fine Arts Museum in Santa Fe, NM
Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Great Plains Museum in Lawton, Oklahoma
Hall of the Modern Indian in Santa Fe, NM
Heard Museum of Anthropology in Phoenix, Arizona
Indian Hall of Fame in Anadarko, Oklahoma
Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM
Maxwell Museum in Albuquerque, NM
Milicent Rogers Museum in Taos, New Mexico
Northern Arizona Museum in Flagstaff, AZ
Oklahoma Historical Society Museum in Oklahoma City, OK
Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, OK
Southern Plains Indian Museum in Anadarko, OK
State Museum of Arizona in Tempe, AZ
Stovall Museum at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK
San Carlos Apache Cultural Center in Peridot, Arizona.

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Religion & Spiritual Beliefs: Apache religion is based on a complex mythology and features numerous deities. The sun is the greatest source of power. Culture heroes, like White-Painted Woman and her son, Child of the Water, also figure highly, as do protective mountain spirits (ga’an). The latter are represented as masked dancers (probably evidence of Pueblo influence) in certain ceremonies, such as the four-day girls’ puberty rite. (The boys’ puberty rite centered on raiding and warfare.)

Supernatural power is both the goal and the medium of most Apache ceremonialism. Shamans facilitate the acquisition of power, which could be used in the service of war, luck, rainmaking, or life-cycle events. Power could be evil as well as good, however, and witchcraft, as well as incest, was an unpardonable offense. Finally, Apaches believe that since other living things were once people, we are merely following in the footsteps of those who have gone before.

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Apache women were chaste before marriage. Apache culture is matrilineal. Once married, the man went with the wife’s extended family, where she is surrounded by her relatives.

Spouse abuse is practically unknown in such a system. Should the marriage not endure, child custody quarrels are also unknown: the children remain with the wife’s extended family.

Marital harmony is encouraged by a custom forbidding the wife’s mother to speak to, or even be in the presence of, her son-in-law. No such stricture applies to the wife’s grandmother, who frequently is a powerful presence in family life.

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