The Chiricahua are an Athapaskan-speaking American Indian group whose traditional homeland was located in present-day southeastern Arizona, southern New Mexico, southwestern Texas, and the adjacent areas of northern Mexico. At the beginning of the nineteenth century they numbered about one thousand.
During the latter half of that century the Chiricahua engaged in an extended period of warfare with the United States that finally ended in 1886 when they surrendered and began serving a twenty-seven-year term as prisoners of war in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). In 1913 they were freed and given the choice of remaining in Oklahoma or relocating to the Mescalero Reservation in southern New Mexico. In the 1980s about five hundred Chiricahua were living in Oklahoma and an indeterminate, but small number were living with Mescalero and Lipan Apache on the Mescalero Reservation. The tribal government on this reservation consists of an elected president, vice president, and an eight-member advisory council.
Originally, the Chiricahua earned their subsistence Primarily through hunting and gathering, but in later historic times they also practiced some agriculture. Deer, taken with bows and arrows, were the most important game animals.
Chiricahua society was organized into three bands, each of which was composed of several extended families. Formal political authority extended no further than the level of band leaders who wielded influence on the basis of their recognized wisdom and skill in warfare. The Chiricahua believed in Numerous supernatural beings; religious leadership was provided by male and female shamans who specialized in certain types of ceremonies and cures.
See also Mescalero Apache
Betzinez, John, with Wilbur Sturtevant (1987). I Fought with Geronimo. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Opler, Morris E. (1965). An Apache Life-Way. New York: Cooper Square Publishers.