Western Apache - Settlements



With the adoption of horticulture Western Apaches became permanently associated with farming sites. This association was seasonal with local groups composed of several matrilineal-matrilocal extended families ( gotah ) moving from place to place in a yearly round of hunting and gathering—returning in the spring and fall to the farm area and in the winter moving to lower elevations. Local groups varied in size from thirty-five to two hundred individuals and had exclusive rights to certain farm sites and hunting localities. Adjacent local groups, loosely linked through marriage, areal proximity, and dialect, formed what have been called bands controlling farming and hunting resources primarily in a single watershed area. There were twenty of these bands in 1850, each composed of about four local groups. Their ethnographic names, such as Cibecue Creek Band or Carrizo Creek Band, reflect their watershed specificity.

Contemporary Apache communities are an amalgam of these older, territorially defined units, which during the reservation period concentrated near agency headquarters, trading posts, schools, and roads. On the White Mountain Apache Reservation there are two major communities at Cibecue and Whiteriver, and on the San Carlos Reservation there are two at San Carlos and Bylas. Traditional housing was the wickiup ( gogha ); contemporary housing consists of a mixture of older frame homes, modern cinder block or frame tract houses, and mobile homes. Some housing is substandard relative to general U.S. standards, though vast improvements have been made in the last twenty years. The White Mountain Apaches have had a particularly aggressive development program and own a shopping center, motel, theater, sawmill, and ski resort.


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