With these nomadic cultures we identify little, but they left us an important lesson that we must recover.
The Apaches are not usually a strong reference in the Mexican imaginary; at least, in the center of the country. So far north we locate them, that we forget that, to begin with, they are not exactly a uniform ethnic group and that many of them inhabited (and a few continue to inhabit) the states of Sonora, Coahuila, and Chihuahua.
It is even less likely that we know that the word Apache means “enemy” and was a Spanish denomination to refer disparagingly to the multiple groups that populated northern Mexicoand a good stretch of the southern United States. And yes, apache is a word, in that sense, creepy; but let’s leave ultra-tolerances, the Apaches were the enemies and they were honored.
The Apaches were great warriors
If anything identifies the groups that shared the denomination of “apache” it was an exceptional skill for battles. This did not fall from heaven: it was the result of a long history of persecution, abuse and theft of their lands . Already, the geographical spaces where they settled made their lives extremely complex , but, above, they were standing in the conquest zone of two different outsiders: gringos and the recently called “Mexicans”.
Their societies were organized and administered with a fundamental attachment to the family so that the wise parents and grandparents occupied the position of leaders and battle strategists. Fishing and hunting what could be done, although in some moments they did it as farmers, their settlements were not as large and ostentatious as those of the cultures of central and southern Mexico and between so much war they were constantly in motion. One could almost say that they were eternal fugitives. First of all, because they were criminals wanted by the authorities on charges of robbery, murder and other corruption. Secondly, because they were escaping (and rightly so) from being captured by the Mexican and American states in desert reserves that offered no less than terrible living conditions.
One of its magnificent leaders was Victorio
A very peculiar story (even among the Apaches) is that of the Victory leader, a true hero to the people who followed him and a magnificent warrior. Little recognized in the history of this country, at least of him we have a memory in the Plaza Mayor of Chihuahua, the capital: a large statue that shows him on horseback and with a serious, calculating and penetrating look , like all portraits what of him we have
It is said that he was born in Chihuahua itself in 1825, under the name of Pedro Cedillo .Originally a mestizo who lived with his parents on a farm, he was kidnapped by Apache Chiricahua when he was just a child. But the rapture transformed him into the man who changed his double nature by his Indian roots and soon became the leader of his group. He fought alongside other greats such as Mangas Coloradas and Cochise in the Apache Passwars . His multiple confrontations with the national authorities had as a personal reason, according to the account: to find a quiet place to live.
It is claimed that Victorio, before Pedro, was a quiet, serious and sober man, who only had one wife and who did not drink too much. Perhaps his only fault was the tremendous and bloodthirsty outbursts of anger that seized him between leaks and battles. His acts were terrible. When he and his men assaulted the haciendas they killed, kidnapped and raped; in other words, their political acts had little rhetoric: Victorio and his allies and allies lived on; bleeding and bleeding. It is said that he was followed by more than 300 men, women and children and that the women affirmed: “If Victorio dies we will eat it so that no white man can see his body!”.
It was not surprising that by 1880, Colonel Joaquin Terrazas himself and his army of 350 men armed with modern rifles were commanded in Mexico to get rid of Victorio and his great family. It is said that Terrazas was impeccable in his work of hunting Apaches ; He was also accompanied by Tarahumara scouts, brilliant to find even the weakest trail ofenemies . So they found Victorio, camping in Tres Castillos. The big boss saw them coming and decided to fight . In an unexpected turn a Tarahumara shot him in the chest , they called him Mauricio Corredor. At the death of Victorio it was already evident that the Apaches would lose this battle. They gave a fight, but no adult man survived.
A curious anecdote states that a few years after the battle of Tres Castillos Mauricio Corredor, the Tarahumara who shot Victorio’s last bullet, was killed by Mexican soldiers , because they confused him, in his eternal prejudice and ignorance of his own people, with an apache.
The Apaches were a vanishing point
Whoever said that the Apache wars inspired the revolutionary movement in Mexico cannot be far from the truth. The Apaches had no scruples when it came to defending their land. The feats and bravery of men like Victorio prove it. In addition, both movements wanted to destabilize national states that took their own laws for granted as natural. Both were the response to a phenomenon that disappointed and inspired the great Zapata alike: even the greatest revolts end and, when this happens, the world reorganizes and new leaders impose their interests on others. And this, simply, can not be left like this. The fight has to stay alive.
After the Independence of Mexico, it was these nomadic cultures, those of the so-called Apaches, who, led by terrible men, transformed themselves into escape points , which questioned what was already built in the two countries they went through. And it was not only the structural unity of the countries, but also their social projects of modernity.
As it would happen to the next century, with Zapata in the South, the Apaches were unable to join the colonial regime and then the national one; they simply did not want to be slaves of the hacendados. Thus, they became bandits, later caricatured in the gringo cinema, whose attacks were responsible for corrupting the fragile peace of nations. Unfortunately,modernity won and the State won. And it was precisely at the death of Victorio, because at that moment the Apache columns ended up disintegrating.
However, the statue of the great chief remains erect, as a reminder of something we should have learned but we keep forgetting . The Apaches moved like water in the desert : they filtered and slithered and did not let themselves be gripped by hands. They remained as flexible as the Sun would allow them and they refreshed that partial State that had already taken for granted itself. When, finally, they evaporated, the one who lost was the land and they finished raising the modern complexes, which still tremble in the presence of other vanishing points.
Today more than ever: we must remember the lesson that they left us
In a land distributed without the consent of its inhabitants; In a politicized space like “the men armed with rifles” they wanted, the Apaches were not building territories: they were undoing it. In that arbitrary division between Mexico and the United States, between Indian lands and landowners, the Apaches little cared about the differences: they mocked Mexican, Mexican and Spanish authorities without discriminating. His screams and blood stained the borders.
The Apaches did not give a damn who claimed to own what territory ; the end of the day(and this is the great lesson) politicians (those of then and now) the world are fighting as if they had forgotten that outside their spheres there are people circulating, exchanging, living,in spite of they.
Without fear and galloping, shouting and with the spear held high, the Apache terror arrived; and so, too, he left.
Author: María Fernanda Garduño Mendoza
The Mazatlan Post