I Am Apache

I Am Apache

5.0 4
by Tanya Landman

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A young woman seeks to avenge her brother's death by becoming an Apache warrior — and learns a startling truth about her own identity.

After watching helplessly as Mexican raiders brutally murder her little brother, fourteen-year-old Siki is filled with a desire for vengeance and chooses to turn away from a woman's path to become a warrior of her Apache


A young woman seeks to avenge her brother's death by becoming an Apache warrior — and learns a startling truth about her own identity.

After watching helplessly as Mexican raiders brutally murder her little brother, fourteen-year-old Siki is filled with a desire for vengeance and chooses to turn away from a woman's path to become a warrior of her Apache tribe. Though some men, like envious Keste, wish to see Siki fail, she passes test after test, and her skills grow under the guidance of her tribe's greatest warrior, Golahka. But Keste begins to whisper about Siki's father's dishonorable death, and even as Siki earns her place among the warriors, she senses a dark secret in her past — one that will throw into doubt everything she knows. Taking readers on a sweeping and suspenseful journey through the nineteenth-century American Southwest, Tanya Landman draws on historical accounts to imagine the Black Mountain Apache as a tribe in a fight for survival against the devastating progress of nations.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A magnificent account of life in a doomed tribe on the Mexican border towards the end of the nineteenth century: a disturbing but exhilarating experience." — THE INDEPENDENT (U.K.) — Independent, The (UK)

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly

On the shortlist for the 2008 Carnegie Medal, Landman's U.S. debut takes its inspiration from references to a woman warrior who fought alongside Geronimo. Landman's own heroine, the narrator Siki, is 14 when she witnesses Mexicans murder her younger brother and vows revenge. Proving herself a brave and cunning fighter, she is allowed to accompany the strongest men on raids against their ruthless enemies, who desecrate the earth by digging mines. The "White Eyes," Siki knows, "had no understanding that the bounty of Mother Earth was made for all to share.... They hoarded more than they needed, piling it all into a great heap that they defended like snarling dogs." Siki also experiences visions (or has the Power, as Landman puts it), and she faces test after test of her loyalty. Some readers may be put off by the deliberately exotic tone of Siki's voice: "I could not see the face of [my enemy] Keste, but my presence was like a pebble dropped into a still pool: his ill humor rippled outward." Others, however, will relish her fiery spirit and feel the joy of her victories and, when ultimate defeat appears imminent, share the pain of her losses. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)

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KLIATT - Claire Rosser
A dramatic story, with a dramatic cover, telling of an adolescent girl who chooses to be a warrior to avenge the death of her little brother when Mexicans attacked her Apache tribe. The first enemies are Mexicans, and then the white settlers coming through Apache territory become the Apaches' enemies. The author is British and this is her first book published in America. She based the story of her heroine, Siki, on a historical figure, Lozen, "a woman warrior who rode beside Geronimo." There is a bibliography of 16 sources for further research. Siki is something of a loner, an orphan whose father, mother and younger brother are dead. It is the savage death of her beloved four-year-old brother, which Siki witnesses hiding in a tree, which drives her to the decision to train to be a warrior. Her mentor becomes an older tribal leader, Golahka, who lost his wife and children in the same attack and understands Siki's rage. The bulk of the story is Siki's training and her experiences of warfare. Lurking in the shadows is a secret about Siki's father, only revealed in the final pages, and this revelation is crucial to Siki's identity. Hence the title becomes ever more important to understanding Siki's story. Landman is careful in her historical details, but without using historical names and places. The major relationship, that between Siki and Golahka, is riveting and unusual. Reading this story, we learn a lot more about the Apache struggle for survival as their lands are threatened by Mexicans and then by white settlers. Siki is a memorable YA heroine. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
The reader travels on a suspenseful journey through the nineteenth-century American southwest as fourteen-year-old Siki becomes a warrior of her Black Mountain Apache tribe. She sets this course after witnessing the death of her little brother at the hands of Mexican raiders. She is taught the skills to be a warrior by the tribe's greatest warrior, Golahka, a tough task master who puts her through rigorous qualifying tests. Her skills and determination grow during this training. The quest to become a warrior and avenge her brother's death leads to her discovery about her own identity and is a testimony of how to deal with personal loss. The author captures Siki's wisdom and courage through the first person point of view and immediately involves the reader in her mission. Inspiration for the story comes from historical accounts of a woman warrior who fought alongside Geronimo. The book was on the short list for the 2008 Carnegie Medal in Literature for children's books. Their review noted that the book was "disconcertingly powerful, with a lasting emotional impact." This assessment superbly defines this well-crafted adventure in historical fiction. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
VOYA - Jenny Ingram
In the nineteenth-century American Southwest, fourteen-year-old Siki, an orphaned Apache girl, witnesses the murder of her four-year-old brother and vows revenge on the Mexicans who killed him. She becomes the sole female warrior in her tribe, trained by Golahka, whose wife and child were murdered at the same time as Siki's brother. Recognizing Siki's skill at seeing past and future events when she enters a landscape, Golahka chooses her to accompany the band of warriors on their revenge missions, the final one leaving Golahka dead and Siki pregnant with his child. The narration by Siki is awkward and unnatural, written as if the British author drew upon American Indian movies to write her book. In her afterword, Landman writes that she made no attempt to create an accurate historical novel, yet a bibliography follows, which will mislead readers about the credibility of the book. The audience for the novel is unclear; the protagonist is female, but the brutal nature of the story will not appeal to most girls. Teachers looking for a novel about the complex relationships among Mexico, the United States, and the indigenous nations in the American Southwest should look to Oyate (http://www.oyate.org) or to Native American Debbie Reese's blog American Indians in Children's Literature (http://www.americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com) for a better specimen. Reviewer: Jenny Ingram
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up

At the end of the 19th century, 14-year-old Siki is a member of Arizona's (fictional) Black Mountain Apache, and an orphan who lost both parents in battles with Mexicans. When she witnesses the brutal slaying of her four-year-old brother, Tazhi, by Mexican raiders, she vows to avenge his death and earns an unusual place, through her skills and relentless training, as a warrior among the men of her tribe. In an overwrought, floridly poetic first-person narrative (e.g., "the wind flowed in [Tazhi's] veins, and the sun itself seemed to shine through his eyes when he smiled"), Landman takes readers on a complex adventure full of jealousy, romance, visions, dark family secrets, bloody battles, daring rescues, and painful dealings with Mexicans and double-crossing "White Eyes." Historical accuracy is questionable, despite research evident not only in an extensive bibliography, but also in Siki's copious explanations of tribal ways and customs. Landman states in a historical note that every tribe and place name is fictional, and that she's "made no attempt to produce an accurate historical novel." Despite some efforts to create complex, "real" human characters and interactions, readers will certainly take away a notion of the Apache as wronged but brutal, doomed, vengeful warriors, and 19th-century Mexicans as heartless villains. Exciting, but problematic, to say the least.-Riva Pollard, Prospect Sierra Middle School, El Cerrito, CA

Kirkus Reviews
This absorbing tale of a teenage Apache girl who becomes a warrior comes to readers from a British author fascinated by the subject. Landman did her historical homework well, her research including both primary and secondary resources and enabling her to tell the story not only of her protagonist, Siki, but also of the ultimately futile struggles of the Apache to save their homeland from encroaching invaders. She witnesses the deaths of nearly her whole family at the hands of Mexicans and vows revenge. More talented with weaponry than women's work, she enters training as a warrior and is accepted by most, but not all, of her male companions. The lively narrative is peppered with action scenes, all loosely based on historical events, and with Siki's speculations about her missing father. Her clairvoyant experiences become a vehicle for exploring the Apaches' religious beliefs. Constantly engrossing, this offering will engage young readers in a way no textbook can. (historical note, bibliography) (Historical fiction. YA)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.02(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.87(d)
860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

He was in his fourth summer when the Mexicans rode against us.

Tazhi, my brother: the child who delighted the hearts of all who looked upon him. The wind flowed in his veins, and the sun itself seemed to shine through his eyes when he smiled.

Only Tazhi stood and faced them.

And for that, he was cut down. In a flash of reddening steel, Tazhi was sent to the afterlife, condemned to walk forever headless, and alone.

We were orphans of the Black Mountain Apache, Tazhi and I. Our mother had been slain by Mexican soldiers when Tazhi was a babe of ten moons old. Our father had gone from us two winters before that. He had ridden with warriors on a raid into Mexico; there they had been ambushed. Our father was one of many who did not return.

So Tazhi and I belonged to no one, and thus we belonged to everyone -- or Tazhi did.

When he was small, he had no mother to embrace him, so all the women of the tribe cuddled him, squeezing his plump limbs and tickling him until his laughs rang through the camp. As he grew bigger, he had no father to grapple and fight, so all the warriors wrestled him, delighting in his growing strength and fearless bravado. Golahka, that powerful young warrior,would play with Tazhi, although he had three children of his own. And slender Tehineh, Golahka’s tenderhearted wife, would smile and look on quietly as she knelt beside the fire.

But it was I Tazhi turned to at night; I who held him through the long, black time when the coyote cried and the owl called. Tazhi would shut his eyes only when his head rested on my shoulder, and I would curl around his sleeping body to protect him from the unseen terrors of the dark.

We were at peace that summer, and happy to be so. The Mexican, it seemed, had tired of his endless war against my people and instead had invited us to trade. Thus the whole tribe left the settlement of tepees in our Black Mountain home and for many days traveled south across the flat plains, deep into Mexican territory. Tazhi and I moved lightly, ourhearts untroubled, our spirits soaring with delight to be roaming free across the land created by Ussen, the Life Giver, for the Apache.

Each night of our long journey we made camp, sleeping wrapped in blankets beneath the stars. By firelight, the old men of the tribe told tales, and Tazhi and I listened with eyes wide as they recounted how -- many lifetimes ago -- strangers who spoke the Spanish tongue had come from the south, butchering every tribe they met and putting whole settlements to the flame. Those they did not murder, they enslaved.

The Apache had held their freedom by moving high into the mountains where the strangers dared not venture. They kept themselves apart, and safe. But, in time, these Spanish men mingled their blood with those few of other tribes who survived their slaughter. Thus a new race was born: the Mexican, who now squatted greedily on Ussen’s land and called it his own.

Conflict between the Apache and this murderous race was woven through our history like a red thread through a blanket. But now the blanket was folded and put away; there was to be no more warfareor bloodshed.

At last we stopped outside the Mexican town we call Koskineh. There Tazhi and I sniffed the air; the faint scent of cooking spices drifting from the dwellings thrilled us with its strangeness.

In the dip of a broad, open valley, where the river ran cool and clear, our tribe bent saplings and cut brushwood to fashion into wickiup shelters. We gathered wood and built fires, setting pots of meat bubbling in the flames.

For some days all was calm. In the mornings, the warriors went to trade in the town, leaving behind a small guard for the protection of the women and children.

I was then in my fourteenth summer and was counted a woman. In the absence of my own mother, Nahasgah -- mother of Golahka -- had been trying to teach me the skills of womanhood that I should have mastered many, many moons ago. I had no aptitude for the tasks she set me. Myfingers were clumsy when they attempted to coil baskets and stupidly awkward when they tried to tan a deerskin. I could not scrape free the hair without nicking the outer surface, and thus each hide I worked became worthless.

To make weapons was a different thing. As soon as Tazhi could walk, I had fashioned him a small bow and a quiver full of arrows. Other boys played with sharpened sticks, but for Tazhi I made arrowheads of stone, the flint shaping easily beneath my fingers.

On our third day outside Koskineh, I made Tazhi a spear.

It was not the full length of a grown warrior’s lance, and yet it was no plaything. The weapon stood taller than Tazhi but was well weighted so he could thrust it with ease. The head was long and slender, crafted from a dark flint, as sharp as the blade of the knife that all Apache carry. The shaft I had decorated with an eagle’s feathers; I had found them on ourjourney, lying on the ground before me, as though a gift from the bird above.

When the warriors returned from trading that night, Tazhi, armed with his new weapon, barred their way. He singled out Golahka, shaking hisspear threateningly, vowing to slay the warrior if he took another step.

Golahka’s dark eyes glinted with seeming terror as he held his hands up placatingly. Tazhi drove him back, ordering, "Away, miserable coyote! Away from my women! Away from my children! Away, away!" And Golahka fled from the camp, screaming like a maiden.

There was much laughter among the women and warriors, and Tehineh smiled. Tazhi did not. In his fourth summer, he stood proud as a mighty warrior, believing in his victory.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Tanya Landman runs the Storybox Theatre in England and is known there for her many books for children. I AM APACHE is her first book for older readers. She lives in Devon, England.

From the Hardcover edition.

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I Am Apache 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I give this book 5 stars because in giving it fewer I could possibly deter someone from reading it as one may decide based on ratings alone. Truly, however, i do recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick read that encourages some mild thinking and reflection on the lifestyle and treatment of Native Americans in the later part of the nineteenth century. That is not to say that I absolutely adored everything about this novel. To make this review more eye appealing i think i will organize: PROS: The style and plot was very enjoyable and fast paced. The writing is very direct in a way that is unique to the time period and character (do not underestimate the value of a simple sentence!). I admit, upon finishing it at 2 AM, that i felt disgust at the enmity and injustice between all the different races of people at the time and the raw sorrow of the dying out of a race. Also, i liked how the reader gets all the opinions and rituals of a typical Native American warrior without being forced to agree with them. By this i mean that some of Siki's (the protagonist) morals i agreed with and some i simply didn't. I think it's okay for the reader to do that--to be able to find new outlooks to agree with and ones to challenge. CONS: I felt that in some parts, although not many, the author tried a little bit too hard to evoke emotions, In my opinion, what separates a good story and an excellent one is the way the author toys with the emotions of the reader. A good story will evoke many emotions directly and possibly leave the reader sobbing or laughing hysterically. An excellent story will not come out and use adjectives or adverbs that create a mood, but actions that will. Thus, the reader is able to get a sense of the mood through his/her own intuition, making him/her feel clever and appreciate the author's ideas more (while still sobbing or laughing hysterically). All in all, i enjoyed this book and it did not take long to read so if you don't happen to enjoy it, rest easily knowing that you didn't waste too much time on it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MaylinaFX More than 1 year ago
I am Apache is a great book. It has a sense of adventure, combined with a historical-fiction, coming-of-age story. It is about a young girl and her quest for revenge. At age fourteen, Siki watches as Mexican raiders murder her younger brother. With the loss of her brother and her mother, who had been killed years before, Siki has no family to turn to. She decides, then, to turn away from a woman's path and take the path of a warrior. Although her training is hard and brutal, Siki refuses to falter and continues to train relentlessly. She has only one goal on her mind- to avenge the deaths of her family.
Siki's story is all about love, passion, sacrifice, revenge, and how to deal with a personal loss. The minute they open the book, readers will embark on a journey they will not soon forget.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
At fourteen, Siki knows that she will walk a difficult path among her tribe. Having no talent for women's work, Siki has chosen to live and train as a warrior. Many of her fellow tribesmen view her as a disgrace; an outcast. Siki only wishes for one thing - revenge.

The senseless murders of her mother and younger brother have sparked a bitterness within Siki that cannot be extinguished. Every day the attackers live is another reminder of how her family was slaughtered. Siki's warrior spirit is strong and will not be bent. The pride she feels for her people is boundless. Her training is arduous, but necessary. What she learns as an Apache warrior may very well save her life and the lives of her people.

Her path is chosen; she does not look back.

Landman expresses in her author's note that she has not tried to create an accurate historical novel, but rather one that is based on true events. She wished to explore how one might have felt if put in Siki's situation. The author allows Siki to narrate her own story, thus producing an extremely strong piece of writing. Because of this, the reader becomes intimately involved with Siki and the events surrounding her.

Siki is filled with wisdom and courage and that will appeal to many young readers. Those who follow her on her journey will not be disappointed.