On May 17, 1885, five small bands of Chiricahua Apaches left their camps on Turkey Creek, seventeen miles southwest of Fort Apache, Arizona, and fled the reservation. Three of these bands, led by Chihuahua, Naiche, and Geronimo, were of the old Chokonen division of the tribe. The other two bands, led by Nana and Mangas, were Chihenne, or Warm Springs, Apaches. Together they numbered 35 men, 8 boys tagged by reservation officials as capable of bearing arms, and 101 women and children. Charles F. Lummis, a journalist who accompanied General George Crook during some of his attempts to recapture or kill these Apaches, called them “the deadliest fighting handful in the calendar of man.”This is the story of the last great Apache was as told through the character of Josanie, Chihuahua’s older brother and the established war captain of his Chokonen band. Clashing with much larger American and Mexican forces, Josanie’s warriors terrorized parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Chihuahua, and Sonora.Karl H. Schlesier carefully interweaves fictional chapters with historical documents—military records, eyewitness accounts, and newspaper reports—and Apache songs and stories. Incorporating intimate glimpses of Apache life and culture, including a recounting of the gotál, or New Life, ritual of Apache girls, Schlesier tells the dramatic story of Josanie’s people and of their fight to the death for a Chiricahua homeland.
About the Author
Karl H. Schlesier is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas. A noted authority on Plains Indians, he is the author of The Wolves of Heaven: Cheyenne Shamanism, Ceremonies, and Prehistoric Origins and editor of Plains Indians, A.D. 500–1500: The Archaeological Past of Historic Groups, both published by the University of Oklahoma Press.