Comparison of Native American and the Apache Heritage

June 14, 2021

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The Apache heritage refers to the traditions of indigenous American-Indians who inhabited the deserts of Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico currently acknowledged as southwest America. The Apache are culturally related to Native Americans and, as a matter of fact, share most lifestyle characteristics with them. Arguably, the lifestyles of the Apache and other Native Americans do not differ much from that of the prototype citizens because of their indigenous nature and experience with the Europeans. In essence, the annexation not only altered their lifestyles; its aftermath can still be felt at the present times since all the beliefs previously known by the Apache were overturned (Tindall, 2016). Although this happened centuries ago, the descendants of the Apache and other Native Americans remain vulnerable to the European influence. Therefore, health practitioners should offer familiar services when handling native American Indians to enhance the therapeutic process.

Brief History of the Apache Heritage and Native America

The Apache are among the many indigenous American-Indian tribes which thrived in the 16th century (Carbaugh, 2013). Known for the war-like nature, the Apache engaged in continuous battles with the Spanish, Comanche, and Americans before finally getting used to the presence of Europeans on their land. During the Mexican-American war in the 1880s, the Apache were caught up in the middle and significant interfered with America’s military plans (Birchfield, 2017). Consequentially, they were subdued and pushed into reserves whereas some of them were exported as slaves.

On the other hand, Native Americans migrated from Asia through Alaska to Mexico as early as in 1000BC; by 5500BC, they had become skilled farmers who specialized in growing crops and raising animals (“History of the Native Americans,” 2017). Native Americans lived peacefully until the European invasion in 1492 when they were defeated and marginalized by the Americas (Tindall, 2016). Most of them were killed in the war and much more – by diseases such as smallpox which was brought by Europeans. Eventually, the native Americans were outnumbered by the European population.


Both the Apache and other Native Americans have for long sustained the same core values. These values include respecting each other, caring, and honoring elders. Respecting nature, sharing, and utilizing land for agricultural purposes are also among the intrinsic values shared by both groups (Curtis, 2014). In essence, these core values provide a holistic view via which people, animals, and land are connected. Therefore, both groups needed to observe the core values mentioned above to co-exist peacefully with the other parties.


The worldview of both the Apache and Native Americans is dictated predominantly by their history. In essence, both the Apache and other Native Americans are polytheistic – they draw their understanding of the world from their relationship with natural phenomena (Carbaugh, 2013). As such, they tend to focus on their relationships with other people, land, and animals. Arguably, it explains why both groups still engage in communal ownership of property. Moreover, being polytheistic has restrained both the Apache and other Native Americans in barter trade, subsistence, and competitive production (Birchfield, 2017). Also, both the Apache and other Native Americans engage in consensual agreements which they refer to as participatory democracy. Therefore, the worldviews of both groups draw from their historical background.

Language and Communication Patterns

The Apache primarily communicated in the Athabascan language which was widely used among Native American-Indian communities. In Athabasca, the word ‘Apache’ was used to refer to ‘fighting-men’ or an ‘enemy’ (“Language and Communication,” 2011). In their language, the Apache referred to themselves as N’de, Inde, or Tinde to mean ‘the people’. Tribal communications in the Apache heritage were headed by the shamans (healers) who met with their bands (a group of one hundred warriors) to discuss critical issues and offer prayers to ‘Power’ – their god. On the other hand, Native Americans spoke several languages including Cherokee, Sioux, Yupik, Navajo, and Choctaw (“History of Native Americans,” 2017). However, both languages spoken by the Apache and other Native Americans have the same phonology; they have four vowels – ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘i’, and ‘o’, which may be nasalized.

Art and Other Expressive Forms

The Apache engaged in artistry which included basketry, pottery, and beadwork. The baskets were made of materials such as mulberry, cottonwood, willows, and devil’s claw “Apache Arts and Crafts,” 2015). In pottery, the main method used to curve artifacts was through the coiling and burning of clay. Additionally, the Apache used glass beads for in loom weaving, sewing, stringing, and netting. Apart from the Athabasca language, the Apache communicated through various artistic tools including symbols, poems, and pictures (“Apache Arts and Crafts”). Furthermore, the Apache used sign language while trading since they had a dialect different from that of other merchants. On the other hand, Native Americans also engaged in basketry and pottery. Unlike the Apache, they were also involved in the sand and ordinary painting.

Norms and Rules

Both the Apache and Native Americans were guided by a code of honor passed on across generations. The code of honor was held high and enforced by leaders. In this regulated existence, leaders were primarily responsible for settling disputes and offering advice. According to the Apache traditions, failure to follow the code of honor was punished by alienation (Curtis, 2014). A member of the community would be neglected by his family and the community at large. He would be allowed neither to attend ceremonies nor share food with other kin. In more severe occasions, offenders were subdued and punished by death.

Additionally, both the Apache and Native Americans had specific norms which they observed. For instance, they had ‘The Eternal Cooking Meal’ which was a pot placed in the fire to heat food (Tindall, 2016). Any piece of fish or meat taken from the firepot had to be replaced by another, which explains the term ‘eternal’. Also, both the Apache and Native Americans had no specific meal time. Moreover, they were obligated to take care of their guests by ensuring they are well fed, clothed, and sheltered. Predominantly, both groups were obligated to have good manners towards all.

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Lifestyle Characteristics

Living in arid and semi-arid environments, the Apache were nomads whose main activity was hunting. Moreover, they valued peace and coexistence but were very aggressive towards intruders. For instance, the Apache people were in constant feuds with communities such as Papago, Pima, and Pawnee (Carbaugh, 2013). The Apache hunted animals such as the deer, hare, elk, buffalo, and antelope. On the other hand, Apache tribeswomen gathered fruits, vegetables, nuts, and roots. Food was prepared through baking, boiling, roasting, or sometimes ate raw. Apart from hunting, the Apache people were also prudent tradesmen. On the other hand, Native Americans were primarily agriculturalists who planted crops such as quash and corn. Just like the Apache, however, some engaged in a nomadic lifestyle too.

Relationship Patterns

The Apache community, although warlike, was known to maintain peace among its members. Similar to native America, family was the fundamental social organization of the community. However, unlike Native Americans’ communities where nuclear families were the most common, the Apache heritage was made up of extended households with many relatives. In spite of this, both groups held marriage as a purposeful institution of high value. Moreover, both allowed the separation of spouses in cases of infidelity, incompatibility, bickering, and laziness (Curtis, 2014). However, marriage in the Apache culture could not occur unless sanctioned by relatives. Additionally, the Apache heritage was matrilineal whereas in Native America it was predominantly patrilineal.

Common Rituals

Both the Apache and the Native Americans undertook various rituals pertaining life, death, and fertility. Notably, all these rituals used pollen as a key ingredient to show their close connection to nature (“Language and Communication,” 2011). In essence, the use of pollen was associated with fertility, beauty, and life force. Among the rituals mentioned above, the initiation of girls into women at puberty was the most significant ceremony in the two tribes. To them, the fertility of a budding woman was equally as important as that of the land. Notably, all rituals were presided by shamans (old men or women) or priests. Moreover, they included drumming, dancing around fires, and feasting.

Degree of Assimilation or Marginalization from Mainstream Society

Both the Apache and other Native American tribes were placed in reservations to assimilate them. However, the conditions in these reserves were unbearable. To begin with, most of indigenous Americans were segregated and isolated (Curtis, 2014). Moreover, they faced poor housing and lack of food in their reserves. It is only after the end of the American-Indian wars that the situation got better. First, the American government built boarding schools for the Apache community. Second, the Dawes Act of 1987 allowed individual Native Americans to own land thus enhancing their freedom. Third, the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 authorized all Indians who were living in American reserves to become US citizens. Nowadays, this assimilation has been enhanced through Native Americans Civil Rights which allowed them to access opportunities equal to those of the U.S. citizens.

Health Behaviors and Practices

As mentioned earlier, both the Apache and other Native American tribes turned to the ‘Power” of their god for healing. Such ceremonies were often conducted by shamans and involved invoking of a spirit to leave the patient’s body. Arguably, shamans were popular in all tribes, especially, the Apache. However, most Native American tribes sought help from Geronimo, a prominent leader and medicine man. Due to his popularity, the term ‘Geronimo’ came to be used to refer to a group of eight specialized medicine men who would converge for healing (Carbaugh, 2013). In the healing process, incantations and herb preparations were a vital procedure. After healing, the patient was prohibited to take certain foods.

Why Health Practitioners Should Treat Indigenous Persons Uniquely

Both the Apache heritage and other Native American tribes are parts of the indigenous communities. As mentioned above, their lifestyles are different from that of the mainstream society thus calling for extra attention when dealing with them. In the health care sector, indigenous communities have expressed their mistrust in medical institutions while citing three main factors of concern. First, the colonial legacy of medicine predominantly involved herbs and concoctions whereas nowadays we use pills and injections. Second, indigenous American-Indians have complained of biasness within the health care sector. Third, Native Americans heavily relied on establishing personal relationships with their medicine men to optimize the healing process. Therefore, health practitioners should strive to enhance these conditions for indigenous people whenever possible.

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Approaches Needed by Health Practitioners

Native American medication is a system that incorporates both healing and curing. As such, spiritual intervention is as important as the herbal remedy. Therefore, health practitioners should allow Native Americans to involve their traditional prayer leaders to promote the much-needed spiritual ambience. Additionally, healing among Native Americans was based on the reputation of the healer. For instance, Geronimo was acknowledged as a powerful healer due to his good reputation (Carbaugh, 2013). Therefore, only health practitioners with successful treatment records should be allowed to attend to Native Americans; it can restore their confidence in the healer and activate the first stage of healing.

Additionally, health practitioners should integrate traditional treatment methods and contemporary ones to get familiar with the program concerning indigenous persons. Moreover, they should be impartial when dealing with indigenous people and should in no way marginalize them. Also, health practitioners should be hospitable when dealing with Native Americans so as to establish a friendship pattern that speeds up the healing process of the patient.

In summary, the invasion of the Apache and other Native Americans by European nations has left them very vulnerable to foreign influence ever since. The killing of their own identity during assimilation attempts affected the trust of American-Indians thereby making it hard for the health sector to be of any significant assistance to them when sick. However, this can be remedied by allowing doctors who have a good reputation to deal with such cases. Moreover, allowing spiritual procurement alongside medicinal therapy further enables the patient to get accustomed to more recent treatment methods. Therefore, both the Apache and other Native Americans should be handled carefully.