Opler, Morris Edward, 1907-1996. An Apache life-way: the economic, social, and religious institutions of the Chiricahua Indians

Table of Contents

Publication Information

Location And Historical Sketch



Cradle Days

First Steps

Spring Hair-cutting Ceremony


Early Training And Discipline

The Dangers Of Childhood


The Child And His Kin

Childhood's End


The Molding Of Sex Attitudes

The Girl's Puberty Rite

The Novitiate For Raid And War

Social Relations Of Adults

Relations Between Men And Women

Marriage Arrangements, Marriage, And Residence

The Man And His Wife's Relatives

The Married Man And His Blood Kin

The Woman And Her Husband's Relatives

Folk Beliefs, Medical Practice And Shamanism

Folk Beliefs, Muscular Tremors, And Dreams

The Shaman And Power

Medical Practices

The Generalized Curing Rite

Ceremonialism In Action; Obtaining And Using Power


Maintenance Of The Household


The Economic Interest In Raid And War

War For Vengeance

The Gathering And Utilization Of Wild Food Plants

The Cooking And Preservation Of Meat Products

The Preparation Of Beverages

The Storage Of Food And Surplus Possessions


Home Industries Of Women

Home Industries Of Men

Ownership Of Goods, Trade, And Gift-giving

Marital And Sexual Life

Personality Adjustment Between Husband And Wife

Sexual Adjustment

Birth Control, Barrenness, And Fertility Rites

Jealousy And Extra-marital Relations


Sexual Aberrance And Perversion

Polygyny And Sororal Polygyny

The Sororate And Levirate

The Round Of Life

Camp Life And Etiquette


Parties, Dances, And Story-telling


Sports And Games Of Adults


Antisocial Conduct

Political Organization And Status

Death, Mourning, And The Underworld

Publication Information

Paragraph Subjects (OCM)

Publication Information


Title: An Apache life-way: the economic, social, and religious institutions of the Chiricahua Indians

Published By: Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1941. xviii, 500 p., 16 plates: ill.

By line: Morris Edward Opler

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: HRAF, 2012. Computer File

Culture: Eastern Apache (NT08)

Subjects: Childhood activities (857); Puberty and initiation (881); Music (533); Arranging a marriage (584); Ethnometeorology (821); Revelation and divination (787); Mythology (773); Shamans and psychotherapists (756); Sacred objects and places (778); Theory of disease (753); Magical and mental therapy (755); Diet (262); Division of labor by gender (462); Extramarital sex relations (837); Athletic sports (526); Eschatology (775);

Abstract: This source describes the culture of the Chiricahua Apache as it existed during the youth (i.e., ca. 1870) of the author's older informants from whom much of the data contained in this work was collected. Specifically, the author has attempted to show how societal influences inherent in the socialization processes impinge upon and direct an individual's personality development in such a manner as to produce a valued and accepted member of Chiricahua society. This process of socialization takes place through the individual's initial awareness of his culture, his initial contacts with its percepts, the social pressure that is brought to bear in order to enforce conformity, and the final adjustment, of the individual as measured through acceptance, to the demands, obligations and satisfactions of his society. In the presentation of his data, and development of his primary thesis the author gives much incidental information on various other aspects of Chiricahua ethnology. The source is divided into nine major parts, with emphasis on socialization processes throughout. These are: childhood; maturation (with emphasis on the molding of sex attitudes, the girl's puberty rite, and the training of boys for raid and war); social relations of adults; folk beliefs, medical practices and shamanism; household maintenance (hunting, use of wild plants, foods and beverages, their preparation and preservation, economic interest in warfare, division of labor, agriculture, property trade and gift giving); marital and sexual life of adults; the general round of life (including information on camp life and etiquette, humor, recreation, smoking, and games); status and political organization; and death and eschatology. The material for this source was gathered by the author, a professional anthropologist, during a cumulative period of time of approximately two years from 1931-1937. Over thirty native informants have contributed information to the author's field notes.

Document Number: 1

Document ID: nt08-001

Document Type: Monograph

Language: English

Field Date: 1931-1937

Evaluation: Ethnologist-5

Analyst: John Beierle; 1964, 1970, 2011

Coverage Date: 1840-1886

Coverage Place: Southwest United States; northern Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico

LCSH: Apache Indians//Indians of North America//Chiricahua Indians -- Social life and customs.


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