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

University of Chicago PressChicago • Published In 1941 • Pages:

By: Opler, Morris Edward.

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.
Childhood activities
Puberty and initiation
Arranging a marriage
Revelation and divination
Shamans and psychotherapists
Sacred objects and places
Theory of disease
Magical and mental therapy
Division of labor by gender
Extramarital sex relations
Athletic sports
Eastern Apache
HRAF PubDate
North America
Sub Region
Southwest and Basin
Document Type
Creator Type
Document Rating
5: Excellent Primary Data
John Beierle; 1964, 1970, 2011
Coverage Date
Coverage Place
Southwest United States; northern Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico
Morris Edward Opler
Includes bibliographical references (481-482)and index
Apache Indians
Indians of North America
Chiricahua Indians--Social life and customs.