Collection Description

Culture Name

Western Apache

Culture Description

Western Apache includes the White Mountain, San Carlos, Cibecue, Northern Tonto, and Southern Tonto Native Americans of the Southwest. Although the Western Apache recognized no such superordinate level of organization, they are defined as a single cultural unit because dialect variation among them was minor, they were horticultural to a degree, and they were linked through matrilineal clans. In 2000 most Western Apache lived on the Fort Apache (White Mountain), San Carlos, Camp Verde, and Payson Reservations in Arizona. Western Apache is a Southern Athapaskan language.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


North America --Southwest and Basin


United States

OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Western Apache file consists of forty-eight documents, all in English. These documents deal primarily with the White Mountain, Cibecue, and San Carlos Apache living for the most part on the Fort Apache and San Carlos Indian reservations in East Central Arizona. Much of the information in the file seems to be evenly divided between the traditional Western Apache culture of the Pre-Reservation period (ca. sixteenth century to 1870), and the Post-Reservation period (1870-1990s). The general time focus of the file, however, is on the mid to late nineteenth century. There are four major works in this file which provide a broad, comprehensive coverage of Western Apache ethnology. These are Goodwin (1942, no. 1), Basso (1983, no. 54), Perry (1993, no. 56), and Buskirk (1986, no. 58). In addition to the above, other major topics discussed in this file are: warfare (a predominating theme in Apache culture) in Goodwin and Basso (1970, no. 3); religion in Basso (1970, 1966, 1967, nos. 3, 21, 23), Reagan (1930, no. 14), Bourke (1892, no. 27), Variakojis (1969, no. 29), Goodwin (1938, no. 32), Kessel (1976, no. 38), Meader (1967, no. 52), and Goodwin and Kaut (1954, no. 31). Information on Apache kinship will be found in Kaut (1957, no. 4), Basso (1970, no. 3), and White (1957, no. 42), the latter of which also presents some interesting data on cross-cousin marriage. Social organization is well covered in this file by Goodwin (1942, no. 1), Basso (1970, no. 3), Bender (1974, no. 11), and Kaut (1959, no. 43). Mythology and mythological text are discussed in Goddard (1918, 1919, no. 6 and 7), and Goodwin (1939, no. 10). Historical information on United States government - Western Apache relations are specifically described in Bender (1974, no. 11), and Perry (1971, 1993, no. 26 and 56). Socio-cultural change is covered in Perry (1971, no. 26), Buskirk (1986, no. 58), and Griffin et al (1971, no. 35). Works by Kraus and White (1956, no. 18), and Kraus (1961, no. 19) deal with human biology, specifically with genetics. Language and culture is the major theme of Basso (1990, no. 57), with its emphasis on verb stems, semantics, and metaphors. Roberts (1929, no. 13), provides data on the technical aspects of San Carlos basketry.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

The culture summary is from the article "Western Apache", by Philip J. Greenfield in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 1, North America, Timothy O' Leary and David Levinson, eds. Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall & Co., 1991. The synopsis and indexing notes were written by John Beierle in December 2000.

Overview by

John Beierle

DIYIH -- supernatural power -- category 778

GODIYIH (GODIYIHGO) -- sacred things -- category 778

GOTAH -- a camp cluster -- categories 361, 621

GOWA -- the individual camp -- categories 592, 594

JOJOBA seeds, processing of -- category 314

Tribal business committees -- category 643

Tribal Council, modern (post 1930s) -- category 643

TULPAI -- a mildly alcoholic beverage -- category 273

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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