From childhood, an Apache boy practiced the art of war and survival. An Ndee boyhood consisted of gathering, hunting, fitness and combat training. Even as a child a boy would be required to get up and run to the top of the mountain before the sun rose. Traditionally, boys began war training at the age of ten. They were novices over a period of several years. During this time, they were told how to behave; how to be a warrior.
Just as Apache girls have an initiation into womanhood through Is dzán naadleeshe', Changing Woman, in the Sunrise Dance ceremony, na'ii'ees, boys also have an initiation into manhood through Túbaadeschine (Born of Water-Old Man). There was a private language associated with the warrior's society, special words that would be passed on to the novice. These were holy things that not even a woman would know. The novices learned that everything the Apache did was dependant on faith and prayer. They learned that whenever someone did or said anything "bad", that person threatened their entire family. They were taught to be the best person they could be. (stories of Apache men)
When the U.S. government came everyone had to become a farmer or rancher. Weapons were taken away. Leadership positions were taken away and we could only do what was "allowed". Our people were given finite areas of land on which to be and become men. Men were not able to teach their sons how to be warriors anymore. Children were sent away from their homes for education, and respect for elders and their teachings began to be lost. In the government school system, they had to dress in uniforms and wear their hair in a certain way. Traditional ideas and thoughts began to disappear due to outside influences. The identity of our men as warriors slowly began to be forgotten.
photos:(top) Bow and arrow set is complete with bowcase and quiver. Such covers of deer hide, decorated with red trade cloth, seed beads, and feathers, protected the contents from rain and dampness. Southwest Apache, Donated by the American Antiquarian Society, 1890. Peabody Collection
(bottom) The Warrior's necklace consists of a leather thong and a leather-wrapped wooden hoop pendant to which four turquoise stones have been attached symbolizing the sacred directions. The attached leather pouch contains tule pollen. Warriors carry such powers to battle to give them strength and protection. Arizona, Chiricahua Apache, Collected by J.G. Bourke, 3rd U.S. Cavalry 1869-1880. Peabody Collection
The wooden war lance has a steel tip obtained through trade. The shaft is decorated with red trade wool, satin ribbons, velvet brocade, beadwork, and eagle feathers. Lances were primarily carried on horseback for hunting buffalo, but this example is likely to have been used in war. Arizona, Western Apache, Collected by T.V. Keam 1880? Peabody Collection
The horsehair bridle is made of horsehair and twine bridle woven with black and yellow designs. Arizona, Western Apache, Collected by W.T. Reed 1890 Peabody Collection