Rethinking the establecimientos: Why Apaches Settled on Spanish-run Reservations, 1786-1793

Matthew BabcockSouthern Methodist University, Dallas, TexasWhen most people think of Apaches, they conjure up images of peerless nomadic warriors of the desert Southwest, such as Geronimo and Cochise, who struggled relentlessly to defend their freedom against the U.S. Army in the late nineteenth century. As one early twentieth century scholar put it, “The Apache was the original ‘bad man’ of the Southwest”.1 Recent Hollywood movies, such as Geronimo (1993) and The Missing (2003) have simply reinforced this stereotype in American popular culture. The portrayal of Apaches as relentless warriors is at best limited and superficial. It fails to address cultural change over time and varieties among tribal groups. Specialists understand, of course, that Apaches have a long history of contact with Euro-Americans, which dates back at least to the Spanish colonization of New Mexico in the 1590s.2 But few scholars of the nineteenth-century American Southwest are aware that thousands of...

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