Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

First Contact: The Apache

August 18th, 2009 · 5 Comments

ApacheIndianMea culpa for letting our First Contact series lapse. It’s been nearly two months since we discussed Martin Frobisher’s encounter with the Inuit, and that’s far too long to do without primary-source accounts of the clashes of civilizations. But we’re back with a dandy today, courtesy of the Spanish explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado.

Though he never did manage to find those fabled Seven Cities of Gold in the American West, Coronado did manage to stumble upon an Apache tribe in 1541—the first time a European ran across the people who would come to play such a key role in 19th-century American history. Coronado dubbed these people the Querechos, and in a report back to King Charles I of Spain, he marveled at their livestock management skills:

After nine days’ march I reached some plains, so vast that I did not find their limit anywhere that I went, although I traveled over them for more than 300 leagues. And I found such a quantity of cows in these, of the kind that I wrote Your Majesty about, which they have in this country, that it si impossible to number them, for while I was journeying through these plains, until I returned to where I first found them, there was not a day that I lost sight of them. And after seventeen days’ march I came to a settlement of Indians who are called Querechos, who travel around with these cows, who do not plant, and who eat the raw flesh and drink the blood of the cows they kill, and they tan the skins of the cows, with which all the people of this country dress themselves here. They have little field tents made of the hides of the cows, tanned and greased, very well made, in which they live while they travel around near the cows, moving with these. They have dogs which they load, which carry their tents and poles and belongings. These people have the best figures of any that I have seen in the Indies.

Many more vintage Apache photos here. And Geronimo’s autobiography is highly recommended, too.

(Image via Old Pictures)


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