The Apache Joan of Arc

lozen-blog

When Arizona writer and historian Peter Aleshire introduced Lozen in his book, Warrior Woman, he said this: “The stories of Geronimo, Crazy Horse, and Custer pale beside the tale of another warrior—one who fought relentlessly, successfully and against all odds almost continuously for forty years….But you’ve probably never heard of her.” Sister of Chief Victorio—he called her “my right hand”–who went into exile with Geronimo as the last free Apaches, Lozen has been called “America’s greatest guerrilla fighter.” She was a prophet, a skilled warrior, a healer, a midwife, and many thought she had psychic powers to detect danger and enemies. She was born in the early 1830s and like all Apache children, was trained in the skills of survival. She earned her name, which translates into “Dexterous Horse Thief.” At one point, she tried living on the San Carlos Reservation, but it was impossible. In 1877, she joined her brother in leading 300 warriors, women and children back to their home in Ojo Caliente in New Mexico. But of course, they weren’t allowed to stay on their native land, and when the Army tried to force them back, it was the last straw that led to the brutal, bloody Apache wars. After her brother’s death—she was away when Victorio was killed and many believed he would have been spared if she’d been in camp—she joined Geronimo’s last stand for freedom. In the end, she was deported with Geronimo to the swampy prisoner camp in Florida—the only known picture of her shows her sitting on the side of the railroad tracks that took them into exile. It is believed she died in Alabama in 1889. Today, her courage and grit are celebrated as one of the west’s amazing women.

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