Apache is the collective term for several culturally related groups of Native Americans in the United States originally from the Southwestern United States. These indigenous peoples of North America speak a Southern Athabaskan (Apachean) language, which is related linguistically to the languages of Athabaskan speakers of Alaska and western Canada.
The modern term Apache excludes the Navajo people. Since the Navajo and the other Apache groups are clearly related through culture and language, they are all considered Apachean. Apachean people formerly ranged over eastern Arizona, northern Mexico (Sonora and Chihuahua), New Mexico, west and southwest Texas, and southern Colorado. The Apachería consisted of high mountains, sheltered and watered valleys, deep canyons, deserts, and the southern Great Plains.
The Apachean groups had little political unity; the major groups spoke seven different languages and developed distinct and competitive cultures. The current division of Apachean groups includes the Navajo, Western Apache, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan, and Plains Apache (formerly Kiowa-Apache). Apache groups live in Oklahoma and Texas and on reservations in Arizona and New Mexico.
Some Apacheans have moved to cities while others worked as migrant farm labor, moving to the central agricultural regions of Southern California including the Coachella, Imperial and Colorado River valleys, where tens of thousands of Apacheans now live.
The Apachean tribes fought the Spanish and Mexican peoples for centuries. The first Apache raids on Sonora appear to have taken place during the late 17th century. In 19th-century confrontations, the U.S. Army found the Apache to be fierce warriors and skillful strategists.