Fort Apache Indian Reservation

Coordinates: 33°55′42″N 110°07′58″W / 33.92833°N 110.13278°W / 33.92833; -110.13278
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
White Mountain Apache Tribe of the Fort Apache Reservation
Dził Łigai Si'án N'dee (Western Apache)
Seal of the White Mountain Apache tribe
Location of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( Arizona)
Western Apache, English
Christianity (especially Catholicism & Lutheranism), White Mountain Apache Culture
Related ethnic groups
Western Apache, San Carlos Apache, Navajo

The Fort Apache Indian Reservation is an Indian reservation on the border of New Mexico and Arizona, United States, encompassing parts of Navajo, Gila, and Apache counties. It is home to the federally recognized White Mountain Apache Tribe of the Fort Apache Reservation (Western Apache language: Dził Łigai Si'án N'dee), a Western Apache tribe. It has a land area of 1.6 million acres and a population of 12,429 people as of the 2000 census.[1] The largest community is in Whiteriver.


Apache is a colonial classification term for the White Mountain Apache and all other Apache peoples. The White Mountain Apache consisted of three major groups that were made up of sub-groups called bands and clans, within which were families. There were clan rules controlling marriages between persons of families in different clans.

The largest of these three groups were collectively known as "On Top of Mountains People", the second major group was known as "Many Go to War People", and the last was known as "At the Base of the Mountains People". These names in indigenous White Mountain Apache dialect predate relations with the United States. Some contemporary White Mountain Apache have urged the adoption and use of these terms for the three major groups.

Fort Apache, originally called Camp Apache, was established by the United States Army in 1870 at the suggestion of White Mountain Apache leadership. They knew that the Navajo were resisting US supervision. After warfare, the US forced the Navajo and Mescalero Apache on the Long March to remove to Fort Sumner in New Mexico in 1863–1864, where they were held nearby at Bosque Redondo for years. They were finally allowed to return to their homeland in 1868.

In 1871 General George Crook enrolled 50 White Mountain Apache men to serve as scouts for his army during the Apache Wars, which lasted intermittently for 15 years. These wars ended with the surrender of Chiricahua leader Geronimo in 1886. Because of the scouts' service to General Crook during the Apache Wars, he worked to enable the White Mountain Apache tribe to keep a large portion of their homeland as their reservation (named for them).

In 1922, the U.S. Army left Fort Apache, which was surrounded by the reservation. It was transferred to the Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1923 for further use. The BIA established an Indian Boarding School here in order to use these facilities. It was named after President Theodore Roosevelt.[2]

The school was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2012, as a contributing part of Fort Apache Historic Park. The entire former military complex was recognized, as well as the role of the school in tribal assimilation.

The White Mountain Apache now operate the Roosevelt Indian School as a tribally controlled middle-school facility.[3] They have a contractual arrangement with the Bureau of Indian Education, which funds the school.


The White Mountain Apache created their own constitution under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. In 1936 they elected a tribal council that governs the tribe and reservation. It oversees all tribe-owned property, local businesses, and governance.


The Fort Apache Indian Reservation is covered mostly by pine forests and is habitat to a variety of forest wildlife. It is located directly south of the Mogollon Rim. The highest point in the reservation is Baldy Peak, with an elevation of 11,403 feet (3,476 m).


The Fort Apache Indian Reservation, south of Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona

The tribe operates the Sunrise ski resort and the Hon-Dah Resort Casino and Conference Center.[4] It has built the Apache Cultural Center & Museum, constructed in the traditional style of a gowa.

Other attractions within the reservation include the Fort Apache Historic Park, which has 27 buildings surviving of the historic fort and a 288-acre (117 ha) National Historic District; and other historic sites.

Kinishba Ruins, an ancient archeological site (1150–1350 CE) of the western Pueblo culture, is a National Historic Landmark. It is located on nearby associated tribal trust lands. Appointments may be made to visit the site.


According to the US Census Bureau, the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, which is located in Navajo County, is developed with small communities. North Fork, Whiteriver, Fort Apache, East Fork, Rainbow City, Cibecue, Hon-Dah, McNary, Turkey Creek, and Seven Mile are the communities, comprising a total population of 22,036 in 2010 on the reservation.[5]


The White Mountain Apache Tribe operates the Fort Apache Connection Transit, which provides local bus service.[6] The City of Show Low operates the Four Seasons Connection, which provides service from the Hondah Casino to Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside.[7]


A collection of handwoven Apache Indian baskets, displayed about 1900


Young Elementary School District included sections of the reservation. In 1984 the Young district contracted with Whiteriver Unified School District to educate the Fort Apache students, numbering about 200, due to roads being inaccessible between Fort Apache and Young.[8] As of 2020 these parts of the reservation are now directly in Whiteriver USD.[9]

See also[edit]


  • Fort Apache Reservation, Arizona United States Census Bureau
  • Goddard, Pliny Earle (1920). White Mountain Apache texts. The Trustees. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  • Goodwin, Grenville (1994). Myths and Tales of the White Mountain Apache. University of Arizona Press[ISBN missing]


  1. ^ Fort Apache Reservation, Arizona , United States Census Bureau
  2. ^ For a full history of the school and description as of 1970, see
  3. ^ "Fort Apache Earns Historic Designation for Role in Tribal Assimilation", Cronkite News online, March 2012
  4. ^ "Home". Hon-Dah Resort Casino and Conference Center.
  5. ^[bare URL PDF]
  6. ^ "Tribal Transportation". WMAT DOT. Retrieved 2020-02-03.
  7. ^ "White Mountain Connection". Show Low, AZ - Official Website. Retrieved 2020-01-22.
  8. ^ Shaffer, Mark (1984-06-17). "Rural schools leaping at 4-day week". The Arizona Republic. Phoenix, Arizona. pp. B1, B10. - Clipping of first and of second page at
  9. ^ "2020 CENSUS - SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP: Gila County, AZ" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2022-01-30.

External links[edit]

33°55′42″N 110°07′58″W / 33.92833°N 110.13278°W / 33.92833; -110.13278