Chihenne Chiricahua Apache, Lozen: A Shield to her People

Lozen, the younger sister of Apache Chief Victorio, was a skilled warrior, medicine woman, seer and shaman of the Chihenne Chiricahua Apache. She was born around 1840.

She said to have the intuition of detecting nearby enemy camps, which she did by going alone to a deserted spot, praying with her arms outstretched and her open palms heavenward. As she prayed, she turned until she felt a tingling in her palms and knew that she had found their direction. She would determine their distance by the intensity of the tingling.

The name "Lozen" was an Apache war title meaning one who has stolen horses in a raid. Many Apache people of the time are said to have gone by their titles or nicknames in public, using their native names sparingly, believing that this conserved their spiritual power.

While Lozen's personal name is not known, she acquired several including “Little Sister,” “Warrior Woman,” and “a Shield to her People,” a name bestowed by Victorio who did not go on a raid without her. She excelled in horseback riding, shooting, roping, and horse thievery. Before one of their major battles, it is written that Lozen made the members of the party swear that, should her brother Victorio be killed, they would eat his body rather than have it fall into enemy hands.

On May 28, 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act into law which authorized the removal of native tribes to designated reservations west of the Mississippi, acquired by the United States following the Mexican-American War… territory which was previously home of the nomadic Apache tribes.

One incident leading to the Apache Wars was the accusation of Apache leader Cochise and his tribe of kidnapping a young boy during a raid. Commander George Bascom took Cochise and his brother Coyuntwa, two nephews, his wife and his two children hostage for the return of the boy in what became known as the Bascom massacre.

In 1870, the Apaches agreed to move to a reservation in near Ojo Caliente. However, the government revoked their agreement and forced them to relocate to the San Carlos reservation in 1875. By 1877, over 300 Apaches decided to leave the terrible conditions at the San Carlos reservation.

Following a solo mission to escort a new mother through enemy territory (1880), Lozen received word that Victorio had been killed in an ambush along with hundreds of others. She returned to assist in leading the remnants of the tribe and fight alongside Geronimo in the final campaign of the Apache wars.

In 1886, the U.S. Army put over 5,000 soldiers in the field to fight. Geronimo and 30 Apache natives agreed to surrender and laid down their arms. Five days later, Lozen, Dahteste, and the rest of the warriors were on a train bound to Fort Pickens in Florida, where Geronimo died in 1909 as a prisoner of war. Lozen was transferred to Mount Vernon Barracks in Alabama. She died there from tuberculosis on June 17, 1889. Lozen is said to be buried in Alabama in an unmarked grave.


Like this post? Stop by and read Berber Queen Dihya: An Imazighen from the Aurès Mountains. Berber Queen Dihya fought against Islamic expansion under the leadership of Hasan ibn al Nu'man whose Umayyad armies campaigned across North Africa (c. 7 A.D). Under her leadership, the Arab army was defeated and holed up in Cyrenaica (Libya) for four or five years. The Arabs invaded again, and this time, the Berber army was unable to defend themselves.

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