Native American/Apache History

Shaping the West

Interested in how Native Americans and the Apaches shaped the West? Start your exploration in the county named for legendary leader, Cochise.

Native American people are studied extensively at the Amerind Foundation Museum. The museum’s exhibit and docents explore American cultures from Alaska to South America. You’ll find a wealth of information at the Amerind. It is an museum and research center that preserves and interprets Native American cultures.

Apache Indians roamed Cochise County and the land that is now the Chiricahua National Monument. They called it the “land of the standing up rocks.” Apaches were famously involved in the “Indian Wars” of the 1860's and 1870's. Many believe a misunderstanding during the “Bascom Affair” launched clashes with the Apaches. Fort Bowie, now a national historic site, was the site of the Bascom Affair. Today, you can visit the site with a 1.5 mile hike into the park. Along the way, interpretive signs tell about the graveyard, a natural spring and one of the sites of the Butterfield Overland Stage. The Fort’s adobe remains are still visible at the trail’s end, where a visitor center is located

Upon Cochise’s death, he was secretly buried in the Dragoon Mountains. The exact location was never revealed. Now part of the Coronado National Forest, Cochise Stronghold, where the fearless leader and more than 200 of his men hid out, is an awe-inspiring series of boulder-filled canyons. Visitors can hike, camp, picnic and contemplate his legacy amid the gorgeous scenery.

Other resources to explore the Native American experience include the Chiricahua Regional Museum and Research Center in downtown Willcox and the Petroglyph Discovery Trail near the San Pedro River.

More Cochise County Origins: 
Mexican and Hispanic Influence
Old West and Ranching
Military History 
Geology and Mining

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