LOZEN: Great Apache Female Warrior (There is no record of her marrying and having children!
During 1870, an Apache tribe in Arizona (USA) was forced by the whitemen into the San Carlos Reservation. Like so many reservations, the reservation was unsuitable to a tribe’s existence. It was named “Hell’s Forty Acres.”
Victorio and Lozen
Seven years later in 1877, there emerged a leader named Victorio. The Apache leader welcomed his sister to join him and others on a raids on New Mexico white communities of Black Mountain, New Mexico who had forced the Apache off their lands.
The Warrior Lozen.
Lozen was observed on one of these raids by a James Kaywaykla who was an Apache child at the time of the raids. He later recalled his memories of Lozen.
“I saw a magnificent woman on a beautiful horse—Lozen, sister of Victorio. Lozen the woman warrior! She could ride, shoot, and fight like a man.” Being part of the tribe, James related that he had heard Victorio speak proudly of his sister, “Lozen is my right hand … strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy. Lozen is a shield to her people.
Lozen: A Friend of Women and Children
James recalls an incident when American Cavalry fought the Apache tribe of Victorio and Lozen. The band was forced to flee, but not before Lozen inspired the women and children to cross the surging Rio Grande River. James remembered the incident.
“High above her (Lozen’s) head she held her rifle. There was a glitter as her right foot lifted and struck the shoulder of her horse. He reared, then plunged into the torrent. She turned his head upstream, and he began swimming.” James goes on to relate that immediately, the other women and the children followed her into the torrent. When they reached the far bank of the river, cold and wet but alive, Lozen came to Kaywaykla’s grandmother. “You take charge, now”, she said. “I must return to the warriors”, who stood between their women and children and the onrushing cavalry. Lozen drove her horse back across the wild river and returned to her comrades.
A Dessert Ride
For some unknown reason, Lozen took upon herself a challenge to lead a new mother and baby on a journey to a new reservation. It was a journey across through the desert with many dangers. Lozen was certainly not like the other Apache women.
From descriptions she seems to have been one tough woman – with tomboy ways – or was she a lesbian who was allowed to be a warrior? She did not marry or produce children.
Well, she was a lesbian and had a close ‘companion’ named Dahteste. More about Dahteste later.
On this trip across the desert she carried a rifle, a cartridge belt, a knife and three -days of supplies.
It is said that she used her knife to kill a longhorn (both bulls and cows have these enormous horns) for food. She was afraid to use her rifle in case it brought an unwelcome visit from the Cavalry. From details available, it seemed that the women set off on foot. Lozen succeeded in stealing a Cavalry horse and escaped with her life through a volley of gunfire. Lozen gave the horse to the woman and baby. Now, she needed one for herself. With skill and cunning, Lozen was able to steal a horse from a vaquero (Mexican cowboy). She later stole a soldier’s saddle, rifle, ammunition, blanket and canteen, and even his shirt. (Did she like to wear men’s shirts?). Finally, she delivered the woman and child to the reservation.
Lozen learned of her brother’s death after she returned from delivering the woman and child safely to the reservation. She must have had guilt. What if she had been with him in battle? Could she have saved him? Ever the warrior, Lozen mounted her horse and set out to aid any Apache survivors. Apache tradition holds that Victorio fell on his own knife rather than die at the hands of the Mexicans. Almost all the warriors at Tres Castillos were killed, and many women died fighting; the older people were shot, while almost one hundred young women and children were taken for slaves. Only a few escaped.” Lozen
Lozen and Geronimo
Lozen avenged her brother and fellow tribal deaths by continuing to raid white settlers across New Mexico. Her daring skills as a warrior brought her to the notice of the great chief, Geronimo. She fought beside him. Legends tell of extraordinary powers of Lozen. It is said that she could sense the enemy’s location and their numbers by spreading out her arms and asking Ussen (the Creator) for help and guidance.
Here is her prayer
Upon this earth
On which we live
Ussen has Power
This Power is mine
For locating the enemy.
I search for that Enemy
Which only Ussen the Great
Can show to me.
After Geronimo’s surrender, Lozen was captured. She was such a powerful woman that she was part of the negotiation team between the Apache and the white American government. When the Apache surrendered, Lozen was taken as a prisoner of war to Mount Vernon Barracks in Alabama.
She died as a prisoner of war at Mount Vernon in Mobile, Alabama of tuberculosis at age 50, never to see her homeland in the Southwestern USA ever again. Yet, her spirit was not imprisoned and it rode with the Apache and her lover – Dahteste.
Dahteste was a Mescalero Apache woman and ‘companion’ of Lozen. Unlike the masculine description of Lozen, Dahteste feminine in her attire. It is said that she was well-groomed and very beautiful. She was a warrior and rode and fought alongside Lozen. She was sophisticated and was fluent in English. This allowed her to act as a translator for the Apache people.
She also became a mediator and trusted scout for the U.S. Calvary. Her dual loyalties to the Apache people and the US Army did not keep her from being arrested alongside Geronimo in 1886. She was taken as a prisoner of war and shipped off to St. Augustine, Florida where she remained for eight years. While in Florida she managed to survive pneumonia and tuberculosis.
The Tragedy of Separation