The Apache tribe is the general name given to a group of Native American tribes from the southwestern United States that are culturally related to each other. Historically, the many branches of the Apache tribe controlled land that extended from central Texas through central Arizona and from northern Mexico to the southern Great Plains. Apache tribes now occupy land only in parts of Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico. There are more than 50,000 members of the Apache tribe, and they are divided into six regional groups: Mescalero, Jicarilla, Chiricahua, Lipan, Plains Apache and Western Apache. In addition to having similar cultures, these groups are tied together by speaking a common language, southern Athabaskan.
Mescalero Apache tribe members live on a reservation located in southeastern New Mexico. The Jicarilla Apache tribe also lives in New Mexico primarily on its own reservation in the northwestern part of the state. Chiricahua Apache tribe members inhabit the New Mexico and Arizona border region. Most of the Chiricahua live on the Mescalero Reservation, but a small band moved to Oklahoma after the tribe was released from being prisoners of war in the 19th century and is now known as the Fort Sill Apache tribe.
The number of members of the Lipan Apache has been decreasing, and the few that remain live either on the Mescalero Reservation or in Texas. Plains Apaches reside mostly on a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma. Western Apaches live on several reservations and are the only group of Apaches still living within the boundaries of Arizona.
Even though the tribes' members are U.S. citizens, each of the Apache tribes has its own laws, government and police and runs its own services. In the past, Apache bands were led by a chief chosen by a tribal council. In modern times, most of the Apache tribes still govern themselves through a system of tribal councils. Almost all Apaches speak English, but many continue to speak their native language as well. Although most tribe members live in modern apartments or houses, some live in modified traditional housing because their religious beliefs require houses to be burned down and rebuilt following a death in the family.
Economic support for the Apache tribes comes from a variety of sources. The development of mineral resources, tourism, cattle and timber provide sources of income for the tribes. Gaming from casinos is another major source of income and jobs creation.