Photo taken after her arrest
to be taken to prison
Lozen was the younger sister of the mighty Apache war leader Victorio, and the most famous of the Apache War Women. Lozen was born in a section of New Mexico / Arizona / Northern Mexico known at that time as Apacheria, somewhere in the late 1840s. She was born within sight of the Sacred Mountain near Ojo Caliente where the People began.
She let it be known at a very early age that she had no interest in learning the women's duties of the tribe, and set out on the warrior's path - taught by her famous brother. She learned to ride a horse at age seven and soon became one of the best riders in the band. She loved the rough games of the boys. All of the girls of the band started hard physical training at the age of 8. Their physical endurance would be necessary to survive the harsh way of life they lived. A few women went on raids or with hunting parties to take care of chores and of their husbands, but Lozen took part in the warrior training and never married.
When Lozen was born, the leader of the People was a tough, grizzled, canny warrior named Juan Jose Compa. The Chihenne lived then mostly in the Animas Mountains. Some Mexicans came into the area and made friends with them and brought with them slave Indians from other bands and drove those slaves ceaselessly to work in the caves of the earth.
Mangas Coloradas liked the golden metal the Mexicans were digging for and also like the mescal that the Mexicans taught them to use, so he made peace with the Mexicans. The warriors profited by trading horses and cattle and other things with the Mexicans.
The Mexicans also brought a white man into the area whose name was John James Johnson. Juan Jose led the People to an area to Santa Rita where the Mexicans had barrels of mescal and piles of presents. They watched warily the other white eyes who had bristled hair on their faces. But the whole fiesta scene was a trap and John Johnson shot many of the Indians dead on the spot. They shot even the women and children. Johnson and the other white eyes and Mexicans seized the hair off the heads of the Indians to sell back in Mexico. The People feared the dead and the 'chindi' spirits that lingered after a death.
Mangas Coloradas took charge of the survivors and determined to take revenge on the white eyes and Mexicans and Santa Rita. The People believed in revenge. Over 100 warriors took part in the raids that followed and they killed as many of the white eyes and Mexicans who had taken part in the murder of the People. When the Mexicans and white eyes were captured and brought to camp, the wives, mothers and daughters of the murdered Indians killed the men in revenge. The crushed them under horses hooves, beat them to death with clubs and even hacked them to pieces with knives. This is what Lozen learned as a child.
Lozen was quite unlike her counterpart, Dahteste. Lozen had no concern for her appearance and, even though she is in several famous photos of Geronimo with his warriors, there is nothing to indicate that she is a woman. She was manly in her appearance, dressed like a man, lived and fought like a man. She devoted her life to the service of her people.
Victorio is quoted as saying, "Lozen is my right hand . . . strong as a man , braver than most, and cunning in strategy, Lozen is a shield to her people."
Legend has it that Lozen was able to use her supernatural powers in battle to learn the movements of the enemy and that she helped each band that she accompanied to successfully avoid capture. She also had the ability to use song and herbs to help heal people and was considered a Shaman.
After Victorio's death, Lozen continued to ride with Chief Nana, and eventually joined forces with Geronimo's band, eluding capture until she finally surrendered with this last group of free Apaches in 1886. She died of tuberculosis at the Mount Vernon Barracks in Mobile, Alabama at the approximate age of 50.
Lozen upper row 6 person from the right
Lozen, another Warm Springs Apache woman and the sister of the renowned chief Victorio,
became legendary both as a warrior and as a shaman. She had what the Apaches called "Power," supernatural abilities on the battlefield and in
spiritual communication. According to Peter Aleshire (Woman Warrior: The Story of Lozen, Apache Warrior and Shaman), Lozen fought in more campaigns against
the Mexicans and the Americans than any of the great Apache leaders such as Cochise, Mangas Coloradas, Juh, Chihuahua, Geronimo or her own brother, Victorio.
"Lozen began fighting Mexican soldiers and scalp hunters, eternal enemies of her band, when she came of age in the 1840's," said Aleshire.
"After the Americans arrived in 1848 to lay claim to her homeland, she battled them as well."
Lozen fought beside Victorio when he and his followers rampaged against Americans, who had appropriated their homeland in west central New Mexico's Black Mountains and had tried to confine her people, first, to Arizona's San Carlos Reservation then to New Mexico's Mescalero Apache Reservation.
As the band fled U. S. forces, Lozen inspired women and children, frozen in fear, to cross a surging Rio Grande. "I saw a magnificent woman on a beautiful horse-Lozen, sister of Victorio. Lozen the woman warrior!" said James Kaywaykla, a child at the time, riding behind his grandmother. "High above her 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." 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.
"I depend upon Lozen as I do Nana (the aging patriarch of the band)," said Victorio, according to Kaywaykla. "She could ride, shoot, and fight like a man," said Kaywaykla, "and I think she had more ability in planning military strategy than did Victorio."
Late in Victorio's campaign, Lozen left the band to escort a new mother and her newborn infant across the Chihuahuan Desert from Mexico to the Mescalero Apache Reservation, away from the hardships of the trail. Equipped with only a rifle, a cartridge belt, a knife and a three-day supply of food, she set out with the mother on a perilous journey through Mexican and U. S. cavalry forces. En route, afraid that a gunshot would betray their presence, she used her knife to kill a longhorn, butchering it for the meat. She stole a Mexican cavalry horse for the new mother, escaping through a volley of gunfire. She stole a vaquero's horse for herself, disappearing before he could give chase. She stole a soldier's saddle, rifle, ammunition, blanket and canteen, even his shirt. Finally, she delivered her charges to the reservation.
There, she learned that Mexican and Tarahumara Indian forces under Mexican commander Joaquin Terrazas had ambushed his brother Victorio and his band at Tres Castillos, three stony hills in northeastern Chihuahua. It happened on October 15, 1880. Terrazas, said Stephen H. Lekson in his monogram Nana's Raid: Apache Warfare in Southern New Mexico, 1881, "surprised the Apaches, and in the boulders of Tres Castillos Victorio's warriors fought their last fight. 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."
Knowing that the survivors would need her, Lozen immediately left the Mescalero Reservation and rode alone southwest across the desert, threading her way undetected through U. S. and Mexican military patrols, and rejoined the decimated band, now led by the 74-year-old patriarch Nana, in the Sierra Madre, in northwestern Chihuahua.
According to Kimberly Moore Buchanan in Apache Women Warriors, Lozen fought beside Nana and his handful of warriors in his two-month long bloody campaign of vengeance across southwestern New Mexico in 1881. Just before he began, Nana had said, "Though she is a woman there is no warrior more worthy than the sister of Victorio."
Lozen also fought beside Geronimo after his breakout from the San Carlos reservation in 1885, in the last campaign of the Apache wars. With the band pursued relentlessly, she used her Power to locate the enemies, the U. S. and Mexican cavalries. According to Alexander B. Adams in his book Geronimo, "She would stand with her arms outstretched, chant a prayer [to Ussen, the Apaches' supreme deity], and slowly turn around."
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.
From Eve Ball's In the Days of Victorio
"By the sensation she felt in her arms, she could tell where the enemy was and how many they numbered," according to Adams.
Taken into U. S. military custody after Geronimo's final surrender, Lozen traveled as a prisoner of war to confinement at the Mount Vernon Barracks in Alabama. Like many other Apache warriors, she died there of tuberculosis sometime after 1887, her life a validation of the respected place women held among the Apaches.