Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lozen Little Sister Historical Marker, Otero County

Lozen Little Sister, "A Shield To Her People," is part of the newer Historic Women Marker Initiative, which was founded in 2005. The initiative sought to recognize women's contributions to the state of New Mexico, and I always look forward to finding one, because nine times out of ten, it's a piece of history I've never encountered before.

The text of this marker reads as follows:
Lozen, a warrior and sister of the famous Warm Springs Apache chief Victorio, fought alongside her brother until his death in 1880 and later his successors, Nana and Geronimo. Lozen also was a medicine woman and healer and, it was said, with outstretched hands she could determine the location of an ememy. She died a prisoner at Mt. Vernon Barracks in Alabama.
At the time of Lozen's birth, the area of New Mexico / Arizona / North Mexico that she was born in was known as Apacheria. The exact location of her birth was known to be within sight of the Sacred Mountain near Ojo Caliente where her People began (Apache Indian Leaders).

Lozen was known in her village as a warrior. She refused to fulfill traditional female roles, and instead chose the warrior path from an early age.

Growing up in the Chiricahua, Lozen learned to fight and defend her people at a tumultuous time full of imperialist atrocities by the ever expanding United States of America. Her brother, Chief Victorio, famously said, "Lozen is my right hand ... strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy. Lozen is a shield to her people." In 1880, Victorio's band was entirely wiped out at Tres Castillos in a brutal defeat to the Mexican's, who didn't only kill the warriors, but shot the elderly, women, and children. After her brothers death, Lozen rode out of Mescalero land into the Sierra Madre's of northern Chihuahua, Mexico. Here, she fought alongside tribal patriarch Nana in a trail of vengeance with the decimated and famished remainders of her warrior tribe.

She also fought alongside Geronimo in the last campaign of the Apache Wars. She surrendered along with the last of the great Apache warriors in 1886, and was taken into US custody.

Lozen died in 1889 of tuberculosis at the age of 50 while in custody at the Mount Vernon Barracks in Alabama, in what basically amounted to a concentration camp. 

On a personal note, it's very difficult to read the stories of these great Native American leaders, and to think that they met their demises at the hands of the United States government. We look back on such horrific atrocities as the Jewish Holocaust and shake our heads at the wonton evil destruction that man can inflict on his brother. Yet, right here in New Mexico, we bore witness to the same thing. It's forever a part of our history, something we shouldn't gloss over. Lozen gained fame in part by fighting against the United States, in defense of her people. Lozen Little Sister remains a revered figure in the Apache history, and stands as a strong example of the power of women in our world, and the resolve people have when fighting for the lives of their people and culture. 

The photo you see of Lozen was taken after her surrender en route to Alabama. 

My sources for this post are as follows:

  • Apache Indian Leaders: My primary source for the story of Lozen's birth and travels.
  • The Story of Lozen: This is on Facebook, and goes a little deeper and spiritual, it's a good piece.
  • Chiricahua entry on Wikipedia: I found some information on the ancestral homelands of Lozen here. 
  • Once They Moved Like the Wind, by David Roberts: Some in depth information on not just Lozen, but many great Apache warriors. 
  • Warrior Woman Lozen on Cheyenne Gathering: Another primary source of information. The article for her on Wikipedia is basically lifted verbatim from this source. 
  • Dahteste: I recommend this as a starting place to find more information on the background and the aftermath of much of what I wrote about here. Dahteste was another Apache woman and warrior companion of Lozen. Dahteste survived her incarceration in Flordida, and lived into the mid-1900s, but was always thought to have mourned her friend deeply for many years. Dahteste was a central figure in helping negotiate Geronimo's surrender, and lived her later years on the Mescalero Reservation.
  • Complete List of Women Historical Markers

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