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Lori, Research Analyst
Category: General
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Experience:  General Information and Online Research
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What is the correct word for WARRIOR in the Apache (athabascan) language

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According to Michael Darrow, who is a Warm Springs Apache tribal historian, there is no word for 'warrior' in the Apache language.


Please let me know if I can help further. (reference-quote is below)


"How did we get our reputation? It had to do with our relationship to our home territory. In our language (Athabaskan), there is no word for warrior."


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I have found several referances to tha apache word for warrior as being OZUYE.Unless you can prove this to be incorrect, than I will not accept.

Ozuye is Lakota - not Apache (Athabaskan).


All references I have found for Ozuye is not true Apache. For accuracy, I stand by my original research, as everything I have found indicates ozuye is definitely Lakota.



Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Sorry for the delay, any idea what word the apache people would use to refer to the ones going to battle?

Hi Gc,


I have a different view of this. Apache, the word itself, comes from a Yuma word which means "fighting men" It's also derived from a Zuni word meaning enemy. Because the Apaches had superior fighting skills and extraordinary warfare strategies, it followed that they had a reputation of being warlike figures. So the word Apache , itself, meaning warrior or fighting men.


On the other hand, Apaches spoke Athapaskan which was a language used widely among Native Americans. There is a group called the Lipan or Lipan-Apache in Texas. According to the family history of the Casto's Apache refers to "People of the mountains" Lipan refers to "warriors of the mountains" In retrospect, it would stand to reason that the word Apache, as it stands, would mean warrior.





Customer: replied 7 years ago.
The problem I have with this is that the Apache didn't call themselves apache, Right? People of anather language deemed them Apache, so in that language Apache may mean warrior.
You are exactly right. I'm still attempting to find an accurate answer to your last question. My 'gut' tells me they would use a form of courageous man or 'adult' male, possibly defender, but I don't want to say that until I can confirm.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
THank you. Getting this right is very important, as it is going on a tatoo!

Hi Gc,


No,the word apache was derived from those languages by the Apaches. Consider this, A young Apache son is sent to fight. He returns after a battle won. His father proudly welcomes him home and tells him what a wonderful Apache he has become. Does the father mean Apaches Indian or does the father mean warrior?

From what I have read and my understanding, it is one and the same. The tribe is so name Apache which stands for "warrior" as well as signifies the tribal name.



You must also remember that the Apache did NOT call themselves Apache. They referred to themselves as "the people" (N'de, Dinë, Tinde, or Inde). A father would never refer to his son as an Apache. Apache is a name given by outsiders. If you wish, I will continue with my research, or if you prefer, I will defer to Dee. Please let me know how you wish me to proceed (if at all)

First my apologies GC. I hope I didn't confuse you by entering into this discussion.

Apaches called themselves many things. There are about 7 different derivatives of the Apache language. Sort of like Southern and Northern dialects.Although the Apaches derived their name from two other languages , they inherently adopted and used the word Apache to refer to themselves, their tribal members their children and their warriors.


I seem to have misunderstood Loris intent from her second response to you as her not having any more information to give you. I did disagree and therefore I stepped in.Because I see now that Lori she is willing to seek out more answers for you, if possible, I will opt out of the dicussion and allow her to continue to look for something that makes sense to you for your tattoo.




Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you. I know the answer to this may require alot of research, as i have spent days on it.

Hi GC,


Thank you for requesting me to stay on with the question. I just spent some time researching and I think I've found a site that will bring an answer to what you're seeking.Although I do believe Apache, in itself, would be a proper term for "warrior" in the Athabaskan language there may very well be a few different words connected to the language that are not specifically stated or known. Did you know there use to be a military group called "coders" that would go in and try to decipher the Native Indian language? Anyway, this site interestingly enough is for American Indian Language Translations that can be used for Tattoos, Literature or Art. I am sending it on to you because it does require you receive your response via email and they also ask if you'd be willing to donate via PayPal, which is not necessary , but an option.

There are a few questions about what you are looking for, specific and not so specific if you so desire. When you are done they will email you either the phrase or word you are looking for. It also has an option to put in one particular Native American language or the option for them to give you several variations in different languages. Check it out and let me know what you think. This may very well be a resolve to all of the searching you've done. They do state they will translate Athabaskan .:-)


Native American Language Translations: Indian Words for Tattoos, Literature or Art



Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Sorry Lori, I didn,t mean to tell you or anyone that i don't want their help, when i get the E-mail, I' unsure who sent it.

Hello again...

I think the biggest problem you are going to run into is the simple absence of the word you are wanting in the Athabascan language. Because The People only had words for things that were in the realm of their reality, some things just didn't exist. It's not to say that they didn't finally adopt a word with the meaning they needed from another tribe or language, but warrior/defender isn't a term they dealt with. They simply had enemies (Ê-na') and people/tribesmen (ko-ki). Again, there are words for warrior (as you found) in the Lakota language and others, but if you are going to focus on Athabascan, that just doesn't exist....or even anything similar.


Page 143 of the link above, lists the words the Apache had for personal things. Although I'm certain there are many acceptable words you can use for your tattoo, just ensure the meaning of what you use is accurate. Speaking from experience, you are wise to research what you are wanting, as many many many tattoo shops have tats they are told mean one thing and in reality they are not anywhere close to what the client thought they were.


Dee's link to the website above for tattoos is probably going to be your best resource, but again--once you receive the information, verify that it means what they say it means. There is a lot of false information provided on the net, as I'm sure you know.




Lori, Research Analyst
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 4131
Experience: General Information and Online Research
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