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Lozen

LOZEN

LOZEN (a.k.a. Lizah, Losa, Little Sister) (b. ca. 1840;d. June 1889), medicine person, warrior, mediator.

Lozen was born in the Chihennes or Warm Springs Band of Chiricahua Apaches. Her brother was Chief Victorio (Bi-duyé). Although Lozen is well known among Apaches, many of the accounts documenting her role in the Apache wars of the 1870s and 1880s were not published until the late twentieth century. These show her to have been a leading figure in the final episode of Native American armed resistance to the invasion that began with the arrival of Columbus.

Although a female berdache ("two-spirited") status has not been documented among the Apaches, Lozen's career parallels those of such women in other tribes. During a vigil at the time of her puberty feast, she received the power to heal wounds and locate the enemy. She subsequently studied with older shamans and undertook additional vision quests. Her skills in riding, fighting, shooting, roping, and horse stealing were legendary and favorably compared to exploits of men. In camp, she continued to do women's chores, but also tended horses. She was called "Dextrous Horse Thief" and "Warrior Woman." As a fighter, she was as formidable as Victorio, who once said, "Lozen is as my right hand. Strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy, Lozen is a shield to her people"(Ball, In the Days of Victorio, p. 15).

In 1871, the U.S. government offered to establish a reservation for the Apaches under Cochise and Victorio at Warm Springs, New Mexico. After consulting with his sister, Victorio agreed. But the tribe was subsequently moved to less favorable locations, and, in 1876 they fled from the San Carlos reservation in Arizona, eluding capture for the next three years. In the period of extended conflict that ensued, Apache leaders relied on Lozen's predictions. She joined Victorio on raids, attended war dances, and participated in councils. Contemporaries described her as sacred and respected above all other women.

In the fall of 1880, Victorio was being pursued in Texas when a woman in his band entered labor. Lozen remained behind with her, until she had given birth, then escorted mother and infant across New Mexico to the Mescalero Apache reservation, eluding American and Mexican forces along the way. Meanwhile, Victorio was trapped by the Mexican military and killed along with seventy-eight others. Lozen now joined Victorio's seventy-year-old successor, Nana, and the medicine man, Geronimo (Goyankla).

In the summer of 1881, Lozen captured a herd of horses bearing valuable ammunition. Soon after, she joined Geronimo when he left the San Carlos reservation to resume raiding. In a battle with Mexican troops, Lozen calmly retrieved a mule carrying ammunition while under direct fire. In the spring of 1883, she filled another role, as mediator, when she and a woman named Dahteste (Tahdas-te) arranged a meeting with General George Crook. (Married to one of Geronimo's followers, Dahteste was also an excellent fighter.) At this meeting, Geronimo and Nana agreed to return to Fort Apache—but by the spring of 1885 they were in flight once again.

In March 1886, Lozen and Dahteste arranged another conference with Crook. Geronimo almost surrendered, then changed his mind and fled. Lozen joined him. Meanwhile, to prevent the four hundred Chiricahuas who had remained on the reservation from joining the renegades, General Nelson Miles, Crook's replacement, had them incarcerated in Florida. In late summer 1886, Lozen and Dahteste appeared at a camp of American soldiers in Mexico and announced that Geronimo was willing to meet. His followers had been reduced to some three dozen men, women, and children. Undefeated in battle, they were nonetheless tired and homesick. Joining the Chiricahuas in Florida, they remained prisoners of war until 1913.

Apache accounts describe Lozen and Dahteste as regular companions at this time. They appear huddled together in a famous photograph taken of the Chiricahuas shortly after capture. In the 1930s, Apache informants told anthropologist Morris Opler about two unnamed women who lived together during imprisonment and had sexual relations—undoubtedly Lozen and Dahteste.

From Florida, the tribe was moved to Mount Vernon, Alabama, where Lozen contracted tuberculosis and died in 1889 at about the age of fifty. She was buried in an unmarked grave along with 250 other Apaches. Dahteste was among those eventually allowed to return to the Mescalero reservation in New Mexico. She remarried, but was said to have mourned Lozen's death the rest of her life.

Bibliography

Ball, Eve. In the Days of Victorio. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1970).

Buchanan, Kimberly M. Apache Women Warriors. El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1986.

Robinson, Sherry. "Lozen: Apache Woman Warrior." Wild West (June 1997): 52–56, 81–82.

Roscoe, Will. Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America. New York. St. Martin's Press, 1998.

Will Roscoe

see alsotranssexuals, transvestites, transgender people, and cross-dressers; two-spirit females.

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