Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/271

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LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

The Apaches have no tradition whatever of the flood. They are quite ignorant of their origin, and unhesitatingly state that they have always lived in the same country, and been the same unmixed people. They pride themselves on the purity of their blood, and although they admit that many of their wives have been captured from Mexico, yet they affirm that it is not the woman, but the man, who bequeathes tone, character and speciality to the child. In addition to which they assert that no Mexican woman who has become the wife of an Apache, and remained so until she has borne him children, ever desires to renew her former life. That this last assertion is true, experience has sufficiently proved to my comprehension; but the reasons are clear.

In the first place, there is but a modicum of difference between the actual condition of the women in the northern frontiers of Mexico and that of the Apaches. In each case it is she who does all the work, and undergoes all the servitude to which women are condemned among semi-civilized races. In the second place, after having born children for an Apache her affections are concentrated upon her offspring more than upon the savage author of their birth, and she will not abandon them under almost any circumstances. In the third place, she knows that her restrained and protracted residence among the Apaches would subject her to rude, inhuman and opprobrious comments among her fellow countrywomen—should she return—although their own lives may be the exemplars of all that is vile and prostituted. It is not, therefore, difficult to conceive that the captive Mexican woman, the wife of a noted warrior, should cling to family relations of her own conception, whether forced or not, in preference to those which may have formerly occupied her attention as being natural.