Lozen was a female warrior of the Chiricahua Apaches (known also as the Members or Warm Springs Apache) who lived during the 19th century. Apart from her prowess as a warrior, Lozen is reputed to have been a skilled military strategist, as well as being highly proficient when it came to medicinal matters. Additionally, Lozen was her people’s spiritual leader, and, according to legend, possessed spiritual abilities that enabled her to detect the movement of her enemies, thus helping her to plan her strategies. Some have dubbed Lozen as the ‘Apache Joan of Arc’.
Lozen – A Secret Name
The name ‘Lozen’ is an Apache war title, given to one who has stolen horses in a raid. It has been said that during Lozen’s time, many Apaches used titles or nicknames in public, and seldom used their birth names. This was due to the belief that by doing so, he / she was conserving his / her spiritual power. Lozen’s personal name seems to be no longer known today, not by the general public at least.
Lozen was born during the 1840s, perhaps around the middle or towards the end of that decade. Lozen’s place of birth is said to have been somewhere in the area of New Mexico / Arizona / Northern Mexico, which was called Apacheria at that time. Her brother was the famous Apache war chief Victorio.
Chiricahua Apache chief Victorio, circa 1875. (Public Domain)
Even as a young girl, Lozen is said to have shown that she had no interest in the traditional roles that females played in her tribe, i.e. being in charge of domestic affairs. Instead, she was keener to learn the arts of war and the ways of the warrior. It has been said that Lozen was tutored in these areas by her brother Victorio. Apart from a martial education, Lozen also studied medicine, and she became a medicine woman in addition to her role as a warrior.
By the age of 20, Lozen was apparently an expert at stealing horses, which probably accounts for the title she used in public. In addition, Lozen was skillful at riding, shooting, and planning strategies. She fought alongside her brother, and often sat beside him at council ceremonies, as well as participating in warrior ceremonies. An often quoted saying by Victorio is that Lozen was his “right hand, strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy. Lozen is a shield to her people.”
A painting of Lozen. ( Red Power Media )
Lozen is also said to have been gifted with the ability to detect the movement of her enemies. According to legend, Lozen would stretch out her arms, with her palms facing the sky. Then, she would follow the Sun, whilst praying to Ussen, the Apache Creator of Life. It has been claimed that when she felt a tingling in her hands, and when her palms darkened, Lozen would know the direction from which her enemies were coming. Armed with this knowledge, Lozen would help her people avoid capture.
Nonetheless, in 1870 the Apache were driven out of their lands and onto reservations. Lozen and her people were on the San Carlos Reservation, where in 1877 they decided to escape from its harsh conditions. They managed to make it back onto their own lands, but had to fight to preserve their freedom. Two years later, they were sent onto another reservation. Victorio, Lozen and the other Apache warriors continued their fight against their oppressors.
Guard House in San Carlos, Arizona circa 1880. Photograph by Camillus S. Fly. ( Public Domain )
In 1880, Victorio was killed in a battle. Lozen and a small band of warriors wanted revenge, and began raids across New Mexico and Arizona. Eventually, Lozen and her warriors joined forces with Geronimo, another prominent war chief of the Apache. When Geronimo surrendered to the Americans in 1886, his followers, including Lozen, were first sent to Florida, and then to Alabama.
Lozen and Dahteste (sitting together in the upper part of the photo) along with Geronimo. ( Public Domain )
The Apache were not used to the climate of their new home, and many are said to have died of diseases such as diphtheria and tuberculosis. Lozen was one of these, as she died in 1889 as a result of tuberculosis. She is said to be buried in Alabama in an unmarked grave.
Featured image: A painting said to be of Lozen on display at the International Native American Memorial in Saint Augustine, Florida. Photo source: Keeping the Peace