Pale Horse Revelations #44 - Lozen
Hello readers and welcome back to Pale Horse Revelations. where we explore significant people, places, and events in Old West history. While I make no promises, don't be surprised if some of these places, people, or events find their way into future Pale Rider adventures.
As you may know, March is National Women's History Month. As such, I thought it only fitting that Pale Horse Revelations should focus on women who had a significant impact on Old West history. We kick thigs off with someone you might not have heard of before. Despite the relative obscurity she has fallen into today, I think that once you read her story you will agree that she was truly ahead of her time.
Without further ado, let me introduce you to the Apache warrior, shaman, and prophet Lozen. She was born into the Chihenne Chiricahua Apache tribe around 1840. She was the sister of Victorio, who would eventually rise to chief. She shunned the traditional roles of men and women in the tribe choosing to spend all of her time with her brother. It is said that she had mastered the skill of horseback riding by the age of seven. Her brother taught her how to use a war club, spear, and rifle. Her name, Lozen, derived from her skill as a horse thief. In the tribal language Lozen means "dexterous horse thief."
Lozen's disdain for traditional gender roles continued into adulthood. Instead of completing the traditional womanhood ceremony, Lozen chose to undergo the tradition of dihoke, or warrior training. Upon completion of her training, the council accepted her as a warrior. According to legend, she possessed a supernatural ability to discern the movement of the tribe's enemies. She would perform a ritual dance in which she would turn in circles until her hands tingled.
But Lozen wasn't done with breaking barriers. She undertook the study of medicine and became a renowned medicine woman. She was known to have an extensive knowledge of the medicinal properties of plants and minerals.
Lozen earned a reputation as a fierce warrior while participating in raids with her brother, Victorio. However, despite being acknowledged as a sound tactician and leader of men by his enemies, Victorio and his people were driven out of their ancestorial lands.
They agreed to settle on a new reservation near Ojo Caliente but were instead sent to the San Carlos reservation in Arizonia where the conditions could only be described as deplorable.
In 1877 Victorio and his followers left the reservation. Lozen was right there by his side as he carried out a series of raids against the American settlers who had appropriated their land. Despite her renown as a warrior, her most famous feats revolved around helping her people.
As Victorio and his warriors attempted to hold of the cavalry troops that pursued them, Lozen led the woman and children toward the Rio Grande. Upon reaching the turbulent waters of the river, the women and children froze in fear. Lozen, astride her faithful horse, plunged into the waters. Holding her rifle above her head she implored her people to follow her. And they did. Every single woman and child made it safely across. Lozen then appointed an elder woman of the tribe to lead the others while she plunged back into the icy waters of the river to rejoin her fellow warriors.
Later, towards the end of Victorio's war, Lozen left the group to guide a new mother and her child cross the treacherous Chihuahuan Desert from Mexico to the Mescalero Apache Reservation. Equipped only with a rifle. a cartridge belt, a knife, and three days' worth of food, Lozen set out on her perilous journey. It was necessary to evade both the Mexican and American troops that occupied the area. Fearful of alerting her enemies Lozen allegedly killed a longhorn with her knife and butchered it for meet. She stole a Mexican cavalry horse for the young mother. She later stole a horse from a vaquero for herself. Lozen successfully delivered her charges to the reservation.
However, upon her arrival Lozen was greeted with terrible news. Her brother and most of his warriors had been killed at the Battle of Tres Castillos. Lozen immediately left the reservation to rejoin her people, knowing that they would need her. She met up with the survivors in the Sierra Madre.
A few years later Lozen would continue her brother's fight, this time alongside the infamous Geronimo. Amidst rumors that the tribal leaders would be imprisoned on Alcatraz Island, Lozen undertook efforts to negotiate peace. Unfortunately, her efforts were rejected by the United States.
Eventually the Apache warriors accepted defeat and laid down their arms. Five days later they were aboard a train headed for Florida. Lozen was taken into custody after Geronimo's surrender. She was sent to Mount Vernon Barracks in Alabama where she was held as a prisoner of war. Like many of her fellow warriors, Lozen died in captivity after contracting tuberculosis. The date was June 17, 1899.
While her story didn't conclude with a happy ending, it is one that deserves to be told and retold. The impact she had upon her people cannot be measured. It is my hope that by sharing her story others will be moved to learn more about this amazing woman.
This brings us to the end of another edition of Pale Horse Revelations. I hope you found it to be both interesting and entertaining. As usual, I have tried to provide some interesting historical information while trying not to bog the casual reader down with too much detail.
As a reminder, I would love to hear your suggestions for topics to focus on in future editions of Pale Horse Revelations. If there's a particular location, person, or event that you would like to know more about, please let me know. Just fill out the Contact form found near the bottom of my home page (www.bmiltonhyde.com) and indicate your desired topic in the message box at the bottom of the form. I look forward to hearing from you all.
Please be sure to check back next week for the next installment of Pale Horse Revelations and thank you for your continued interest and support.