Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Apache Warrior combines under one cover a biography of Mangus Colorado from 1837 to 1863, a brief history of the Apache War of that time, and a record of the ambiguous, often treacherous treatment of Native Americans by whites. David C. Cooke points out that the Mimbreno Apaches were rarely the true aggressors in their war with the white settlers who entered their lands. For example, the conflict begins when Don Santiago, the mayor of Santa Rita, invites Mangus Colorado and his tribespeople to a fiesta. This feast turns into a horror story when American bounty hunters, hired by the Mexican officials, use hidden cannon and firearms to massacre unarmed Mimbreno women, children, and men. After the massacre, it is not surprising that the Apaches swear to destroy the Santa Ritans, especially after learning that the slaughter was part of a Mexican extermination policy against them.

Until that time, Mangus Colorado had been a strong opponent of war with the Mexicans, counseling peaceful coexistence even after other incidents in which Apaches were killed wrongfully. After the Santa Rita massacre, however, he became an enemy of white people and began to unite all the Apache tribes to fight against them. Mangus Colorado’s first goal was to destroy all Santa Ritans, a military exercise that was carried out with the precision and brilliance that was to characterize all of his battle stratagems.

Throughout the book, Cooke documents how, time and...

(The entire section is 476 words.)