The Apache tribes speak one of the Athabaskan family of languages, and probably migrated into the southwestern United States sometime between 1200 AD and 1500 AD. Although the Navajo and Apache are both Athabascan in origin and speak somewhat similar languages, they are considered culturally distinct. As there were many different Apache tribes living in a wide range of territories, their lifestyles did vary considerably.
The Apache were nomadic tribes, unlike the settled Anasazi, Hopi, and Pueblo groups who lived in the southwest before the Athabaskan southward migration. Apaches were primarily hunter-gatherers, although some groups did create permanent settlements.
Apaches tended to live in extended family groups, clustered around a nuclear family, including the daughters of the family and the husbands who married those daughters. When a man married, he would move into his wife's family cluster.
Religion was polytheistic, admitting many different types of gods and spirits, with rituals with ceremonies including dances and sand painting. The religious leaders were called shamans and practiced direct mystical communion with spirits.