Thanksgiving is a weird holiday for Indigenous people. We like the food but are not so sure about the outcome. The core purpose is gratitude, which we can all agree on. I wanted to honor my Indigenous blood by remembering a great leader. This Thanksgiving I write about Lozen, who was a female warrior and prophet of the Chihenne Chiricahua Apache people. She is known for her bravery and skills in warfare. She fought alongside Geronimo. She is the sister of Victorio, an Apache chief, who is quoted as saying “strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy. Lozen is a shield to her people.” I think the qualities that make a leader are empathy, courage, and trust, which Lozen is noted to have.
Primarily, Lozen was made a leader through her intelligence and her Brother, Victorio, who led raids against early Americans who had encroached on their homeland, west of New Mexico’s Black Mountain. She is remembered as having ushered women and children across the Rio Grande during an American led attack. Her empathy for others earned her the gratitude and respect of those she served and saved. Sadly, some would say every Indigenous person in those days were born-leaders because there was a cause; extermination. Those who had the courage to fight back and take the mantle of leadership are the legends. Lozen is legendary for doing this. Her courage to fight for her people and culture separated her into a category with whom she shares space with figures like Joan of Arc and Geronimo. Anglo-Saxon culture sometimes refers to Lozen as “The Apache Joan of Arc.”
Notably, Lozen was an effective leader because people trusted her. She was known as a powerful medicine woman and prophet among her people. She is said to be able to use her mystical powers in battle. It is said that she would have supernatural knowledge of the enemy’s location and movement. Effective leaders always have a higher power to derive from. From Gandhi to Jesus Christ, the ability to acknowledge, tap in, and understand the forces that are widely unknown is a huge component, especially when that ultimate force is benign. In God we trust.
Ultimately, I believe Lozen was a good leader. I imagine her as being a loner. Her perspective and abilities made her able to help her people. I feel sorry for her because the opposing force was just too strong. Lozen died in 1889 at the age of 49. Her name is remembered and her stories are told. We can still learn from her actions today. When genocide comes, what would you do? Lozen shows us to fight, endure, and, most of all, care.
This Thanksgiving, do not forget the most important reason why we gather, share, and eat, it is to care. We are given the opportunity to care about one another and be grateful for all the good things we have. Many of those things did not come for free. Remember Lozen this November