[vik-tawr-ee-oh, -tohr-]
Victorio, d. 1880, chief of the Ojo Caliente [warm spring] Apache, at one time a lieutenant of Mangas Coloradas. When his people were removed from their ancestral home to the desolate reservation at San Carlos, Victorio bolted (1880) for Mexico with a group of followers. He and his people terrorized the border country with repeated raids and massacres, always managing to elude their pursuers. It took the combined efforts of the Mexican army, the Texas Rangers, and c.2,000 U.S. soldiers to defeat Victorio, a master strategist, and his warriors, who numbered less than 200. Victorio died in the battle.

See D. L. Thrapp, Victorio and the Mimbres Apaches (1974).

Victorio (Bidu-ya, Beduiat; c. 1825 – october 14 1880) was a warrior and chief of the Chihenne band of the Chiricahua Apaches in what is now the U.S. state of New Mexico.


He grew up in the Chihenne band (sometimes called Eastern Chiricahua). There have been persistent rumors by non-Apaches that Victorio was part Mexican, but there is no actual evidence or reputable oral history to support this claim. There was also some speculation by non-Apaches that he or his band had Navajo kinship ties and was known by them as "he who checks his horse". Victorio's sister was the famous woman warrior Lozen ("Dextrous Horse Thief").

In 1853 he was considered a chief or sub chief by the U.S. Army and signed a document. In his twenties, he began to ride with Geronimo and other Apache leaders. As was the custom, he became the leader of a band of Chiricahuas (sometimes also called Warm Springs or Mimbres) and Mescaleros and fought against the Army. From 1870 to 1886, Victorio and/or his band were moved to and/or left at least three different reservations, some more than once. His main request was to live on his traditional land. The Ojo Caliente reservation was located in their traditional territory. Victorio and his band were moved to San Carlos Reservation in Arizona Territory in 1877. He and his followers immediately bolted along with other Apache bands. Victorio was fairly successful at raiding and evading capture by the military.

Victorio was credited with leading the "Alma massacre" involving a raid on United States settlers' homes around Alma, New Mexico, in April 1880. During the event several settlers were killed, and Victorio's warriors were fended off by the arrival of U.S. Army soldiers from Fort Bayard.

In October 1880 while moving along the Rio Grande in northern Mexico, Victorio and his band were surrounded and wiped out by soldiers of the Mexican Army at Tres Castillos, in the municipality of Coyame del Sotol in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Only some women and children escaped with their lives and ended up being sent with Geronimo to Florida, Alabama and Oklahoma.

Victorio in current culture

In the 1953 film Hondo starring John Wayne, an Apache chief named Vittoro, possibly based on the real-life Victorio, is a major character. The character of Sierra Charriba in Sam Peckinpah's film Major Dundee (1965), played by Michael Pate, was based on Victorio. Turner Network Television made the movie "Buffalo Soldiers" (1997) which featured Victorio, played by Harrison Lowe. It starred Danny Glover, Lamont Bentley and was directed by Charles Haid.

In April 1980, Earth First!, led by activist David Foreman, erected a monument near Alma, New Mexico, in the Gila Wilderness to honor Victorio's April 28, 1860 raid on the Cooney mining camp near Mogollon, New Mexico. There is a monument erected in 2003 in the city of Chihuahua, Chih., at the main Plaza commemorating him since he is considered a Chihuahuan.

Victorio appeared in some episodes of Tex.


  • Thrapp, Dan L. (1974). Victorio and the Mimbres Apaches. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-1076-7.
  • Leckie, William H. (1967). The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. LCCN 67-15571.
  • Kaywaykla, James (1972). In the Days of Victorio: Recollections of a Warm Springs Apache. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press. LCCN 73-101103.
  • Franciscan Fathers (1968). An Ethnologic Dictionary of the Navaho Language. St. Michaels, Arizona, USA: St. Michael's Press. page 127

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