The Apache originally lived by a combination of seasonal farming, hunting, and gathering nuts, berries, leafy greens, and medicinal herbs.
When the Spanish came to the area, most Apache refused to convert to Catholicism or re-settle near the missions. When rich mineral veins were found on their lands, it made war with the encroaching Spanish inevitable. As more people invaded their territory, the Apache began raiding cattle and supplies from the ranches and mines sitting on their traditional lands. As a result, Spanish troops retaliated with extreme violence – killing even women and children. Retribution soon led to more violence and warfare, with both sides suffering terrible loss of life, but the Apache succeeded in keeping their lands largely free of colonial domination.
Like the Chiricahua and other Apache of Arizona, they raided far southward and were reputed to have laid waste in every town in northern Mexico as far as the Gila River, prior to the Gadsden Purchase in 1853. They also exterminated the Sobaipuri, a Piman tribe, in the latter part of the 18th century.
However, the Apache traded more goods than they than raided and in the 19th century, the Aravaipa provided essential foods to nearby white settlers, including corn, melon, and other produce they had grown.
However, reading continued and in time, almost any attack on a homestead or wagon train was blamed on the Apache. American pioneers began to see the Apache as a major impediment to economic growth and demanded that the government find a solution. This soon set the stage for the Camp Grant Massacre in April 1871, in which an angry mob of citizens from Tucson and their Papago Indian mercenaries attacked the Aravaipa camp, clubbing, shooting 144 people, mostly women and children.
The next year, most of the Arivaipa were removed to San Carlos Agency. The remnant of the tribe is now under the San Carlos and Fort Apache agencies on the White Mountain Reservation in Arizona.