THE HISTORY OF THE APACHE FIDDLE The history of the Apache Fiddle is not clear. Popular opinion seems to be that the Apache liked the sound of the violin that was brought to the Americas by Europeans and made their own simpler copy. I believe that the Apache Fiddle is so distinctly different to a violin that it was in existence before the Europeans arrived. The music and singing tradition of all native American peoples dates back many centuries. The American continent thrived with many cultured civilisations before the white people arrived. It is more realistic to assume that they created the instrument hundreds of years ago. However, given that it was the Spanish who first ventured to these lands it may in fact be the Spanish Rabel fiddlethat they copied. The main photo is of Chasni, son of Bonito dated 1886, courtesy of the website: www.firstpeople.com and comes from the Smithsonian Institute.
There are several images of the Apache fiddle in the internet but for me this one of Chasni is, perhaps, the most authentic. Some of the more recent fiddles (early 20th century) are very ornate and occasionally appear for sale priced at thousands of dollars. It seems to me that in years gone by they would have gone out, cut a piece of stalk and whittled away with a knife to create a simple instrument to "sing" along with them in their native chants. The fiddles I have made are not decorated andresemble that of Chasni.