Chris was born around 1880, the son of a Chiricahua man and a Mescalero woman. At the age of six, he and his family and other Chiricahua Apaches became prisoners of war and were relocated by the U.S. government to Florida and Alabama. Eventually settling on the Mescalero Apache reservation in New Mexico, Chris grew up expecting to become a shaman like his parents. Although Chris apprenticed as a shaman, his confidence in his healing ability waned after he was forced at the age of seventeen to attend federal government schools. Nonetheless, his interest in Mescalero religion, healing, and other traditional customs and beliefs remained, and that intimate knowledge of his people's world underscores and deepens the story of his own life.