Lipan Apache people

Last updated
Lipan Apache Tribe
Total population
5000–8000 (2013) [1]
Regions with significant populations
Flag of the United States.svg  United States
(Flag of Texas.svg  Texas, Flag of New Mexico.svg  New Mexico)
English, formerly Lipan Apache
Related ethnic groups
other Apache peoples

Lipan Apache are Southern Athabaskan (Apachean) Native Americans whose traditional territory included present-day Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas prior to the 17th century.

Southern Athabaskan languages subfamily of Athabaskan languages

Southern Athabaskan is a subfamily of Athabaskan languages spoken primarily in the Southwestern United States with two outliers in Oklahoma and Texas. The language is spoken to a much lesser degree in the northern Mexican states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila, and Nuevo León. Those languages are spoken by various groups of Apache and Navajo peoples. Elsewhere, Athabaskan is spoken by many indigenous groups of peoples in Alaska, Canada, Oregon and northern California. It represents the third major wave of ancient migration from Asia.

The Apache are a group of culturally related Native American tribes in the Southwestern United States, which include the Chiricahua, Jicarilla, Lipan, Mescalero, Salinero, Plains and Western Apache. Distant cousins of the Apache are the Navajo, with which they share the Southern Athabaskan languages. There are Apache communities in Oklahoma, Texas, and reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. Apache people have moved throughout the United States and elsewhere, including urban centers. The Apache Nations are politically autonomous, speak several different languages and have distinct cultures.

Indigenous peoples of the Americas Pre-Columbian inhabitants of North, Central and South America and their descendants

The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the Pre-Columbian peoples of North, Central and South America and their descendants.


Present-day Lipan live mostly throughout the U.S. Southwest, in Texas, New Mexico and the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona, as well as with the Mescalero tribe on the Mescalero Reservation in New Mexico; some currently live in urban and rural areas throughout North America (Mexico, United States and Canada). On March 18, 2009, the State of Texas legislature passed resolutions HR 812 and SR 438 recognizing the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas. [2] [3] [4] They are members of the National Congress of American Indians as a state-recognized tribe under court of claims. [5] The Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas is headquartered in McAllen, Texas.

Southwestern United States Geographical region of the USA

The Southwestern United States, also known as the American Southwest, is the informal name for a region of the western United States. Definitions of the region's boundaries vary a great deal and have never been standardized, though many boundaries have been proposed. For example, one definition includes the stretch from the Mojave Desert in California to Carlsbad, New Mexico, and from the Mexico–United States border to the southern areas of Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. The largest metropolitan areas are centered around Phoenix, Las Vegas, Tucson, Albuquerque, and El Paso. Those five metropolitan areas have an estimated total population of more than 9.6 million as of 2017, with nearly 60 percent of them living in the two Arizona cities—Phoenix and Tucson.

San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation Indian reservation

The San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, in southeastern Arizona, United States, was established in 1872 as a reservation for the Chiricahua Apache tribe as well as surrounding Yavapai and Apache bands forcibly removed from their original homelands under a strategy devised by General George Crook of using an Apache to catch an Apache. Also known as "Hell's Forty Acres" under United States occupation because of deplorable health and environmental conditions, today's San Carlos Apaches successfully operate a Chamber of Commerce, the Apache Gold Casino, a Language Preservation program, a Culture Center, and a Tribal College.

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.


The name Lipán is a Spanish adaption of their self-designation as Lépai-Ndé reflecting their migratory story. The Lipan are also known as Querechos, Vaqueros, Pelones, Nde buffalo hunters, Eastern Apache, Apache de los Llanos, Lipan, Ipande, Ypandes, Ipandes, Ipandi, Lipanes, Lipanos, Lipanis, Lipaines, Lapane, Lapanne, Lapanas, Lipau, Lipaw, Apaches Lipan, Apacheria Lipana, and Lipanes Llaneros. The first recorded name is Ypandes.[ citation needed ]


By 1750, the Lipan Apache were driven from the Southern Great Plains by the Comanche and their allies, the so-called Norteños. The Lipan divided into the following groups or bands:

Great Plains broad expanse of flat land west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada

The Great Plains is the broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe, and grassland, that lies west of the Mississippi River tallgrass prairie in the United States and east of the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. and Canada. It embraces:

Comanche Plains native North American tribe whose historic territory consisted of eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma, and northwest Texas

The Comanche are a Native American nation from the Great Plains whose historic territory consisted of most of present-day northwestern Texas and adjacent areas in eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma, and northern Chihuahua. The Comanche people are federally recognized as the Comanche Nation, headquartered in Lawton, Oklahoma.

Eastern Lipan (Spanish: Lipanes de arriba – "Upper Lipan", "Northern Lipan")

Nueces River river in the United States of America

The Nueces River is a river in the U.S. state of Texas, about 315 miles (507 km) long. It drains a region in central and southern Texas southeastward into the Gulf of Mexico. It is the southernmost major river in Texas northeast of the Rio Grande. Nueces is Spanish for nuts; early settlers named the river after the numerous pecan trees along its banks.

San Antonio City in Texas, United States

San Antonio, officially the City of San Antonio, is the seventh-most populous city in the United States, and the second-most populous city in both Texas and the Southern United States, with more than 1.5 million residents. Founded as a Spanish mission and colonial outpost in 1718, the city became the first chartered civil settlement in present-day Texas in 1731. The area was still part of the Spanish Empire, and later of the Mexican Republic. Today it is the state's oldest municipality.

Rio Grande River forming part of the US-Mexico border

The Rio Grande is one of the principal rivers in the southwest United States and northern Mexico. The Rio Grande begins in south-central Colorado in the United States and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, it forms part of the Mexico–United States border. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, its total length was 1,896 miles (3,051 km) in the late 1980s, though course shifts occasionally result in length changes. Depending on how it is measured, the Rio Grande is either the fourth- or fifth-longest river system in North America.

Western Lipan (Spanish: Lipanes de abajo – "Lower Lipan", "Southern Lipan")

Coahuila State of Mexico

Coahuila, formally Coahuila de Zaragoza, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Coahuila de Zaragoza, is one of the 31 states which, along with Mexico City, compose the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico.

Mescalero ethnic group

Mescalero or Mescalero Apache is an Apache tribe of Southern Athabaskan Native Americans. The tribe is federally recognized as the Mescalero Apache Tribe of the Mescalero Apache Reservation, located in south central New Mexico.

Turban headdress consisting of a tight-fitting cap around which is wound a long cloth, or visual similar headgear

A turban is a type of headwear based on cloth winding. Featuring many variations, it is worn as customary headwear by people of various cultures. Communities with prominent turban-wearing traditions can be found in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

In addition the following bands were recorded:

The Spanish associated these groupings with the Lipan:

Their kin, west and southwest of them, sometimes allies and sometimes foes, the Mescalero, called them after their location and living conditions:


A Lipan Apache warrior Lipan apache 1857.jpg
A Lipan Apache warrior

The Lipan are first mentioned in Spanish records in 1718 when they raided Spanish settlements in San Antonio. It seems likely that the Lipan had become established in Texas during the latter half of the 17th century. They moved southward during the 18th century: a Spanish mission for this people was built in Coahuila in 1754 and another on the San Sabá River in 1757. Both missions were burned and deserted; the San Saba mission was destroyed by the Comanche and their allies. During 1757 the Lipan Apache were involved in fighting with the Hasinais. [7] The Lipan participated in a Spanish Expedition against the Wichita and Comanche in 1759, but were defeated in the Battle of the Twin Villages.

Their territory ranged from the Colorado River of Texas to the Rio Grande. Two Lipan local group chiefs had a total of 700 people in 1762. Since there were at least 12 other local groups, Morris Opler estimates that the population was approximately 3,000–4,000. He estimates a total of 6,000 in 1700.

The Spanish and Lipan frequently were in conflict as Spain tried to invade and colonize the Texas territory. The Spanish tried to thwart the Lipan through alcohol, provoking conflict between the Lipan and Mescalero, making them economically dependent on Spanish trade goods, and converting them through missionaries. It is not certain if the Lipan ever lived on the Spanish missions, but by 1767 all Lipan had completely deserted them.

In the same year, Marquis of Rubí started a policy of Lipan extermination after a 1764 smallpox epidemic had decimated the tribe. Shortly after that, the Lipan entered an uneasy alliance with Spain in fight against their traditional enemy the Mescalero. The alliance fell apart before 1800. Another serious enemy of the Lipan was the Comanche, who were also opposing Spanish colonists. Many historians cite Comanche aggression as a factor leading to the Lipan's southerly migration. At the beginning of the 19th century, by contrast, the Lipan formed an alliance with the Comanche to attack the Spanish.

In 1869, Mexican troops from Monterrey were brought to Zaragosa to eliminate the Lipan Apache, who were blamed for causing trouble. Troops attacked many Lipan camps; survivors flee to the Mescaleros in New Mexico.

From 1875 to 1876, United States Army troops undertook joint military campaigns with the Mexican Army to eliminate the Lipan from the state of Coahuila in northern Mexico.

In 1881, a large campaign by Mexican Army’s Díaz division (assisted by US troops) forced all Lipan out of Coahuila and into the state of Chihuahua.



Lipan Apache is a Southern Athabaskan language. There were two people in 1981 living on the Mescalero Apache reservation known to be native speakers. [1] As of 2013, there is a concerted effort by Lipan speaking members living off reservation throughout North America who strive to keep the language and traditional culture alive.

A song by American art-metal band Tool titled "Lipan Conjuring," from their multi-platinum album 10,000 Days, features Native American chanting over soft percussion.

This tribe was mentioned in a 1996 episode of Unsolved Mysteries about Devil's Backbone.[ citation needed ]

Snake Jason Blocker of "Deadliest Warriors" (episode featuring Apache Warrior vs Gladiator) and National Geographic's Survivalists series is a famous Lipan Apache.[ citation needed ]

Lipan Apache, Grandfather Stalking Wolf, was the boyhood mentor of Tom Brown Jr. and is featured prominently throughout Brown's books including: The Tracker, The Quest, Way of the Scout, and Grandfather.

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  1. 1 2 "Lipan Apache." Ethnologue. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  2. "State Recognition of The Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas." Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  3. "HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 812." "Texas Legislature Online." Retrieved 4 December 2017
  4. "SENATE RESOLUTION NO. 438." Texas Legislature Online. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  5. "Tribal Directory, L listing" "National Congress of American Indians" Retrieved 4 December 2017
  6. The use of Peyote by the Carrizo and Lipan Apache tribes, Dr. Morris Edward Opler, American Anthropologist April-June 1938, New Series 40(2):271-285
  7. Juliana Barr, Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007) p. 47

Further reading