Lipan Apache
Total population
U.S. Census: 1,077 (2010), self-identified[1]
100 (SIL 1977) [2]
Regions with significant populations
United States:
New Mexico,[3] Oklahoma,[3] Texas[3]
English, Spanish, formerly Lipan Apache
Related ethnic groups
other Apache peoples

Lipan Apache are a band of Apache, a Southern Athabaskan Indigenous people, who have lived in the Southwest and Southern Plains for centuries. At the time of European and African contact, they lived in New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas,[5] and northern Mexico. Historically, they were the easternmost band of Apache.[6]

Lipan Apache descendants today are enrolled members of the Mescalero Apache Tribe in New Mexico.[5] Other Lipan descendants are enrolled with the Tonkawa Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma[6] and Apache Tribe of Oklahoma,[7][8] also known as the Kiowa Apache or Plains Apache. Other Lipan Apache descendants live primarily in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona, and northern Mexico.


Two Lipan Apache children, Kessetta Roosevelt (1880–1906) from New Mexico, and Jack Mather (d. 1888), at Carlisle Indian School, ca. 1885.

The name "Lipan" is a Spanish adaption of their self-designation as Łipa-į́ Ndé or Lépai-Ndé ("Light Gray People"), reflecting their migratory story.[9] The earliest known written record of the Lipan Apache identified this tribe as Ypandes.[10] Linguistic research has led scholars to determine that the word Lipan stems from the Lipan words lépai, which means 'the color gray', and ndé, which means 'the people', which would make Lipan mean 'The Light Gray People'.[11] The name Apache may of Zuñi origin, originating with the word apachu, which means 'enemy', or perhaps from the Ute, who referred to this group as Awa'tehe. Contemporary Apaches referred to themselves as 'the people', which in their language was Inde or Diné.[12]

The terms Eastern Apache and Texas Apache can also include them as well as the Chiricahua and Mescalero.[13] I Fought a Good Fight: A History of the Lipan Apaches notes that Spanish explorers recorded their encounters with "Apaches living along the Canadian [river] - the Chipaines, Conejeros, Rio Colorados, and Anchos - were Lipan ancestors."[14]


Main article: Lipan language

Lipan Apache is a Southern Athabaskan language, considered to be closely related to the Jicarilla Apache language.[15] Today, there are no fluent speakers.[16] In 1981, two elders on the Mescalero Apache Reservation were fluent Lipan speakers.[2] There are current efforts and funding to revitalize the language.[17]


Confederated eastern Apache bands had a homeland that spanned from the Southern Great Plains to the Gulf of Mexico, with significant presence in what is now Texas.[18] While little archeological history was left behind by the Lipan Apache, the pictographs at Hueco Tanks which were made between 1500 AD and 1879 AD are attributed to Mescalero Apache.[19]

16th and 17th centuries

Map with locations of Lipan Apache territory in the 17th and 18th centuries

Ancestors of the Lipan Apache living along the Canadian River made the first known European contact during the Expedition of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, who traveled there in 1541, and were still in the region when Diego de Vargas arrived in 1694.[14] Historians believe the Teya Indians of the Texas Panhandle likely merged into the Lipan.[20]

Lipan Apache obtained horses from the Spanish by 1608[21] and adopted a nomadic lifestyle. They were excellent horsemen and freely raided settlements.[22] Throughout the 17th century, Spaniards raided Apache communities for slaves.[23] The Acho, a branch of Lipan, fought with Taos Pueblo and Picuris Pueblo people against the Spanish in the 1620 Pueblo Revolt.[24]

In 1684, Spanish colonists completed the Mission San Francisco de los Julimes near Presidio, Texas, to serve Jumano, Julime, and neighboring tribes. These tribes taught the peyote ceremony to the Tonkawa and Lipan, who in turn, shared it with the Comanches, Mescalero Apaches, and Plains Apaches.[24] In the 1860s, Spanish chroniclers wrote that some Lipan Apache lived near the Gulf Coast and adopted lifeways of the neighboring Karankawa.[24]

18th century

Historic marker for Mission San Lorenzo de la Santa Cruz, founded by Franciscan missionaries among the Lipan Apache Indians in 1762. Abandoned in 1769

By 1700, Lipan had settled across southern Texas and into Coahuila, Mexico. They still lived in agricultural settlements, where they farmed indigenous crops such as pumpkins, corn, and beans, as well as watermelons,[23] introduced from Africa. French explorer Bénard de La Harpe encountered the Lipan Apache near present-day Latimer County, Oklahoma, in 1719.[8]

The Lipan were first mentioned in Spanish records in 1718 when they raided Spanish settlements in San Antonio. They frequently raided Spanish supply trains traveling from Coahuila to the newly established San Antonio.[25]

In 1749, two Lipan Apache chiefs joined other Apache leaders in signing one of the earliest recorded peace treaties with Spain in San Antonio.[26] Some Lipan Apache people settled northwest of San Antonio during the mid-18th century.[26]

Spanish colonists built forts and missions near Lipan settlements.[27] A mission on the San Sabá River was completed in 1757 but destroyed by the Comanche and the Wichita.[15] That same year, the Lipan Apache fought the Hasinais,[28] a band of Caddo people. The Lipan participated in a Spanish expedition against the Wichita and Comanche in 1759 but were defeated in the Battle of the Twin Villages.[29] Missions established for the Lipan at Candelaria and San Lorenzo were destroyed by the Comanche in 1767.[7]

By 1767, all Lipan had completely deserted the Spanish missions. In the same year, Marquis of Rubí started a policy of Lipan extermination after a 1764 smallpox epidemic had decimated the tribe.[30]

19th century

Illustration of a Lipan Apache warrior, 1857

In the early 19th century, Lipan Apache primarily lived in south and west Texas, south of the Colorado River to the Gulf of Mexico and east to the Rio Grande.[8] They were allied to the Tonkawa beginning in this century.[31] To resist their enemies the Comanche and the Mexicans, the Lipan Apache allied with the Republic of Texas in the 1830s. They served as scouts to the Texas Militia during the Texas Revolution of 1835–36.[32]

The State of Texas owned massive war debts and used land sales to raise funds following statehood, leaving almost no land to American Indians. Texas established the Brazos Reservation in 1854, where around 2,000 members of the Caddo, Anadarko, Waco, and Tonkawa tribes, but then the tribes to relocate to Indian Territory by 1859.[33]

In 1855, some Lipan Apache joined the Brazos Reservation; however, most did not. Some joined the Plains Apache in Oklahoma; others joined the Mescalero in New Mexico, and others fled to Mexico.[8]

In 1869, Mexican troops from Monterrey were brought to Zaragosa to eliminate the Lipan Apache, who were blamed for inciting conflict.[34] Chief Magoosh (Lipan, ca. 1830–1900) led his band from Texas and joined the Mescalero Apache on the Mescalero Reservation in 1870.[34] Troops attacked many Lipan camps; survivors fled to the Mescaleros in New Mexico.[35] 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.[36] In 1879, a group of 17 Lipan settled near Fort Griffin, Texas, but in 1884 they were forcibly removed to Indian Territory, where they joined the Tonkawa.[8]

In 1891, the Lipans negotiated with President of Mexico Porfirio Diaz to preserve the Lipan’s tribal land in Zaragosa. This agreement lasted about 12 years until they were displaced from Zaragosa after resisting joining the Mexican Army.[37]

20th century

In October 1903, 19 Lipan Apaches who fled Texas into Coahuila were taken to northwest Chihuahua and kept as prisoners of war until 1905. They were released to the Mescalero Reservation.[7][5]


The Lipan Apache emerged from an amalgamation of several Eastern Apache bands united within a large confederacy and who shared a cultural and historic bond. As a confederacy, they united to defend against the Comanche and their allies. By about 1720, the Comanche drove the Lipan Apache from the southern Great Plains.[38] By the early 18th century, the Lipan were divided into regional groupings/divisions comprising several bands - the Forest Lipan division (Lower Lipan bands), the Plains Lipan division (Upper Lipan bands), and bands who lived primarily in northern Mexico (Mexican Lipan bands).[39]

Lower Lipan bands; Forest Lipan division

Upper Lipan / Plains Lipan division

Mexican Lipan bands

The Spanish associated these groupings with the Lipan:


Ethnographer James Mooney estimated that there were 500 Lipan Apache in 1690.[7] Missionary priest Friar Diego Ximenez estimated the Lipan population to total 5,000 in 1762, 3,000 in 1763, and 4,000 in 1764.[50][51] In 1778, Spanish military commanders meeting in Monclova, Coahuila, estimated the population of Lipan men to be 5,000.[51] By 1820, Mexican government official Juan Padilla estimated that there were 700 Lipans in Texas.[52] Opler and Ray estimated that the Lipan population between 1845-1855 ranged from 500 to 1000.[52] The 1910 U.S. census lists 28 Lipan Apache people.[7]

21st century

Lipan Apache descendants are enrolled with the Mescalero Apache Tribe in New Mexico,[5] Tonkawa Tribe in Oklahoma,[7][8] and the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma.[7][8]

Multiple unrecognized tribes in Texas identify as being descendants of Lipan Apache. These include:

  1. Apache Council of Texas[53] in Alice, Texas[54]
  2. Cuelgahen Nde Lipan Apache of Texas[55] in Three Rivers, Texas
  3. Lipan Apache Band of Texas in Brackettville, Texas.[53]
  4. Lipan Apache Nation of Texas,[53] also known as the Kuné Tsa Nde Band of the Lipan Apache Nation of Texas, in San Antonio, Texas
  5. Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas in McAllen, Texas[56]

In 2019, State of Texas 86th Legislature, adopted concurrent resolutions, Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 61 (SCR 61) and House Concurrent Resolution No. 171 (HCR 171),[57] that affirmed the Texas Legislature's views that the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas was "the present-day incarnation of a proud people who have lived in Texas and northern Mexico for more than 300 years" and commended the people of this Tribe for their contributions to the state.[58] Each concurrent resolutions was signed by the Senate, House, and the Governor. Likewise, the Lipan Apache Band of Texas has been honored by the Texas state legislator in a congratulary resolution.[59]

The National Congress of American Indians identifies the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas as being a state-recognized tribe.[60]

Texas currently has no state-recognized tribes;[61] however, Texas senate bills for formal state recognition of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas were introduced in 2021[62] and in 2022.[63] Both bills died in committee.[62][63]

Notable Lipan Apache chiefs

Below are historical chiefs with estimated times of when they were active.


  1. ^ "2010 Census CPH-T-6. American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes in the United States and Puerto Rico: 2010". Census. 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2024.
  2. ^ a b "Lipan Apache." Ethnologue. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Mescalero Apache Research Report (2020), p. 7.
  4. ^ Mescalero Apache Research Report (2020), p. 18
  5. ^ a b c d Mescalero Apache Research Report (2020), p. 3.
  6. ^ a b Swanton, The Indian Tribes of North America, p. 301
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Swanton, The Indian Tribes of North America, p. 323
  8. ^ a b c d e f g May, Jon D. "Apache, Lipan". The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  9. ^ Minor (2009a, pp. 4–6)
  10. ^ Forbes, Jack D. (1959). "Unknown Athapaskans: The Identification of the Jano, Jocome, Jumano, Manso, Suma, and Other Indian Tribes of the Southwest". Ethnohistory. 6 (2): 97–159. doi:10.2307/480321. ISSN 0014-1801. JSTOR 480321.
  11. ^ Lovett, Bobbie L.; González, Juan L.; Bacha-Garza, Roseann; Skowronek, Russell K. (2014). Native American Peoples of South Texas (PDF). The University of Texas – Pan American. pp. 45–46.
  12. ^ Carlisle, Jeffrey D. (1952). "Apache Indians". Texas State Historical Association Handbook of Texas.
  13. ^ Dunn, "Apache Relations in Texas," p. 202
  14. ^ a b Robinson, Sherry (2013). I Fought a Good Fight: A History of the Lipan Apaches. University of North Texas Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-57441-511-7.
  15. ^ a b Swanton, The Indian Tribes of North America, p. 322
  16. ^ "Apache, Lipan". Ethnologue. Archived from the original on 9 February 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2024.
  17. ^ "David Gohre | Texas A&M University Kingsville".
  18. ^ "Lipan Apache Tribe Recognized by the State of Texas". ICT News. June 12, 2019.
  19. ^ Sutherland, Kay (2006). Rock Paintings at Hueco Tanks State Historic Site (PDF). Austin, Texas: Texas Parks and Wildlife.
  20. ^ Anderson, H. Allen (1995). "Teya Indians". Texas State Historical Association, Handbook of Texas. Retrieved February 27, 2024.
  21. ^ Mescalero Apache Research Report (2020), p. 10
  22. ^ Dunn, "Apache Relations in Texas," p. 204
  23. ^ a b Mescalero Apache Research Report (2020), pp. 10, 18
  24. ^ a b c Mescalero Apache Research Report (2020), p. 16
  25. ^ Dunn, "Apache Relations in Texas," p. 205
  26. ^ a b Mescalero Apache Research Report (2020), p. 28
  27. ^ Mescalero Apache Research Report (2020), pp. 16, 22
  28. ^ 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
  29. ^ John, Elizabeth A. H. (1996). Storms Brewed in Other Men's Worlds. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 350–352. ISBN 0806128690.
  30. ^ Ewers, John C. "The Influence of Epidemics on the Indian Populations and Cultures of Texas." Plains Anthropologist, vol. 18, no. 60, 1973, pp. 104–15. JSTOR, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.
  31. ^ "Tribal History". Tonkawa Tribe.
  32. ^ "Lipan Apache". National Park Service. October 30, 2021.
  33. ^ Crouch, Carrie J. (22 October 2020). "Brazos Indian Reservation". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  34. ^ a b Minor, Nancy McGown (2009b). Turning Adversity to Advantage: A History of the Lipan Apaches of Texas and Northern Mexico, 1700-1900. University Press of America. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-7618-4858-5.
  35. ^ Minor (2009a)
  36. ^ Minor (2009b, pp. 185–186)
  37. ^ Minor (2009b, pp. 194–195)
  38. ^ Minor (2009a, pp. 2–3)
  39. ^ Minor, Nancy McGown (2009a). The Light Gray People: An Ethno-History of the Lipan Apaches of Texas and Northern Mexico. University Press of America (published October 2009). pp. 93–97. ISBN 978-0-7618-4858-5.
  40. ^ a b Minor (2009a, p. 93)
  41. ^ a b c Minor (2009a, p. 94)
  42. ^ Minor (2009b, pp. 113–114)
  43. ^ Rodriguez, Oscar; Seymour, Deni J. (2016). "Embracing a Mobile Heritage: Federal Recognition and Lipan Apache Enclavement". Fierce and Indomitable: The Protohistoric Non-Pueblo World in the American Southwest. The University of Utah Press. p. 87. ISBN 9781607815211.
  44. ^ a b Minor (2009a, p. 97)
  45. ^ a b c d Minor (2009a, p. 95)
  46. ^ a b Minor (2009a, p. 96)
  47. ^ Minor (2009b, pp. 84–97)
  48. ^ Minor (2009a, pp. 35–36)
  49. ^ Minor (2009a, pp. 37–38)
  50. ^ Minor (2009a, p. 98)
  51. ^ a b Minor (2009b, p. 61)
  52. ^ a b Minor (2009a, p. 99)
  53. ^ a b c Baddour, Dylan (2 July 2022). ""Labeled 'Hispanic'"". Texas Observer. Retrieved 23 November 2022.
  54. ^ "Apache Council of Texas". GuideStar. Retrieved January 10, 2024.
  55. ^ "Culture and history of Native American peoples of south Texas". Texas Scholar Works. University of Texas. Retrieved 27 November 2022.
  56. ^ "Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas, Inc". GuideStar. Retrieved 10 January 2024.
  57. ^ Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 61 (SCR 61) and House Concurrent Resolution No. 171 (HCR 171)
  58. ^ "HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION H.C.R. No. 171". Texas State House. 2019.
  59. ^ "Texas HR540 Commemorating the 2011 Fort Clark Days and the Lipan Apache Band of Texas Pow Wow". TrackBill. Retrieved 16 December 2023.
  60. ^ "Tribes: L". National Congress of American Indians. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  61. ^ Brewer, Graham Lee; Ahtone, Tristan (27 October 2021). "In Texas, a group claiming to be Cherokee faces questions about authenticity". NBC News. Retrieved 26 February 2024.
  62. ^ a b "Texas Senate Bill 274". TX SB274, 2021-2022, 87th Legislature. LegiScan. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  63. ^ a b "Texas Senate Bill 231". LegiScan. Retrieved 26 February 2024.
  64. ^ Minor (2009a, pp. 90–91)
  65. ^ a b c d Minor (2009a, p. 106)
  66. ^ Minor (2009a, p. 160)
  67. ^ a b Minor (2009a, p. 108)
  68. ^ a b Minor (2009a, p. 107)
  69. ^ Minor (2009b, pp. 62–63)
  70. ^ a b Minor (2009b, p. 136)
  71. ^ Minor (2009b, p. 128)
  72. ^ Minor (2009b, pp. 143–144)
  73. ^ Minor (2009b, p. 156)


Further reading