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Lipan Apache are Southern Athabascan (Apachean) people who are aboriginal to present-day Texasmarker, New Mexico, Colorado and the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas prior to the 17th century. Present-day Lipans mostly live throughout the U.S. Southwest, in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, as well as with the Mescalero on the Mescalero Reservation in New Mexicomarker; some also live in urban and rural areas throughout North America (Mexico, United States and Canada).


The Lipan are also known as 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 Ypandis.

Lipan Apache Bands

By 1750 the Lipan were driven from the Southern Plains by their Comanche foe and their allies, the so called Norteños and divided in following groups or bands:

Eastern Lipan (span. Lipan de arriba = "Upper Lipan", "Northern Lipan")

  • Tséral tuétahä (= "Red Hair People", merged later with the Tche shä and Tsél tátli dshä, lived south of the Rio Nuecesmarker in Texas, about 1884 extinct)
  • Tche shä (= "Sun Otter People", lived from San Antonio, Texas, south extending to the Rio Grande)
  • Cuelcahen Ndé / Kó´l Kahä (= "Tall Grass People", "High Grass People", lived on the Central Plains in Texas along the upper Colorado River)
  • Tchó´kanä (= "Pulverizing People", "Rubbing People", merged later with the Tcha shka-ózhäye, lived west of Fort Griffin, Texas, towards the westside of the Rio Grande, about 1884 extinct)
  • Kóke metcheskó lähä (= "High-Beaked Moccasin People", lived south of San Antonio towards in northern Mexico)
  • Tsél tátli dshä (= "People of the Green Mountain", merged later with Kóke metcheskó lähä, lived east of the Rio Grande along the lower Guadelupe River and Nueces River in Texas)
  • Ndáwe qóhä (= "Fire People", "Camp Circle People", lived southeast of Fort Griffin, along the Colorado River, San Saba and Llano River in Texas)
  • Shá i`a Nde / Nde `Shini / Shä-ä (= "Northern People", northerly group of the Lipan, sharing contacts with the Kiowa-Apache, were forced to relocate 1884 with 300 people onto the Washita Agency in Oklahomamarker)
  • Tsés tsembai (= "Heads of Wolves People", "Bodies of Men People", lived between the upper Brazos River and the Colorado weiter towards west)
  • Te`l kóndahä (= "Wild Goose People", lived west of Fort Griffin in Texas, were renouned and fierce warriors)

Western Lipan (span. Lipan de abajo ="Lower Lipan ","Southern Lipan")

  • Tu`tssn Ndé / Tùn Tsa Ndé / Tú sis Ndé / Kúne tsá (= "Big Water People", "Great Water People", merged later as Tuintsunde with the Mescalero, lived on both sides oft the Rio Grande into Coahuila, at 1750 the greater part of them went into Mexico and stretching their territory deep into Coahuila)
  • Tsésh ke shéndé (= "Painted Wood People", lived near Lavón, Mexiko, about 1884 extinct)
  • Tindi Ndé / Tú`e Ndé / Tüzhä / Täzhä (= "People of the Mountain", "Uplanders", lived along the upper Rio Grande, in southern New Mexico and in northern Mexico, at about 1850 they were in close contact to the Mescalero)
  • Tcha shka-ózhäye (= "Little Breech-clout People") (lived along the eastern shore of the Rio Pecos in Texas, were close allies of the Nadahéndé of the Mescalero)
  • Twid Ndé / Tú é diné Ndé (= "Tough People of the Desert", "No Water People", merged later as Tuetinini with the Mescalero)
  • Zit`is`ti Nde/ Tsèghàt`ahen Nde / Tas steé be glui Ndé (= "Rock Tied to Head People", lived in the deserts of northern Mexico)

In Addition there are further bands:

  • Bi`uhit Ndé / Buii gl un Ndé (= "Many Necklaces People")
  • Ha´didla`Ndé (= "Lightning Storm People", lived from the lower Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas into the Mexican State of Tamaulipasmarker)
  • Zuá Zuá Ndé (= "People of the Lava Beds")

The Spanish divided the Lipan into three groupings:

  • Lipajenne (Ipa `Nde)
  • Lipan de arriba (= "Upper Lipan", "Eastern Lipan")
  • Lipan de abajo (= "Lower Lipan", "Western Lipan")
  • Natages (from Nadahéndé (= "People of the Mescal"), one of the eastern bands of the Mescalero, which had had a considerably influency upon the decision making of some bands of the Western Lipan in the 18. centenary)

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

  • Tuetinini (= "No Water People"), called by the Lipan Twid Nde, "Western Lipan", because they lived most oft the time in deserts, steppes and Mountains)
  • Tuintsunde (= "Big Water People"), called by the Lipan Tu`tssn Nde, "Eastern Lipan", because they lived in the river valleys of the southern Texan Plains against the Gulf of Mexico)


The Lipan are first mentioned in Spanish record in 1718 when they attacked San Antoniomarker. It seems likely that the Lipan became established in Texas during the latter half of the 17th century. They moved southward during the 18th century where one Spanish mission was built in Coahuilamarker in 1754 and another on the San Sabá Rivermarker in 1757. Both missions were burned and deserted. Their territory ranged from the Colorado Rivermarker to the Rio Grandemarker. 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 through missionaries. It is not certain if the Lipan actually 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 since in 1764 a smallpox epidemic had decimated the tribe. However, a little afterwards the Lipan entered an uneasy alliance with Spain in order to war against the Mescalero. The alliance fell apart before 1800. Another serious enemy of the Lipan was the Comanche, who incidentally was also an enemy of Spain. Many historians cite Comanche aggression as a factor leading to the Lipan's southernly migration. At the beginning of the 19th century the Lipan formed an alliance with the Comanche to attack the Spanish.

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

1875–1876, US Army troops undertake joint military campaigns with Mexican Army to eliminate Lipans from Coahuila.

1881, Large campaign by Mexican Army’s Díaz division (assisted by US troops) runs all Lipans out of Coahuila and into Chihuahua State.


  • Bigotes (="Mustached One") (Middle of the 18. Century) (1751 he left Texas and crossed with his Kuné tsa the Rio Grande into Coahuila. About this date they lived along the Rio Escondido and Rio San Rodrigo in Coahuila)
  • Poca Ropa (="few or scant clothes") (ca. 1750 - ca. 1790) (Chief of the Tcha shka-ó´zhäye along the lower Rio Pecos)
  • Cavezon (="Big Head") (ca. ? - ca. 1780) (Chief of the Ndáwe qóhä, one powerfull band of the Rio Saba towards the upper Rio Nueces)
  • Casimiro (18. Jhd.) (Chief of one band in southern Texas, perhaps of the Ha´didla`Ndé)
  • Yolcna Pocarropa (ca. 1820 - ca. ?) (Chief of several bands of the Tcha shka-ó´zhäye in western Texas, 1830 he leads them across the Rio Grande into Tamaulipas in Mexico downriver of Laredo)
  • Cuelgas de Castro (ca. 1792 - ca. 1844) (Chief of the Tche shä in the territory of San Antonio across the Rio Grande in Tamaulipas)
  • Flacco (ca. 1790 - ca. 1850) (Chief of the Kóke metcheskó lähä east and southeast of San Antonio)
  • Costalites (ca. 1820 - 1873) (Chief of one band, that was wandering from Coahuila into southwest Texas)
  • Magoosh (Ma´uish) (ca. 1830 - 1900) (Chief of one band in southeastern Texas, because of a severe epidemic one part of this band went to Zaragosa in Coahuila, the other part of Magoosh took refuge by the Mescalero and accompanied them 1870 onto the Mescalero Reservation)


Lipan Apache is a Southern Athabaskan language still spoken by some on the Mescalero Apache Reservation, as well as by members living off reservation throughout North America who strive to keep the language and culture alive. The general consensus of the Lipan Apache Committee on the reservation is that linguistic and anthropological considerations of their cultural extinction are mistaken and incorrect.

In Popular Culture

  • A song by the band Tool titled "Lipan Conjuring" off of the 10,000 Days album features Native American chanting over soft percussion.


  • Maestas, Enrique Gilbert-Michael. Dissertation. "Culture and History of Native American Peoples of South Texas." The University of Texas at Austin, 2003.
  • Opler, Morris E. (1936). The kinship systems of the southern Athabaskan-speaking tribes. American Anthropologist, 38, 620-633.

Further reading

  • Dunn, William E. Apache relations in Texas, 1717-1750. Texas State Historical Association Quarterly, 14.
  • Dunn, William E. Missionary activities among the eastern Apaches previous to the founding of the San Sabá missions. Texas State Historical Association Quarterly, 15.
  • Dunn, William E. The Apache mission on the San Sabá River, its founding and its failure. Texas State Historical Association Quarterly, 16.
  • Opler, Morris E. (1938). The use of peyote by the Carrizo and the Lipan Apache. American Anthropologist, 40 (2).
  • Opler, Morris E. (1940). Myths and legends of the Lipan Apache. Memoirs of the American Folk-Lore Society (Vol. 36). New York: American Folk-Lore Society, J. J. Augustin Publisher.
  • Opler, Morris E. (1945). The Lipan Apache Death Complex and Its Extensions. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology. 1: 122-141.
  • Opler, Morris E. (1959). Component, assemblage, and theme in cultural integration and differentiation. American Anthropologist, 61 (6), 955-964.
  • Opler, Morris E. (1968). Remuneration to supernaturals and man in Apachean ceremonialism. Ethnology, 7 (4), 356-393.
  • Opler, Morris E. (1975). Problems in Apachean cultural history, with special reference to the Lipan Apache. Anthropological Quarterly, 48 (3), 182-192.
  • Opler, Morris E. (2001). Lipan Apache. In Handbook of North American Indians: The Plains (pp. 941-952). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.


  • Breuninger, Evelyn; Hugar, Elbys; Lathan, Ellen Ann; & Rushforth, Scott. (1982). Mescalero Apache dictionary. Mescalero, NM: Mescalero Apache Tribe.
  • Gatschet, Albert S. [1884]. Lipan words, phrases, and sentences. (Unpublished manuscript No. 81, Bureau of American Ethnology Archives, Smithsonian Institution).
  • Gatschet, Albert S. [1885]. Lipan words, clans, and stories. (Unpublished manuscript No. 114, Bureau of American Ethnology Archives, Smithsonian Institution).
  • Goddard, Pliny E. [1906]. Lipan texts. (Unpublished manuscript in Archives of Traditional Music, Indiana University, Bloomington.)
  • Hoijer, Harry. (n.d.). Lipan texts. (Available from the American Philosophical Society, Chicago.) (Unpublished field notes, includes handwritten transcription and typed versions, 4 texts, one text published as Hoijer 1975).
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1938). The southern Athapaskan languages. American Anthropologist, 40 (1), 75-87.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1942). Phonetic and phonemic change in the Athapaskan languages. Language, 18 (3), 218-220.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1945). The Apachean verb, part I: Verb structure and pronominal prefixes. International Journal of American Linguistics, 11 (4), 193-203.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1946). The Apachean verb, part II: The prefixes for mode and tense. International Journal of American Linguistics, 12 (1), 1-13.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1946). The Apachean verb, part III: The classifiers.
International Journal of American Linguistics, 12 (2), 51-59.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1948). Linguistic and cultural change. Language, 24 (4), 335-345.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1956). Athapaskan kinship systems. American Anthropologist, 58 (2), 309-333.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1956). The chronology of the Athapaskan languages. International Journal of American Linguistics, 22 (4), 219-232.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1975). The history and customs of the Lipan, as told by Augustina Zuazua. Linguistics: An international review, 161, 5-37.
  • Jung, Dagmar. (2000). “Word Order in Apache Narratives.” In The Athabaskan Languages. (Eds. Fernald, Theodore and Platero, Paul). Oxford: Oxford UP. 92-100.
  • Opler, Morris E. (1936). The kinship systems of the southern Athabaskan-speaking tribes. American Anthropologist, 38, 620-633.
  • Webster, Anthony. (1999). "Lisandro Mendez’s ‘Coyote and Deer’: On narrative structures, reciprocity, and interactions.” American Indian Quarterly. 23(1): 1-24.

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