Mescalero Indian Reservation

Published on December 31, 2012 by Amy

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Mescalero Indian Reservation
Mescalero Indian Reservation

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 in southcentral New Mexico. In the nineteenth century, the Mescalero opened their reservation to other Apache bands, such as the Chiricahua who had been imprisoned in Florida, and the Lipan Apache.

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Originally established on May 27, 1873, by Executive Order of President Ulysses S. Grant, the reservation was first located near Fort Stanton. The present reservation was established in 1883. It has a land area of 1,862.463 km² (719.101 sq mi), almost entirely in Otero County. The 463,000 acre reservation lies on the eastern flank of the Sacramento Mountains and borders the Lincoln National Forest. A small unpopulated section is in Lincoln County just southwest of the city of Ruidoso. U.S. Route 70 is the major highway through the reservation.

Ranching and tourism are major sources of income for the tribe. The mountains and foothills are forested with pines; resource and commercial development is managed carefully by the Mescalero Apache Tribal Council. The Mescalero Apache developed a cultural center near the tribal headquarters on U.S. Route 70 in the reservation’s largest community of Mescalero. On display, is important historical information and artifacts of the tribe. The tribe has another, larger museum on the western flank of the Sacramento Mountains in Dog Canyon, south of Alamogordo.

The tribe developed and owns the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino (“IMG”). As part of the IMG operation, the tribe also owns and manages Ski Apache the southernmost major ski area in North America. In January 2012 Ski Apache celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The ski area is situated adjacent to the massive peak of Sierra Blanca a 12,003-foot (3,659 m) mountain.[2] It is the southernmost alpine peak in the Continental United States over 12,000 feet in elevation, and is part of the Rocky Mountains and the Sacramento Mountains. Sierra Blanca peak, located on the reservation, is sacred ground for the Mescalero Apache Tribe and requires a permit for access.

Tribal organization

The Mescalero Apache Tribe holds elections for the office of president every two years. The eight Tribal Council members also are elected for two years. Election for the Council is held every year, when one half of the members are up for reelection. The reservation had a population of 3,156 according to the 2000 census.

In 1959, the tribe elected Virginia Klinekole as its first woman president. She later was elected to the Tribal Council, serving on it until 1986.

The tribe repeatedly re-elected Wendell Chino as president; he served a total of 43 years, until his death on November 4, 1998.

Soon after Chino’s death, the late Sara Misquez was elected as president. Wendell’s son, Mark Chino, also has been elected as president. On January 11, 2008 Carleton Naiche-Palmer was sworn in as the new president of the Mescalero Apache tribe.

Culture and language

The Mescalero language is a Southern Athabaskan language which is a subfamily of the Athabaskan and Dené–Yeniseian families. Mescalero is part of the southwestern branch of this subfamily; it is very closely related to Chiricahua, and more distantly related to Western Apache. These are considered the three dialects of Apachean. Although Navajo is a related Southern Athabaskan language, its language and culture are considered distinct from those of the Apache.

The Mescalero Apache were primarily a nomadic mountain people although they went east on the arid plains to hunt the buffalo and south into the desert for gathering mescal from which they take their Spanish name. The Mescalero Apache along with the other Apache groups were living by hunting and gathering who went on raiding to supplement their existence by depredating initially other Indian tribes and then adding the Spanish, Mexicans and Americans.

Origin of name

The Mescalero’s autonym, or name for themselves, is Shis-Inday (“People of the Mountain Forests”) or Mashgalénde (“People close to the mountains”). The also Athabascan speaking, related but hostile Navajo call the Mescalero Naashgalí Dineʼé Like other Apache peoples they call themselves oft simply Inday / Indee (“The People”). Neighboring Apache bands called the Mescalero Nadahéndé (“People of the Mescal”), because the mescal agave (Agave parryi) was a staple food source for them. In times of need and hunger, they depended on and survived because of stored mescal. Therefore they were called by the Spaniards since 1550 Mescaleros.

Other names for the Mescalero Apache: Apaches de Cuartelejo, Apaches del Río Grande, Apachi, Faraones, Mezcaleros, Natage, Natahene, Querechos, Sierra Blanca Apaches, Teyas, Tularosa Apaches, Vaqueros.

Tribal territory

Originally the different Mescalero bands and local groups ranged in an area between the Rio Grande in the west and the eastern and southern edge of the Llano Estacado and the southern Texas Panhandle in Texas in the east. From Santa Fe in the northwest and the Texas Panhandle in the northeast deep down to the later Mexican provinces of Chihuahua and Coahuila to the south. The diverse landscape of this area is documented by the high mountains up to 4,000 meters with watered and sheltered valleys, surrounded by arid semi-deserts and deserts, deep canyons and open plains. The Mecalero Apache Reservation is located at geographical coordinates 33°10′42″N 105°36′44″W.

Since each group Mescalero had the right to use the resources of deer and plants of the neighboring groups, the different Mescaleros felt at home in any area of their wide tribal territory. Because of this the Mescalero bands undertook huge distances for hunting, gathering, warring and raiding. They called their home Indeislun Nakah (“people, forming a group, when they are there”, “place where people get together”). When many Mescalero bands were displaced by the enemy Comanche from the Southern Plains in northern and central Texas between 1700–1750, they took refuge in the mountains of New Mexico, western Texas, and Coahuila and Chihuahua in Mexico. Some southern Mescalero bands, together with Lipan, lived in the Bolsón de Mapimí, moving between the Nazas River, the Conchos River and the Rio Grande to the north. Also lives in parts of Ruidoso.

Source: wikipedia Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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