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I Fought a Good Fight

A History of the Lipan Apaches

Sherry Robinson

Publication Year: 2013

This history of the Lipan Apaches, from archeological evidence to the present, tells the story of some of the least known, least understood people in the Southwest. These plains buffalo hunters and traders were one of the first groups to acquire horses, and with this advantage they expanded from the Panhandle across Texas and into Coahuila, coming into conflict with the Comanches. With a knack for making friends and forging alliances, they survived against all odds, and were still free long after their worst enemies were corralled on reservations. In the most thorough account yet published, Sherry Robinson tracks the Lipans from their earliest interactions with Spaniards and kindred Apache groups through later alliances and to their love-hate relationships with Mexicans, Texas colonists, Texas Rangers, and the U.S. Army. For the first time we hear of the Eastern Apache confederacy of allied but autonomous groups that joined for war, defense, and trade. Among their confederates, and led by chiefs with a diplomatic bent, Lipans drew closer to the Spanish, Mexicans, and Texans. By the 1880s, with their numbers dwindling and ground lost to Mexican campaigns and Mackenzie’s raids, the Lipans roamed with Mescalero Apaches, some with Victorio. Many remained in Mexico, some stole back into Texas, and others melted into reservations where they had relatives. They never surrendered.

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of illustrations and maps

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pp. ix-11

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

For those of us who love books and write them, librarians are the stewards of great treasure, as important as bankers. I visited many libraries and archives for this project, and certain institutions stand out for their good will and friendly professionalism: the University of New Mexico’s...

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Introduction

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pp. xiii-xxii

Lipans are some of the least known, least understood of the Southwest’s Apache bands. For a small group, they had an outsized impact through three centuries and were often described as the second most powerful tribe in Texas, after the Comanches. Lipans were as clever,...

Chronology

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pp. xxiii-xxvi

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1. Creation Story

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pp. 1-11

Lipans were Apache at heart, but as a result of their long history of befriending or absorbing other groups, their cultural table was a smorgasbord of adopted habits and traditions. Unlike other Apaches, they farmed, ate fish and bear, counted coup, and used sign language....

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2. Early Encounters

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pp. 12-19

In the endless, undulating spring grasses of the plains, the People could see the approach of friends and enemies. These strangers were even more obvious, sitting astride great beasts, the sun reflecting off armor and weapons. The People had heard about these men...

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3. Friends and Enemies

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pp. 20-26

Acho Apache warriors spent weeks making arrows, choosing the hardest wood, straightening the shaft with their teeth, attaching sharp points of stone or bone. When it was time, they left their camp on the eastern flank of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and, carrying...

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4. The Confederacy

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pp. 27-40

After the Pueblo people could see only the backs of the fleeing Spanish, after they mourned their dead, after they celebrated their victories, they had the Spanish flocks and herds at their disposal: thousands of animals. They exchanged horses with Plains tribes for...

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5. Carlana

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pp. 41-51

Chief Carlana heard from other Apaches that the Spanish governor was in their land, but he didn’t believe it. No governor had ever come to their country. He rode to the top of a tall hill and looked out. In the distance he made out a halo of dust. Carlana hurried to find the...

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6. Early Texas

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pp. 52-62

The People must have been incensed as they spied Spaniards clearing land to build a fort and mission in the middle of country they’d held for forty years. In 1718 the presidio at San Antonio de Béxar rose on the San Antonio River, and the Franciscans founded...

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7. The Trials of Cabellos Colorados

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pp. 63-72

One name began to surface. From the Mission of San Francisco de la Espada, raiders took forty horses and left behind a tired horse—the one Alferez Juan Galvan had given the Ypande (Lipan) Chief Cabellos Colorados. The latter was said to have an agreement...

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8. Trail of the Dead

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pp. 73-81

Chief Pascual heard from Indian people at La Junta that a Spanish captain wanted to speak to him, that the Spanish would give him his own pueblo and mission, but he didn’t know this captain, and he had other things on his mind. He was still angry about what happened...

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9. The Saga of San Sabá

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pp. 82-92

When the viceroy finally agreed to a mission for the Apaches, in August 1756, it was fifteen years after their first request, thirteen years after Father Santa Ana’s first request, eleven years after the Ypande chief ’s request, and seven years after the peace agreement at...

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10. Missions Impossible

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pp. 93-102

Apaches admired a forceful speaker, and this captain spoke boldly to them: The Comanches have taken your lands and your buffalo. Five times I have provided escorts for your hunting parties. You would be better off to live in a village at the mission. The friendly captain...

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11. Coahuila

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pp. 103-110

Coahuila, the Lipans’ new refuge, sprawled from the Medina River to the Big Bend of the Rio Grande to the Bolsón de Mapimí. Settlements were isolated, and the presidios undermanned. In spring 1770, three thousand Apaches camped across the Rio Grande from the...

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12. Labors and Designs

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pp. 111-122

In their villages along the Rio Grande, the People grew corn and gathered seeds and grains. It was difficult to hunt buffalo, but they had all the wild cattle and horses they could take. The Spanish captains prodded them to move across the river, but it wasn’t safe. The...

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13. New Allies

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pp. 123-132

After losing all their chiefs in the epidemic, Tonkawas embraced El Mocho, a Lipan captive they raised from childhood. On November 24, 1780, Mocho slipped into Cabello’s house at 6 a.m. and explained that he would have attacked the Lipans and stolen their...

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14. Picax-andé

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pp. 133-142

The Lipiyans, a fierce Apache group, were still holding out on the plains near the Colorado River, despite the Comanche menace. Their leader was Picax-andé Ins-tinsle, which meant “Strong Arm.” The Spanish called him Brazo de Fierro. The Lipiyans were well equipped...

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15. Spy vs. Spy

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pp. 143-151

The Mescaleros, who had lived at peace near Santa Rosa and the Presidio del Norte, abruptly broke their peace on April 8, 1788. Picax-andé distanced himself, literally. He and the Lipans were hungry and had gone buffalo hunting, he said in a message to Ugalde, “but not...

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16. Betrayal

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pp. 152-161

Nava made peace with the Upper Lipans on February 8, 1791, in San Fernando and recognized Chief José Antonio as their principal leader. Nava’s conditions were that José Antonio would punish wrongdoers and force them to make restitution or turn them over to...

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17. War and Peace

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pp. 162-173

José Antonio asked for peace for his entire nation in January 1793, but the mantle of principal chief had passed to Canoso, Chiquito and Moreno, who were hunting buffalo. They would come in and negotiate when they returned. Nava was beginning to understand the diversity...

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18. Castro

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pp. 174-183

Comanches claimed to be friends, but still they attacked the People’s relatives—the Sejende, the Cuelcajende, the Natagés and the Túédinendé—to the west. The Comanches declared war impulsively, without first summoning a council to deliberate. They...

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19. Friendship for the Texians

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pp. 184-190

When the first shot of the Texas Revolution detonated years of friction and resentment in October 1835, some Lipans were already serving as spies and scouts. The mayor of Reynosa reported in November that “some groups of Lipans acting like rebels are going...

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20. Flacco

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pp. 191-199

Flacco was a favorite among rangers. Son of the Lipan Chief Flacco and husband of Castro’s daughter María, young Flacco proved himself a reliable and fearless scout and spy during the Texas Revolution. As early as 1835, he reported from Zacatecas on Santa Anna’s...

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21. Pathetic Incident

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pp. 200-210

Castro, said the Texas Sentinel, “is a man of great courage, wonderful sagacity, and uncommon physical powers; and is also distinguished for his fidelity to the Texian.” The Lipans and Tonkawas had so often proven their friendship in campaigns against hostile Indians “that...

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22. Promises, Promises

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pp. 211-221

As Houston nervously stonewalled Old Flacco, General G. W. Terrell pledged during the first council at Tehuacana Creek in March 1843 that white people would do justice to Indian people and that “none shall intrude upon them.” Terrell also promised them “a country...

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23. Chiquito

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pp. 222-228

Three hundred Comanches raided Goliad one night in early 1847 and drove off the horses. Lipans, camped nearby, gave chase along with some settlers. A shortcut brought them ahead of the raiders, and they hid in the tall grass. Lipans fired on the Comanches, who were riding in...

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24. Starvation

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pp. 229-238

Men returned from the hunt with their heads down, ashamed. Animals evaporated from the baked prairie along with raindrops. The People divided into smaller groups and foraged farther away, but they were the hunted as well as the hunters. The white men...

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25. Refuge

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pp. 239-250

The Americans decided, as the Spanish had before them, that they needed a line of forts. By late 1849 the army had 1,205 soldiers at thirteen posts to watch over 2,000 miles of frontier. Most were new recruits with no knowledge of Texas, and three-fourths were foot soldiers...

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26. The Last Extremity

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pp. 251-262

Fed up with their treatment at Fort Inge, Chiquito’s people, along with the Tonkawas, moved to a favorite camping site among the live oak, pecans and white oak lining Las Moras and Pinto Creeks. The sparkling water from Las Moras spring had great power: It was said that...

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27. The Captives

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pp. 263-273

George Schwander, a newcomer at Camp Wood in 1864, herded sheep past the ruins of the Mission of San Lorenzo, which had sheltered Lipans a century earlier. One fall morning he left home with a flock of sheep. His wife and six-year-old son, Albert, stayed behind...

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28. Mescalero

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pp. 274-285

Lipans and Kickapoos became such a menace that Texans began to suspect Mexican civil authorities were informing them of troop movements and opportunities to steal. Their camps in Mexico were the size of villages, and they continually replenished their large herds of...

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29. Day of the Screams

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pp. 286-298

When army regulars finally reoccupied frontier posts, they were often Buffalo Soldiers, black men with white officers of the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry and the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Infantry, who would prove to be unshakable combatants.2 Apaches...

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30. Prairie Apaches

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pp. 299-310

The People returned to the Staked Plains. Comanches were settled on a reservation, and Apaches could roam freely. White men thought the Llano Estacado was dreary and monotonous, but Apaches knew where water stood in gleaming playas. Buffalo herds were thin, but...

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31. Between Two Forces

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pp. 311-321

Historians like a tidy date to mark a rise or fall, and it would be easy to say the Lipan decline began July 1870, when the first Black Seminole scouts began arriving at American forts. Or we could say Mackenzie’s Raid on May 18, 1873, was the beginning. We could...

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32. Victorio!

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pp. 322-328

Apaches still weren’t safe at Mescalero. “[T]he organized band of desperados who infest this vicinity” continued their attacks, and soldiers couldn’t apprehend them, agent Godfroy wrote. The reservation, “situated in the most lawless county of the Territory” was “perfectly...

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33. Renegades and Refugees

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pp. 329-337

On April 24, 1881, Lipans carried out the last Indian raid in Texas. From the cover of a rocky bluff overlooking the Frio, the small party could see for miles. They had come here every moon for twenty years, mostly to steal horses. For days, they monitored John McLauren’s place...

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34. Lipan Exodus

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pp. 338-344

Lipans described their journey from Mexico during interviews with Morris Opler in the 1930s. This is their account: Most of the Lipans still in Mexico were living peacefully near the towns and trying to get along. Antonio Apache’s grandfather was a mail carrier. The...

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35. Reservation Life

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pp. 345-353

Troops from Fort Stanton had little to do except keep the Apaches and the settlers where they belonged, but even this duty could be lively. In April 1885, three horses strayed off the reservation into a wheat field in the Tularosa Valley owned by Andreas Wilson. Shosh, a Lipan, tracked...

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36. End of an Era

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pp. 354-364

Agents could be both advocates and tyrants. They pressured chiefs and head men to send their own children to the agency boarding school and to produce other pupils. When enrollment fell short, agents withheld rations and sent the Indian police to snatch shrieking children...

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37. Lipan Diaspora

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pp. 365-373

The Lipans at White Houses (San Antonio) liked it, but then they went to Many Houses (Zaragosa)2 and made that their country. For a long time Many Houses was their country. Very long ago, before Many Houses, when no one was there, it was their country. Then the...

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38. We, the Apache Tribe

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pp. 374-384

As schools improved and education became a useful tool in the Apaches’ entry to modern life, students wanted to attend school, and the community at Elk Canyon got its own day school. An educated younger generation, impatient for modern governance,...

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Epilogue. Meredith Magoosh Begay, 1937–2006

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pp. 385-386

When the great-granddaughter of Chief Magoosh died on April 28, 2006, her funeral drew hundreds of people and multiple groups of singers for a traditional Lipan ceremony. “We live by these songs. We live for these songs,” said Ted Rodriguez, a fellow Lipan descendent....

Appendices

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pp. 387-398

Abbreviations used in Notes

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pp. 399-427

Notes

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pp. 401-457

Bibliography

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pp. 459-479

Index

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pp. 481-495


E-ISBN-13: 9781574415193
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574415063

Page Count: 528
Illustrations: 26 b&w illus. 11 maps.
Publication Year: 2013