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 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
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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.
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.
Guhlkahéndé / Guułgahénde (Spanish rendering as Cuelcajenne, "People of the Plains"; lived east of the mountains and the Pecos River, on the High Plains from the Texas Panhandle to the Pecos Valley, between Amarillo, Tucumcari, Lubbock and the Llano Estacado, along the Sandia and Tijeras Mountains westward to Santa Fe, from Nogal Canyon to the north to Las Vegas, from the Organ Mountains eastwards to El Paso. In Oklahoma (Indian Territory) they developed kinship ties by marriage with the Comanche.)
Dzithinahndé / Tsilnihéndé (Spanish rendering as Chilpaines, "Mountain Ridge Band People", lived in the mountains west and south of the Pecos River, extending in northern Chihuahua and Coahuila of present-day Mexico.)
Ch'laandé / Tslahahéndé ("Antelope Band People"; lived west of the Pecos west to the Rio Grande in the mountains of central and south New Mexico and the Tularosa Basin.)
Tsehitcihéndé ("People of Hook Nose", several bands, who lived in the Guadalupe Mountains, the adjacent Plains of Texas and in northern Coahuila and Chihuahua of Mexico.)
Tsebekinéndé ("Rock House People", often called by Spanish and Americans Aguas Nuevas or Norteños, have had their center around Nuevo Casas Grandes in Chihuahua, migrating north toward the Sacramento Mountains and south to Agua Nueva 60 miles north of Chihuahua City, also on both sides of the Rio Grande between El Paso and Ojinaga, Chihuahua; some local groups lived in the Guadalupe and Limpia Mountains)
Tahuundé / Tá'huú'ndé ("Mountains Extending into the River People", lived on both sides of the Pecos River in southern New Mexico and into southwestern Texas)
Tuintsundé / Túntsande ("Big Water People", once the Tú sis Ndé band of the Lipan Apache, who lived in southcentral Texas and in northern Coahuila, camping with several bands of the Mescalero together on the Plains for hunting and raiding; they merged with the Mescalero, forming a Mescalero band)
Tuetinini / Tú’é’dinénde ("No Water People", "Tough People of the Desert", once the Tú é diné Ndé band of the Lipan Apache, who had territory in northern Coahuila and Chihuahua, and eventually merged with some southern Mescalero bands)
The Natahéndé had had a considerable influence on the decision-making of some bands of the Western Lipan in the 18th century, especially on the Tindi Ndé, Tcha shka-ózhäye, Tú é diné Ndé and Tú sis Ndé. To fight their common enemy, the Comanche, and to protect the northeastern and eastern border of the Apacheria against the Comancheria, the Mescalero (Natahéndé and Guhlkahéndé) on the Plains joined forces with their Lipan kin (Cuelcahen Ndé, Te'l kóndahä, Ndáwe qóhä and Shá i`a Nde) to the east and south of them.
In August 1912, by an act of the U.S. Congress, the surviving members of the Chiricahua tribe were released from their prisoner of war status. They were given the choice to remain at Fort Sill or to relocate to the Mescalero reservation. One hundred and eighty-three elected to go to New Mexico, while seventy-eight remained in Oklahoma. Their descendants still reside in both places.
Historical chiefs and headmen
Gorgonia, Mescalero medicine man
Gómez (hostile southern Mescalero chief, his band consisting of five local groups with about 400 warriors, his band lived in the Big Bend Country and the Trans-Pecos on both sides of the Rio Grande with his stronghold in the Davis Mountains, when Governor Trias offered 1,000 pesos for his scalp, Gómez offered an equal amount for any Mexican or American scalp, his segundos (or war chiefs) were Cigarito, Chinonero, Simón Porode and Simón Manuel)
Cigarito (hostile but more conciliatory leader of a local group in the Davis Mountains and in the lowlends of the Trans-Pecos, segundo and war chief of southern Mescalero chief Gómez, 1840s - 1860s)
Chinonero (hostile but more conciliatory leader of a local group in the Davis Mountains and in the lowlends of the Trans-Pecos, segundo and war chief of southern Mescalero chief Gómez, 1840s - 1860s)
Simón Porode (leader of a local group in West-Texas, segundo and war chief of southern Mescalero chief Gómez, contacted in 1850 together with Simón Manuel the garrison at San Elizario to sue for peace, but were probably overruled by Gómez, 1840s - 1860s)
Simón Manuel (leader of a local group in West-Texas, segundo and war chief of southern Mescalero chief Gómez, contacted in 1850 together with Simón Porode the garrison at San Elizario to sue for peace, but were probably overruled by Gómez, 1840s - 1860s)
Marco (aka Marcus, hostile southern Mescalero chief, his band of about 200 warriors - presumably Tsehitcihéndé or Niit’ahénde - lived in the Big Bend Country, ranged on both sides of the Rio Grande from the Guadalupe Mountains towards east of the Davis Mountains onto the edge of the Southern Plains, were reported to have committed frequent "depredations" on the San Antonio road and in the settlement near El Paso, wished to join the Sierra Blanca Mescalero band, but their request was refused, because they were considered a Texas Mescalero band, from 1840s - 1860s)
Espejo (“looking-glass”, hostile southern Mescalro chief, his band - presumably Tsebekinéndé - with several local groups under his segundos (or war chiefs) Nicolás and Antonio ranged between Limpia Canyon, Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos and east of the Davis Mountains onto the surrounding desert lowlands of the Trans-Pecos in West Texas, from 1840s - late 1860s)
Nicolás (leader of a local group of the Tsebekinéndé band in the Davis Mountains and east onto the edge of the Southern Plains, segundo and war chief of southern Mescalero chief Espejo, 1840s - 1860s)
Antonio (leader of a local group of the Tsebekinéndé band in the Davis Mountains and east onto the edge of the Southern Plains, segundo and war chief of southern Mescalero chief Espejo, 1840s - 1860s)
Mateo (leader of a local group of the Tsebekinéndé (often called by Spanish and Americans Aguas Nuevas or Norteños), stayed together with Verancia in the vicinity of Dog Canyon in the Sacramento Mountains and presumably followed the old ways of hunt and raid, since they were considered "troublesome.", 1840s - 1860s)
Verancia (leader of a local group of the Tsebekinéndé, stayed together with Mateo in the vicinity of Dog Canyon in the Sacramento Mountains and presumably followed the old ways of hunt and raid, since they were considered "troublesome.", 1840s - 1860s)
Colorado (leader of a local group of Chisos Apaches in the border region of Coahuila, Chihuahua and West-Texas, segundo and war chief of the Chisos Mescalero chief Alsate, was caught and executed together with Alsate and Zorillo at Ojinaga, opposite Presidio del Norte, Texas, late 1860s - 1882)
Zorillo (leader of a local group of Chisos Apaches in the border region of Coahuila, Chihuahua and West-Texas, segundo and war chief of the Chisos Mescalero chief Alsate, was caught and executed together with Alsate and Colorado at Ojinaga, opposite Presidio del Norte, Texas, late 1860s - 1882)
Barranquito (aka Palanquito, most influential chief of the Sierra Blanca Mescalero band, which ranged between the Sierra Blanca Mountains east toward the Pecos River, probably the most important Mescalero chief in the early 1800s, when he died in 1857, his three sons and/or nephews Santana, Cadete and Roman succeeded him)
Santana (aka Santa Ana, son and successor of Barranquito, had been a local group leader of great authority since about 1830 of the Sierra Blanca Mescalero band, since the death of Barranquito Santana seem to have had the most influence within the northern Mescalero bands, but avoided the spotlight and was hardly known by the whites, in his later years he became the most steadfast friend of the whites, †1876 of pneumonia or smallpox)
Cadete (aka Cadette - “Volunteer”, in Apache: Gian-na-tah (“Always Ready”), also known as Zhee-es-not-son, Zhee Ah Nat Tsa, son and successor of Barranquito and after Santana the most prominent and powerful chief of the Sierra Blanca Mescalero band, was more diplomatic than Santana, looking to Santana for lead, spokesman for the northern Mescalero bands, after the outbreak from Bosque Redondo on November 3, 1863, he had fled with his band toward the Staked Plains, trading stolen cattle and horses from Mexico directly or via the Comancheros to Comanches, was murdered in 1872 on a peace mission)
Ramón Grande (son and successor of Barranquito as one chief of a local group of the Sierra Blanca Mescalero band, was a less important chief than Santana and Cadete, followed the lead of his brother Santana, died during an epidemic in 1885)
Josecito (aka José Cito, after Barranquito and Santana the most prominent leader of some local groups of the Sierra Blanca Mescalero band, signed in on April, 1852 together with the minor leader of another local group of the Sierra Blanca Mescaleros and the Jicarilla Apache chief Chacon a trety with Calhoun)
Nautzili (aka Natzili, Nautzile, Nodzilla - "buffalo", chief of the Guhlkahéndé and southern Lipan splinter groups living in northern Mexico, moved to reservation in 1876, had assumed in 1879 leadership of the largest number of Mescalero reservation bands (including the Lipan) and persuaded many warriors not to join the Chihenne chief Victorio in Victorio's War)
San Juan (Chief of maybe the Nit'ahéndé or Tsehitcihéndé band, his band ranged along the Rio Bonito, Rio Hondo and in the Capitan Mountains with the Sacramento Mountains - the area where Fort Stanton was built -, had alliances with eastern Mescalero bands, Lipan Apache bands as well as some Comanche bands, after Santana and Cadete were gone, chief San Juan and Nautzili took over the leadership of the Mescaleros on the reservation, his son Peso would become the last Mescalero chief)
Peso (ca. *1849 - †1929, was born in the Guadalupe Mountains near present day Carsbad as son of chief San Juan and his wife Nagoo-nah-go, his band - maybe Nit'ahéndé or Tsehitcihéndé - joined Nautzili's band of Guhlkahéndé on the Southern Plains, from time to time he also joined the Tu'sis Nde band of Lipan Apaches of southeastern Texas and northeastern Mexico under Chief Magoosh, he was an expert tracker and served as Apache Scout in the campaigns against Geronimo, in the late 1800s he, together with his brother Sans Peur (Without Fear) and Magoosh were the three primary leaders on the reservation - Magoosh for the Lipans at Elk Springs, Sans Peur at Tule Canyon and Peso representing the Rinconada and the Three Rivers)
Sans Peur (“Without Fear”, brother of chief Peso and son of chief San Juan, his band - maybe Nit'ahéndé or Tsehitcihéndé - were close allies of the eastern Mescalero band named Guhlkahéndé on the Southern Plains and of the Tu'sis Nde band of Lipan Apaches of southeastern Texas and northeastern Mexico, together with his brothers Peso, Crook Neck, and leaders as Shanta Boy and Big Mouth he served as Apache Scout in the campaign against Geronimo, the war leader of the Nednhi band of the Chiricahua Apaches and Bedonkohe shaman, he, together with his brother Peso and Magoosh were the three primary leaders on the reservation - Magoosh for the Lipans at Elk Springs, Peso representing the Rinconada and the Three Rivers, and Sans Peur at Tule Canyon)
Muchacho Negro (“Black Boy”, local group leader, joined with his warriors the Chihenne Chief Victorio, *about 1860 - died 1930)
Kutbhalla (War Chief, married a daughter of the Chihenne Chief Mangas Coloradas)
St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Mescalero, New Mexico ca. 1975 Mountain Spirit Dancers painted on altar
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Opler, Morris E. (1933). An analysis of Mescalero and Chiricahua Apache social organization in the light of their systems of relationship. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago.
Opler, Morris E. (1935). The concept of supernatural power among the Chiricahua and Mescalero Apaches. American Anthropologist, 37 (1), 65–70.
Opler, Morris E. (1936). The kinship systems of the Southern Athabaskan-speaking tribes. American Anthropologist, 38 (4), 620–633.
Seymour, Deni J. (2002) Conquest and Concealment: After the El Paso Phase on Fort Bliss. Conservation Division, Directorate of Environment, Fort Bliss. Lone Mountain Report 525/528. This document can be obtained by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seymour, Deni J. (2003) Protohistoric and Early Historic Temporal Resolution. Conservation Division, Directorate of Environment, Fort Bliss. Lone Mountain Report 560-003. This document can be obtained by contacting email@example.com.
Seymour, Deni J. (2003) The Cerro Rojo Complex: A Unique Indigenous Assemblage in the El Paso Area and Its Implications For The Early Apache. Proceedings of the XII Jornada Mogollon Conference in 2001. Geo-Marine, El Paso.
Seymour, Deni J. (2004) A Ranchería in the Gran Apachería: Evidence of Intercultural Interaction at the Cerro Rojo Site. Plains Anthropologist 49(190):153-192.
Seymour, Deni J. (2004) Before the Spanish Chronicles: Early Apache in the Southern Southwest, pp. 120 –142. In "Ancient and Historic Lifeways in North America’s Rocky Mountains." Proceedings of the 2003 Rocky Mountain Anthropological Conference, Estes Park, Colorado, edited by Robert H. Brunswig and William B. Butler. Department of Anthropology, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley.
Seymour, Deni J. (2007) Sexually Based War Crimes or Structured Conflict Strategies: An Archaeological Example from the American Southwest. In Texas and Points West: Papers in Honor of John A. Hedrick and Carol P. Hedrick, edited by Regge N. Wiseman, Thomas C. O’Laughlin, and Cordelia T. Snow, pp. 117–134. Papers of the Archaeological Society of New Mexico No. 33. Archaeological Society of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Seymour, Deni J. (2007) Apache, Spanish, and Protohistoric Archaeology on Fort Bliss. Conservation Division, Directorate of Environment, Fort Bliss. Lone Mountain Report 560-005. With Tim Church
Seymour, Deni J. (2007) An Archaeological Perspective on the Hohokam-Pima Continuum. Old Pueblo Archaeology Bulletin No. 51 (December 2007):1-7. (This discusses the early presence of Athapaskans.)
Seymour, Deni J. (2008) Despoblado or Athapaskan Heartland: A Methodological Perspective on Ancestral Apache Landscape Use in the Safford Area. Chapter 5 in Crossroads of the Southwest: Culture, Ethnicity, and Migration in Arizona's Safford Basin, pp. 121–162, edited by David E. Purcell, Cambridge Scholars Press, New York.
Seymour, Deni J. (2008) A Pledge of Peace: Evidence of the Cochise-Howard Treaty Campsite. Historical Archaeology 42(4):154-179. With George Robertson.
Seymour, Deni J. (2008) Apache Plain and Other Plainwares on Apache Sites in the Southern Southwest. In "Serendipity: Papers in Honor of Frances Joan Mathien," edited by R.N. Wiseman, T.C O'Laughlin, C.T. Snow and C. Travis, pp 163–186. Papers of the Archaeological Society of New Mexico No. 34. Archaeological Society of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Seymour, Deni J. (2008) Surfing Behind The Wave: A Counterpoint Discussion Relating To “A Ranchería In the Gran Apachería.” Plains Anthropologist 53(206):241-262.
Seymour, Deni J. (2008) Pre-Differentiation Athapaskans (Proto-Apache) in the 13th and 14th Century Southern Southwest. Chapter in edited volume under preparation. Also paper in the symposium: The Earliest Athapaskans in Southern Southwest: Implications for Migration, organized and chaired by Deni Seymour, Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver.
Seymour, Deni J. (2009) Evaluating Eyewitness Accounts of Native Peoples along the Coronado Trail from the International Border to Cibola. New Mexico Historical Review 84(3):399-435.
Seymour, Deni J. (2009) Distinctive Places, Suitable Spaces: Conceptualizing Mobile Group Occupational Duration and Landscape Use. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 13(3): 255-281.
Seymour, Deni J. (2009) Nineteenth-Century Apache Wickiups: Historically Documented Models for Archaeological Signatures of the Dwellings of Mobile People. Antiquity 83(319):157-164.
Seymour, Deni J. (2009) Comments On Genetic Data Relating to Athapaskan Migrations: Implications of the Malhi et al. Study for the Apache and Navajo. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 139(3):281-283.
Seymour, Deni J. (2009) The Cerro Rojo Site (LA 37188)--A Large Mountain-Top Ancestral Apache Site in Southern New Mexico. Digital History Project. New Mexico Office of the State Historian. http://www.newmexicohistory.org/ Select: Place, Communities, Click on 'Cerro Rojo' on the map (orange square-dot NE of EL Paso, East of Las Cruces and Dona Ana ).
Seymour, Deni J. (2010) Cycles Of Renewal, Transportable Assets: Aspects of the Ancestral Apache Housing Landscape. Accepted at Plains Anthropologist.
Seymour, Deni J. (2010) Contextual Incongruities, Statistical Outliers, and Anomalies: Targeting Inconspicuous Occupational Events. American Antiquity. (Winter, in press)