The Lipan ranged across the Southern Plains from southern Kansas to northwest Texas. Lipan were among the first of the Plains Indians to obtain horses. This permitted them to dominate the southern plains and the southern bison range. They were bison hunters and had become minimal agriculturist.
First European contact was with the Coronado Expedition in the area of the Canadian river. He called them Quecheros.
When the Comanches arrived on the Southern Plains in the early 1700s, the Lipan had been pushed into the area around present day San Antonio TX where they continued their raiding on Spanish ranches and settlements. In 1785 the Spanish concluded a treaty with Comanches who pledged that “they would be the declared enemies of all the Apaches and Lipanes and …to make war… in such a way that they may be totally exterminated”. This being a reflection of Spanish policy against the Apaches at the end of the 18th century. By 1800 the Lipan had been driven south of the Rio Grande.
The Lipan returned to Texas in the early 19th century after Mexican Independence taking advantage of the new republic’s inability to control them. Their new range was south Texas and west to the Pecos River, and the northern Coahuila and North Eastern Chihuahua.
After Texas Independence the Lipan allied themselves with the Texans in their campaigns against their hated enemies the Comanches. By the 1840s the residents of Texas were calling for the removal of the Lipan from the settlement areas of Texas. The Lipan had become a factor in United States Indian policy affecting Texas. During that period, the tribe was arbitrarily disrupted and occasionally falsely accused of depredations actually wrought by Comanches and other northern tribes.
By 1875 the Lipan were reduced to approximately 300 people, scattered bands still living in Texas, a large village at Zaragosa Coahuila Mex., and about 100 at the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico.
In 1905 after learning that a group of Lipans were being held prisoner in Chihuahua Mex., Father Luciano Migeon, a parish priest of Tularosa, New Mexico traveled to Chihuahua to obtain permission to move them to the Mescalero Apache Reservation. He found 37 Lipan's being held in a corral outside of town, with no shelter, little clothing and being fed ears of corn. He placed them on a train and transported them to the Mescalero Apache Reservation where they were welcomed.
In 1936 the Mescaleros Apaches approved a new constitution that made the Lipan full members of the Mescalero tribe. After residing in Texas for more than 200 years the Lipan no longer possessed a discernible presence in what was their homeland. In 1999 they began a process to obtain federal recognition as a tribe.
Last updated: October 30, 2021