Our Sacred History: The Lipan Apache Bands

When our Lipan Apache ancestors migrated into Texas in the 1600’s, they migrated as one tribal unit. However, after they came to Texas, they remained connected but found it advantageous because of the large area to divided into two large divisions. The Forest Lipans inhabited areas of northeast Texas around the upper Brazos River. The Plains Lipans inhabited areas from the upper Colorado and upper Concho Rivers westward to the Pecos River.

The century-long war with the Comanches in the 1700’s caused the Lipan divisions to splinter into a number of different bands. The Lipan tribe traditionally contained from 10 to 14 bands, each of which was composed of a number of rancherías, or groups of extended families. Each ranchería leader, or sub-chief, owed allegiance to the chief of the band, who dictated the migrations of the rancherías, declared war and negotiated peace. When the need arouse, bands worked to represent a united Lipan Apache Tribe.

The following is a list of some of the Lipan Apache Tribe's notable bands; but it is not a complete list of all the bands that have existed throughout the sacred history of the Tribe.

The Sun Otter band (Tche shä) - led for three decades by Cuelgas de Castro; ranged from San Antonio to Laredo, particularly Atascosa County

Little Breech-clout (-cloth) band (Tcha shka-ózhäyê)- led by Pocarropa then his son Yolsha (Jolsha) Poca Ropa; inhabited the lower Pecos region and to the east towards the Coast

Pulverizing or Rubbing band (Tchó kanä)- ranged from the upper Colorado south into Mexico; was absorbed by the Little Breech- clout band

The Green Mountain band (Tsél tátlidshä)- ranged into south Texas from Refugio to Nueces Counties; absorbed by High-Beaked Moccasin band

High-Beaked Moccasin band (Kóke metcheskó lähä)- led by Zapato Sas and Flacco

The Red Hair band (Tséral tuétahä)- led by Cabellos Colorado in 1739; was absorbed by the Sun Otters or Green Mountain band

Fire or Camp Circle band (Ndáwe qóhä)- inhabited areas from the San Saba to the upper Nueces River

Uplanders (Tüzhä or Täzhä)- lived along upper Rio Grande in the Organ or Sacramento Mountains of southern New Mexico

Prairie Men (Kó'l Kahä)- ranged from the upper Colorado to the Pecos River

Wild Goose band (Te’l kóndahä)- inhabited the upper Colorado

Painted Wood band (Tsésh ke shénde)- possibly lived along upper Brazos River

Big Water band (Kúne tsá)- inhabited northern Coahuila, Mexico

Heads of Wolves, Bodies of Men band (Tsés tsëmbai)- inhabited the region north of the Colorado River; the band name might reflect mythological aspects preserving the memory of early Lipan habitation areas after the tribe migrated into Texas

Big Water band (Kúne tsá)- inhabited northern Coahuila, Mexico