Our Language: The Meaning of Our Apache Name "Lipan"

The name Lipan means “The Light Gray People.” It comes from the Lipan word for a light gray color (łépai) and the word for The People or The Tribe (indeh or ndé). Yet, it is more than just a tribal name, for it contains a code which commemorates the Lipan Apache’s ancient journey from the McKenzie Basin of Canada to their eventual homeland of Texas. The Lipans, and all Apaches, see the Earth as a circle suspended in space at the four points of the compass. Each direction is represented by a color: North=White, West=Yellow, South=Blue, and East=Black.

When the ancient Lipan Apaches migrated from the north and then moved east into Texas, they were moving from the white of the north toward the black of the east. On a color palette, if you mix a little black with white, you get the color gray. That is why the Lipan Apaches are The Light Gray People- they are the easternmost of all the Apache tribes.