Lipan Apache Nation

Have you ever wondered why some members of your family have distinct Indian features? Or has someone ever said, “Es puro Indio” (He’s pure Indian) or “Tiene sangre de Indio” (He’s got Indian blood), to that member? It could be that they do have Indian blood a few generations back and not all the way back to the 16th, 17th, or 18th century in Mexico.

The Lipan Apaches is the group that I’m referring to. They were a semi-nomadic tribe that inhabited southwest and south Texas in the 18th and 19th century.

Princess and WarriorA few months ago I had the privilege of meeting General Council Chairman Daniel Castro Romero, Jr., of the Lipan Apache Nation at a ranch outside of Falfurrias, Tx. When I saw Chairman Castro Romero I did a double take. I couldn't believe how much he resembled a Lipan Apache warrior from a lithograph that I have.

The lithograph is from the book, “Report on the U.S. and Mexican Boundary Survey” by William H. Emory; published by the 34th Congress of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1857. In the book there is a lithograph of a Lipan Apache warrior at their campsite called Lipan Crossing, on the Rio Grande River about 85 miles above the mouth of the Pecos River.

When I told Chairman Castro Romero about it he informed me that he descended from several Lipan Apache Chiefs, Cuelga de Castro and Juan or John Castro. They are very well documented in U.S., Texas, and Mexican history books. The Lipan Warrior in the lithograph, although he isn't identified by name, could very well be Chairman Castro Romero’s ancestor. The resemblance is very strong, as you will see in the photos on the opposite page.

After U.S. Army Col. Ronald MacKenzie and about 400 of his troops crossed the Rio Grande River into Mexican territory in the state of Coahuila in 1873 and killed many Kickapoo and Lipan Apaches, most people thought that the few remaining Lipan were taken to the Mescalero Reservation in New Mexico. To my surprise I found out from Chairman Castro Romero that many of the surviving Lipan fled further into Mexico and some came to South Texas. Later on they made their way to the Falfurrias and Beeville areas.

After the dispersal of the Lipan from Coahuila by MacKenzie and his men, the tribal elders told their sons and daughters to forget their past lives as Apaches and to assimilate into the Mexican population. They were now Mexicans.

According to Chairman Castro Romero’s oral history documentation, some of the Lipan came to the ranch owned by Ed Lasater around the Falfurrias area. Lasater is known to have befriended them and gave them work. He has been documented in the Falfurrias Facts referring to the name, Falfurrias as being a Lipan word for “Heart’s Delight”, the beautiful wildflower that traditonally grows in the Brooks County area region of Texas.

If you have been doing genealogy work and have come to a dead end somewhere in the 1870s to the 1900s, it could be that the parents of those ancestors you find in the censuses of 1880 and 1900 and can't find where they came from, could be these Lipan Apaches, who have never been counted in any censuses in Mexico or the United States.

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