Mescalero Apache Tribal Administrative Offices and Community Center in Mescalero, New Mexico
|Regions with significant populations|
|Mescalero, English, Spanish|
|Indigenous Religion, mescalero|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Western Apache, San Carlos Apache, White Mountain Apache, Navajo|
Mescalero or Mescalero Apache is an Apache tribe of Southern Athabaskan Native Americans. The tribe is federally recognized as the Mescalero Apache Tribe of the Mescalero Apache Reservation, located in south central New Mexico.
In the nineteenth century, the Mescalero opened their reservation to other Apache bands, such as the Mimbreno and the Chiricahua, many of whom had been imprisoned in Florida. The Lipan Apache also joined the reservation. Their descendants are enrolled in the Mescalero Apache Tribe.
Originally established on May 27, 1873, by Executive Order of President Ulysses S. Grant, the reservation was first located near Fort Stanton. The present reservation was established in 1883. It has a land area of 1,862.463 km² (719.101 sq mi), almost entirely in Otero County. The 463,000-acre reservation lies on the eastern flank of the Sacramento Mountains and borders the Lincoln National Forest. A small unpopulated section is in Lincoln County just southwest of Ruidoso. U.S. Route 70 is the major highway through the reservation.
The tribe has an economy based largely on ranching and tourism. 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 are tribal artifacts and important historical information. The tribe also operates 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") within Lincoln National Forest. As part of the IMG operation, the tribe also owns and manages Ski Apache under contract as a concession with the US Forest Service. It is the southernmost major ski area in North America. In January 2012, Ski Apache celebrated its 50th anniversary.
The ski area is situated adjacent to the massive peak of Sierra Blanca a 12,003-foot (3,659 m) mountain. It is the southernmost alpine peak in the Continental United States and is part of the Sacramento Mountains. Using the EPA's Level III Ecoregion System, derived from Omernik, this mountain is included in the "Arizona/New Mexico Mountains," which is south of the "Southern Rocky Mountains" of northern New Mexico. Sierra Blanca peak, located on the reservation, is sacred ground for the Mescalero Apache Tribe. They do not allow access without a permit.
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. Chino's son, Mark Chino, also has been elected and served as president.
New officers have served in the 21st century. On January 11, 2008 Carleton Naiche-Palmer was sworn in as the new president of the Mescalero Apache tribe. Since 2014 Danny Breuninger has served in office, now in his second term. Gabee Aguilar is Vice President.
Culture and language
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The Mescalero language is a Southern Athabaskan language which is a subfamily of the Athabaskan and Dené–Yeniseian families. Mescalero is part of the southwestern branch of this subfamily; it is very closely related to Chiricahua, and more distantly related to Western Apache. These are considered the three dialects of Apachean. Although Navajo is a related Southern Athabaskan language, its language and culture are considered distinct from those of the Apache.
The Mescalero Apache were primarily a nomadic mountain people. They traveled east on the arid plains to hunt the buffalo and south into the desert for gathering Mescal Agave. Spanish colonists associated them with this plant and named them Mescalero Apache. The Mescalero Apache, along with the other Apache groups, lived by traditional hunting and gathering. If conditions were poor, they raided other tribes, and Spanish, Mexican and American settlers to survive.
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 Navajo, another Athabascan-speaking tribe, call the Mescalero Naashgalí Dineʼé. Like other Apache peoples they often identify simply as 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 stored mescal for survival. Since 1550 Spanish colonists referred to them as the Mescalero.
Mescalero Apache bands were often referred to by European colonists and settlers by different names, some related to their geographic territory. They were recorded in documents by a wide number of names: Apaches de Cuartelejo, Apaches del Río Grande, Apachi, Faraones, Mezcaleros, Natage (more correctly, one of the Lipan Apache subdivisions, along with the Nahizan), Natahene, Querechos, Teyas, Tularosa Apaches, and Vaqueros. They were also distinguished as Sierra Blanca Apaches, Sacramento Mountains Apaches, Guadalupe Mountains Apaches, Limpia Mountains Apaches. according to their homelands in northern or southern Mescalero territory.
Originally the different Mescalero bands and local groups ranged in an area between the Rio Grande in the west and the eastern and southern edge of the Llano Estacado and the southern Texas Panhandle in Texas in the east; from present-day Santa Fe in the northwest and the Texas Panhandle in the northeast, down to the Big Bend of Texas and what became the Mexican provinces of Chihuahua and Coahuila to the south. The diverse landscape of this area has high mountains up to 12,000 feet, as well as watered and sheltered valleys, surrounded by arid semi-deserts and deserts, deep canyons and open plains. The Mescalero Apache Reservation is located at geographical coordinates .
Since each band of Mescalero had the right to use the resources of deer and plants of the neighboring groups, the different bands felt at home in any area of their wide tribal territory. The Mescalero bands often ranged widely 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.
- Natahéndé / Nadahéndé (Spanish rendering - translteration - as Natages, pronounced Na-ta-hay, "Mescal People"; lived between Rio Grande and Pecos River in central New Mexico, with local groups traveling on the southern and western edge of the Llano Estacado onto the southern Texas Panhandle)
- 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.)
- Nit'ahéndé / Niit’ahénde ("People Who Live Against the Mountains", "Earth Crevine (Deer) People"; lived in the Sacramento Mountains in New Mexico and the Guadalupe Mountains in western Texas.)
- 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 been based around the 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 south central Texas and in northern Coahuila, camping together with several bands of the Mescalero 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; they 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, Oklahoma, where they had been imprisoned since ?, or to relocate to the Mescalero Apache 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
- Gorgonio, northern Mescalero medicine-man, aide to old Barranquito and, later, to Santana.
- Gómez, southern Mescalero chief who led a large band 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; his stronghold was in the Limpia Mountains, later named 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, leader of a local group in the Limpia also known as Davis Mountains and in the lowlands of the Trans-Pecos; segundo and war chief of southern Mescalero Chief Gómez, 1840s - 1860s
- Chinonero, leader of a local group in the Limpia also known as Davis Mountains and in the lowlands 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. In 1850 he and Simón Manuel contacted the garrison at San Elizario to sue for peace, but were likely overruled by Gómez, 1840s - 1860s.
- Simón Manuel, leader of a local group in West-Texas; segundo and war chief of southern Mescalero chief Gómez. In 1850 he and leader Simón Porode contacted the garrison at San Elizario to sue for peace, but were likely overruled by Gómez, 1840s - 1860s)
- Marco (also known as Marcus) southern Mescalero chief who led a band of about 600 people, including about 200 warriors - presumably Tsehitcihéndé or Niit’ahénde. They lived in the Big Bend Country, ranged on both sides of the Rio Grande from the Guadalupe Mountains toward east of the Limpia Mountains also known as Davis Mountains onto the edge of the Southern Plains. He was reported to have led frequent raids and attacks of parties on the San Antonio road and in the settlement near El Paso. He wished to join the Sierra Blanca Mescalero band, but their request was refused, because they were considered a Texas Mescalero band; active in the 1840s - 1860s.
- Espejo (“looking-glass”), southern Mescalero chief led a large band, presumably Tsebekinéndé, with several local groups under his segundos (or war chiefs) Nicolás and Antonio. They ranged between Limpia Canyon, Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos and east of the Limpia also known as Davis Mountains onto the surrounding desert lowlands of the Trans-Pecos in West Texas, from the 1840s - late 1860s.
- Nicolás, leader of a local group of the Tsebekinéndé band in the Limpia also known as 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 Limpia also known as 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, said to be a son of Gomez, 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)
- Barranquito (also known as 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 (also known as Santa Ana), ca. 1810 - †1876, son and successor of Barranquito, since about 1830' had been a local group leader of great authority 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, until his death of pneumonia or smallpox
- Cadete (also known as Cadette - “Volunteer”, in Apache: Gian-na-tah (“Always Ready”), also known as Zhee-es-not-son, Zhee Ah Nat Tsa), a son and successor of Barranquito. After Santana he was the most prominent and powerful chief of the Sierra Blanca Mescalero band, was more diplomatic than Santana and was a 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 Comanchero to Comanche. He was murdered in 1872 while on a peace mission and returning from Tularosa.
- Roman Grande, a son and successor of Barranquito, serving as chief of a local group of the Sierra Blanca Mescalero band. Less important than Santana and Cadete, he followed the lead of his brother Santana; died during an epidemic in 1885.
- Josecito (also known as José Cito), after Barranquito and Santana, the most prominent leader of some local groups of the Sierra Blanca Mescalero band. In April 1852 he signed a treaty with Calhoun representing the US, together with the minor leader of another group of the Sierra Blanca Mescalero and Chacon, leader of the Jicarilla Apache.
- Nautzili (also known as Natzili, Nautzile, Nodzilla - "buffalo"), chief of the Guhlkahéndé and southern Lipan splinter groups living in northern Mexico, moved to reservation in 1876. In 1879 he had assumed leadership of most of the Mescalero reservation bands (including the Lipan) and persuaded many warriors not to join the Tchihende 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, but, unlike Nautzili, San Juan left the reservation in spring 1880, after Caballero's outbreak, during "Victorio's war"; his son Peso would become the last Mescalero chief
- Caballero (Ca-bal-le-so, eventually to be identified with Kutbhalla or Kutu-hala), war chief and later principal chief of the bands of the Sacramento Mountains during the decades 1860s and 1870s, likely married to a daughter of the Chihenne Chief Mangas Coloradas, close ally and long-time friend of the great Mimbreño chief Victorio (and likely his brother-in-law as Mangas Coloradas' son-in-law); in March 1880 he left Tularosa and joined Victorio, fighting alongside with him their last battles, but, according to some reports, he was killed in a trouble between the chiefs before the Tres Castillos massacre on oct. 14 1880)
- Alsate (also known as Arzate, Arzatti, also known as Pedro Muzquiz, ca. *1820 - †1881/1882), last Chief of the Chisos Apaches (also Chinati or Rio Grande Apaches, a Mescalero band in the Limpia Mountains (also known as Davis Mountains), Chisos Mountains and Chinati Mountains in the Big Bend area, the Sierra del Carmen of Coahuila and Sierra Alamos in Chihuahua north of the Bolsón de Mapimí, born to a Mescalero woman and a member by blood of the influential Muzquiz family, captured with his band in 1878 at San Carlos de Chihuahua and deported to Mexico City to be jailed in "la Acordada", succeeded in escaping with his people in December 1879 and came back to the Big Bend; was caught again at San Carlos de Chihuahua in 1880 and executed together with his segundos (or war chiefs) Colorado and Zorillo at Ojinaga, opposite Presidio del Norte, Texas, his people were sold into slavery in Mexico, ca. 1860 - 1882)
- Colorado ("Red", likely "Avispa Colorada" "Red Wasp") leader of a local group of Chisos, or maybe Lipan, 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 (likely "Zorrillo" "Little Fox")) 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
- Carnoviste, hostile southern Mescalero chief, his band - 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 Limpia Mountains also known as Davis Mountains onto the edge of the Southern Plains, was reported to have committed frequent "depredations" on the San Antonio road and to have kidnapped Hermann - soon adopted in the tribe - and Willie Lehmann near Fort Mason in May 1870; in 1874 he promoted a council of Mescalero, Mimbreño and Lipan Apache chiefs, and Victorio succeeded in persuading the council to send peace messengers to the Comanches and Kiowas; he was killed by a medicine man of his band in the spring 1876
- Peso, ca. *1849 - †1929, was born in the Guadalupe Mountains near present-day Carlsbad 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 Sin Miedo (Sans Peur, Without Fear) and Magoosh were the three primary leaders on the reservation - Magoosh for the Lipans at Elk Springs, Sin Miedo at Tule Canyon and Peso representing the Rinconada and the Three Rivers
- Sin Miedo (“Without Fear” = “Sans Peur”), 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 and shaman of the Bedonkohe band of the Ndendhe Apaches; 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 Sin Miedo at Tule Canyon
- Muchacho Negro (“Black Boy”), local group leader of warriors, joined the Chihenne Chief Victorio, about 1860, died 1930.
Other notable Mescalero
- Gouyen (ca. 1857-1903), female warrior
- Michael Horse, actor, painter
- Wendell Chino, former tribal president of the Mescalero Apache Tribe for 43 years
- Virginia Klinekole, first female tribal president
- Sara Misquez, former tribal president
- Inés Talamantez, ethnographer and theologian
- Lincoln National Forest
- List of Indian reservations in the United States
- Mescalero, New Mexico
- Mescalero language
- Mescalero Escarpment
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- Chinati derives from the Apache word ch'íná'itíh, which means gate or mountain pass
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- Debo, Angie, Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place, Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press (1976), ISBN 0-8061-1828-8
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- Debo, Angie, Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place, Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press (1976), ISBN 0-8061-1828-8
- Hoijer, Harry; & Opler, Morris E. (1938). Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache texts. The University of Chicago publications in anthropology; Linguistic series. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Reprinted 1964 by Chicago: University of Chicago Press; in 1970 by Chicago: University of Chicago Press; & in 1980 under H. Hoijer by New York: AMS Press, ISBN 0-404-15783-1).
- 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.
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- Sonnichsen, C. L. (1972) The Mescalero Apaches (The Civilization of the American Indian Series), Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press (1972), ISBN 0-8061-1615-3
- 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 email@example.com.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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.
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- 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.
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- 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)
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