Collection Description

Culture Name

Mescalero Apache

Culture Description

The Mescalero Apache were traditionally a hunting and gathering people of the American Southwest, the southern Plains, and northern Mexico. Linguistically they were related to the Athapascan-speaking Navajo, central Alaskan, and southern Canadian Indians. After years of conflict with the Spanish, Mexicans, and later by the Americans, they were eventually placed on a reservation, where they were joined by the Lipan and Chiricahua Apaches. Following the Indian Reorganiztion Act of 1934 the Mescalero gradually began to assume control over their own lives. By the late twentieth century their government consisted of a Tribal Council consisting of a tribal president, vice president, and other council members all popularly elected for two-year terms.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


North America --Southwest and Basin


United States

OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Number of Pages


Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF World Cultures collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Mescalero Apache collection consists of all English language documents covering a time span from approximately 1540 to the late 1980s. Documents which provide a general summary of Mescalero culture history and ethnography are: Opler, [n.d], no. 46, and the last section of Farrer's work on this group listed as Farrer, [n.d.], no. 47. The three studies by Basehart in this collection, (Basehart, 1980, 1980, 1980, nos. 3, 7, and 8), also provide information on social and political organization, leadership, and subsistence patterns. Dealing with the more metaphysical concepts of Mescalero society are the works by Farrer (1980, [n.d], nos. 30 and 47). Farrer, (1980, no.30) discusses Mescalero concepts of space, time, and sound and the way they communicate meaning and order within the culture. The second study by Farrer ([n.d.], no. 47), describes native concepts of cosmology, ethnoastronomy, and the relationship between celestial phenomena and the environment. Various other ethnographic topics of interest in this document are: shamanism and supernatural power in Chris and Opler, (1980, no. 2);.mythology associated with the birth of the culture hero, Child-of-the Water, in Opler, (1980, no. 20); Mescalero beliefs and practices related to death in .(Opler, 1980, no. 21), and peyote ceremonialism in Opler, (1980, no. 27). Of major interest in this collection of documents is the study of the girls' puberty Nicholas, (1980, no. 15), which gives a general account of this ceremony, and is further supplemented in greater detail in Farrer, ([n.d.], no. 47).

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

John Beierle

Bosque Redondo captivity - use "AFTERMATH OF COMBAT (727)"

Directionality, in basket construction  - use "ETHNOGEOGRAPHY (823)" with "MATS AND BASKETRY (285)"

Gutaat – singers at the girls' puberty ceremony - use "MUSIC (533)" with "PUBERTY AND INITIATION (881)"

Libaye – clowns, especially in the girls' puberty ceremony - use "DRAMA (536)"

Supernatural power - use "SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES (778)"

Tribal Business Committee - use "CHIEF EXECUTIVE (643)"

Tribal Council - use "CHIEF EXECUTIVE (643)" and/or "PARLIAMENT (646)", depending on context

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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