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Between 1730 and 1800, Lipan Apaches navigated and survived Spanish imperialism by
trading, selling, and herding cattle. In the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, Apaches hunted bison, relying on them for food, shelter, and as tradable commodities. In 1718, Spanish priests founded the first mission along the San Antonio River. Over the next two decades, Spanish priests, rancho owners, and members of the mission communities introduced cattle into South Texas. Within a few years, cattle quickly flourished, changing the ecology of the region, pushing bison northward, into Comanche homelands. Lipan Apaches adapted to these ecological changes by creating a borderland cattle economy, using cattle as a vehicle to establish trade and kinship networks with Europeans and Indigenous groups in the region.
Lipans created an innovative economy that built kinship and trade networks throughout the South Texas borderlands. They adjusted to ecological changes by incorporating cattle into their economy and culture. Lipans raided missions and ranchos, taking entire herds of cattle. They rounded up orejanas, or unbranded cattle, exporting them via vast trade networks. This devastated the Spanish economy in Texas, leading Spanish priests to claim Lipan Apaches waged war by raiding cattle, even though the raids were largely peaceful, with very few, if any Spanish deaths. Spanish officials tried to create division among Lipans and their allies to the south and Comanches and their Norteño allies. However, Lipans used their borderland cattle economy to squash these manufactured crises. They used cattle as a vehicle to strengthen their kinship and trade networks. Lipans managed their borderland cattle economy, using their profits and networks to provide the necessities of life for themselves and their allies.
Bison; Borderland; Cattle; Lipan; Spanish; Texas
History | United States History
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Tifft-Ochoa, Jenni, "Changing Paradigms: Creating an Apache Borderland Cattle Economy, 1730-1799" (2020). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 4030.
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