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These indigenous peoples of North America speak a Southern Athabaskan (Apachean) language, and are related linguistically to the Athabaskan speakers of Alaska and western Canada.
The modern term Apache excludes the related Navajo people. However, the Navajo and the other Apache groups are clearly related through culture and language and thus are considered Apachean. Apachean peoples formerly ranged over eastern Arizona, northwestern Mexico, New Mexico, and parts of Texas and the Great Plains.
The Apachean tribes were historically very powerful, constantly at enmity with the Spaniards and Mexicans for centuries. The first Apache raids on Sonora appear to have taken place during the late 17th century. The U.S. Army, in their various confrontations, found them to be fierce warriors and skillful strategists.
The Jicarilla Apache Nation is located in the scenic mountains and rugged mesas of northern New Mexico near the Colorado border. There are approximately 2,755 tribal members, most of whom live in the town of Dulce. Nomadic in nature until just before European contact, the Jicarilla tribe established trade with Taos and Picurís pueblos. They wandered and traded as far east as Kansas until they settled deep in the northern Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the mid-1720s.
The Jicarilla Apache Nation is world-renowned for hunting, fishing, camping, boating and hiking opportunities. The tribe maintains Horse Lake Mesa Game Park, the largest single elk enclosure in the country at 14,500 acres. Black bear and mountain lion roam freely throughout the nation.
The nation offers fishing at seven beautiful mountain lakes, from 30 to 400 acres in size, and harbors thousands of ducks and a variety of water birds found in the Southwest. For more information, contact the Jicarilla Apache Department of Game and Fish at P.O. Box 313, Dulce, N.M. 87528, (575) 759-3255.
Stop by the Jicarilla Arts and Crafts Shop Museum in Dulce for beautiful Jicarilla beadwork, baskets, paintings and ribbon shirts. Flung across and under several enfolding limestone-streaked mesas, Dulce, the tribal capital, is pretty quiet except during the mid-September Go-Jii-Ya Feast Day, the Stone Lake Fiesta and July's Little Beaver Roundup.
There are plenty of overnight accommodations in Dulce and a community center offers bowling, a gym, swimming pool and exercise room. No camera permits are required; there's no admission fee to the reservation. Dulce is located 35 miles west of Chama on U.S. 64.