The Jicarilla Apaches are one of the six Athapascan groups that migrated out of Canada, between 1300 to 1500 AD. During that time, their traditional homelands spanned across New Mexico, southern Colorado and western Oklahoma.
Due to increase in other populations, Manifest Destiny, and Indian Wars, the Apaches' traditional cultural and economic lifeways became strained. Many had died due to famine, Indian Wars, including the Battle of Cieneguilla and new diseases for which they had no resistance. During their declining nomadic history, the Jicarilla Apaches started settling the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, New Mexico.
During this time, the Jicarilla Apaches began subsidizing their livelihood through sales of micaceous clay pottery and basketry. They also learned farming from their Pueblo neighbors. Eventually, United State President Grover Cleveland created the Jicarilla Apache Reservation through a United States executive order signed on February 11, 1887.
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