The emergence of Jicarilla Apache enclave economy during the 19th century in northern New Mexico

Bernice Sunday Eiselt
Dept. of Anthropology, University of Michigan
July, 2006


Previous characterizations of Plains-Pueblo interaction highlight the important role that Apaches played in the regional socioeconomic system of the precontact American Southwest. However, Jicarilla Apache responses to state expansion after A.D. 1550 and the evolution of forager-farmer interactions during the historic period remain unstudied. Enclavement, the encapsulation of an ethnic community within a larger society, is characteristic of many nomadic groups existing as coherent sociocultural entities within polyethnic state systems. This dissertation examines the nature of nomadic enclaves and the process of enclavement using Jicarilla Apache historic and archaeological materials. I argue that enclave formation during the pre-reservation period incorporates many elements of preexisting Plains-Pueblo relationships and that enclavement enabled the Jicarilla to preserve traditional aspects of society well into the 19th-century. Jicarilla enclavement involved the expansion of exchange networks with settled agriculturalists, the occupation of secondary niches within a settled zone, and the reorganization of labor practices.
The evolution of the Jicarilla enclave is traced from the precontact era to the 19th-century using ethnohistoric references. Enclave ideology, social organization, and economy are reviewed based on ethnographic documents. A specific case study using archaeological materials from the Chama Valley of New Mexico reveal the ways in which the Jicarilla Ollero enclave occupied the northern Rio Grande by establishing mutualistic ties with rural Hispanic and Pueblo Indian villages. Specific insights into the productive economy of Jicarilla women are reconstructed from ethnographies, oral interviews, apprenticeship with traditional potters, and detailed studies of whole ceramic vessels and fragmentary ceramics found in museum collections. A major contribution of the study is the generation of a raw micaceous clay database developed through survey of clay sources from 1998 to 2001. Over 150 clay samples were submitted for Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA) at the Ford Nuclear Reactor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Clay samples were matched to 500 micaceous sherds recovered from Apache, Pueblo, and Hispanic archaeological sites. Source matches help to identify patterns of land use, the organization of pottery production and technology, and aspects of ceramic exchange that are characteristic of enclaved Apaches as well as their sedentary Pueblo and Hispanic neighbors.