Mescalero Apache People

By Mary M. Serna and James W. Steely

The present Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation lies within the northern range of the prehistoric Jornada Mogollon culture. The Tularosa Basin yields many Paleo-Indian sites with findings of specific artifacts unique to this period, including fluted Folsom and Clovis projectile points and scrapers. During the culture’s Formative Period from circa 200 to 1400 AD, people continued to practice dry and flood land agriculture while living in pit houses and later pueblo villages. Several sites of the Formative Period including that at Mescalero have been found in the Tularosa Basin and surrounding mountains. Artifacts include period projectile points, ground stone, ceramics, hearths, and adobe and stone pueblo mounds. Pictographs and petroglyphs also appear at sites dated to this period (Eidenbach, 2003). Sites from the culture’s Corona Phase ranging from circa 1100 to 1200 AD have been found in piñon-juniper areas of broad valleys near water sources. Shelters were typically shallow square pithouses using upright stone slabs to outline them. Jornada Brown, El Paso Brown, and Chupadero Black-on-White are the most common types of pottery shards found at these sites (Houghten, 2003).

While clearing land for the new St. Joseph Apache Mission Church at Mescalero, Father Albert and others found evidence of such a prehistoric Jornada Mogollon stone floor, as well as pieces of pottery and other artifacts from the Formative and Corona periods on the grounds. Subsequent investigations of the present church site have led to the assignment of a New Mexico archeological site number. Cultural deposits contained within the property are part of the archaeological site known as LA 20723. These deposits contain information important to the understanding of prehistory and history at the regional and local levels of significance. Historic archaeological deposits are directly related to the construction of the St. Joseph Apache Mission Church, and its predecessor, and will be considered as part of a future archaelogical nomination.

Within Apache memory, the Tularosa Basin and Sacramento Mountains have been the homeland of the Mescalero for as long as oral history has been handed down from their ancestors. When the Spanish moved through the area in 1534 the Mescalero Apaches seasonally roamed a vast range of present New Mexico from the headwaters of the Rio Grande east to the Pecos River and south into Chihuahua, Mexico. The Spanish bestowed many of the geographic names familiar today, including Sierra Blanca—White Mountain—the snow-covered peak marking the center of creation, according to the Mescalero tradition (Opler 1983 a:432-3).

The 17th century blazing of El Camino Real between Mexico City and Santa Fe brought further Spanish exploration of the region. Spanish Catholic missionaries and colonists established villages and traded provisions for salt, piñon nuts, animal hides and woolen articles. Mescalero Apaches east of the Rio Grande and Chiricahua Apaches west of the river defended their lands as long as possible and resisted the Catholic missionary attempts to convert them to Christianity (Opler 1983a420). Because of Apache resistance, the Tularosa Basin saw very little settlement until the 18th century when the Spanish began their military campaigns in southern New Mexico. Captain Francisco Amangual led one such campaign in 1788 through the area defined by Sierra Blanca, the Sacramento Mountains, San Nicolas and San Augustin Spring (Wilson 1975:9-10). The campaign ended in 1810 with a peace treaty signed by the Spanish and Mescalero governments (Wessel, et al 1997:15).

Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, and opened trade at the end of El Camino Real with the United States and its own westering trail to Santa Fe. Despite continued Apache hostility, the Mexican government established the Doña Ana Bend colony in 1843 as their first permanent south-central settlement in New Mexico under the direction of Don Jose Maria Costales, by a grant from the Governor of Chihuahua, Mexico (HSNM, 1938: 317). Costales positioned his settlement along El Camino Real and the Rio Grande just before accession of New Mexico Territory to the United States in 1848 (Wilson 1975:10, Couchman 1990:21). Both the Spanish Colonial and New Mexican government tried to maintain control over the Camino Real trade route but soon lost to the new American interests, particularly fur traders, moving into the region. In 1846 as the U.S.-Mexican War began, Brigadier General S.W. Kearny took control of New Mexico territory for the U. S. government. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 made New Mexico, including the Mescalero homeland, U.S. Territory (Wessel, et al. 1997:16; Wilson 1975:18).

Apache and U.S. Relations in New Mexico Territory

In July 1851 the Mescaleros were invited to Santa Fe for a Peace Council. Thirty chiefs and leaders accepted and agreed to a treaty promising “Perpetual Peace and Amity.” But like other treaties before, Congress failed to ratify the document (Worcester, 1979:57). On July 1, 1853 the U.S. territorial government signed its first treaty with the Mescalero Apache, establishing their reservation centered around Fort Stanton, New Mexico, and extending southwest to Sierra Blanca, Three Rivers and La Luz. However, a survey and Congressional ratification never followed the agreement, allowing the boundaries of the reservation to be changed several times by subsequent executive orders and acts of Congress. (Today the reservation is an area of 720 square miles and home to people originating from four different Apache bands.)

American Indian policy in the mid-19th century included an effort to convince the Apache that Ussen, the Apache’s single deity, had turned his favor to the white man and had given him dominance over the land and all its peoples (Sonnichsen, 1982:4). The Mescalero, Chiricahua, Lipan and Warm Springs bands of the Apache stood up to this and other persecutions, breaking the 1853 peace treaty and initiating the Apache Indian Wars. With the Gadsden Purchase in 1854 the United States acquired additions to Arizona and New Mexico, now encompassing more traditional lands of the Mimbrenos, Mogollones, Pinalenos, Chiricahuas, Mescaleros and others (Worcester, 1979:60). After continued misunderstandings and warfare, and profound troubles with federally franchised Indian agents, in 1861 the federal Office of Indian Affairs established a distinct agency on the loosely defined Mescalero Reservation.

President Ulysses S. Grant\'s reforming "Indian Peace Policy" in 1869 stipulated that the civil administration of each Indian agency was to be entrusted to religious denominations already established among the tribes. These denominations would have the right to nominate agents, subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, and likewise call for their removal if suspected of misdeeds. Protestant churches received the majority of the agencies throughout the West, with eight assigned to the Catholic Church. In 1871 Vincent Colyer, a Quaker passionate about the rights of Native Americans, received permission from Washington to meet with tribes throughout the Southwest and officially establish reservations for them. By 1872 Mescalero hosted 350 Lipan Apaches from Texas and 310 Gilenos form the Chiricahua and Mimbres mountains of Arizona and New Mexico.

On May 27, 1873, President Ulysses S. Grant established the Mescalero Reservation by executive order, with headquarters at Fort Stanton (Sonnichsen, 1982:150-157). Even then boundaries were not surveyed and soon trouble broke out between Anglo and Mexican squatters. Because of continued corruption within the Fort Stanton Indian agency, Indian Agent A. J. Curtis in the spring of 1873 moved the Mescalero headquarters 40 miles west to Copeland’s ranch and then to Blazer’s Mill. Curtis prompted an investigation of corruption, but years of reputedly bad agents left distrust among the Mescalero people. On October 20, 1875, a new executive order extended the reservation into the Sacramento Mountains due in large part to sympathetic Indian Commissioner Francis A. Walker (Sonnichsen, 1979:160).

In October 1880 during a bloody battle at Trea Castullos, Apache warrior Victorio and most of his war party were killed, including a number of New Mexico Mescaleros disenchanted with reservations and corrupt agents. In 1881 troops were removed from the reservation, but these remained difficult times for Mescaleros. Apache leader Nana along with 25 Mescalero warriors joined Apache leader Geronimo in hiding in the Sierra Madres of Mexico (Worcester, 1979:233). On March 27, 1886, Geronimo and a group of warriors with women and children surrendered to American General George Crook in Mexico. By the time of the Geronimo surrender, Mescalero Apache were scattered throughout New Mexico\'s Sacramento Mountains in small groups. With the knowledge that the Anglo government had won, the Mescalero Apache and other Apaches tried to survive very difficult lives on the reservation.

Shortly after the Mexico surrender in 1886, the U.S. Army transported 77 Apaches, mostly Chiricahua, to Fort Marion, Florida. Another 397 Warm Springs and Chiricahua, including many Apache scouts enlisted to help General Crook capture Geronimo, and the others were sent from Arizona to prison at Fort Marion (Sonnichsen, 1979:223). Most died before their release or reassignments to different reservations, but those who survived the retched conditions in Florida and then Fort Sill, Oklahoma Territory, were sent to New Mexico to join family members who were married to Mescaleros or who already had sought refuge with the Mescaleros.

Meanwhile the Catholic Indian Bureau originated in 1874 by J. Roosevelt Barley, Archbishop of Baltimore, for the protection and promotion of Catholic Indian mission interests in the United States. The first established mission in Mescalero was Catholic, yet no records show that the Catholic Church or priests had any prior or formal involvement in the Mescalero government. The Indian Peace Policy was in force from 1874 to 1882, but after its discontinuance the Catholic Indian Bureau remained to serve established missions. The legacy of early Spanish and French Catholic evangelism in the New World carried well into the 19th century and the United States. A Catholic Priest, Father Jose Sambrano Tafoya, a native of Lincoln County, New Mexico, assigned to the area was the first recorded missionary to visit Mescalero. He baptized 173 Apaches into the Catholic faith in 1883, firmly establishing Christianity on the reservation (Sonnichsen, 1979:236, Cummings, 1995:74). By 1887 Catholic missionaries regularly visited the Mescalero reservation to spread Christianity, help protect aboriginal rights, and later to help with the reservation\'s schools. Not until 1902, however, were Catholic masses regularly celebrated on the reservation. At that time French priest Father Lucien Migeon was assigned to St. Francis De Paula in nearby Tularosa. Father Migeon frequently visited Mescalero and offered Mass at the home of James A. Carroll, U.S. Office of Indian Affairs superintendent on the reservation from 1902-1912.

By 1902 the Mescaleros were able to make a meager living for themselves on the reservation and their children were permitted to attend reservation schools. But by the time Geronimo died in 1909 at Fort Sill, Mescalero lands were in real danger of being usurped by gold and land hungry Anglos through the 1887 Dawes Act that allowed parcel claims within reservation boundaries. Advocates of the Apaches and Mescalero felt that by increasing the local Apache population, the Mescalero had a better chance of holding onto reservation lands. With the help of Father Migeon, 37 Lipans were allowed to leave Mexico and join relatives in Mescalero, bringing the number of Apaches at Mescalero to 462. Consequently the Lipan as well as the Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apaches being released from Fort Sill were welcome to join the Mescalero Apache on the reservation.

On January 6, 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state of the Union, an event that only amplified the Mescaleros\' struggle to save their reservation from squatters. In the spring of 1913, after 27 years of incarceration, 127 Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apache adults and their children joined the Mescalero. Of these were the surviving chiefs Naiche, Chato, Martine, Kieta, Kaetennae, Noche, and Toclanny. Chihuahua, Nana and Lozen had died at Fort Sill. (Ball, 1988:106-13, 122-193, Worcester, 1979:324). The popularity of Father Lucien’s Mescalero ministry and the growth of the local population led in 1912 to construction of the reservation’s first Catholic Church (just west of the present church).

Previously services had been celebrated in private homes, such as that of Mrs. Blasa Miller (Haugh, 1961). At the request of the bishop of El Paso, Father Lucien built a church of local materials including adobe bricks (parts of which are incorporated into the present rectory offices), and named the mission for St. Joseph, carpenter and emblematic builder, and husband of Mary the mother of Jesus.

From 1912 until 1919 an adobe church stood to the west of the present sanctuary (Haugh, 1961). After the first church, which had deteriorated and was sliding from its foundations, was demolished in 1919, Mass and other services were held in the 1912-1913 dining hall until the walls of the new church began to rise. When weather permitted services were held within the walls of the new church as it was being built. The dining hall still serves its original purpose with a kitchen today.

In 1914 the Catholic Indian Bureau requested that the Franciscan Order assume responsibility for the quarter-century-old Mescalero mission. Thereafter Father Ferdinand Ortiz from the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, Texas, became the first Franciscan priest to make regular visits to Mescalero from his assignment at Tularosa. In 1916 the mission’s administration transferred from El Paso to the Province of St. Barbara in California upon formation of that Franciscan province. (St. Joseph Mission is staffed by the province today, along with a religious sister from the St. Louis order, Sisters of Saint Francis of Our Lady of Perpetual Help since 1982.)

Father Albert Braun, O.F.M.

The Franciscan Province of St. Barbara, California, Province assigned Father Albert Braun, O.F.M. (Order of Franciscans Minor) to Mescalero in 1916 as the first Catholic priest to live full-time on the reservation (Figure 8-1). Born John William Braun in 1889 to German immigrants at Los Angeles, California, Father Albert arrived during a period of movement toward assimilation among Native Americans and the Apache. Despite his warm reception at Mescalero, Father Albert grew obsessed with news of the war in Europe, and applied repeatedly to his bishop for permission to join the U.S. Army chaplain corps. Father Albert’s patriotism might have been partly motivated by an official path of assimilation offered to Native Americans, who were promised full U.S. citizenship following voluntary military service. Several reservation men coincidentally volunteered for the Army as well. Whatever his primary motivation, Father Albert received permission to enlist from his superior, and joined the Army in June 1918 at Fort Bliss in El Paso, trained for chaplain service in Kentucky, and arrived at the battlefields of France in September (Figure 8-2). He soon saw action in one of the bloodiest battles involving Americans, the Meuse-Argonne offensive, during which he was wounded but stayed on the field to minister other wounded and dying soldiers. Father Albert received a Purple Heart ribbon and medal for his wounds. He was also nominated for the Distinguished Service Cross but was denied, reportedly because his superiors had never heard of a chaplain meriting a superlative medal (Emerson, 1973:54-62).

Mescalero veterans returning from the war were granted U.S. citizenship in 1919 (preceding the government’s general granting of Indian citizenships in 1924). On September 13 of that year Father Albert also found himself reassigned to Mescalero, returning from post-war occupation duty in Luxembourg and final service at the Presidio in San Francisco, California. During his tour in Europe, Father Albert said he received inspiration to build a church like the great architectural marvels he had seen in France, Germany and Luxembourg, to honor the Apache volunteers and all those who had given their lives in the conflict. Without funds other than $100 from his own Army pay, but with church and tribal permission he set upon a grand adventure to build an edifice completely with resources from within the Apache reservation. Father Albert also remained in the Army Reserve, using this periodic source of money for the new stone building (Emerson, 1973).

William C. Stanton, Architect

Father Paul Francis, a New York Catholic priest who served in the Army with Father Albert, had told Father Albert about a prominent Catholic architect in Pennsylvania. Father Albert obtained necessary permissions and official railroad passes from friends for a visit to Philadelphia, probably in the fall of 1919, where he found an eager designer in William C. Stanton. The architect, born in Philadelphia, received his bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 1907, winning a number of Beaux-Arts design awards. Upon graduation Stanton, university classmate Donald Folsom and John H. Crowe established their own firm as Folsom, Crowe & Stanton. After 1910 the firm settled into the configuration of Folsom & Stanton, designers of record for the Mescalero church, and remained in operation until Stanton\'s death in 1942 (Emerson, 1973:75; Philadelphia Inquirer, August 4, 1942; Kervick, 1962:126).

Throughout his independent architectural career Stanton maintained ties to Philadelphia’s city government, serving it in various capacities that included designing a city hall annex in 1923. From 1933 to 1935 Stanton served Philadelphia as the architect in charge of city planning. In 1935 Stanton’s arena of operation was further enlarged with appointment as principal architect for the U. S. Resettlement Administration in Washington, D.C. From 1936 to 1937 he became senior town planner for the Resettlement Administration. Stanton\'s memberships included the American Institute of Architects, which he joined in 1922, and a lifelong association with the Knights of Columbus fraternal organization of the Catholic Church. (Kervick, 1962:126)

Father Albert later recounted that when he met with William Stanton in 1919, the architect inquired about funds to build the huge church. Father Albert answered that he had $100 left from his Army pay. Availability of experienced labor was the next question; the Franciscan priest responded that he could provide a few Apache volunteers and perhaps a stonemason from California. When the architect asked about equipment, Father Albert replied proudly, “I have three shovels.” Stanton thereupon donated the blueprints and his advice, though he never traveled to the building site to observe its progress (Cave, 2003).

Father Albert envisioned the new church sitting atop the hill with a commanding view of the old church’s location, the heart of the Mescalero business community, and far to the west the Tularosa basin. Reservation officials made an informal gift of land that surrounded the first church and included the knoll where Father Albert hoped to build the new church (Figure 8-3). With plans finally in hand, groundbreaking for the new sanctuary’s foundation started in 1919, and the cornerstone was set in place in 1920.

Skilled Craftsmen and Mentors

Antonio (Tony) Maria Leyva, a stonemason from Santa Barbara, California, came to work with Father Albert soon after the new church construction began. Born on March 7, 1861, Leyva was the grandson of Juan Jose Leyva (earlier spelled Leyba), a member of the family of craftsmen who in the late 1700s helped Father Junipero Serra build California’s Franciscan missions (Figure 8-4). Young Tony Leyva served in the U.S. Merchant Marines as a cook, and then entered a stonemasonry business after returning to Santa Barbara. Father Albert and Leyva became friends while Father Albert studied in the seminary in Leyva’s hometown.

When the aging Leyva heard of Father Albert’s plan to build a stone church at Mescalero, he volunteered to help and moved to New Mexico. Leyva asked in exchange only for room and board, with the promise to be returned upon his death to Santa Barbara for burial next to his late wife. Leyva was about 60 years old when he arrived in Mescalero with his own tools, and was assigned by Father Albert as foreman of construction. Almost blind at the end of his career, Leyva carved the marble baptismal font in one of the alcoves of St. Joseph Apache Mission church. In his spare time he also carved an ornate water fountain, which Father Albert had planned to place in front of the church to make use of the spring that ran down the property. The fountain is now set in front of the friary at St. Francis De Paula in nearby Tularosa. Tony Leyva died on June 4, 1936, and Father Albert accompanied his body back to Santa Barbara for burial as promised. (Emerson, 1980:97-80, 156)

Brother Salesius (born Francis de Sales) Kraft, OFM, a German Army artilleryman in the First World War, also joined the small team of skilled builders who taught tribe members to construct the church. Born on February 24, 1886, in Germany, Brother Salesius entered the Franciscan order in his 20s. He interrupted his priesthood studies from 1914-1918 to serve in the, returning to make his solemn profession as a follower of St. Francis on February 21, 1923. Brother Salesius was assigned to the United States and the St. Barbara Province, bringing to his new home excellent carpentry skills. In 1928 the provincial in Santa Barbara sent Brother Salesius to help Father Albert for five weeks to help build living quarters for exiled Mexican friars.

Brother Salesius extended his stay for six months helping Father Albert with work on the church. On July 13, 1928, Brother Salesius died from injuries sustained while unloading large stones for the construction of the Mission (Braun, 1928; Province of St. Barbara Necrology, 1928, Vol.2). Brother Salesius Kraft was buried outside to the right (south) of the front doors of the church (Cave, 2003).

Protracted Construction

On March 2, 1928, the U.S. Congress officially deeded the 10 acres of land holding the new and old St. Joseph Apache Mission churches and the ancient cultural site to the Franciscan Province of St. Barbara. Now a decade after construction commenced, Father Albert scraped together enough money to hire additional help, and gathered other needed materials to continue construction. In the fall of 1929 he learned of an El Paso stonemason, Jose Mesa, considered one of the best stonemasons in the area but no doubt out of work due to the expanding Great Depression. Father Albert made a deal to pay Mesa and his sons $2 a day plus room and board at Mescalero.

Meanwhile Father Albert tended to many other duties, including the accommodation of Mexican friars exiled to the U.S. following the Mexican Revolution and persecution of the Catholic Church in Mexico between 1927 and 1940. In 1933 Father Albert combined his Army Reserve status with a chaplain’s position in the Civilian Conservation Corps, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s quasi-military organization for youth working on outdoor public works projects. This assignment maintained Father Albert\'s connections with the military and brought in additional cash for the church project.

By 1934 the Mescalero tribal government’s work on an economic development plan bore success, along with reorganization of the tribe’s education system. Under the Federal Indian Reorganization Act of 1936 the Mescalero, Chiricahua, Lipan, and Warm Springs Bands—collectively living in Mescalero—organized as the Mescalero Apache Tribe. Cattle and crops proved profitable for them and by 1937 most reservation Apaches had moved out of makeshift shelters and into houses.

Jose Mesa and his sons worked on the mission church until 1939, completing its massive stone walls. The building\'s tile roof was soon finished along with its floors, all laid with tile fired at the La Luz Pottery plant in La Luz Canyon. Braulio Daiz, who lived in Bent and worked at a quarry east of Alamogordo that donated the marble slabs, carved the marble altar. Lighting fixtures installed by this time were designed and made in Juarez, Mexico. Still lacking window frames, the unfinished church was nevertheless dedicated on July 4, 1939, as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the First World War (Sonnichsen, 1982: 271-272).

Father Albert in the Second World War

In the summer of 1940 as Germany forced the surrender of France and other Allies, Father Albert sought re-activation into the Army in case of U.S. entry into the war. On November 1, 1940, he reported for duty with the Army’s first peacetime draftees at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, as a chaplain in the 2nd Infantry Division. After his insistence once again on a foreign posting, he and several Apache volunteers from the Mescalero Reservation and New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin reached the Army’s 92nd Coastal Artillery at Corrigedor in the Philippines for defense against Japan. After the fall of American units there on May 7, 1942, the Japanese forced the remnants of the Philippine command, including Father Albert, along with Americans of the infamous Bataan Death March into prison camps. While still in the Philippines, Father Albert also smuggled food and medication to other POWs with the help of German missionaries working in Manila. After more horrific experiences, he eventually reached a prison camp in Japan at Omori, outside Tokyo, and served a total of 1,210 days as a prisoner of war, suffering beatings, disease and hunger. Throughout these ordeals, Father Albert performed Mass and buried the dead.

By the time Americans liberated the prison camp at Omori on August 29, 1945, Father Albert, a man taller than six feet, had dropped from 195 pounds to 115 pounds in his 40 months of captivity. Arriving back in the U.S. in late September he received Army hospital care in San Francisco and El Paso, then returned to Mescalero that fall. Once again at St. Joseph Apache Mission, on Armistice (later Veterans) Day, November 11, 1945, Father Albert re-dedicated the church in memory of those who gave their lives in pursuit of peace during both world wars (Figure 8-5).

The next November in a special ceremony at the Mission, Father Albert received the Legion of Merit and the Silver Star for his own service. He was honored by two generals, 10 colonels, an Army band and around 1,500 others attending. By the end of 1946 Father Albert\'s war-damaged legs forced him to give up missionary work in Mescalero. He returned to active duty as a chaplain in the Army at Brooke General Hospital in San Antonio. Later, to assist his recuperation in a more tropical climate, the Army assigned Father Albert to the Marshall Islands for six months, where he was assigned to Eniwetok in early January 1948. There he participated in the secretive Operation Sandstone, the second series of tests to “proof-test" atomic weapons. After Operation Sandstone, Father Braun was stationed in Hawaii for two years.

Returning to the mainland in 1949, Father Albert was stationed as a chaplain at the Presidio at San Francisco until he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army in October of that year (Sonnichsen, 1982: 273; Cave, 2003). After his military retirement the Franciscans assigned Father Albert to St. Mary’s Parish in Phoenix, Arizona, where he worked as a chaplain and teacher during the next three years. He volunteered to work in the poorest Mexican-American areas of Phoenix and helped build the Sacred Heart Church, three chapels and a school. Father Albert celebrated his 75th birthday at his old parish in Mescalero, but spent his remaining working and retirement years in the Phoenix area. When he died there on March 6, 1983, at the age of 93, Apache tribesmen brought his body back to Mescalero and laid him to rest inside the church sanctuary, just west of the altar.

The Apaches and St. Joseph Apache Mission after the Second World War

When Father Albert came back to Mescalero in 1945, many aspects of the church had not been finished, including the stone-step entrance, the spring-fed fountain, the stone retaining wall in front of the church, nor the 18-foot-tall statue of St. Joseph that was to stand on the west extreme of the wall. The 12-foot-tall carved stone angels to top the buttresses on each side of the front doors had not been started. To date none of those planned details have been completed. Windows, fortunately, finally were ordered from a manufacturer in El Paso and installed in the early 1950s.

Despite agricultural and housing successes in the 1930s, the Mescalero population saw few improvements through the Depression and the Second World War. Because of the Indian Claims Commission Act of August 13, 1946, the Mescalero Apache Tribe hired a Washington, D.C. law firm to enter a petition for loss of tribal land and won $8.5 million. This enabled the tribe to develop an outdoor sports enterprise for tourists, and upgrade schools and water supplies. The reservation began to lure tourist dollars by opening the Apache Summit Lodge and restaurant in September 1956. In 1963 the tribe purchased the Ski Apache resort and in 1974 built the Inn of the Mountain Gods, a resort complete with hotel, restaurants, lake, and golf course. In 1968 the tribal council built a large tribal headquarters a half a mile west of the St. Joseph Apache Mission (Sonnichsen, 1982:294-299).

For many years the staff and parishioners of Apache Mission sought help to save the church from deteriorating beyond the point of restoration. In the late 1990s the Diocese of Las Cruces considered condemning St. Joseph Apache Mission Church because of its deteriorated condition, and because the cost of correcting the problem seemed beyond the means of the diocese. At that time Brother Peter A. Boegel, OFM, helped form a group of concerned parishioners with the immediate goal to raise funds for a restoration contractor. With the first $24,262 raised, Bar M Construction from La Luz, New Mexico, began a test panel of stone repointing and estimated the cost of repairing the entire building. An estimate of $1.5 million was not an amount that the parish and diocese could raise quickly so their leaders dispatched Brother Peter and local parishioner Harry Vasile for training in historic stone preservation. The plan was to have these two men perform the restoration work while an ongoing search for funds continued. A goal of this strategy was to keep the Mission open to the visiting public and for services during the restoration.

Full-time restoration work began in February 2000, with immediate attention given to the most seriously deteriorated area of the church. Because the original construction of the church spanned a period of more than 25 years, much of the building had been fully exposed to the elements during that time. A combination of inexperienced labor, the poor quality of lime mortar initially used, and the delay in closing the building envelope had all contributed to the building\'s mounting problems. In the past, volunteers repaired the mortar in places using high-Portland-content cement, which accelerated the remaining lime mortar’s breakdown.

The current restoration program (2004) is dedicated to restoring the church with traditional high-lime-content mortar, using scientifically controlled procedures in its preparation and application. Five years into an estimated 14-year restoration plan, the project is approximately 30 % finished. To date the restoration committee has raised more than $652,460 and the project has become an overall community effort. Fourteen people from the Mescalero Apache Reservation and surrounding area have received training in the art of historic stone restoration. The Mescalero Apache Tribe provides heavy equipment and operators when needed, and many tribal members and parishioners contribute funds and volunteer their labor to help with the church restoration, much in the tradition of its original construction.

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Dorothy Cave Aldrich to Mary Serna , Jan. 9, 2003.

Father Albert Braun, OFM, to Monsignor William Hughes, Aug. 5, 1928.

Father Albert Braun, OFM, to Monsignor Quinn, April 29, 1961.

Father Solanus Haugh, OFM, to Monsignor Quinn April 29,1961.

Transcript of “The Catholic Church and the Apaches” (of Mescalero) a Radio Speech Broadcast from Station KLAG, in Alamogordo, NM, Feb. 25, 1956.

William Stanton to Father Albert Braun, OFM, June 21, 1920, March 28, 1932, Dec. 16,1933, Feb. 18, 1933.


Mescalero Apache People

The Mescalero Apache have long occupied Tularosa Basin. Their history streches back to prehistoric times.

(c) Mary M. Serna and James W. Steely. All rights reserved.

St. Joseph Apache Mission is on the U.S.National Register of Historic Places.