The Spanish named the Jicarilla band of Apaches (pronounced hick-uh-ree-ya, meaning "little basket") for their beautiful basketry. For centuries before the arrival of the Spanish, these Native Americans, who as Athabaskan speakers are related to the Navajo and other Apache bands, were a nomadic people who roamed across northeastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. Their band of 10,000 was reduced to 330 by 1897. The federal government relocated them to this isolated area of almost a million acres a century ago. Since then, the Jicarilla Apaches have made something of a comeback with the sale of timber, oil, and gas development, casino gambling, and savvy investing.
Dulce (pronounced dull-say, meaning "sweet" in Spanish) on U.S. 64 is the Jicarilla capital. This country is known for fishing, particularly at Stone Lake, and for hunting. You may also hike and camp. As with many pueblos in New Mexico, the casinos have become big draws as well. Some Jicarilla celebrations are open to the public. The Little Beaver Roundup, the third weekend in July, entails a rodeo, powwow, and carnival and draws participants from Native American tribes and pueblos throughout the United States.
The tiny but free Arts & Crafts Museum remains the best place to see fine historic and contemporary Jicarilla baskets, beadwork, and pottery. It's also the place to inquire about tours, events, and any tourism restrictions in place because of ceremonial activities. U.S. 64, ¼ mi west of Downtown Dulce, Dulce, NM, 87528. 575/759–3242 Ext. 274.
Contact the Jicarilla Apache Department of Game & Fish for information. 575/759–3255.