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The Jicarilla called themselves also Haisndayin translated as "people who came from below", The Jicarilla Apache lived in a semi-nomadic existence in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and plains of southern Colorado, northern New Mexico and ranged into the Great Plains starting before 1525 CE.
They lived a relatively peaceful life for years, traveling seasonally to traditional hunting, gathering and cultivation along river beds.
By the 1800s they were planting along the rivers, especially along the upper Arkansas River and its tributaries, a variety of crops, sometimes using irrigation to aid in growing squash, beans, pumpkins, melons, peas, wheat, and corn.
They found farming in the mountains safer than on the open plains.
At the beginning of the eighteenth century the Jicarilla commonly raided the Plains tribes to their east and used the fruits of their successes to trade with the Pueblo Indians and the Spanish.
When the Comanche, who had obtained guns from the French, with their close allies and kin, the Ute, were pushing out onto the plains, they were pillaging the various eastern Apache peoples (Jicarilla, Mescalero and Lipan) occupying the southern plains for control.
Some of the people of the Dismal River culture joined the Kiowa Apache in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Diseases to which Native Americans had no immunity "decimated" their tribes, creating greater pressure for their lands to be taken from them.and lived in what they considered their land bounded by four sacred Rivers in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado: the Rio Grande, Pecos River, Arkansas River, and the Canadian River containing sacred mountain peaks and ranges.Large numbers of them lived also along the Cimarron River Culturally, the Jicarilla were heavily influenced by the Plains Indians to their east and the Pueblo Indians to their west, with the result that their own culture exhibited a combination of nomadic hunting and settled farming characteristics.Traditional Jicarilla stories of White Shell Woman, Killer of the Enemies, Child of the Water and others feature places and nearby people special to them, such as the Rio Grande Gorge, Picuris Pueblo, the spring and marsh near El Prado, Hopewell Lake and particularly of the Taos Pueblo and the four sacred rivers.The Jicarilla created shrines in sites that held spiritual meaning, sharing some of the Taos area sites with the Taos Pueblo.