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Vaquero Indians

Thomas N. Campbell General Entry

The name Vaquero ("cow people") was applied by the Spanish to the nomadic bison-hunting Indians of present northwestern Texas and eastern New Mexico during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. They were evidently the same as the Querecho Indians reported earlier in the same area by members of the Coronado expedition. It is generally believed that the Vaqueros were ancestral to the Apaches who later became known as Mescalero and Lipan, particularly the latter.

George P. Hammond and Agapito Rey, eds., Don Juan de Oñate: Colonizer of New Mexico, 1595–1628 (Santa Fe: Patalacio, 1927; rpt., Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1953). Albert H. Schroeder, "A Re-Analysis of the Routes of Coronado and Oñate into the Plains in 1541 and 1601," Plains Anthropologist 7 (February 1962). Albert H. Schroeder, A Study of the Apache Indians: The Mescalero Apaches, Part III, Vol. 1 (New York: Garland, 1974).


  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Tribes (Other)

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas N. Campbell, “Vaquero Indians,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 26, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995