Marc Simmons: Apaches and dog nomads
"When the earliest Spanish explorers ventured upon New Mexico's eastern plains, they discovered Indians there, mostly Apachean-speaking, who were true "dog nomads." Most people I suspect, have never heard of them. But their way of life makes a beguiling story.

It is generally known that the Spaniards brought the first horses to the Southwest. In the pre-horse era, Indians dwelling on the open plains had only the dog as a beast of burden.

About them, Coronado in 1541 wrote: "They have dogs that they load, which carry their tents and poles and belongings." And he made reference to Moorish-style packsaddles with girths.

Gaspar Castaño de Sosa, who entered New Mexico in 1590 by ascending the Pecos River, bumped into migrating Apaches whose dogs were bearing all their worldly goods.

"That was a thing new to us," he wrote in astonishment, "never before seen." One of the dogs, he observed, had two heavy hides tied to his back, and a breast collar and rump strap under his tail. They prevented the load from slipping."

Get the Story:
Marc Simmons: Trail Dust: Before horses, dogs toted burdens (The Santa Fe New Mexican 8/15)

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