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Manso (aka Tanpachoas, Gorretas)

Not to be confused with the Manso Apache, the Manso of the El Paso/Cuidad Juarez area were Uto-Aztecan speakers. They were called Manso by Onate because they were considered peaceful, tame, or docile. Manso, or Peaceful, was also attached to the Manso Apache (speakers of the Athabascan language) in historical Tucson who settled in the establecimiento de paz or Apache Peace camp near the San Agustin del Tucson presidio. In contrast, the Manso of El Paso lived along the river between about Arry, New Mexico and San Elizario, Texas. They also used resource areas away from the river in Chihuahua, Texas, and New Mexico. The Manso may be most closely affiliated with the Piro Puebloans of New Mexico and the Jumano and Suma of Texas and Chihuahua. Unfortunately, most of what had been inferred about the Manso and related groups was originally conveyed by Jack Forbes in a number of publications. He inferred that the Manso (and Jano, Jocome, and Suma) were Athabascan-speaking and basically ancestral Apache. This notion has become entrenched but it is not factual. Much knowledge has been gained since Forbes' important work, which remains a contribution, but should be read without the assumption that these local groups were originally Apaches. Later many of them intermixed with the Apaches because those who did not settle down became allies with the Apache and therefore intermarried with them, all being small groups who needed to find mates outside their small social groups.

The Manso of El Paso were called peaceful because this is what they said when Onate came through on his way to colonize New Mexico in 1598. They called out this phrase to indicate that they were not going to attack, and showed their hospitality by sharing food and assisting the Spaniards across the river at modern day El Paso. We do not know their original name for themselves.


The Manso were called the Tanpachoas by an earlier expedition. Recent investigations into this group adds to the meager information provided by documentary sources from the Spanish colonial period.  I have recently learned from a Manso descendant that "Tanpachoa" references the way they diverted the river water to farm their mid-river fields. They blocked the water, hence, tan pachado, often pronounced pa-chow, meaning much blocked, as confirmed by a Spanish-speaking Piro descendant.  They lived along the river, until it flooded, which it did seasonally and then they moved to foothill settlements. They were also called Gorretas, which is a small cap, a reference to the way they cut their hair, that looked like they were wearing a small cap.


Listen to this Manso descendant tell about the origin of this name:

You can learn more about this and other cultural attributes of the Manso/Tanpachoas at:

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