The Tonto Naipero A Nineteenth-Century Apache Playing Card Artist


Just found in American Indain Art Magazine (autumn 2006), an article on Apache playing cards & their history (rawhide playing cards).

Very interesting article, though it's not availible online.



that's really fascinating. I decided to run a search and this is what I came up with:

2 decks are also in the Kaplan collection, no big surprise there, and are featured in his book: Play Your Cards, available at Amazon


Thanks for the link, Papageno.

This looks to be quite intriguing. I might dig around the interlibrary system to see if I can find more info.


Wow. That is amazing. Thanks for the heads up Umbrae, and thanks for the link Papageno.


Yes Satori, that is the issue and article. I'd like to scan the article but am afraid of running afoul with the authors - I may attempt to contact them and get permissions etc.

It's a rather long one, and the footnootes are just about as long as the article itself.

What makes it especially interesting is that most of the American Indians had access to, and used French/Englins (Bridge style - 52 card) playing cards obtained from Anglos. But in the Soutwest, they obtained (and subsequently copied) the 40 card spanish decks, Ace through Seven and three courts Rey, Caballo, and Sota (King, Horseman or Knight, and Page).


I will be interested to share this with my stepfather. He's a full blooded NA (Pima and Maricopa tribes, here in the Amer SW). Once, when asking him what the NA community's view was of Tarot (in general), his response was because there was nothing like Tarot or card reading in the tribe's traditions, most NAs don't really take interest in Tarot.

But these cards are an Apache invention, and Apaches were primarily midwestern US (working on memory, sorry if wrong). So there's a good chance such practices were kept within the Apache tribe only, and didn't migrate into other areas of the US - hence a regional difference in the NA community regarding cartomancy.


The pictures don't give me the impression these raw-hide decks were used for anything other than playing cards. Umbrae, did the article mention anything about divination?


Phooey. The article link doesn't work for me. :(