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Indian Nations of Texas

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Alabama Indians came to Texas early in the nineteenth century, and the largest single body of Alabama still lives there on a State reservation in Polk County. The Alabama Coushatta were late comers from the east and still reside in Texas.

Though recognized as two separate tribes, the Alabamas and Coushattas have long  been considered one tribe culturally. They migrated from present-day Alabama beginning in 1763, eventually settling in the Big Thicket area of Southeast Texas. The Alabamas and Coushattas were skilled warriors but preferred to stay at peace. They fought with Stephen F. Austin in his campaigns against the Karankawas and in the Fredonian Rebellion, and successfully drove the Comanches out of their territory in 1839. Their assistance to the Texans during the Runaway Scrape in 1836 won them the friendship of even such an inveterate Indian fighter as Mirabeau B. Lamar.

In 1853, the Alabamas moved to a reservation in Polk County, where they were joined by the Coushattas in 1859. They helped move military supplies for Texas during the Civil War. Their support won praise from Confederate governors Francis R. Lubbock and Pendleton Murrah. However, the 1870s saw the two tribes reach a low point, as an influx of white settlers into their lands destroyed their traditional way of life.

In the 1880s, the Alabamas and Coushattas began to build new lives, becoming experts in the burgeoning lumber industry and embracing both Christianity and education as anchors in their lives. During these years, an attorney from Livingston, J.C. Feagin, became a tireless advocate for the tribes. Feagin worked for decades to gain federal assistance for land and educational opportunities that would enable the tribes to be economically self-sufficient once again. This effort finally began to pay off in the 1920s, when the government purchased an additional 3000 acres of land that helped make the Alabama-Coushatta more competitive farmers. The federal government also paid for additional educational facilities, a gymnasium, and a hospital.

Since then, Alabama-Coushatta affairs have been alternately under both state and federal jurisdiction. The tribes formally incorporated under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and developed both a constitution and by-laws.carter-1995-map2


The name of a tribe or band belonging to the Hasinai Confederacy. The Anadarkos lived in East Texas in present-day Nacogdoches and Rusk counties. Greatly impacted by disease and warfare, they migrated westward after the Texas Revolution, seeking an area where they could live free of white interference and depredations from fiercer tribes. They moved to the Brazos Indian Reservation in 1854, and to Indian Territory in 1859.

  • Hasinai Confederacy. Hasinai signifies “our own folk.” The name often occurs in the forms Assinay or Cenis.
    Connections: The Hasinai Confederacy constituted one of the major divisions of the Caddo, the others being the Kadohadacho Confederacy, the Natchitoches Confederacy, and the Adai and Eyeish, the two last probably connected but not confederated. All belonged to the Caddoan linguistic stock.
    Location: In northeastern Texas between the headwaters of the Neches and Trinity Rivers.
    Subdivisions:The following tribes or bands were included:
  • Anadarko, northwest of Nacogdoches in the present Rusk County.
  • Guasco, position unknown.
  • Hainai, 3 leagues west of Nacogdoches.
  • Nabedache, 3 to 4 leagues west of Neches River and near Arroyo San Pedro, at a site close to the old San Antonio road, which became known as San Pedro.
  • Nacachau, just north of the Neches tribe and on the east side of Neches River.
  • Nacanish, north of the Hainai.
  • Nacao, probably part of the Nacanish.
  • Nacogdoche, at the present Nacogdoches.swanton1942
  • Nacono, southeast of the Neches and Nabedache and 5 leagues from the former.
  • Namidish or Nabiti, on Angelina River north of the Hainai.
  • Nasoni, two towns:
  • (1) about 27 miles north of Nacogdoches near the Anadarko;
  • (2) in the Kadohadacho Confederacy.
  • Nechaui, southeast of the Nabedache, half a league from the Nacono, and 5 leagues from the crossing of the Neches at the Neches village.
  • Neches, the main village 1 league or more east of Neches River, nearly west of the present Nacogdoches and near the mounds southwest of Alto, Cherokee County.
    • History: On their way west in 1542 after the death of De Soto, in an endeavor to reach Mexico overland, the Spaniards who had followed him passed through the Caddo country, and the names of the Nabedache, Nasoni, Anadarko, and Nacanish seem to be recognizable. In 1686-87 La Salle and his companions spent some time in their villages, and it was near one of them that La Salle was murdered by his own people. In 1690 the Spaniards entered their country and opened the first mission among them at the Nabedache village in May of that year. A number of missions were established in the other villages. All were abandoned in 1719 in expectation of a French attack, but they were reestablished in 1721. They did not prove successful, how-ever, and were gradually removed to the neighborhood of San Antonio. Early in the nineteenth century the Hasinai were joined by the Louisiana Caddo, and all were placed upon a reservation on the Brazos River in 1855. Threatened with massacre by some of their White neighbors, they fled to Oklahoma 4 years later, were granted new lands near the present Anadarko, and finally allotted land in severalty.
      Population: Mooney (1928) estimates that in 1690 the entire Caddo population, including the Hasinai, the Kadohadacho and Natchitoches Confederacies, and the Adai and Eyeish tribes, amounted to 8,500, 700 more than the number I arrived at. He does not give figures for the Hasinai by themselves, but it is probable that he would have al-lowed between 4,000 and 5,000. The former figure is the one I suggested (see Swanton, 1942). Referring to earlier estimates, we are told that a Canadian who had lived for several years among the Hasinai stated in 1699 that they had between 600 and 700 warriors, which would indicate a population of 2,500-3,000. In 1716 Don Diego Ramon, under whom the missions were established, gave it as his opinion that they were serving a population of 4,000-5,000. When Aguayo reestablished them in 1721 he distributed presents to the inhabitants of the principal towns. His figures are evidently incomplete, but even so they suggest some falling off in the 5 years that had elapsed. At any rate it is evident that these Indians lost very heavily during the eighteenth century and that their numbers did not exceed 1,000 at the opening of the nineteenth century. A rather careful estimate by Jesse Stem in 1851 would indicate a population of about 350. In 1864 the United States Indian Office reported 150, and in 1876 and subsequent years still smaller figures appear which are evidently incomplete. The first seemingly accurate census taken by the Indian Office was in 1880, when the figure for the united Caddo people was given as 538. It varied little from this until after 1910 when it showed steady gains. In 1937, 967 Caddo were reported.
      Connection in which they have become noted.The Hasinai are noted as the Indians among whom La Salle came to his untimely end, and along with the Kadohadacho and Natchitoches as makers of the beautiful Caddo pottery. (See Kadohadacho Confederacy.) Texas, a common name applied to them, was adopted as the designation of a Republic and later State of the American Union. It has been given to places in Washington County, Kentucky, and Baltimore County, Maryland; to Texas City, Galveston County, Texas; Texas Creek, Fremont County, Colo.; and in the combined form Texarkana to a city on the boundary line between Texas and Arkansas, entering also into Texhoma, Texas County, Oklahoma, and Sherman County, Texas.


The Apaches dominated almost all of West Texas and ranged over a wide area from Apache,_at_the_Ford_RiverArkansas to Arizona. Two groups of Apaches, the Lipans and the Mescalaros, were of primary importance in Texas. Apaches were among the first Indians to learn to ride horses and lived a nomadic existence following the buffalo. They also farmed, growing maize, beans, pumpkins, and watermelons. During the era of Spanish rule, the Apaches staged constant raids against the Spanish missions. But as the 1700s wore on, they found themselves subject to raiding from the even more fearsome Comanches. Eventually, they entered an on-again, off-again relationship with the Spanish, sometimes warring and raiding, other times allying with the Spanish against the Comanches and other enemies.


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When Anglo Americans began moving into Texas, the Apaches cultivated a friendship with them as a bulwark against the Comanches. This friendship broke down in 1842, perhaps because of the unsolved murder of a Lipan chief named Flacco the Younger, whom the Lipans believed was killed by whites. Lipan and Mescalaro Apaches moved across the Mexican border and began a series of destructive border raids that lasted for decades. It was not until 1873 that the U.S. Army under Colonel Ranald S. History_Map1780FinleyIApachesMackenzie led a force into Mexico, destroyed the Apache villages, and forced the survivors onto a reservation in New Mexico.


An important Plains tribe of the great Algonquian family, closely associated with the Cheyenne for at least a century past. They call themselves Iñunaina, about equivalent to ‘our people.’ The name by which they are commonly known is of uncertain derivation, but it may possibly be, as Dunbar suggests, from the Pawnee tirapihu or larapihu, ‘trader.’ By the Sioux and Cheyenne they are called ” Blue-sky men ” or “Cloud men,” the reason for which is unknown. Read more about Arapaho Tribe History.

The Arapahos ranged to the north of Texas over a wide area encompassing much of Tribes2.lgpresent-day Colorado, Nebraska, and the Dakotas, westward to the Rockies, and eastward into Kansas and Oklahoma. They lived a nomadic lifestyle following the buffalo. Close allies of the Southern Cheyennes, they came into conflict with the Comanches over territory in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Around 1840, the Arapahos and Comanches made peace with each other and joined forces against further American expansion onto the western plains.

The U.S. Army defeated the Arapahos in a series of violent confrontations in the 1860s, and many members of the tribes moved onto to a reservation in Wyoming. In 1869, a reservation was established near present-day Oklahoma City for the remaining southern branch of the tribe.



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The Biloxis gave their name to the area around Biloxi, Mississippi, where they first encountered European explorers. They began to migrate westward in the 1760s to avoid white interference. By 1828, a group had settled along the Neches River in present-day Angelina County. The Biloxies became allies of the Cherokees and were caught up in the violence in 1839 that drove the Cherokees out of Texas. Following that disaster, the Biloxies scattered. Some went into Arkansas with the Cherokees, while others joined up with the Alabama-Coushattas, the Choctaws, and the Creeks. Other families moved west to present-day Bell County. Eventually, Biloxis settled as far west as Brackettville and as far south as Nacimiento in Mexico.

The Biloxi Indians (also written Baluxa, Beluxi, Bilocchi, Bolixe, Paluxy, and many other names by European chroniclers) were Siouan speakers who were first recorded living near present Biloxi, in southern Mississippi. Since they were the southernmost speakers of the Sioux language and were surrounded by Muskhogean-speaking groups, it is believed that they migrated from the north at an earlier unknown date. The Biloxis were matrilineal. While they probably lived in tents in the North, a French observer reported that in Mississippi they lived in long houses with mud walls and bark roofs; they made pottery, baskets, wooden bowls, and bone and horn implements. About 1763 some of the Biloxis moved westward to western Louisiana. In 1828 there were twenty families on the east bank of the Neches River in what is now Angelina County, Texas, in the area of present Biloxi Creek. The Biloxis were never numerous. Their westward movements, like those of many migratory Gulf Coast groups in early historical times, are attributed to pressure from Europeans. Like the Alabama, Coushatta, and Caddoan tribes with which the Biloxis allied themselves in East Texas, the Biloxis were reputed to have “no pretensions to soil, and were on friendly terms with the people of the Republic.” However, in 1836 the Biloxis appeared as associates of the Cherokees in the treaty of February 23 at Chief Bowl‘s village. In 1837 a committee report of the Texas Senate located the Biloxis and their allies together in the Nacogdoches and Liberty counties, estimating their strength at “150 warriors.” When Albert Sidney Johnston and President Mirabeau B. Lamar declared war on the Cherokees and killed Bowl, the rout was easily extended to other East Texas tribes such as the Biloxis, many of whom were harried from Texas into Arkansas by July 25, 1839. In 1843, however, other Biloxis who had moved westward signed the treaty of September 29 with the Republic of Texas at Bird’s Fort on the Trinity River. In 1846 Butler and Lewis found a Biloxi camp on Little River in Bell County. Other Biloxis moved farther west, and were encountered later as associates of the Seminoles as far west as Brackettville, Texas, and as far south as Nacimiento, Coahuila. Families and individuals also lived with the Choctaws and Creeks in Indian Territory and among the Alabama-Coushattas near Livingston, Texas.

Factor_PompeyPompey Factor, former slave, scout for the United States Army and Congressional Medal of Honor winner, was born in Arkansas in 1849 to Hardy Factor, a black Seminole chief and an unknown Biloxi Indian woman.

By the end of that 2nd Seminole War (1835-1842), most of the Seminole Indians and runaway slaves were captured and removed to the Indian Territory. The fear of enslavement drove many black Seminole to Mexico in the 1850s. Factor’s family was among those who emigrated.
On August 16, 1870, Factor enlisted in the Army and was assigned the rank of private with the Detachment of Seminole Negro Indian Scouts who worked with the Twenty-fourth Infantry, an all-black regiment. As a scout, he performed reconnaissance duties in Texas for the Army, tracking the movements of Comanches, Apaches, Kiowa and other Native Americans who refused to go to reservations.

Factor and his fellow scouts were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for the bravery they exhibited at Eagle’s Nest Crossing near present-day Langtry, Texas. During the Red River War (1874-1875) between the Comanche and Kiowa and the United States, Factor, Sergeant John Ward and Trooper Isaac Payne, all Seminole Scouts, along with their commander, Lieutenant John L. Bullis were surrounded by Comanche warriors. Factor and Payne mounted their horses to make their escape.  Sergeant Ward noticed that Lieutenant Bullis could not mount his frightened horse.  While Ward helped the Lieutenant, Factor and Payne held off the Comanche attack until all four could ride to safety.  On May 28, 1875, Factor, Ward and Payne were given the Congressional Medal of Honor for their bravery.  They were three of only eighteen black soldiers during the Indian Wars who received such an honor.  Despite this honor, after two years Factor left the Scouts and returned to Mexico, dissatisfied with the treatment of the Scouts by the white settlers in Southern Texas.

In 1926, Pompey Factor applied for a pension.  His military records were lost and thus he could not initially prove he had been in the Army.  Two years later the Army granted his pension but Factor nonetheless died destitute on March 28, 1928 and was buried in the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery at Brackettville, Texas.


Caddo is the name given to about 25 affiliated groups of caddo_5people who lived near the Red River in East Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. They lived in complex settled societies and were known for their cultivation of corn (maize) and their beautiful ceramics. As Europeans moved into their areas, the Caddos became leading traders, trafficking in furs, guns, and horses with Europeans and other Indians. By the early 1840s, the Caddos had moved to the Brazos River area to try to escape the relentless pressure of American expansion. They were forced onto a reservation in 1855. In 1859 they were forced to move again, this time to a reservation in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Today, many Caddos continue to reside in Caddo County near Binger, Oklahoma.

The name ‘Caddo’ is a contraction of Kadohadacho, which means “real chiefs.”LANGUAGE:The Caddo tribe is part of the Caddoan linguistic group. Because of their trading relations, they also became experts in using sign language to converse with other tribes.
The prehistoric mounds of the “Earth House People” in southeastern Oklahoma are said to be of Caddoan origin. Yet archeologists disagree about whether the tribe migrated here from the Southwest or the Mississippi Valley. In 1541, the Spanish found a wide territory of Caddo Indians in the present-day Texas. A famous highlight: they were visited by La Salle in 1687. With their settlement in Louisiana, the Caddo came under the influence of the French, an influence which continued even after Louisiana was ruled by Spain. Following the U.S. government’s purchase of Louisiana in 1803, several Caddo tribal bands voluntarily located north of the Red River in Indian Territory. They eventually settled on the Washita River in 1834.With the beginning of the Civil War, though, many tribal members moved north to Kansas, where they remained as refugees until 1867. The following year, they returned to their reservation on the Washita River, where the Caddo still live today, in and around the town of Binger

Before the middle of the nineteenth century the term Caddo denoted only one of at least twenty-five distinct but closely affiliated groups centered around the Red River in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. The term derives from the French abbreviation of Kadohadacho, a word meaning “real chief” or “real Caddo” in the Kadohadacho dialect. European chroniclers referred to the Caddo groups as the Hasinai, Kadohadacho, and Natchitoches confederacies, although the “confederacies” are better interpreted as kin-based affiliated groups or bands of Caddo communities. The Hasinai groups lived in the Neches and Angelina River valleys in East Texas, the Kadohadacho groups on the Red River in the Great Bend area, and the Natchitoches groups on the Red River in the vicinity of the French post of Natchitoches (Fort St. Jean Baptiste aux Natchitos), established in 1714. The first European description of the Caddo peoples came in 1542 from diarists traveling with the De Soto entrada, then led by Luis de Moscoso Alvarado (Hernando De Soto had died in the spring of 1542). The Spanish described several of the Caddo groups as having dense populations living in scattered settlements and having abundant food reserves of corn. Twentieth-century archeological investigations of many prehistoric Caddoan sites indicate that Caddo communities were widely dispersed throughout the major and minor stream valleys of the Caddoan area by around A.D. 800. The roots of these peoples can be traced to Fourche Maline or Woodland Period culture groups that began to settle down in small communities, to manufacture ceramics for cooking and storage of foodstuffs, and to develop a horticultural way of life based on the raising of tropical cultigens (corn, squash, and later beans) and certain native plants.

The development of prehistoric Caddo culture may have been the result of several factors, including: (a) the rise, elaboration, and maintenance of complex social and political symbols of authority, ritual, and ceremony (centering on the construction, dismantling, remodeling, and use of earthen temple and burial mounds); (b) the development of elite status positions within certain Caddo communities; (c) increased sedentary life; and (d) the expanding reliance on tropical cultigens in the economy, with an intensification in the use of maize agriculture after about A.D. 1200. Regardless of the processes involved, it is clear that after about A.D. 900, the Caddo groups were complex and socially ranked societies with well-planned civic-ceremonial centers, conducted elaborate mortuary rituals and ceremonial practices, and engaged in extensive inter-regional trade. Caddoan societies shared much with their Mississippian neighbors, particularly the adoption of maize and the development of maize agricultural economies, as well as systems of social authority and ceremony.

In prehistoric times, the Caddos lived in dispersed communities of grass and cane covered houses, with the communities composed of isolated farmsteads, small hamlets, a few larger villages, and the civic-ceremonial centers. These centers had earthen mounds used as platforms for temple structures for civic and religious functions, for burials of the social and political elite, and for ceremonial fire mounds. The largest communities and the most important civic-ceremonial centers were primarily located along the major streams-the Red, Arkansas, Little, Ouachita, and Sabine rivers. The Caddo peoples developed a successful horticultural economy based on the cultivation of maize, beans, and squash, as well as such native cultigens as maygrass, amaranth, chenopods, and sunflowers. By about A.D. 1300 most Caddoan groups were consuming large amounts of maize, and this plant was clearly the most important food source for them after that time. Several varieties of corn were cultivated, an early or “little corn,” harvested in July, and the “flour corn,” harvested in September at the harvest of the Great Corn. Deer was the most important source of meat to the Caddos, who exploited bison and bear for their furs and meat. After the introduction of the horse in the late seventeenth century, the Caddos began to participate in winter communal bison hunts on the prairies to the west of their settlements.Indians of SW La

They developed long-distance trade networks in prehistoric times. Important items of trade were bison hides, salt, and bois d’arc bows, along with copper, stone, turquoise, and marine shell used for gorgets, cups, and dippers, as well as finished objects such as pottery vessels and large ceremonial bifaces. Many of the more important trade items were obtained from great distances (e.g., turquoise from New Mexico, copper from the Great Lakes, and marine shell from the Gulf Coast), and these items were often placed as grave goods in the burials of the social and political elite. The Caddo peoples had a sophisticated technology based on the use of clay, stone, bone, wood, shell, and other media for the manufacture of tools, clothing, ceramic vessels, basketry, ornaments, and other material items. The Caddos are particularly well known for the beautiful artistic and functional ceramic wares they made of many forms and functions, and the ceramics are considered some of the finest aboriginal pottery manufactured in North America. Stone was fashioned into arrowheads, and the Caddos also made ground stone celts and axes for use in removing trees and turning over the soil. They made bone into awls, beamers, digging implements, and hoes, as well as ornaments, beads, and whistles. Hoes and digging tools were also made of freshwater mussel shells, while marine shells obtained through trade were used in the production of shell pendants, gorgets, beads, and cups.

The Caddos traced descent through the maternal line rather than the paternal. Matrilineality was reflected in kinship terms, as the father and father’s brothers were called by the same term as the mother and the mother’s sisters. The Caddos recognized and ranked clans. Marriage typically occurred between members of different clans. Religious and political authority in historic Caddoan society rested in a hierarchy of key positions within and between the various affiliated communities and groups. The xinesi inherited a position of spiritual leadership, the caddi the position of principal headman of a community (also a hereditary leadership position), and the canahas the position of subordinate headmen or village elders. The Caddo people turned to the xinesi for mediation and communication with the supreme god, the Caddi Ayo, for religious leadership and decision-making influence between allied villages and in leading certain special rites, including first-fruits, harvest, and naming ceremonies. The xinesi imbued everyday life with the supernatural. The caddi was primarily responsible for making the important political decisions for the community, sponsoring important ceremonies, leading councils for war expeditions, and conducting the calumet (or peace pipe) ceremony with visitors to the communities. The most influential and politically astute Caddo leaders or caddices in historic times were Tinhiouen (from ca. 1760 to 1789) and Dehahuit (from ca. 1800 to 1833) of the Kadohadachos, and Iesh or José María (from about 1842 to 1862) of the Anadarko or Nadaco tribe.

At the time of sustained European (Spanish and French) contact with the Caddo groups in the late seventeenth century, Caddo peoples lived on the Red River and in East Texas. European populations-living in missions, ranches, and trading posts-increased throughout the eighteenth and into the early nineteenth century in the Red River valley and in the vicinity of Natchitoches and Nacogdoches, important fur trading centers, while epidemics between 1691 and 1816 greatly reduced Caddo populations. At the same time, the Caddo peoples participated in the fur trade, traded guns, horses, and other items to Europeans and other Indians, and developed new trade and economic networks. The resulting economic symbiosis between the Caddo groups and Europeans was an important means of acculturation because great quantities of European goods became available to the Caddo. While the Hasinai Caddo groups continued to live through the 1830s in their traditional East Texas homeland in the Neches and Angelina River valleys, the Kadohadacho groups moved off the Red River in the 1790s to get away from Osage depredations and slave-raiding. Their new settlements were between the Sabine River and Caddo Lake, generally along the boundary between the territory of Louisiana and the province of Texas. Most of the Kadohadachos remained in the Caddo Lake area until about 1842, although with the cession of Caddoan lands in Louisiana in 1835 and increased Texas settlement, other Kadohadacho moved to the Brazos River in north central Texas. By the early 1840s, all Caddo groups had moved to the Brazos River area to remove themselves from Anglo-American repressive measures and colonization efforts. They remained there until they were placed on the Brazos Indian Reservation in 1855, and then in 1859 the Caddos (about 1,050 people) were removed to the Washita River in Indian Territory (now western Oklahoma) with the help of Robert S. Neighbors, superintendent of Indian affairs in Texas.


The Cherokees were one of the principal Indian nations of the southeastern United States. Wars, epidemics, and food shortages caused many Cherokees to migrate west to Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas in hopes of preserving their traditional way of life. Those who remained behind in the Southeast were eventually removed forcibly to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in the incident known as the “Trail of Tears.”

Cherokees settled in Texas near the Red River. Pressed further south by American settlement, in 1820 about sixty families under Chief Bowl (Duwali) settled in Rusk County near the Caddos. As Americans settled that area, distrust grew between them and the Cherokees. Hoping to gain a legal title to their land, the Cherokees invested a great deal of energy in cultivating a relationship with Mexico. Hoping to protect this relationship, they remained neutral between Texas and Mexico during the Texas Revolution.

Sam Houston was an adopted member of the Cherokee tribe and a forceful advocate for the people. He negotiated a permanent reservation for the tribe in East Texas, but the treaty was never ratified by the Texas Congress. Under President Lamar, Texas fought a war with the Cherokees in 1839 which resulted in the defeat of the Indians. Most Cherokees were forced into Indian Territory.


The Southern Cheyennes lived an agricultural lifestyle in the Black Hills area until the introduction of the horse, when they adopted a nomadic lifestyle following the buffalo. Along with their allies, the Arapahos, they dominated the plains between the Platte and Arkansas Rivers. Like the Arapahos, in 1840 they settled their long-running war with their traditional enemies, the Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches. For about ten years, they lived in relative peace, concentrating on trading with other tribes, Americans, and New Mexicans. However, by 1850 the tribe was under severe pressure from cholera, the whiskey trade, the decline of the buffalo, and the loss of their camping and hunting grounds to American expansion. The tribe was split on how to deal with their setbacks, with some chiefs negotiating with the Americans for peace, and the famous Dog Soldiers waging relentless war. The U.S. Army moved to crush the Southern Cheyennes in several engagements, including the well-known incidents at Sand Creek (1864) and the Washita River (1868). Following the Washita massacre, the Cheyennes relocated to a reservation in Oklahoma. A number of Cheyennes took part in the Red River War in Texas in the 1870s.


The Chickasaws lived in present-day Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. They lived in permanent settlements, and their way of life depended on both hunting and agriculture. In the mid-sixteenth century, they were among the first Indians to encounter Spanish explorers. After years of resisting American pressure to move, in the mid-1830s the Chickasaws were forced to abandon their traditional homes and take up residence in Indian Territory. A number of Chickasaws disliked the new territory and established a small community near Nacogdoches. The Chickasaws had been among the most prosperous Indians in the United States before they moved, but the dislocation, together with Comanche raiding, hit their society hard. In 1843, Texas promised in the Bird’s Fort Treaty to exercise better control over the Red River area and prevent the raiding. During the Civil War, the Chickasaws, who owned African-American slaves, sided with the Confederacy. After the war, Chickasaw territory became a crossroads for the cattle drives, and the tribe largely lost its identity.


Coahuiltecan is the name given to hundreds of small Indian groups who lived in northern Mexico and south Texas. These simple hunter-gatherers found themselves caught in the middle between Spanish colonizers and Apache raiders. Due to these pressures and disease, their population went into a steep decline during the early Spanish period, and little is known of their culture or way of life. A large number of the survivors gathered in Spanish missions for protection from the Apaches. By 1800, most of the remaining Coahuiltecans had merged with other tribes or intermarried with the Hispanic population.


The Comanches dominated a vast area of North, Central, and West Texas. There were at least thirteen active bands of Comanches, with five playing prominent roles in Texas history. These unparalleled horsemen led a nomadic lifestyle following the buffalo. They controlled trade in produce, buffalo products, horses, and captives throughout their domain. In the 1700s, the Comanches made their presence known in Texas by warring with the Apaches and the Spanish. Fearing that they would lose Texas to the Comanches, the Spanish negotiated a peace treaty with them in 1785. When the Spanish were unable to keep their promises in trade goods and gifts, Comanche raiding against the Spanish resumed, with many of the stolen horses being traded to newly arrived Americans.

After the Texas Revolution, Americans wanted to settle in the Texas Plains. The Comanches fiercely resisted their encroachments with destructive and deadly raids on the frontier. A cycle of raiding and retaliation on both sides climaxed during the presidency of Mirabeau B. Lamar. Lamar’s policy succeeded in driving the Comanches across the Red River, but at a terrible cost to both sides. After Texas became a state, a number of Comanches were defeated by disease, warfare, and the depletion of the buffalo and moved to a reservation in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). However, many others remained active and were able to stop the spread of white settlement west of the Texas Hill Country.

In the 1870s, Comanches launched a major attack against buffalo hunters at Adobe Walls. This raid brought down a retaliatory U.S. Army campaign under Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie that broke Comanche power once and for all. The Red River War ended in Palo Duro Canyon with the destruction of the Comanche horse herd. The Comanche way of life could not survive without their horses. The Comanches were forced to surrender and begin the painful transition to reservation life. Their tribal government today operates near Lawton, Oklahoma.


The Delawares originated in the Delaware River region but were driven from their ancestral home by disease and white settlement. Eventually, the main body of the tribe ended up in Missouri and Kansas. They were relocated to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in 1868. These survivors became part of the Cherokee nation.

A small group of Delawares migrated to Texas and settled around the Red and Sabine Rivers. Under the presidency of Sam Houston, the Delawares assisted ranger patrols on the frontier. During the administration of Mirabeau B. Lamar, they were caught up in the Cherokee War and were forced into Indian Territory. A few Delawares remained in Texas and worked as traders, scouts, and guides for several important expeditions. The Delawares used diplomacy to help bring the Comanches to a treaty council with Texas in 1844. Eventually, the Texas Delawares relocated to Oklahoma, where they merged with the Caddo nation.


The Hainais lived near the Neches and Angelina rivers. They were the leading group in the Hasinai confederacy, a group of eight tribes that lived in Arkansas and East Texas. The word Texas (Tejas) comes from the Hasinai greeting meaning “friend.” Archeologists have found evidence that this group of people had a large settlement in the area as far back as 780-1260 A.D., with substantial farms, villages, and temples. When the French and Spanish explorers first encountered the Hasinais, they found a people who fished, grew maize, beans, and squash, and hunted small game, buffalo, and bear. Within a few decades, disease, alcoholism, and pressure from whites and other Indians had taken a terrible toll on their once-great culture. At the end of the Cherokee War, they migrated to the Fort Worth area, and in 1859 they were relocated to Indian Territory.


Jumano is the name given to three distinct groups who ranged over northern Mexico, New Mexico, and Texas. Their primary base was in the Big Bend area of Texas. They were among the first Texas Indians to encounter Europeans when they were visited by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1535. During the Spanish years, the Jumanos were active in organizing trade fairs between the Spanish and other Indians. They sometimes worked as scouts and missionaries for the Spanish, but are also known to have rebelled in the early 1600s. In the 1660s, the Jumanos faced a rapid population decline due to famine and war with the Apaches. By 1700 they had lost all their territory and trade routes. Their culture eventually died out, with the survivors drifting to join other tribes, including the Apaches. Some scholars believe that a small group of Jumanos became the foundation of the Kiowas in Texas.


Karankawa is the name given to several related groups who lived along the Texas coast from Galveston to Corpus Christi. The Karankawas were nomads who lived off the sea. They migrated between the mainland and the barrier islands in the Gulf of Mexico, seldom remaining at a campsite more than a few weeks. The Karankawas were the first Indians in Texas to encounter Europeans. In 1528, the survivors of a Spanish shipwreck, including Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, washed ashore and spent six years with the Indians. Several generations later, in 1685, the Karankawas attacked and wiped out the tiny French settlement of Fort St. Louis near Matagorda Bay.

In the 1700s, the Karankawas faced renewed attempts of the Spanish and French to settle the coast as well as incursions from other Indian tribes, including the Tonkawas and Comanches. These contacts brought both war and epidemic disease. In 1819, the Karankawas attacked the pirate compound of Jean Lafitte on Galveston Island but were badly defeated. In 1824, Stephen F. Austin personally led an expedition with the goal of exterminating the Karankawas. Although a Spanish priest negotiated a peaceful settlement, the Karankawas had already entered a downward spiral in terms of population. By the 1840s, the remnants of these people had moved into the lower Rio Grande Valley, where they were annihilated in 1858 by a Texan force led by Juan Nepomuceno Cortina.


The Kichais lived along the Louisiana-Texas border on the Red and Trinity rivers. Disease and warfare greatly reduced their numbers, and they were reduced to two small villages near present-day Palestine by the 1770s. In 1855, they joined several other small tribes in moving to the Brazos Indian Reservation. In 1858, they fled the violence in the area and moved to Indian Territory, where they joined the Wichitas.


The Kiowas originated in the area of modern-day Yellowstone Park but migrated south after the introduction of the horse culture. They became among the greatest horsemen in the world and, along with the Comanches, the most feared of the Plains tribes. They formed an alliance with the Comanches around 1790 and together with the Arapahos and Southern Cheyennes, successfully held back American expansion into the southern plains for decades. The Salt Creek Massacre, also known as the Warren Wagon Train Raid, was led by Kiowas, and two of the leaders, Satanta and Big Tree, were tried for murder in a one-of-a-kind trial that made national headlines. The Salt Creek Massacre led the U.S. Army to adopt a much more aggressive policy toward the Kiowas and their allies, and by June of 1875 the tribe was forced on to the Fort Sill reservation in Oklahoma.


The Kickapoos originated in the Great Lakes region. By the time of the Republic of Texas, a number had migrated to Texas and allied themselves with the Cherokees. As Cherokee allies, they were caught up in the violence of President Lamar’s attempt to expel most Indians from Texas. The Kickapoos fled to Mexico, where they formed an alliance with the Mexican army and conducted continuous harassing raids into South Texas.

During the Civil War, Kickapoos from Kansas and Indian Territory (Oklahoma) journeyed across Texas to join their kinsmen in Mexico. On January 8, 1865, three bands of Kickapoos were attacked by Confederate cavalry on Dove Creek, a tributary of the Concho River. The Kickapoos successfully fought off the attack and continued to Mexico, where the Dove Creek battle fueled Kickapoo anger and led to even more aggressive border raiding.

In 1873, Colonel Ranald Mackenzie led an expedition against the Kickapoos. Mackenzie captured forty of the tribe’s women, children, and elderly and took them to Fort Gibson in Indian Territory. These people served as hostages to compel the Kickapoo warriors to surrender and begin reservation life. Most refused and continued to live at El Nacimiento in northern Mexico, which remains the home for most Kickapoos today. They are notable for their adherence to their traditional way of life.

Pakana Muskogee

The Pakana Muskogees were a branch of the Muskogee or Creek Indians who migrated in 1834 from Alabama and Louisiana to present-day Onolaska in Polk County. Their fortunes were closely tied to those of the Alabamas and Coushattas, who lived nearby. Disease, along with intermarriage with the Alabamas and Coushattas, led to their decline. The Pakana Muskogees numbered only 42 tribal members in 1882. Most of these survivors moved to the Creek reservation in Oklahoma in 1899.


The Potawatomis originated in the Great Lakes area near present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin. In the 1830s and 1840s they fled the advance of white settlement. Most of the tribe moved to Kansas and Oklahoma, but one group allied itself with the Kickapoos and settled at the headwaters of the Sabine and Trinity rivers in 1852. They were involved in the Dove Creek massacre incident in 1865.


The Shawnees originated in the Ohio and Cumberland valleys in present-day Kentucky. During winter, they ranged in search of game, while in warm months they settled and raised crops such as corn, squash, and beans. Beginning in the early 18th century, the Shawnees began to migrate westward to try to escape white expansion into their territory. In 1822, a band of Shawnees settled in Texas on the south bank of the Red River. They cultivated peace with both Indian neighbors and American and Mexican settlers. In 1832, under the leadership of chief John Linney, they assisted the Mexicans in their war with the Comanches.

In February 1836, Sam Houston signed a treaty with the Shawnees, along with a number of other Indian tribes, which designated land for their use. However, this treaty was never ratified by the Texas Senate. The Shawnees remained neutral during the Cherokee war in 1839, hoping to preserve their way of life in Texas. The following year, Texas paid the tribe to leave for Indian Territory. Unlike many tribes, the Shawnees were able to preserve much of their culture, including their ceremonial dances and other religious practices.


The Tawakonis were a Wichita group who ranged between present-day Waco and Palestine. They participated in the 1758 raid on the Spanish mission at Santa Cruz de San Sabá. The Tawakonis were included in treaties made with the Republic of Texas and later with the United States. In 1859, they moved to the Wichita reservation in Indian Territory (Oklahoma).


The Tiguas are descended from refugees from the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, in which the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico united to fight the Spanish. In 1751, the king of Spain granted the Tiguas land near present-day El Paso, a claim that was recognized by the subsequent governments of Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and the United States. However, both legislative acts and unscrupulous land traders eventually robbed the Tiguas of their land. In the 1960s, the Tiguas organized and won recognition from the state as a tribe, then filed a claim for their original grant and other traditional lands in the area. Today they occupy a 26-acre area which contains housing and bingo gambling.


Tonkawa is the name given to several independent groups that banded together in Central Texas in the early 1700s. Their preferred lifestyle was to be nomadic buffalo hunters, but they often found it difficult to pursue this life because of raiding by their traditional enemies, the Apaches. They resisted Spanish colonization and played a leading role in the destruction of the Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission. In 1784, the Spanish killed El Mocho, the leading war chief to the Tonkawas, ushering in an era of uneasy peace. The Tonkawas formed an alliance with Stephen F. Austin and the Americans and helped them in wars against the Comanches and Wichitas.

The Tonkawas suffered grave losses in the 1850s, when their reservation in Young County on the Brazos River was attacked by white Texans. They were forced to move to a new reservation in Indian Territory (Oklahoma), where they were attacked and decimated again, this time by a group of Delawares, Shawnees, Wichitas, Caddos, and others. The survivors came back to Texas, where they settled around Fort Griffin and worked as scouts for the United States Army until the end of the Indian Wars. In 1884 they returned to a reservation in Oklahoma.


The Wacos were a branch of the Wichita tribe. Most Wacos (also spelled Huecos) lived on the Brazos near present-day Waco, though another band lived in the New Braunfels area. They combined the buffalo lifestyle in the winter with an agricultural life the rest of the year, growing bean, squash, corn, melons, and watermelons.


Wichita is the name of several bands of people who lived in present-day Oklahoma, Kansas, and along the Red River in Texas near Nocona. Hunters and farmers, the Wichitas prospered during the Spanish and Mexican period, when they acted as middlemen in the lucrative trade between the Comanches and whites in Louisiana. The Wichitas participated in the Comanche-led raid on the mission Santa Cruz de San Sabá in 1758 and raided San Antonio on several occasions. Disease and warfare took a heavy toll on the Wichitas. The survivors eventually settled on a reservation near present-day Anadarko, Oklahoma.


Jean Louis Berlandier, Indians of Texas in 1830, ed. John C. Ewers and trans. Patricia Reading Leclerq (Washington:: Smithsonian, 1969). James O. Dorsey and John R. Swanton, A Dictionary of the Biloxi and Ofo Languages (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, 1912). Dianna Everett, The Texas Cherokees: A People between Two Fires, 1819–1840 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990). M. R. Haas, “The Last Words of Biloxi,” International Journal of American Linguistics 23 (1968). Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1907, 1910; rpt., New York: Pageant, 1959). Anna Muckleroy, “The Indian Policy of the Republic of Texas,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 25–26 (April 1922-January 1923). Joseph Milton Nance, After San Jacinto: The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836–1841 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963).

Hiram F. Gregory, ed., The Southern Caddo: An Anthology (New York: Garland, 1986). Thomas R. Hester, Ethnology of the Texas Indians (New York: Garland, 1991). Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1907, 1910; rpt., New York: Pageant, 1959). Marvin D. Jeter et al., Archeology and Bioarcheology of the Lower Mississippi Valley and Trans-Mississippi South in Arkansas and Louisiana (Research Series No. 37, Fayetteville: Arkansas Archeological Survey, 1989). Michael S. Nassaney and Charles R. Cobb, eds., Stability, Transformation, and Variation: The Late Woodland Southeast (New York: Plenum Press, 1991). Vynola B. Newkumet and Howard L. Meredith, Hasinai: A Traditional History of the Caddo Confederacy (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1988). Timothy K. Perttula, “The Caddo Nation”: Archaeological and Ethnohistoric Perspectives (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992). F. Todd Smith, The Caddo Indians (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1995). F. Todd Smith, “The Red River Caddos: A Historical Overview to 1835,” Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 64 (1994). Dee Ann Story, Cultural History of the Native Americans, in Archeology and Bioarcheology of the Gulf Coast Plain (Research Series No. 38, Fayetteville, Arkansas: Arkansas Archeological Survey, 1990). John R. Swanton, Source Material on the History and Ethnology of the Caddo Indians (Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 132, Washington: GPO, 1942).

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