The Texas Indians

The Texas Indians

The Texas Indians

The Texas Indians


During an excavation in the 1950s, the bones of a prehistoric woman were discovered in Midland County, Texas. Archaeologists dubbed the woman "Midland Minnie." Some believed her age to be between 20,000 and 37,000 years, making her remains the oldest ever found in the Western Hemisphere. While the accuracy of this date remains disputed, the find, along with countless others, demonstrates the wealth of human history that is buried beneath Texas soil.

By the time the Europeans arrived in Texas in 1528, Native Texans included the mound-building Caddos of East Texas; Karankawas and Atakapas who fished the Texas coast; town-dwelling Jumanos along the Rio Grande; hunting-gathering Coahuiltecans in South Texas; and corn-growing Wichitas in the Panhandle. All of these native peoples had developed structures, traditions, governments, religions, and economies enabling them to take advantage of the land's many resources. The arrival of Europeans brought horses, metal tools and weapons, new diseases and new ideas, all of which began to reshape the lives of Texas Indians.

Over time, Texas became a home to horse-mounted, buffalo-hunting Apaches, Comanches, and Kiowas and a refuge for Puebloan Tiguas, Alabama-Coushattas, Kickapoos and many others. These groups traded, shared ideas, fought and made peace with one another as well as peoples outside of Texas. This book tells the story of all of these groups, their societies and cultures, and how they changed over the years.

Author David La Vere offers a complete chronological and cultural history of Texas Indians from 12,000 years ago to the present day. He presents a unique view of their cultural history before and after European arrival, examining their interactions-both peaceful and violent-with Europeans, Mexicans, Texans, and Americans. This book is the first full examination of the history of Texas Indians in over forty years and will appeal to all of those with an interest in Native Americans and the history of Texas.


Texas Indian history is very fertile ground. As any resident will tell you, Texas itself is a vast country, encompassing virtually the entire Southern Plains, but with a good dose of forests, prairies, deserts, mountains, canyons, rivers, and coastline. a multitude of Indian peoples made use of these environments for thousands of years. Apaches, Comanches, and Kiowas traveled the plains, Wichitas and Tonkawas on the prairies, Caddos in the East Texas forests, Atakapas and Karankawas on the Gulf Coast, Coahuiltecans in South Texas, and Jumanos and Tiguas along the Rio Grande and Pecos. of course, these were just the major nations. There were also a multitude of much smaller, virtually autonomous bands whose members saw themselves as a single people but who have long since vanished from the land and the history books: Beitonijures, Achubales, Cujalos, Toremes, Gediondos, Siacuchas, Suajos, Isuchos, Dijus, Colabrotes, Unojitas, Juanas, Yoyehis, Humez, Bibis. and these are just a scant few of the many peoples who made Texas home at one time or another.

Sometimes it is easy for us to forget that the Indians of Texas had a history long before Spaniards ever showed up in the Western Hemisphere. and that ancient history, as well as how Indian peoples saw their world, ordered their societies, put food in their stomachs, and determined how they interacted with each other. All this is certainly meal for the historian’s metate. Add the Spanish, French, English, Mexicans, Americans, and such migrant Indians as the Alabama-Coushattas, and you have a mix that has attracted historians for more than forty years and continues to do so in ever-growing numbers.

Unfortunately, the story of European and American colonists has overshadowed that of Texas Indians. Because historians rely so much on written records, which the Spanish, French, Mexicans, and Americans left in vast quantities, we often overplay the roles of the Spanish or Americans and virtually ignore that of the Indians. Too often Texas Indian history has devolved into Spanish-Indian relations or American-Indian relations. in 1961 anthropologist W. W. Newcomb, with the publication of The Indians . . .

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