Indigenous Peoples of Texas
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Learn about the tribes and bands, state recognized tribes, history, agencies, and records for the Indians of Texas.
Tribes and Bands of Texas
Ethnologists have identified hundreds of groups of Texas "Indians," as the first European explorers to arrive called the peoples they found. Some of these were true tribes, accumulations of families or clans with social customs, traditions, and rules for order; these were occasionally quite large. At the opposite extreme, some were merely small family groups whose names or ethnic designations were taken for "tribal" names by the Spanish and French and in subsequent secondary literature. The extant names of Texas Indian groups present a dazzling array of variants, partly because the Spanish, French, and English heard the newly "discovered" peoples differently and recorded their names differently. Some names in the historical records are mistakes for groups that never existed.
Spanish period. The variety of the peoples and cultures whom Europeans first found in Texas and the different histories of each group make generalizations about Indians hazardous. Texas was not simply a Spanish-Indian or Anglo-Indian frontier, but rather a multisided frontier, a Spanish-Anglo-Comanche-Wichita-Apache-etc. frontier, where multiple groups acted for their own reasons. A few generalizations, however, apply to all Texas Indian groups. First, diseases introduced by the Europeans decimated them, especially after mission and military institutions brought people in contact so that they could be infected. More broadly, anthropologist John C. Ewers has identified no fewer than thirty major epidemics-mainly of smallpox and cholera-between 1528 and 1890 that wiped out perhaps 95 percent of Texas Indians.
1859 Many Indians removed from Texas to Oklahoma
The following list of American Indians who have lived in Texas has been compiled from Hodge's Handbook of American Indians... and from Swanton's The Indian Tribes of North America. Some may simply be variant spellings for the same tribe.
Akokisa, Alabama, Anadarko, Apache,Aranama, Atakapa, Bidai, Biloxi, Caddo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coahuiltecan, Comanche, Creek, Deadose,Eyeish or Haish, Guasco, Hainai, Hasinai, Isleta del Sur, Jicarilla, Kadohadacho, Karankawan, Kichai, Kiowa,Koasati,Lipan (Upper and Lower), Muskogee, Nebedache, Nacachau, Nacanish, Nacogdoche, Nadaco, Namidish, Nechaui, Neches, Nasoni, Nanatsoho, Nasoni - Upper, Pakana,Pascagoula, Patiri, Pueblo, Quapaw, Senecu del Sur, Shawnee, Shuman,Soacatino or Xacatin,Tonkawa, Tawakoni, Tigua,Waco, Wichita
Trans-Pecos, Kiowa-Apache, Lower-Lipan, Lipan-Apache, Upper Lipan
Indian Tribes of Texas. By Dorman H. Winfrey. FHL book 970.1In2i
Texas State Recognized Tribes
Agencies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Agencies and subagencies were created as administrative offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and its predecessors. Their purpose was (and is) to manage Indian affairs with the tribes, to enforce policies, and to assist in maintaining the peace. The names and location of these agencies may have changed, but their purpose remained basically the same. Many of the records of genealogical value were created by these offices.
The following list of agencies that have operated or now exist in Texas has been compiled from Hill's Office of Indian Affairs..., Hill's Guide to Records in the National Archives Relating to American Indians, and others.
- Brazos Agency
- Comanche Agency
- Red River Agency
- Southern Pueblos, P.O. Box 1667, Albuqueque, NM 87103
- Shawnee Agency
- Texas Agency 1847-1859
The majority of records of individuals were those created by the agencies. Some records may be available to tribal members through the tribal headquarters.They were (and are) the local office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and were charged with maintaining records of the activities of those under their responsibility. Among these records are:
- Allotment records
- Annuity rolls
- Census records
- Health records
- School census and records
- Vital records
- Martin, George Castor. The Indians Tribes of the Mission Nuestra Senora del Refugio, Corpus Christi, Texas: Bootstraps Press, 1972. FHL book 970.1 M363i FHL film 940061 item 3
From the mid-1800s, the official policy of the United States government toward the American Indian was to confine each tribe to a specific parcel of land called a reservation. Agencies were established on or near each reservation. A government representative, usually called an agent (or superintendent) was assigned to each agency. Their duties included maintaining the peace, making payments to the Native Americans based on the stipulations of the treaties with each tribe, and providing a means of communication between the native population and the federal government.
Sometimes, a single agency had jurisdiction over more than one reservation. And sometimes, if the tribal population and land area required it, an agency may have included sub-agencies.
The boundaries of reservations, over time, have changed. Usually, that means the reservations have been reduced in size. Sometimes, especially during the later policy of "termination," the official status of reservations was ended altogether.
The following list of reservations has been compiled from the National Atlas of the United States of America, the Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America, and other sources. Those reservations named in bold are current federally-recognized reservations, with their associated agency and tribe(s). Others have historically been associated with the state or are not currently recognized by the federal government.
- Alabama and Coushatta Reservation: State, Tribes: Alabama and Coushatta
- Kickapoo Reservation (Kansas) Kickapoo Reservation (Oklahoma)
- Tigua Reservation: State,Tribes: Tigua, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo
- Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Reservation: State, under jurisdiction of the Southern Pueblos Agency
For Further Reading
See also American Indian For Further Reading.
- United States. Office of Indian Affairs. M540 Southern Superintendency 1832-1870. FHL film 1602871 (first of 22 films.
- FamilySearch Catalog list more than 100 titles for Texas Native Races
- Aten, Lawrence E. Indians of Upper Texas Coast. FHL book 970.1 At27i WorldCat
- Berlandier, Jean Louis, and John Canfield Ewers. The Indians of Texas in 1830. FHL book 970.1 B455iWorldCat
- LaVere, David. Texas Indians. FHL book 970.1 L388tWorldCat
- Texas History for a calendar of events
- Texas Military for a list of forts
- Access Genealogy
- Native American Tribes of Texas
- Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington D.C.:Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #30 1907. Available online.
- Swanton John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #145 Available online.
- Hill, Edward E. The Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880: Historical Sketches, Clearwater Publishing Co., Inc. 1974. (Family History Library book 970.1 H551o.)
- Hill, Edward E. (comp.). Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1981. (FHL book 970.1 H551g.)
- National Atlas of the United States of America -- Federal Lands and Indian Reservations Available online.
- Isaacs. Katherine M., editor. Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America. U.S. Data Sourcebook, Volume 11 Appendices, Bureau of Indian Affairs List of American Indian Reservations, Appendix E, Indian Reservations. Omnigraphics, Inc., 1991.(Family History Library book 973 E5)