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SIUPAM INDIANS

SIUPAM INDIANS. Confusion surrounds the name Siupam because some of its variants have been interpreted as names for other Indian groups, and not enough attention has been paid to the records indicating geographic location. The following plausible name variants appear in primary French and Spanish documents: Sayupan, Scipxam, Sicpam, Tiopan, Tiyupan, Tsepehoen, and Xipam. In modern secondary sources some of these names have been erroneously rendered; Sipuan and Suipam have been written for Siupam, for instance, and Xeripam for Xipam. The Siupam Indians seem to have been reported as early as 1670 under the name Sicpam, which was listed for one of the numerous Indian groups living on both sides of the Rio Grande who made raids on the northernmost Spanish settlements of Coahuila and Nuevo León. Later documents associated the Siupam Indians with an area east and southeast of San Antonio. The Siupama were probably the people recorded in 1687 as Tsepehoen by Henri Joutel, chronicler of the La Salle expedition to the Texas coast. The French pronunciation of Tsepehoen is reasonably close to the Spanish pronunciation of Siupam. According to Joutel, the Tsepehoen Indians ranged over the inland area north of Matagorda Bay. In 1708 Isidro Félix de Espinosa listed Xipam as one of the Indian groups then living in the eastern part of what is now southern Texas; and in the following year Espinosa visited a group whose name he recorded as Siupam (or Siupan, as read by some scholars). These Siupam Indians were encamped with two other groups, Sijames and Sulujams, at the site of modern San Antonio. Espinosa noted that the combined population of the three groups was about 500 and that shortly thereafter they all moved southeastward down the valley of the San Antonio River. In 1717 Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, a French traveler, recorded a group known as Tiyupan living on the coastal plain north of Matagorda Bay, an area they shared with such groups as Annama (Aranama), Caocatse (Coco), Sana, and Thoó (Toho). In 1737 a group known to Spaniards as Tiopan, evidently the same as St. Denis's Tiyupans, fled from an unspecified San Antonio mission to their homeland below a commonly used crossing of the Guadalupe River, apparently between the sites of the modern towns of Cuero and Victoria. It would thus appear that the names Tsepehoen, Tiyupan, and Tiopan refer to the same Indian group and that this group was Espinosa's Siupam. All these names refer to Indians connected with an area to the east and southeast of San Antonio, mainly between the San Antonio and Colorado rivers. Some Siupam Indians seem to have entered San Antonio de Valero Mission of San Antonio, for a document of 1789 (erroneously dated 1785) states that an Indian group known as Scipxam had been represented there during the mission's earlier years. These Scipxam Indians must not have remained at Valero very long, because the mission's baptismal, marriage, and burial registers do not identify any Scipxam individuals. The Tiopan Indians who fled from an unspecified mission of San Antonio in 1737 may have been at San José y San Miguel de Aguayo, but this has yet to be demonstrated by clear documentary evidence. So far as is now known, the Siupams did not enter other Spanish missions of Texas and northeastern Mexico.

Modern scholars have speculated that the name Siupam and its more plausible variants may be equivalent to the names of other Indian groups, such as Chayopin, Choyopan, Ervipiame, Pulacuam, Saracuam, Semonan, and Siguipam. This speculation led to the Siupam being variously classified as speaking such languages as Coahuilteco, Karankawa, and Tonkawa. Information found in primary documents provides no support for any of these linkages. As no words from the language spoken by the Siupam have been retrieved from documents, it is not possible to determine what language they spoke. They could just as well have spoken one of the Indian languages never recorded by Europeans. Little is known about the culture of the Siupam. It is said that they were hunters and gatherers and did not have permanent settlements.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Jack Autrey Dabbs, trans., The Texas Missions in 1785 (Preliminary Studies of the Texas Catholic Historical Society 3.6 [January 1940]). William B. Griffen, Culture Change and Shifting Populations in Central Northern Mexico (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1969). August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, Gesammelte Werke (8 vols., Berlin: Fontane, 1890–94). Henri Joutel, Journal historique du dernier voyage que feu M. de La Sale (Paris: Chez E. Robinot, 1713; Eng. ed., A Journal of the Last Voyage Performed by Monsieur de La Sale to the Gulf of Mexico, London: A. Bell, 1714). P. Otto Maas, ed., Viajes de Misioneros Franciscanos a la conquista del Nuevo México (Seville: Imprenta de San Antonio, 1915). F. H. Ruecking, Jr., The Coahuiltecan Indians of Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1955). C. C. Shelby, "St. Denis's Declaration Concerning Texas in 1717," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 26 (January 1923). Gabriel Tous, trans., The Espinosa-Olivares-Aguirre Expedition of 1709, Preliminary Studies of the Texas Catholic Historical Society 1.3 (March 1930).

Thomas N. Campbell

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Thomas N. Campbell, "SIUPAM INDIANS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/bms37), accessed August 21, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.