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YORICA INDIANS

YORICA INDIANS. Documents written between 1674 and 1693 record Spanish encounters with Yorica Indians in northeastern Coahuila and the adjacent part of Texas. During this time they seem to have ranged between the Río Sabinas of Coahuila and the southern margin of the Edwards Plateau of Texas, particularly north and northeast of the site of modern Eagle Pass. In 1674 one Spanish missionary referred to 300 Yorica as being thirty miles north of the Rio Grande, and at the same time he noted population loss in a smallpox epidemic. It is said that the Yoricas were one of the Indian groups who, prior to 1674, raided outlying Spanish settlements of Coahuila. The Yoricas were among the Indian groups who came under the influence of Jean Jarry, who was taken into custody by Spaniards in 1688. Shortly after 1690, and following further population loss in epidemics, the Yoricas were evidently displaced southward by Apache groups of the Edwards Plateau area. It is known that Yorica Indians entered several Spanish missions of Coahuila and Texas, but relatively few remained in missions very long. They are said to have been present in some numbers at San Juan Bautista Mission when it was established on the Río Sabinas in 1699, and some of these followed the mission when it was moved in 1700 to a location near the Rio Grande at the site of present-day Guerrero, Coahuila. Yet in mission censuses of 1734 and 1772 no Yoricas were recorded at San Juan Bautista. One Yorica individual was recorded at San Francisco Solano Mission in 1704, when that mission was still located at Guerrero. Only three Yorica Indians were recorded (1723–30) at San Antonio de Valero Mission of San Antonio, and one of these is said to have come from San Juan Bautista. It seems clear that the Yoricas lost their ethnic identity after the year 1730. Scattered through various documents are bits of cultural description attributable to the Yorica Indians. They moved about in search of plant and animal foods. They ate maguey root crowns and prickly pear fruit; they collected and ate snails. The animals they hunted included rats, rabbits, deer, and bison. They sometimes dried bison meat at the scene of the kill and transported it to distant encampments. They used the bow and arrow in hunting and warfare. Occasionally the Yoricas took boy captives and ate the flesh of slain enemies, and they had peace ceremonies that involved body painting, dancing, and exchange of bows and arrows to cement friendly relations with another group. Damián Massanet's observations on Indian languages spoken in southern Texas seem to indicate that the Yoricas spoke the language now known as Coahuilteco.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Herbert Eugene Bolton, ed., Spanish Exploration in the Southwest, 1542–1706 (New York: Scribner, 1908; rpt., New York: Barnes and Noble, 1959). Thomas N. Campbell, Ethnohistoric Notes on Indian Groups Associated with Three Spanish Missions at Guerrero, Coahuila (Center for Archaeological Research, University of Texas at San Antonio, 1979). Isidro Félix de Espinosa, Chrónica apostólica y seráphica de todos los colegios de propaganda fide de esta Nueva España, parte primera (Mexico, 1746; new ed., Crónica de los colegios de propaganda fide de la Nueva España, ed. Lino G. Canedo, Washington: Academy of American Franciscan History, 1964). Lino Gómez Canedo, ed., Primeras exploraciones y poblamiento de Texas, 1686–1694 (Monterrey: Publicaciones del Instituto Technológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, 1968). P. Otto Maas, ed., Viajes de Misioneros Franciscanos a la conquista del Nuevo México (Seville: Imprenta de San Antonio, 1915). Francis Borgia Steck, "Forerunners of Captain de León's Expedition to Texas, 1670–1675," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 36 (July 1932).

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, "YORICA INDIANS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/bmy11), accessed September 18, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.