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COLITA

COLITA (?–1852). Colita (Kalita, Coleto, Colluta), Coushatta Indian leader, was born during the mid-1700s, possibly in the village of Coosawda, on the Alabama River near the site of present Montgomery, Alabama. He served first as chief of the Lower Coushatta Village (also known as Colita's Village) on the Trinity River and succeeded Long King as principal chief of all the Texas Coushattas after Long King's death around 1838. Among Republic of Texas officials Colita was well known for tribal leadership and for his role in helping to maintain peaceful relations between Indians and white settlers in the lower Trinity River region. When white settlers fleeing eastward along the Coushatta Trace in the Runaway Scrape (1836) reached the Coushatta villages on the Trinity River, Colita directed the Coushattas' efforts to help the settlers cross the river and then to feed them.

In a letter to Gen. Sam Houston of August 17, 1838, Samuel C. Hiroms, who lived near Colita's Village and acted as interpreter for him, reported that Colita talked with the Coushattas at Long King's Village to persuade them to remain peaceful. A German traveler, Friedrich W. von Wredeqv, wrote that while visiting Texas in October 1838, he contacted Colita, who informed him through Hiroms that Houston had directed the Coushatta chief to go to a distant Indian village to warn its inhabitants against participating in the revolt at Nacogdoches.

Colita reported to President Mirabeau B. Lamar, in a letter written for him by Hiroms on June 10, 1839, that difficulties had arisen between Coushattas and their white neighbors. In a letter to Colita on July 9, 1839, Lamar expressed regret that there had been disturbances between Indians and white settlers, and he announced the appointment of Joseph Lindley as agent for the Coushattas to serve as mediator in all future difficulties that might arise between these groups. On April 4, 1842, President Houston directed Gen. James Davisqv to visit the Alabamas and Coushattas and assure them of the protection of the Republic of Texas. He specifically asked Davis to send Colita to him for additional discussions of conflicts.

Colita continued to serve as leader of the Coushattas until his death on July 7, 1852, while on a hunting trip in the area of present Liberty County. He was thought to be 100 or older. A brief account of the life and death of this prominent Coushatta chief was included in the Texas State Gazette (see AUSTIN STATE GAZETTE) for July 17, 1852. A monument in honor of Colita was placed on Texas Highway 146 twelve miles north of Liberty by the Sophia Lee Harrison Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Miriam Partlow, Liberty, Liberty County, and the Atascosito District (Austin: Pemberton, 1974). Aline T. Rothe, Kalita's People (Waco: Texian Press, 1963). Amelia W. Williams and Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston, 1813–1863 (8 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938–43; rpt., Austin and New York: Pemberton Press, 1970). Dorman H. Winfrey and James M. Day, eds., Texas Indian Papers (4 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1959–61; rpt., 5 vols., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1966).

Howard N. Martin

Citation

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

Howard N. Martin, "COLITA," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fcoct), accessed September 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.