Bidai Indians

By: Thomas N. Campbell

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: June 1, 1995

The Bidai (Beadeye, Bedias, Biday, Viday) Indians lived between the Brazos and Trinity rivers in southeastern Texas. Although at times they ranged a larger area, their main settlements were in the vicinity of present Grimes, Houston, Madison, Walker, and Trinity counties, and a number of place names record their former presence in this area. The earliest reference to the tribe was in a Spanish document of 1691 which noted that a group of "Bidey" lived in proximity of the Hasinais. In 1718 and 1720, François Simars de Bellisle reported that an agricultural people by the name of Bidai lived near the Trinity in eastern Texas. In 1748–1749 some of the Bidais were briefly at San Francisco Xavier de Horcasitas Mission before San Ildefonso Mission was built nearby for the Bidai, Deadose, and Akokisa Indians. These missions, which were established on the San Gabriel River near the site of present Rockdale, were abandoned by 1755. In 1756–57 Nuestra Señora de la Luz Mission was established on the lower Trinity River for the Akokisas and Bidais, and some of the Bidais settled near this mission for a short time. It was the grouping of the Bidais with these other groups that has caused some confusion as to the origins and language of the tribe. It was typically thought that the Spanish grouped natives on missions because they spoke common or similar languages. Thus, the Bidais were believed to have had some kinship to the Atakapa people. Upon further study, scholars have concluded that diverse languages were spoken by mission residents but that they might have spoken a second common language in dealing with one another. In the 1770s, the Bidais were reported to have been in league with the French to sell guns to the Lipan Apaches, enemies of the Spanish. In 1776–77 the Bidai population was reduced by about 50 percent in a single epidemic, and by 1820 only a few small groups of Bidais survived. Some of these joined the Akokisas; others joined the Koasati, who were living nearby; and still others were taken in 1854 to the Brazos Indian Reservation in what is now Young County. The last group eventually ended up in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, where their identity was soon lost. In 1830 Jean Berlandier wrote that the tribe was dependent on hunting for their existence and that they were very poor. He also described their customs as resembling those of the Caddos. He believed them to be one of the "oldest of the native people." While later studies associated the Bidai with Atákapa customs and rituals, conclusive evidence concerning their culture is not known.

Lawrence E. Aten, Indians of the Upper Texas Coast (New York: Academic Press, 1983). Jean Louis Berlandier, Indians of Texas in 1830, ed. John C. Ewers and trans. Patricia Reading Leclerq (Washington:: Smithsonian, 1969). William W. Newcomb, The Indians of Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961). Andre Sjoberg, The Bidai Indians of Southeastern Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1951).
  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Tribes (Other)

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

Thomas N. Campbell, “Bidai Indians,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995