American Indians

By: George Klos

Type: Overview Entry

Published: December 1, 1995

Updated: February 10, 2021

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 American 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 (see HEALTH AND MEDICINE). 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.

Texas also became a "horse-and-gun" frontier for American Indians located between competing European powers. French and English traders from the East introduced firearms to them in order to purchase peltry from them and win them as allies in both trade and war. The Spanish introduced horses. Groups able to obtain these two important items had a powerful advantage over others. The introduction of the horse, especially, produced nothing less than a cultural, technological, and economic revolution, enabling groups to move their habitats, intensify their raiding and trading activities, and hunt buffalo more effectively. When the French gun trade met the Spanish horse trade in the late 1600s, the situation impelled the Spanish to settle Texas in order to block French efforts to move southward and westward toward the Spanish provinces of Mexico and New Mexico. Texas, in effect, was of little importance except as a buffer to be occupied for the protection of more important Spanish possessions.

In the late 1680s, Spanish soldiers and missionaries ventured far beyond existing Spanish settlement to the woodland home of the Caddo Indians. The Caddos were twenty-five to thirty distinct groups that shared the same language, political structure, and religious beliefs and ceremonies. In the 1690s they assembled themselves into three loose confederacies-the westernmost Hasinai Indians (including the Tejas Indians or Tay-sha, from whom Texas got its name; see TEXAS, ORIGIN OF NAME) settled on the Angelina and Neches rivers, the Kadodachos along the bend of the Red River at what is now the Texas-Louisiana-Arkansas border, and the eastern Natchitoch Indians. The Caddos were an agricultural people who lived in stable villages and were not especially warlike except for their traditional conflicts with Osages to the north and Tonkawa bands to the west over hunting grounds. Franciscans and Spanish soldiers settled among the Hasinais in 1689. Caddos resisted Spanish efforts to "reduce" them to compact towns; instead, they preferred to live in small clusters stretching through fertile river valleys. The missionaries had little success in converting them to Christianity, and resorted in frustration to ridicule of Caddo beliefs in the effort. A smallpox epidemic swept through the area in the winter of 1690–91, killing 3,000 Caddos, whose religious leaders blamed the friars for the pestilence. Aside from disease, Caddo tenacity in holding onto their religion, and the disrespect offered by the missionaries, other problems smoldered as well. The Caddos invited the Spanish into their villages mainly to get trade advantages, especially a steady supply of firearms with which to defend themselves against Osage raids, but trade was meager and the Spanish refused to supply weapons. Furthermore, Spanish soldiers committed such outrages as molesting Caddo women. Finally, in 1693 a caddi (chief) informed a soldier that "all of his people were very annoyed with the Spanish and it would be better if the Spanish went and left his lands"; then he told a priest ("with much ridicule", the priest said) that his people often spoke of throwing out the Spanish. When the Spanish left the next year, four soldiers deserted and joined the Hasinais. Although the Spanish reestablished their presence among the Caddos twenty years later, few Caddos accepted Christianity, and the Spanish never supplied goods with the quality and regularity that the French provided. Caddo agriculture thrived and, combined with the hunt and a strong trade with other tribes, enabled them to withstand Spanish efforts to control them.

The Spanish entry into Texas altered regional trade networks and led the Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa Indians to migrate into the South Plains to be nearer the supply of Spanish horses. The Spanish also established missions among smaller groups that needed protection from more powerful northern invaders. The Jumanos, who lived on the western tributaries of the Colorado River and along the Pecos River and the Rio Grande, were targets of Spanish slave raids to obtain laborers for mines in Chihuahua. By the mid-1600s, however, they had positioned themselves as middlemen, trading Pueblo Indian textiles and turquoise, Caddo bows, Spanish metals and horses, and their own buffalo hides. This advantageous situation ended with the entrance onto the South Plains of the Apaches, who cut off the Jumanos from the New Mexico pueblos. Many small tribes sided with the Spanish in campaigns against the aggressive Apaches, but by the decade after 1710 the Jumanos had been so severely defeated that they lost their distinct cultural identity. Some merged with their former enemies, the Apaches, while others became wage laborers in Chihuahua and gradually blended into the Mexican populace.

A similar fate befell the Coahuiltecan Indians, who lived in small bands between the San Antonio River and the Rio Grande and along the Balcones Escarpment. Their only defense against Apache attacks was to congregate in the newly formed Spanish missions. San Antonio, in fact, was founded primarily as a cluster of missions with a presidio serving the small Coahuiltecan, Jumano, and other bands who needed protection from the Apaches. By the early nineteenth century, these peoples had intermarried and become so acculturated among the Spanish Mexicans that their ethnic identity as "Indians" was lost and they entered the lower strata of Hispanic society. San Antonio was a mixed blessing to both the American Indian bands and the Spanish. While affording some protection from Apaches, the growing settlement also attracted Apache raids. In 1723 Spanish forces battled a large Apache camp in what is now Brown County, killing thirty-four warriors, including the chief. Such decisive victories were rare, however, and San Antonio and nearby missions continued to be plagued by Apache raids.

The Apaches themselves had a problem more severe than the Spanish. Just as they had displaced weaker bands from the South Plains, they too resisted dislocation at the hands of a more powerful newcomer to the region—the Comanches. Since the Apaches practiced some agriculture, their seasonal settlements were ripe targets for the completely nomadic Comanches. Eventually, the Comanches ousted the Apaches from the South Plains buffalo range. Some Apache groups moved westward into New Mexico, but others—Lipan Apaches—moved southeasterly to the area between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. Relations with the Spanish were strained. On the one hand, the Apaches needed to ally with them against the Comanches; on the other, Lipan Apaches continued to raid San Antonio, and their recent displacement had brought them closer to the town. The Comanche sweep into the area was facilitated, like the Apache migration earlier, by the horse. Horses not only gave greater mobility and revolutionized American Indian culture; they also became the primary measure of wealth and status. At the time the Comanches decisively defeated the previous South Plains inhabitants, they also established connections with French gun traders through Caddo and Wichita bands and thus became the most formidable opponents the Spanish ever faced.

The term tribe should be used with caution in regard to the Comanches. Though they had a common language and way of life, they had no political institutions or social mechanisms by which they acted as a unit. Comanche families formed bands that acted autonomously from each other. Bands have generally been delineated geographically—as "northern," "middle," "southern," and "Llano Estacado"—but Comanche bands did not really adhere to any distinct territorial boundaries. Furthermore, Comanche bands were not fixed institutions; they broke apart, reformed, and merged over the years. A man's connection to a band was one of free association, and he moved from one to another at will. Band populations fluctuated with the popularity of their leaders, mainly based on success at procuring horses and defeating enemies. Because of this type of social organization, no band leader could really control the behavior of individuals, as the Spanish (and later the Americans) learned. Comanche rank and social status were determined by war honors and the accumulation of horses taken from enemies. Horses were the most important type of property, a medium of exchange, and the measure of one's worth. Horse culture promoted decentralized and nomadic living arrangements because of the pasture needed by large horse herds. Horse raiding and trading characterized the Comanche role in Texas. It was not in the Comanches' interest to destroy or drive away Europeans; by using the margins of Spanish (and later Mexican and Anglo) settlement as sources of plunder, they enriched themselves while retarding colonial expansion into their region. In their middleman role, Comanches supplied horses and goods derived from buffalo hunting in exchange for the agricultural surplus of other groups, such as the Wichita bands, and firearms from European-American traders.

A similar maximization of power through the horse-and-gun trade occurred for the Wichitas, another group that migrated from the north in the early 1700s. A confederation of several linguistically related bands (Tawakoni, Taovaya, Iscani, Wichitas, Toweash), these people moved southward to get away from the more powerful and European-armed Osages. The Wichitas eventually lived on both sides of the Red River, a prime location where they stood between the Comanches and the French and profited accordingly. The Wichita bands subsisted by farming and hunting buffalo. They traded surplus crops to the Comanches for horses, then supplied horses to the French and Caddos living to the east. This trade system—from the French through the Caddos through the Wichitas to the Comanches—defined the diplomacy, economy, and general issues of war and peace from the early 1700s until the early years of Anglo-American settlement near the South Plains. The Wichitas originally made peace overtures to the Spanish in San Antonio, but the Spanish could not compete with the French trade. Also, the Spanish had established amicable relations with the Lipans in the early 1750s, much to the dismay of the Wichitas and everyone else who fought the Lipans in competition for hunting grounds. The Spanish were seen as protectors of the Lipans, for whom they established Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission on the San Saba River. The Lipans could not settle at San Antonio because the mission Indians and Spanish settlers feared them. Spanish officials believed San Sabá Mission would serve as a buffer between the Comanches and San Antonio and perhaps begin a chain of settlements between San Antonio and Santa Fe, New Mexico. They had not realized, however, that the mission would also become an attractive target for enemies of the Lipan Apaches. In March 1758, 2,000 warriors surrounded the mission, firing their French muskets into the air. This force, a conglomeration of Comanches, Wichitas, Tonkawas, Caddos, and others, told the Spanish soldiers not to fear them, that they only wished to attack some Apaches who had been raiding them. At the end of the day, thirty-five Apaches and Spaniards lay dead as the warriors looted and burned the mission. The meager Spanish military force, numbering fewer than sixty, had no choice but to remain barricaded in the nearby presidio.

The destruction of the mission was a severe blow to the Spanish and Lipans, but the larger meaning of the event swept fear through the province—2,000 warriors representing several groups had united in a concerted attack, displaying large quantities of firearms and notable skill in using them. The Spanish forces scattered through the various presidios of Texas were no match for such formidable opponents. Mission Indians in San Antonio fled southward to escape a predicted onslaught. Col. Diego Ortiz Parrilla, commander of San Sabá Presidio (see SAN LUIS DE LAS AMARILLAS), organized a punitive campaign against the attackers with more than 600 men, including Lipans, the next year. The objective Ortiz chose was a cluster of Wichita villages on the Red River anchored by the Taovayas who had constructed a split-rail fort with spaces between the rails for warriors inside to fire their guns. Outside the stockade (for which present-day Spanish Fort is named, although it was actually a Taovaya fort) they made a steep embankment, and beyond that dug a deep moat to prevent horsemen from nearing the walls of the fort. Inside the 130-by-80-yard fortress, the Taovayas had dug four large underground rooms to shelter noncombatants. Ortiz encountered this imposing structure in October 1759. The Taovayas, who had skirmished with Ortiz earlier, protected themselves in the fort. They laughed at the Spanish and dared them to try to enter. The Taovayas opened fire from behind the walls, and mounted warriors charged out of the fort at the Spanish line. The battle lasted four hours before Ortiz fell back after nightfall. The fort's defenders obviously had an unlimited amount of ammunition, and Ortiz's Apache scouts could find no approach to the walls. The Taovayas showed greater discipline under fire than his own militiamen and outnumbered him as well, as other Wichita groups sent warriors to aid their kinsmen. Ortiz left the battlefield so quickly that he abandoned two pieces of artillery, which the Wichitas kept as trophies.

The failed assault on the Taovaya fortress demonstrated the limits of Spanish power on the frontier. The Spaniards could make isolated forays into the South Plains and inflict light damage, but they could never get the upper hand against Wichitas and Comanches and had to treat them practically as diplomatic equals. The battle also represented the high point of Wichita strength. Within a few years the Wichitas made peace with the Spanish, mainly because the Seven Years' War between France and Great Britain caused the French in Louisiana to cut back on the trade goods sent to western tribes. Likewise, at least one Comanche band, under a chief named Povea, made peace in San Antonio in 1772, but the chief reminded the Spanish that he could speak only for his own band, not for all Comanches. Spanish relations with the Lipans, never good, deteriorated after the San Saba-Wichita campaign fiasco. Lipans abandoned the missions for good and increased their stock raids on San Antonio. Trade and common enemies influenced Spanish efforts to establish friendly relations with Comanches, Wichitas, and Caddos, who were encouraged by Spanish officials in the early 1770s to finish off the Lipans. Although by 1779 the Lipans had once again made peace with San Antonio, hostilities between them and the other tribes continued for decades.

The Lipans sought allies, but found few. One group, the Tonkawas, formed an alliance with them that lasted more than a century, during which both groups dwindled. The Tonkawas were another small group shoved out of the South Plains buffalo range by the Comanches. Unlike the Lipans, they practiced no agriculture. Though originally known to the Spanish as four distinct bands, the Tonkawas unified in the mid-1700s as a response to epidemics and war losses. They were despised by other American Indians not just for their raiding and competition for hunting grounds but also because they had a reputation for cannibalism. Tonkawa warriors ceremonially cut off the hands and feet of slain enemies and ate them; this practice, described first-hand by a few White witnesses (such as John S. "Rip" Ford in the 1850s), led enemies to seek even greater vengeance for the desecration of their dead kinsmen's bodies. The Tonkawas were even more outcast than the Lipans. The Lipans also allied briefly in the 1780s with groups of East Texas, mainly to establish a source for guns and ammunition other than San Antonio. They made contacts with the small Atakapa bands on the lower Trinity River, who had been given two meager Spanish missions in an attempt to block French expansion. The missions never successfully reduced these hunter-gatherers, who had French contacts through the Caddos. At a trade fair held on the Guadalupe River in 1782, Lipans met Tonkawas, Atakapas, and Caddos and traded 1,000 Spanish horses for 270 guns. Such trade continued for four years, and the Caddos, although friendly to the Spanish, were oblivious to Spanish warnings to end it. By the end of the decade, the Caddos were forced to abandon the trade with the Lipans, as the Spanish again turned all the other tribes (including the Tonkawas, briefly) against the Lipans.

The Spanish policy of Indian alliances depended upon trade. Their failure to supply goods, especially firearms and ammunition, regularly or in abundance caused peaceful relations to stop and start and never be firmly established. The Spanish colonial bureaucratic structure also contributed to Wichita and Comanche disillusionment, as the viceregal authorities in Mexico City did not adequately understand the situation on its northern margins and communication was slow. Finally, increased Comanche raids led Mexico City to conclude that peace treaties were useless. Only one or two bands of Comanches had actually made peace with the Spanish, and their social structure had no way of preventing bold young men from going off to attain wealth and war honors. Raiding enabled the Comanches and other groups to circumvent Spanish attempts to control trade and regulate access to horses. Spanish power in Texas further unraveled in the beginning of the nineteenth century due to events in elsewhere in the empire. The Napoleonic Wars in Europe made Spain and Portugal battlegrounds for several years, and the crown had to attend to matters on its doorstep. At the same time, the wars of independence swept through the Americas, including Mexico. In 1821, the Republic of Mexico became independent after the eleven-year Mexican War of Independence, and Texas was included within its boundaries. In the end, the Spanish were no longer able to supply adequate trade to American Indians or to station a respectable military presence on the frontier. Always an area of marginal importance in the large imperial scheme, Texas was the neglected fringe of a collapsing empire.

Republics of Mexico and Texas. The problems associated with the final years of Spanish rule and American Indian relations were inherited by the government of the new Republic of Texas. Most missions had been abandoned; the only active ones were in the vicinity of San Antonio and Goliad. Political upheavals in Mexico City caused virtually annual changes of government and contributed to the neglect of the frontier. As during Spanish rule, the frontier communities of Texas had little to attract settlers from other parts of Mexico. Raids by Comanches, Apaches, and others also checked Mexico's frontier development, and the increase in such raids reflected the changing conditions of the region. At the time of Spanish decline and Mexican independence, traders from the United States began to venture onto the Plains and establish contacts with Santa Fe and the American Indian groups between the United States and New Mexico. Mexico was unable to repair broken trade alliances or impose order militarily. Because the American trade gave the American Indians a new, strong market and steady source of firearms, raiding increased in the northern states of Mexico. The Republic of Mexico responded to these changes on its frontier by encouraging immigration from elsewhere.

Most significantly for the Texas Indians, two new types of immigrant entered the province—American Indian bands from the eastern United States and Anglo-Americans. Migration from the east began in the 1790s as Choctaw, Chickasaw, Alabama-Coushatta, and Creek hunting parties, reacting to the decline of game in their traditional homelands, seasonally and temporarily entered Texas. Over time, eastern bands found it more convenient to trade deerskins locally than to carry them back east. Expanding White settlement also pushed them westward. By the first decade of the 1800s, the Alabama Indians had established a town on the Neches River above its junction with the Angelina River, and the Coushattas had settled on the Trinity. Relations between the Caddos and these newcomers were generally friendly, although the Caddos occasionally clashed in the early years with Choctaw hunting parties. For the most part, however, the Caddos welcomed the immigrants as allies against the Osages. A second and larger wave of American Indians from the east occurred after the War of 1812, as the United States removed the British influence on its frontier and established its unilateral control over frontier tribes. Several tribes, such as the Shawnee and Delaware Indians, had sided with the British in the war, and individual bands moved into Texas. The Creek confederacy had been badly splintered by a civil war during the War of 1812. One faction was soundly defeated by Gen. Andrew Jackson at the battle of Horseshoe Bend in Alabama in 1814, and many of its refugees moved west. Even some groups that had peaceful relations with the United States, such as the Cherokees, moved because of their role in the fur trade and the pressure of White expansion on their traditional lands. By 1820, the concept of "removing" eastern American Indians westward began to be discussed by United States politicians; although the policy was not enacted until 1830, many groups understood the implications and left the United States by moving to Texas. The Mexican government welcomed the immigrants and promised them land titles in East Texas, but no titles were ever formally secured.

The American Indian migration into East Texas in the 1820s coincided with another important influx—that of Anglo-American immigrants, both legal and illegal. During the Texas Revolution the independence forces sought conciliation with nearby Texas Indians to keep them from allying with the Mexican army. Most bands were neutral, and some, such as the Shawnees, were willing to join in the fight against Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna. Sam Houston planned to raise a 300-man force of Cherokees, Delawares, Shawnees, and Kickapoos with payments of cash and plunder, but this plan never materialized. The fear that American Indians might side with Santa Anna seems to have been greatest during the period between the fall of the Alamo and the Texas victory at San Jacinto. It does not appear to have been grounded in their behavior but on a general fear that the entire rebellion was falling apart. Nevertheless, the specter of potential American Indian hostility remained even after the crisis had ended, and it remained important in the new republic's policies. Certainly, the tribes did listen to Mexican agents who visited them, but on the whole they remained neutral out of doubt about which side would win. The American Indian scare had one very significant effect on Texas independence: the widespread rumors of American Indian hostility persuaded United States troops from Louisiana to cross into Texas and occupy Nacogdoches in 1836, thus ending the Texans' eastward flight at the same time as the battle of San Jacinto.

In an effort to maintain good relations with the American Indians, the provisional government declared in November 1835 that the East Texas bands had just claims to their land and that definite boundaries should be drawn for them. American Indian land rights would be respected, explained the General Council, "so as not to compromise the interest of Texas." In February 1836, Sam Houston made a treaty with the Quapaw, Choctaw, Biloxi, Alabama, Coushatta, Cherokee, Shawnee, Delaware, and Kickapoo Indians and with various Caddo bands, which established a reservation where all would live, bounded by the Angelina, Neches, and Sabine rivers and the Old San Antonio Road. According to the treaty, the land could not be sold or alienated to any entity but the Republic of Texas, American Indians could have their own laws as long as they were not contrary to Texas law, and the republic would regulate all American Indian trade. This first treaty of the Republic of Texas was never ratified by either the provisional government or the Texas Senate. Later, the Texas government realized that no American Indians had been granted land titles by the Mexican government, and used this as justification for expelling most of them from Texas.

Texans knew little about the American Indians within the borders they claimed, and they had to figure out the proper policies to be followed. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs tried to delineate the various groups in October 1837 by identifying bands, estimating their length of residency in Texas, and evaluating their relations to others. The Coushattas, Alabamas, Biloxis, and Creeks were identified as living near Nacogdoches and resident in Texas for fifty years. The Choctaws were reported to have lived in Texas for only ten years and thus to have "no pretensions to the soil." The committee distinguished several Caddo bands, identifying them as friendly to the hostile "Prairie Indians" (the confederacy of Wichita bands that had raided White settlements since the establishment of Stephen F. Austin's first colony). The "Prairie Indians" were described as hunters and horsemen living high up the Brazos and Trinity rivers and friendly with the Comanches. Since the Comanches did not live near the White settlements of East Texas, members of the new government knew little about them except that they were "the natural enemies of the Mexicans whom they contemptuously denominate their stock keepers and out of which nation they procure slaves." The committee believed a treaty of friendship—and alliance with them against Mexico—was possible. Other groups were identified as current residents of Texas but not the government's responsibility. The "Northern Indians" (Kickapoos, Shawnees, Delawares, and Potawatomis) had migrated a decade earlier from the United States and consequently were deemed that nation's responsibility. The Lipans and Tonkawas, on the other hand, were considered by the committee to be part of the Mexican nation, even though the Tonkawas' tenure in Texas predated the Europeans' and the Lipans had arrived a century and a half before Texas independence. The committee made a few errors in its analysis of Texas Indians, as indicated by its description of the Tonkawas and Lipans, but it did trace the Caddo-Wichita-Comanche connection and the Comanches' raiding activities against Mexicans. It also identified and located most of the bands that had migrated from the United States and tried to establish their length of residency in relation to the arrival of Anglo-Americans. Generally, the committee identified as "native" any group that lived in Texas before Stephen F. Austin; the Alabama and Coushattas, for example, were considered natives of Texas despite their migration from Alabama because they predated Austin's colony. The Shawnees, on the other hand, were classed as "emigrants" for having moved to Texas at approximately the same time as Austin. In reality, the "native-emigrant" division was fluid and inconsistent, and it meant relatively little in terms of the republic's policies and actions.

The American Indian policy of the Republic of Texas was for the most part defined by the president, especially Sam Houston and Mirabeau B. Lamar, whose divergent policies defined the spectrum of debate about how to handle the groups. Houston advocated a policy of fairness and friendship toward them because "natural reason will teach them the utility of our friendship," he explained in his 1836 presidential inaugural address. He believed American Indians, as rational human beings, would find it in their best interests to maintain peace with Texans. On a more practical level, Houston understood that trade connections and the recognition of reservation lands were less costly than war, that they would gradually foster dependency on the government, and that the more mobile horse tribes would be very difficult to find and defeat decisively. Lamar took a far more bellicose position. "The proper policy to be pursued towards the barbarian race, is absolute expulsion from the country," he said in 1839. "The White man and the red man cannot dwell in harmony together. Nature forbids it." The republic's American Indian policy was greatly influenced by considerations of how the various groups figured into the ongoing conflict between Texas and Mexico. The apprehension that they would join the Mexicans so permeated public attitudes and government policy that this fear was exploited to justify dispossession of the American Indians. The Mexican forces in Matamoros did hope to win American Indian alliances and to reoccupy Texas, but they were ultimately unsuccessful. Texans, however, saw the hand of Mexico in several violent clashes between Whites and Indians, and this fed the popular belief that Houston's conciliatory policy was a failure. The campaigns against East Texas Indians in the late 1830s are illustrative. When some Mexican residents of Nacogdoches led by Vicente Córdova rebelled in 1838, individual warriors of several tribes joined them. Córdova first camped on Cherokee land, and although Cherokee chief Duwali (commonly known as Bowl or Bowles) never cooperated with him, the chief held discussions with both sides, an astute move unappreciated by Texans. Gen. Thomas J. Rusk led troops into Cherokee country and chased Córdova to the Kickapoos, who had already been suspected of frontier raids. Rusk assured the Kickapoo chief that he had no intention of attacking them, but he privately believed that an opportune moment had come to expel them. Several weeks later he attacked the Kickapoo village and, after a sharp fight in which eleven Kickapoos were killed, burned it. Days later, Texans destroyed a Caddo village on the West Fork of the Trinity, killing six, even though they had no apparent connection to Córdova.

Aside from the fear of American Indian alliance with Mexico, questions of national sovereignty also made Texans want to erase their enclaves in regions filling up with White settlers. Recognition of American Indian land rights, Lamar insisted, would be "parcelling out our territory to strangers and intruders, and introducing into the very viscera of the body politic an alien, independent and innately hostile people." Most Texans agreed with Lamar that Whites and American Indians could not live as neighbors, although Houston maintained that a reservation with well-defined and enforced boundaries could exist peacefully surrounded by Whites.

Examples of skirmishes in East Texas abound in this period. Whites did suffer from raids, and they sought retribution. In some cases, Texans did not bother to discern which American Indian groups had committed offenses and punished any they found. In 1840, for example, a small party of American Indians killed two Whites near Nacogdoches; a White party in pursuit found the raiders' camp, but the culprits had fled. Instead of continuing the pursuit, reported a Houston newspaper, "the party fell back upon a village of Choctaws, and after killing eleven of them returned home." Two years earlier, a man who had lost some horses believed Caddos had taken them, so he went to their village and attempted to kidnap several women and children; three Caddos and two Whites were killed in the skirmish. The man later found his horses, which had only strayed from his farm. These skirmishes occurred at a time when East Texas was filling up with both White settlers and American Indian refugees from the United States. At the time of the Texas Revolution, the Caddos living in Louisiana had signed a treaty agreeing to move out of the United States—so they crossed the border to join their kinsmen in Texas and greatly alarmed White settlers. During this tense period the Texas Senate renounced the treaty Houston had made in 1836, thus provoking encroachment on American Indian land by surveyors and squatters and retaliatory raids by exasperated Indians. As always, the fear of an American Indian alliance with Mexico was prevalent.

The impetus for offensive action against the Cherokees and others came in 1839, when Texas Rangers killed Manuel Flores, a Mexican agent sent to recruit East Texas Indians. Among his effects was found a letter from a Mexican general proposing an alliance. Since the courier had been killed before delivering the message, obviously the American Indians had not seen it; nevertheless, this incident was all Lamar needed to link the Cherokees to the Mexicans. He offered to pay the Cherokees for any improvements they had made on their land but not for the land itself, in accordance with his position that they had no title. As General Rusk succinctly told Cherokee, Shawnee, and Delaware leaders, "The wild Indians and Mexicans & we are enemies. It is impossible for you to be friendly to both of us....You are between two fires & if you remain will be destroyed." Chief Bowl agreed to leave, but insisted on remaining until his people's corn could be harvested. He also refused to surrender his warrior's gunlocks, perhaps because the Cherokees had no consensus for removal and he did not want to cause dissent among his people. He declined a Texan escort to the Red River, stating he "had come to this Country by himself and wished to return in the same way." These negotiations accomplished nothing, however, because Texans believed the Cherokees were only stalling until the Mexicans invaded. So they attacked the Cherokee town, destroyed it and the cornfields, killed Duwali, and sent the refugees north of the Red River (see CHEROKEE WAR). Two weeks after the Cherokees' defeat, the Shawnees and Delawares, who had been among the friendliest groups to the Whites and had not been implicated in the documents found on Flores, agreed to virtually the same removal terms. Unlike the Cherokees, they surrendered their gunlocks and accepted the escort out of the country. Pecan, a Shawnee leader, "apprehended that times could be worse" and said "he did not like a fuss[,] that he was going away to avoid it."

The campaigns chased the Caddos westward onto the prairies, wiped out the Kickapoo and Cherokee settlements, and intimidated the Shawnees and Delawares into leaving the republic. Caddos, Shawnees, Delawares, and others had been so splintered by warfare and dislocation that they combined into one multitribal town near the Three Forks of the Trinity. There they traded buffalo robes, tended livestock, and planted 300 acres of corn until 1841, when a force of Texas Rangers destroyed the town, burned the fields, and took the buffalo robes and cattle as prizes. Viewed as a whole, the Republic of Texas waged a successful campaign to clear East Texas of American Indians, to rid the area of an undesirable race, and to open it to economic development. The Alabamas and Coushattas, however, present an exception. Though subjected to the same treatment as other American Indian groups, they did not retaliate (and thus provoke more White attacks) and looked instead to the government for satisfaction. The fact that they rendered aid to the cause of independence in 1836 worked in their favor; at that time, Alabamas and Coushattas helped retreating White families cross the Trinity River and cared for them while Texans under Houston met Santa Anna at San Jacinto. In recognition of this, the republic assigned the Alabama-Coushattas two leagues of land along the lower Trinity River.

The republic's relations with the Comanches changed drastically in the late 1830s. As mentioned earlier, Whites knew relatively little about them at first; Anglo-American settlers lived far enough away from them not to be victimized by Comanche raids but close enough to be considered by the Comanches as a market for horses taken from Mexico and buffalo robes. But the relentless advance of Anglo settlement, the new government's refusal to recognize Comanche territorial sovereignty with established borderlines, and the fact that White Texans took a much harder line against the Comanches than the Mexicans previously had taken resulted in unyielding warfare by 1840. With the westward advance of Anglo settlement, the Comanches had new communities to raid. In the summer of 1836, Comanches took more than 100 horses from settlements, taking advantage of the unstable state of affairs during the war for independence. The first serious counterblow occurred in February 1839, but with mixed results. A company of rangers assisted by the Comanches' Lipan Apache enemies penetrated the Comanche heartland, something that had never been done before. The Lipans, who originally proposed the expedition, found a Comanche camp on a creek in the San Saba valley, and they and the rangers charged into it at dawn, "throwing open the doors of the wigwams or pulling them down and slaughtering the enemy in their beds," reported the commander, Col. John H. Moore. The Comanches regrouped and counterattacked as the Texans reloaded their firearms, and Moore was forced to pull back. Soon the Texans found themselves surrounded by hundreds of Comanches, who rode up with a white flag and proposed a prisoner swap. Later, as the rangers rode toward home, the Comanches stole their horses, and they had to walk home the last 100 miles, carrying their wounded.

The incident that most irreparably altered Texan-Comanche relations was the Council House Fight of 1840. The Comanches went to San Antonio to negotiate a land treaty and return White captives. Secretary of War Albert Sidney Johnston, however, instructed negotiators not to make any promises that would compromise the republic's ability to decide unilaterally the conditions of residence of any Indian tribe, and further to hold the Comanche delegation hostage until all "American Captives" were surrendered (see AMERICAN INDIAN CAPTIVES). At the Council House in San Antonio, a traditional meetingplace for American Indian negotiations, the Comanches delivered up a teenage girl, who told the Texans that she had seen many other White captives in the large Comanche camp outside of town. Muke-war-wah, the main Comanche spokesman, claimed, "We have brought in the only one we had; the others are with other tribes." Given the decentralized Comanche society, the girl may indeed have been the only captive in Muke-war-wah's band, and he had no authority to deal in captives held by others. Whatever the truth may have been, the Texans assumed he was lying and told the Comanche delegation that they were going to be hostages until more Whites were brought in. The delegation rushed the door, stabbing soldiers, and all twelve Comanches in the Council House were shot to death. The gunfire prompted the warriors outside the building to take up the fight, and a general melee ensued through the streets of San Antonio. When the battle ended, thirty-five Comanches and seven Whites had been killed, 100 horses and a great number of buffalo hides had been taken by the Whites, and some twenty-nine Comanche women and children had been taken prisoner. In turn, the fight provoked the largest American Indian raid since the attack on the San Saba mission eighty-two years earlier. Five hundred Comanches sacked Victoria and Linnville and raided all the way to the Gulf of Mexico (see LINNVILLE RAID OF 1840). On their return to their own territory, however, they were cut off by militia companies from the Colorado River counties and defeated at the battle of Plum Creek.

Later that year, Colonel Moore conducted another campaign well into Comanche territory, much more successful than his attack a year earlier. Once again, he took his troops far from White settlements and attacked a Comanche camp discovered by his Lipan allies. The villagers fled the attack by running into the river, but the steep banks on the other side proved difficult to climb. Texan marksmen killed them as they slipped and scrambled on the banks. Twice as many Comanches were killed in the river than in the initial attack on the village, and approximately 120 bodies littered the site.

The Council House Fight loomed in the memories of Comanches; government officials often found themselves negotiating with men who had lost family members in the battle. Comanches were leery of sending representatives to meetings because they did not want to prominent leaders to be taken hostage. They declined to send a delegation to one council unless four Whites were sent to them as hostages guaranteeing the safety of the four chiefs who would attend. Though bitter warfare seemed unavoidable, Sam Houston, upon regaining the presidency in 1841, continued to pursue peace overtures. He wanted to establish territorial boundaries for the Comanches, but Congress always voted down such provisions. The 1844 treaty of Tehuacana Creek (see TEHUACANA CREEK COUNCILS), for example, drew a line from the Cross Timbers to Comanche Peak (now in Hood County) to the ruins of the San Saba mission, then southwesterly to the Rio Grande, but this boundary provision was deleted from the ratified version. Even when treaties were made, the Republic of Texas learned what had plagued Spain and Mexico earlier—that an agreement with one Comanche band had no bearing on the half dozen or so others that continued to raid. The Comanches learned that White settlers would continue to encroach on their territory, and that the government could not stop them even if it was so inclined.

Unlike the other groups discussed earlier, the Tonkawas and Lipans allied early with the Republic of Texas. They did so for the same reasons they had previously sought the friendship of Spain, Mexico, and the Caddos—they were small, shrinking groups, and they needed allies to defend themselves against the Comanches when they ventured onto the buffalo range west of San Antonio. They resided between the Colorado and San Antonio rivers in the 1830s and 1840s. They assisted Texans in retrieving horses taken by raiding Wichitas and Caddos, and they joined Texas Rangers in campaigns against the Comanches, as noted earlier. Unfortunately for them, such assistance did not make the Texans treat them differently from other American Indians. In one case, a group of Texans and Mexicans in Goliad stole horses from a Tonkawa camp while the warriors were serving with the Texas army on the Nueces frontier. Though many Texans recognized the injustice of the incident, too many potential jurors in the Goliad area were involved in it for the authorities to prosecute the thieves. The Tonkawas responded by robbing and killing some Whites, thus arousing residents of Goliad to talk of exterminating them. Thereupon the Tonkawas moved and by the 1840s were living near Bastrop, begging for food, hiring out as cottonpickers during the harvest season, and buying liquor from unscrupulous storekeepers. Members of the Texas Congress attempted to recognize their service to the republic by reserving for them two fourteen-square-mile reservations on the Brazos and Colorado rivers beyond White settlement, a location where they could serve as a buffer against Comanche raids; this proposal, however, was defeated, as were all other similar measures.

Statehood. Texas entered the United States in 1845–46 (see ANNEXATION), and the situation for American Indians was altered. For one change, raiders such as the Comanches, Kiowas, and Wichitas had to learn that the Americans and Texans were one people now, and that they could not rob one and sell the loot to the other, although unscrupulous frontier traders did this for a while. For another, the United States was obligated by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to block American Indian raids into Mexico, a part of the agreement that the Comanches did not respect because they had not been consulted. The United States army built forts along the border and tried to maintain a forceful presence in the area. Ecological and demographic changes also took place in the late 1840s and 1850s. With entry into the Union, immigration to Texas rose considerably. The state's population tripled between 1850 and 1860, the country west of San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas filled up with settlers, and the new army forts attracted settlements that sprang up near them. The influx of newcomers and the passing caravans of Forty-niners on their way to the goldfields of California also brought a new wave of disease that laid waste the American Indians. The Comanches were hit by smallpox in 1848 and cholera in 1849, when by some estimates half their population died, including such leaders as Santa Anna and Mopechucope (Old Owl), who had been influential advocates of peaceful relations. If this were not enough, the buffalo population began declining during the same period. Partly, the expansion of White settlement and the federally sponsored "Indian removal" program that put 50,000 eastern American Indians on the margins of the South Plains reduced available buffalo range and increased the number of people hunting them. But their hunting style also contributed. They preferred to hunt buffalo cows because their meat was more tender and their hides easier to process into finer robes; the overhunting of breeding-age females contributed to the decline of the buffalo. As the herds shrank, Comanches took to eating their horses, and this depletion of their most important form of property impelled them to increase their cattle raids on both sides of the Rio Grande. They also attack outsiders who hunted buffalo.

The most important change affecting American Indians when Texas joined the United States, however, had to do with relations between the state and federal governments. The federal government, constitutionally mandated to be in charge of American Indian affairs, took over that role in Texas, but the new state retained control of its public lands. In all other new territories, Washington controlled both public lands and American Indian affairs and so could make treaties guaranteeing reservations for various groups. In Texas, however, the federal government could not do this. The state adamantly refused to contribute public land for American Indian reservations within the boundaries of Texas, all the while expecting Washington to bear the expense and responsibility of American Indian affairs. Since federal Indian agents in Texas understood that guaranteeing American Indian land rights was the key to peace, no peace could be possible with the intransigent attitude of state officials on the land question. Furthermore, Texans in the decade before the Civil War were highly critical of the inability of the army to defeat the American Indians decisively and prevent raids; many believed that Texas protected its White citizens better when it was independent. This attitude regarding frontier policy became important when Texas seceded from the union in 1861.

Only once did the Texas legislature relent in its opposition to reservations. In 1854 state officials gave in to federal requests and established two small reservations on the Brazos River near Fort Belknap (see BRAZOS INDIAN RESERVATION, and COMANCHE INDIAN RESERVATION). On one, remnants of Caddo and Wichita bands and the Tonkawas, with a few Shawnees and Delawares who had married into the Caddos, established themselves. On the other the Comanches were supposed to settle. Only a small group of Comanches, elements of the Penateka band, came to the reservation, while their kinsmen continued to live freely and raid the frontier. The reservation plan might have worked had the area not filled up with White settlers almost immediately. Since the Whites established horse and cattle ranches, the area naturally became a target for Comanche, Kiowa, and Kickapoo raids; Whites believed the proximity of the reservations had something to do with the raids, and blamed the reservation population for either conducting or abetting them. There may be some justification for accusing the reservation Comanches, since they entertained nonreservation Comanche visitors and their social structure could not prevent young men from leaving the reservation to live with other bands. The American Indians of the other reservation, however, had also been the victims of stock raids. They even contributed to two important Texan victories north of the Red River. In May 1858, Rip Ford led a force of Texas Rangers and Brazos reservation warriors to the heartland of Comanche country. The reservation warriors supplied more men than the rangers and found a Comanche trail, hunted buffalo along the way to feed the expedition, and found two large Comanche camps. In the ensuing battle, seventy-six Comanches, including the celebrated Chief Iron Jacket, were killed. A year and a half later, warriors of the Brazos reservation participated in a similar campaign led by Maj. Earl Van Dorn of the United States Army. Waco and Tawakoni scouts learned the location of a Comanche camp through their Wichita kinsmen and attacked the Comanches, killing fifty-six and burning 120 lodges. "If it had not been for [the Indians' help], Major Van Dorn would not have seen a Comanche, nor would Captain Ford," explained army lieutenant William Burnet.

Regardless of their service on the frontier, however, the reservation people continued to be accused of stock thefts by frustrated ranchers in Jack, Palo Pinto, and Young counties. A few days after Christmas 1858, a party of Caddos with official permission to hunt off the reservation were attacked in their sleep by a group of Whites; seven were killed. Federal Indian agents insisted that state authorities prosecute the killers, but nothing came of these requests. An organized movement led by John R. Baylor and other local residents formed to expel the reservation Indians from the state; armed parties of citizens patrolled the reservations' boundaries, and in a few instances killed American Indians found outside the line. The United States Army entered the reservations to defend them from vigilante violence, a move that enraged Texans and further fed their belief that the federal government's frontier policies were detrimental to the state. At one time, Baylor led armed citizens onto the reservation to force the American Indians' expulsion, but they (armed by the United States Army) fought back and chased the Texans away. In August 1859 federal officials negotiated the removal of the reservation Indians to new land north of the Red River on the Wichita reservation. Feeling ran so high against the reservation residents and their White defenders that federal Indian agent Robert Simpson Neighbors was murdered by a local White man near Fort Belknap after having removed the American Indians from the state (see RESERVATION WAR).

The expulsion of the reservation Indians did nothing to lessen the frequency or intensity of Comanche and Kiowa raids. Texans had their opportunity, beginning in 1861, to prove their earlier assertions that Texas could defend the frontier and pacify them better than the United States could when the state seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy. They accomplished little more than federal efforts had, although it must be taken into account that the needs of the Civil War took priority in manpower and spending. Raids continued as before and even increased in some counties. The growth of cattle ranching added a new target for raiders, who drove off cattle for resale to the Comancheros, traders from New Mexico who ventured onto the Llano Estacado to buy from the Comanches.

With the defeat of the Confederacy and the length of time it took United States troops to return to the frontier, American Indians noticed the unorganized status of the frontier and increased their raids in late 1865. Federal officials tried to settle frontier affairs in the traditional manner—with a land treaty. In October 1865, the Kiowas and a few Comanche bands signed the treaty of the Little Arkansas, in which the federal government promised them a large reservation comprising the Panhandle and most of West Texas (from the southeastern corner of New Mexico to the junction of the North and South forks of the Red River). But the war had not changed the unique legal situation of Texas or the attitudes of its officials. The state still controlled its own public land, and even Republican lawmakers in the Reconstruction state government, heavily influenced by military occupation, refused to cede any land. In 1867 the Kiowas and Comanches negotiated another reservation treaty at Medicine Lodge Creek, which secured for them less land in the Indian Territory. Although ten Comanche chiefs signed the treaty, as was customary, they spoke only for the people they represented (less than half of all Comanches) and could not speak for all bands. Therefore, even with the establishment of a reservation, the government still had to use force on the recalcitrant bands.

The final subjugation of the South Plains Indians involved a combination of economic and military measures, in which the destruction of their trade and subsistence base became primary to their acceptance of reservation life. The suppression of the Comanchero trade in the early 1870s removed an important market for raiders. The arrival of increasing numbers of White buffalo hunters all but destroyed the great South Plains herds; the newly constructed railroads brought not only more hunters but sent hides to eastern markets faster. Furthermore, William T. Sherman, commander of the United States Army, and Philip H. Sheridan, commander of United States troops in Texas, understood from their experiences in the Civil War (Sherman's march through Georgia and Sheridan's campaigns in the Shenandoah valley of Virginia) that victory comes not just from the defeat of enemy armies but from breaking the people's will to resist by destroying their ability to feed and supply themselves. With this strategy in mind, the generals looked to the buffalo. Sheridan encouraged commercial hunters and even tourists to hunt buffalo, and he trained new recruits in marksmanship with buffalo targets. Buffalo meat also supplemented the poor food at many army posts. These attacks on the American Indians' economic base coincided with inducements to get them to accept reservation life. The government promised to provide food and shelter. Food shipments to the reservation, however, were sporadic, and on one occasion bureaucrats in Washington ordered the reservation agent to withhold food until the Comanches surrendered some suspected raiders to authorities. The uncertainty of rations therefore failed to make the reservation as attractive as the government would have liked, and actually provoked some Comanches to leave the reservation and continue raiding for subsistence.

Militarily, the army conducted winter campaigns, something not previously done. American Indians learned they had no sanctuary and could find their tepees and food stocks destroyed during the harshest time of the year. Frequently this was done with the help of recruits working for the government, most notably Tonkawas and Lipans working out of Fort Griffin. They received pay and rations as regular cavalrymen while on duty and were allowed to live near the fort for their own protection. The Tonkawas benefited from this relationship because they had no where else to go—all other American Indian groups except the Lipans despised them for helping the Whites and for their ritual cannibalism. Their arrangement with the military was mutually advantageous; they could be safe only with army protection, and the army needed their scouting skills. A great breakthrough for the army came in 1872, when Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie, with a captured Comanchero from New Mexico leading the way, crossed the Llano Estacado, the final redoubt of the Comanche resistance. He noted the trails and areas with abundant grass, wood, and fresh water to support cavalry movements through the area. He put his new knowledge to work immediately by locating and destroying a Comanche camp on McClellan Creek in October 1872; more than twenty Comanches were killed, and 124 women and children were captured and subsequently held prisoner at Fort Sill to induce others to surrender (see BATTLE OF THE NORTH FORK OF THE RED RIVER). Mackenzie tried to return to his fort with the Comanches' 3,000 horses, but the Comanches harassed him so severely while he was driving them off that afterward his policy was to shoot all captured horses. In this additional way, more a result of exasperation than planning, the Comanches found their ability to survive outside the reservation fading away. The next year, Mackenzie's focus turned to the Mexican border, the scene of raids by Kickapoos and others who took advantage of the international boundary to live in Mexican territory and raid in the United States. With 400 troops he crossed the Rio Grande and destroyed three villages of Kickapoos, Potawatomies, and hostile Lipans; Black Seminole Scouts supplied important scouting work (see REMOLINO RAID). Mackenzie took captives back to the United States to force the rest of the American Indians to move from Mexico to the Indian Territory. Eventually, 250 Kickapoos and all the Potawatomies agreed to return to the United States. Communities of Kickapoos and Lipans, however, remained in Coahuila and live there today; some Kickapoos received a reservation in Texas in the 1980s.

The last large military campaigns, and the Comanches' last sustained effort to continue their old way of life without government dependency, occurred in 1874. In the early summer, a medicine man named Isa-tai had a vision in which he learned that Comanches must resist Whites or else be reduced to the dependent state of nearby groups like the Wichitas and Caddos; the performance of a Sun Dance was to be the means by which Comanches would be delivered from White domination. Comanches from all bands attended the dance, a ceremony previously unknown to the Comanches and probably learned from the Kiowas. It took place at the time when women and children were being held prisoner to compel good behavior by Comanche men, and when rations at the reservation were being withheld as punishment. At the gathering, the Comanches determined to take action. Their two main problems were military pressure and the destruction of the buffalo herds. First they considered attacking the Tonkawas at Fort Griffin to make an example of them that might compel the government to renegotiate the conditions under which the Comanches would live, but this idea was rejected in favor of an attack on buffalo hunters. These were a far more important target, given the economic crisis the Comanches found themselves in with the loss of trade opportunities, the loss of customary subsistence, and the specter of dependency on the government. As the Kiowa leader Kicking Bird explained, "The buffalo was their money[,] their only resource with which to buy what they needed and did not receive from the government. The robes they could prepare and trade. They loved them just as the white man does his money, and just as it made a white man's heart feel to have his money carried away, so it made them feel to see others killing and stealing their buffalo." In June 1874 the Comanche war party, led by Quanah Parker, chose to assault a gathering of buffalo hunters encamped at Adobe Walls, the ruins of an abandoned trading post in the Panhandle. The hunters managed to get behind the walls before the attackers could inflict serious damage and return fire with their new, long-range rifles. The Comanches charged repeatedly but could not breach the walls or withstand the hunters' accurate marksmanship. At the end of the day, the Comanches withdrew, having killed three hunters and lost thirteen warriors. This second battle of Adobe Walls slowed only temporarily the ingress of commercial buffalo hunters. After it, events were increasingly determined by the army rather than any initiative on the part of the Comanches. Military pressure on the bands outside the reservation increased during the summer and fall of 1874 and caused greater destruction of the Comanches' subsistence base. On the Salt Fork of the Red River cavalrymen burned 500 Comanche lodges, and although only one Comanche was killed, the destruction of their supplies compelled many Comanches to turn themselves in at Fort Sill. Colonel Mackenzie led his command into Palo Duro Canyon in late September and destroyed five Comanche villages; although there were few casualties on either side, the cavalry captured 1,400 horses, which Mackenzie ordered shot (after his Indian scouts selected some as prizes). Most Comanches off the reservation surrendered by the onset of winter, and by 1875 the last small bands came in (see BATTLE OF PALO DURO CANYON. The Lipans and Tonkawas who assisted the government in the final subjugation of the groups resisting reservation life were themselves moved out of the state and put on reservations in the early 1880s.

Texas had been a cultural crossroads where varied groups of American Indians met, traded, and fought long before the arrival of Europeans. Spanish settlement and French trade greatly altered the trade networks, alliances, and demography of the area. Some native groups lost their distinct cultural identity through population loss and intermarriage with other groups; others thrived, taking advantage of new opportunities to strengthen their positions in regional diplomacy and trade. The Spanish, though influential, were unable to dominate the Texas Indians or dictate to them. Spanish immigration to Texas was slight, and politically the province was a marginal, neglected backwater of the empire. The American Indians' ability to secure goods, especially guns, from French and later United States sources—and thus play European and American powers off against one another—strengthened their relative independence until the early years of the nineteenth century. The Anglo-American migration into Texas changed trade and diplomacy, to the American Indians' detriment. Texas filled up with immigrants who threatened tribal hunting prerogatives and land bases. Attempts to keep the settlers in check, such as stock raids and murder, not only failed to stop the spread of White settlement but angered the newcomers into effective retaliatory strikes. As a result, the American Indians were destroyed or chased out of the state. Today in Texas there are only three reservations, populated, ironically, by American Indians who migrated to Texas after European colonization. Though many older historical narratives of Texas portray the American Indians as enemies and obstacles, the reality was far more complicated than the civilization-versus-savagery schema so frequently employed in the past. In 1995 the Alabama-Coushatta reservation in East Texas near Livingston, the Tigua Reservation in El Paso, and a projected 125-acre Kickapoo reservation near Eagle Pass were all that remained of any organized Indian settlement in Texas. See also AMERICAN INDIAN RELATIONS, SPANISH TEXAS, MEXICAN TEXAS, ANTEBELLUM TEXAS, LATE NINETEENTH-CENTURY TEXAS, ANGLO-AMERICAN COLONIZATION, and MUSTANGS.

Jean Louis Berlandier, Indians of Texas in 1830, ed. John C. Ewers and trans. Patricia Reading Leclerq (Washington: Smithsonian, 1969). Thomas W. Dunlay, "Friends and Allies: The Tonkawa Indians and the Anglo-Americans, 1823–1884," Great Plains Quarterly 1 (1981). Dianna Everett, The Texas Cherokees: A People between Two Fires, 1819–1840 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990). John C. Ewers, "The Influence of Epidemics on the Indian Populations and Cultures of Texas," Plains Anthropologist 18 (May 1973). Dan Flores, "Bison Ecology and Bison Diplomacy: The Southern Plains from 1800 to 1850," Journal of American History 78 (1991). Morris W. Foster, Being Comanche: A Social History of an American Indian Community (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1991). Hiram F. Gregory, ed., The Southern Caddo: An Anthology (New York: Garland, 1986). Thomas D. Hall, Social Change in the Southwest, 1350–1880 (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1989). Elizabeth A. H. John, Storms Brewed in Other Men's Worlds: The Confrontation of Indians, Spanish, and French in the Southwest, 1540–1795 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1975). George Klos, "'Our People Could Not Distinguish One Tribe from Another': The 1859 Expulsion of the Reserve Indians from Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 97 (April 1994). Kenneth F. Neighbours, Robert Simpson Neighbors and the Texas Frontier, 1836–1859 (Waco: Texian Press, 1975). William W. Newcomb, The Indians of Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961). Timothy K. Perttula, "The Caddo Nation": Archaeological and Ethnohistoric Perspectives (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992). Rupert N. Richardson, The Comanche Barrier to South Plains Settlement (Glendale, California: Clark, 1933; rpt., Millwood, New York: Kraus, 1973). F. Todd Smith, The Caddo Indians (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1995). Ernest Wallace and E. Adamson Hoebel, The Comanches (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1952). David J. Weber, The Mexican Frontier, 1821–1846 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982). David J. Weber, The Spanish Frontier in North America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992).

  • Exploration
  • Peoples
  • Native American
Time Periods:
  • Spanish Texas

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

George Klos, “American Indians,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1995
February 10, 2021

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