By: Robert S. Weddle

Type: General Entry

Published: October 20, 2009

Updated: August 3, 2020

The term Norteños, used in reference to a group of Indian tribes in eighteenth century Texas, was popularized with the destruction in 1758 of Mission Santa Cruz de San Sabá by an alliance of tribes living north of the Spanish settlements. Thus, the term has come to be used, in historical context, as synonymous with "northern tribes." Jay C. Blaine has defined it as "a label created by eighteenth century Spanish authorities mainly for lumping together the contrary Texas Wichita-speaking groups and their affiliates." More specifically, the term as used in Spanish documents of the period included members of the Wichita and Caddo confederacies, plus Tonkawan affiliates and Comanches.

Jay C. Blaine, "A Summary and Discussion of Additional Findings at the Gilbert Site, an Eighteenth-Century Norteño Occupation in Rains County, Texas," Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 63 (1992). Donald E. Chipman, Spanish Texas, 1519–1821 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992). Robert S. Weddle, After the Massacre: The Violent Legacy of the San Sabá Mission (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2007).

Time Periods:

  • Spanish Texas

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

Robert S. Weddle, “Norteños,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 18, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 20, 2009
August 3, 2020

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