Payaya Indians

By: Thomas N. Campbell

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: September 1, 1995

The Payaya (Paia, Paialla, Payai, Payagua, Payata, Piyai, and other variants) Indians, a Coahuiltecan-speaking group first reported about 1690, originally ranged an area that extended from that of San Antonio southwestward to the Frio River and beyond. However, it is with the San Antonio area that the Payayas were most consistently associated. A local stream was referred to as El Arroyo de los Payayas, and a pass through the hills northwest of San Antonio was known as Puerto de los Payayas. Yanaguana, the Payaya name for the San Antonio River, has been preserved and was perpetuated by the Yanaguana Society of San Antonio. Shortly before 1709 a group of Payaya Indians joined other Coahuiltecans and moved to the vicinity of present Milam County in east central Texas, where they settled among Tonkawans in a locality known as Ranchería Grande. The Payayas entered missions in both Coahuila and Texas. A few Payaya individuals were baptized at San Francisco Solano Mission of northeastern Coahuila in 1706. The Payaya Indians were one of the groups for whom San Antonio de Valero Mission was established in the area of present San Antonio in 1718, and they are mentioned in records of this mission as late as 1776. Some Payayas were also at nearby Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña Mission.

Lino Gómez Canedo, ed., Primeras exploraciones y poblamiento de Texas, 1686–1694 (Monterrey: Publicaciones del Instituto Technológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, 1968). Marion A. Habig, The Alamo Chain of Missions (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1968; rev. ed. 1976). Mattie Alice Hatcher, trans., The Expedition of Don Domingo Terán de los Ríos into Texas, ed. Paul J. Foik (Preliminary Studies of the Texas Catholic Historical Society 2.1 [1932]). Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1907, 1910; rpt., New York: Pageant, 1959). Alonso de León et al., Historia de Nuevo León (Monterrey: Centro de Estudios Humanísticos de la Universidad de Nuevo León, 1961). P. Otto Maas, ed., Viajes de Misioneros Franciscanos a la conquista del Nuevo México (Seville: Imprenta de San Antonio, 1915). Richard Santos, "A Preliminary Survey of the San Fernando Archives," Texas Libraries 28 (Winter 1966–67). J. R. Swanton, Linguistic Material from the Tribes of Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1940). Robert S. Weddle, San Juan Bautista: Gateway to Spanish Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968).
  • 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, “Payaya Indians,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995