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Sijame Indians

Thomas N. Campbell General Entry

It has been suggested that the language of the Sijame (Cijame, Hijame, Xixame, Zihame) Indians was Tonkawan instead of Coahuiltecan, but the evidence seems to favor a Coahuiltecan linguistic affiliation. As early as 1698 some Sijames, whose name is said to mean "fish," entered Santo Nombre de Jesus de Peyotes Mission near the site of present Villa Union in northeastern Coahuila, which is a good indication that they originally lived in an area of Coahuiltecan speech. In 1709 Sijame Indians were seen at San Pedro Springs in San Antonio, where they were encamped with Xarame and Siupam Indians, both of which were Coahuiltecan in speech. In 1716 Sijames were encountered with Tonkawan and Coahuiltecan bands at Ranchería Grande on the Brazos River of central Texas (future Milam County area). The Sijames from Ranchería Grande began to enter San Antonio de Valero Mission at San Antonio in 1719, but much later, after 1740, they entered this mission in greater numbers. It was after 1740 that Tonkawan groups began to enter the same mission, and it is upon this and the earlier association with Tonkawans at Ranchería Grande that the argument for Tonkawan linguistic affiliation is based. The much earlier record of Sijame Indians in Coahuila indicates that they were one of many Coahuiltecan bands that fled northeastward into Texas to escape European domination and Apache pressure. Some Sijames continued to live at San Antonio de Valero until as late as 1763, and in 1777 Sijames were reported as the dominant group at Santo Nombre de Jesus de Peyotes Mission in Coahuila. It is evident that the history of the Sijame Indians has two phases, one in Texas and the other in northeastern Mexico. J. R. Swanton listed Sijames and Hijames as separate Coahuiltecan bands, but the available data do not support this distinction.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Herbert Eugene Bolton, Texas in the Middle Eighteenth Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1915; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1970). Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1907, 1910; rpt., New York: Pageant, 1959). J. R. Swanton, Linguistic Material from the Tribes of Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1940). Rudolph C. Troike, "Notes on Coahuiltecan Ethnography," Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 32 (1962).


  • 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, “Sijame Indians,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 20, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.