Teya Indians

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: December 1, 1995

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The Teya Indians, known largely from records of the Coronado expedition in 1540–42, seem to have lived in the eastern part of the Panhandle of Texas and the adjoining part of Oklahoma. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and Juan de Oñate may have visited them during their treks across the buffalo Plains, but neither specifically mentioned them. While Pedro de Castañeda and others with Coronado commented on their hunting prowess, buffalo-hide lodges, and other aspects of their lifestyle, their linguistic and cultural affiliations remain uncertain. Most writers, judging from the records, identify them as Plains Apaches; indeed, the Teyas were reported to have traded with both Quivira and the Puebloan tribes of New Mexico. Prior to Coronado's arrival, they were said to have besieged Cicuye (Pecos) Pueblo and destroyed several other towns in the vicinity. Other ethnologists have attempted to link the Teyas with the Wichitas in present Oklahoma and northern Texas. One Spanish document states that the Teyas were at war with the Querechos, another Apachean group identified with the Lipans, thus indicating that they were another people; however, such a "war" was probably little more than a family feud, since there was no strong unity among Plains Apaches. Some authorities argue that the Teyas of the Panhandle were originally semi-sedentary Caddoans who had migrated westward and joined the Lipans. However, their traits and customs, according to Coronado's men, were identical to those of the Querechos; the name Teya is thought to have been derived from the Puebloan groups who suffered from their occasional forays. Although some writers have contended that the word Texas came from them, they are not to be confused with the Hasinai, or Tejas, the southwestern group of Caddo tribes in eastern Texas. In later years, the Teyas were thought to have been absorbed by larger Lipan bands, one of which migrated into southern New Mexico west of the Rio Grande and was subsequently absorbed by the Mescalero Apaches.

Dolores A. Gunnerson, "The Southern Athabascans: Their Arrival in the Southwest," El Palacio 63 (1956). George P. Hammond and Agapito Rey, eds. and trans., Narratives of the Coronado Expedition, 1540–1542 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1940). William W. Newcomb, The Indians of Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1961). John Upton Terrell, The Plains Apache (New York: Crowell, 1975). Waldo R. Wedel, Prehistoric Man on the Great Plains (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961).


  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Tribes (Other)

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

H. Allen Anderson, “Teya Indians,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 20, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/teya-indians.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1995