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PITAHAY INDIANS. The earliest known references to the Pitahay Indians are provided by the missionary Damián Massanet who, while traveling in 1690 and again in 1691, found them living in the valley of the Frio River, apparently in the general vicinity of Frio County. Here they were at times sharing encampments with at least fifteen other Indian groups for better protection from Apache groups of the Edwards Plateau. In 1708 some of the Pitahays were reported as living in the same area. The scant documentation seems to indicate that the Pitahay foraging territory was entirely north of the Rio Grande during the period of record (1690–1734). According to Massanet, the Pitahay and all their encampment associates spoke the language now known as Coahuilteco. In 1713 an unspecified number of Pitahay families from "the north" were persuaded to enter San Bernardino de la Candela Mission near the site of present-day Candela of eastern Coahuila. Nothing further was recorded about these Pitahays. Thereafter a few Pitahays entered San Bernardino Mission of modern Guerrero in northeastern Coahuila; a census identified four Pitahay individuals at this mission in 1734. No Pitahay Indians seem to have entered any of the Texas missions at San Antonio. Putaay, long regarded as the name of a separate Indian people, is now known to be a variant of the name Pitahay.


Herbert Eugene Bolton, Guide to Materials for the History of the United States in the Principal Archives of Mexico (Washington: Carnegie Institution, 1913). Thomas N. Campbell, Ethnohistoric Notes on Indian Groups Associated with Three Spanish Missions at Guerrero, Coahuila (Center for Archaeological Research, University of Texas at San Antonio, 1979). Lino Gómez Canedo, ed., Primeras exploraciones y poblamiento de Texas, 1686–1694 (Monterrey: Publicaciones del Instituto Technológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, 1968). Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1907, 1910; rpt., New York: Pageant, 1959). P. Otto Maas, ed., Viajes de Misioneros Franciscanos a la conquista del Nuevo México (Seville: Imprenta de San Antonio, 1915).

Thomas N. Campbell


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

Thomas N. Campbell, "PITAHAY INDIANS," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 26, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.