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QUEMS INDIANS. Prior to their displacement, the Quems Indians, a hunting and gathering group, ranged over an area along both sides of the Rio Grande below the site of present-day Eagle Pass. In 1691 Damián Massanet recorded the Quems as one of six Indian groups encountered on a stream known as Caramanchel, which appears to be Comanche Creek of southwestern Zavala County. He implied that all six groups spoke the language now known as Coahuilteco. The Quems, however, were known to Spaniards of Coahuila a few years before 1691. In 1689 a Quems Indian served as one of two Indian guides who led Alonso De León to the site of René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle's Fort St. Louis near Matagorda Bay. This Quems man claimed that he had visited the fort while the French were still living there. In an account of this 1689 expedition, Massanet mentioned that the Quems guide was tattooed and that he knew a sign language that was then being used in what is now southern Texas. Some of the Quems, recorded under the name Quexamos, entered San Phelipe de Valladares Mission when it was founded in 1700 near the site of modern Candela of eastern Coahuila. Beyond this, little is known about the Quems Indians, except that, during the period 1726–48, six of them (two families) were recorded in the registers of San Antonio de Valero Mission of San Antonio. The register entries identify them by such name variants as Cems, Qems, Quimzo, and Quinze.


Herbert Eugene Bolton, ed., Spanish Exploration in the Southwest, 1542–1706 (New York: Scribner, 1908; rpt., New York: Barnes and Noble, 1959). 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).

Thomas N. Campbell


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

Thomas N. Campbell, "QUEMS INDIANS," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 25, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.