CADDO INDIANS (Extract from the Handbook of Texas Online article Indians.)
Ethnologists have identified hundreds of groups of Texas "Indians,"
as the first European explorers to arrive called the peoples they
found. Some of these were true tribes, accumulations of families
or clans with social customs, traditions, and rules for order;
these were occasionally quite large. At the opposite extreme,
some were merely small family groups whose names or ethnic designations
were taken for "tribal" names by the Spanish and French
and in subsequent secondary literature. The extant names of Texas
Indian groups present a dazzling array of variants, partly because
the Spanish, French, and English heard the newly "discovered"
peoples differently and recorded their names differently. Some
names in the historical records are mistakes for groups that never
The variety of the peoples and cultures whom Europeans first found
in Texas and the different histories of each group make generalizations
about Indians hazardous. Texas was not simply a Spanish-Indian
or Anglo-Indian frontier, but rather a multisided frontier, a
Spanish-Anglo-Comanche-Wichita-Apache-etc. frontier, where multiple
groups acted for their own reasons. A few generalizations, however,
apply to all Texas Indian groups. First, diseases introduced by
the Europeans decimated them, especially after mission and military
institutions brought people in contact so that they could be infected
(see HEALTH AND MEDICINE). More broadly, anthropologist
John C. Ewers has identified no fewer than thirty major epidemics-mainly
of smallpox and cholera-between 1528 and 1890 that wiped out perhaps
95 percent of Texas Indians.
Texas also became a "horse-and-gun" frontier
for Indians located between competing European powers. French
and English traders from the East introduced firearms to the Indians
in order to purchase peltry from them and win them as allies in
both trade and war. The Spanish introduced horses. Groups able
to obtain these two important items had a powerful advantage over
others. The introduction of the horse, especially, produced nothing
less than a cultural, technological, and economic revolution,
enabling groups to move their habitats, intensify their raiding
and trading activities, and hunt buffaloqv more effectively. When the French gun trade met the Spanish horse
trade in the late 1600s, the situation impelled the Spanish to
settle Texas in order to block French efforts to move southward
and westward toward the Spanish provinces of Mexico and New Mexico.
Texas, in effect, was of little importance except as a buffer
to be occupied for the protection of more important Spanish possessions.
In the late 1680s, Spanish soldiers and missionaries
ventured far beyond existing Spanish settlement to the woodland
home of the Caddo Indians.qv The Caddos were twenty-five to thirty distinct groups that shared
the same language, political structure, and religious beliefs
and ceremonies. In the 1690s they assembled themselves into three
loose confederacies-the westernmost Hasinai Indiansqv (including the Tejas Indiansqv or Tay-sha, from whom Texas got its name) settled on the Angelina
and Neches rivers, the Kadodachos along the bend of the Red River
at what is now the Texas-Louisiana-Arkansas border, and the eastern
Natchitoch Indians.qv The Caddos were an agricultural people who lived in stable villages
and were not especially warlike except for their traditional conflicts
with Osages to the north and Tonkawaqv bands to the west over hunting grounds. Franciscansqv and Spanish soldiers settled among the Hasinais in 1689. Caddos
resisted Spanish efforts to "reduce" them to compact
towns; instead, they preferred to live in small clusters stretching
through fertile river valleys. The missionaries had little success
in converting them to Christianity, and resorted in frustration
to ridicule of Caddo beliefs in the effort. A smallpox epidemic
swept through the area in the winter of 1690-91, killing 3,000
Caddos, whose religious leaders blamed the friars for the pestilence.
Aside from disease, Caddo tenacity in holding onto their religion,
and the disrespect offered by the missionaries, other problems
smoldered as well. The Caddos invited the Spanish into their villages
mainly to get trade advantages, especially a steady supply of
firearms with which to defend themselves against Osage raids,
but trade was meager and the Spanish refused to supply weapons.
The Wichita bands traded surplus crops to the Comanches for horses,
then supplied horses to the French and Caddos living to the east.
This trade system-from the French through the Caddos through the
Wichitas to the Comanches-defined the diplomacy, economy, and
general issues of war and peace from the early 1700s until the
early years of Anglo-American settlement near the South Plains.
| ||Citation: "Caddo Indians," extract from The Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association, 2001, <http://www.tshaonline.org/tools/article_extracts/bzi4_caddo.html> [Access Date].|
|For bibliography and complete article go to Indians. |
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