TBD on Ning

This is Native American Heritage month. Why not posts info about the tribes in Texas. It would be fun to perhaps list or have people lists the Indian words that are names of cities or counties or in use in our everyday language. For example, Caddo lake is named for the Caddo Indians....Wichita is and Indian tribe and city etc... So much history really.... Sweet Pea and I look forward to your discussion.

Tags: Native_Americans, Texas

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Here is the link to a wonderful website:


The Cherokees are one of the most important tribes in Texas History. They are not originally from Texas. They moved to Texas from the east around 1823. One reason the Cherokees are important is because Sam Houston was an adopted Cherokee. Sam Houston was the first President of the Republic of Texas and the General of the Texas Army that defeated the Mexicans in the Texas Revolution in 1835. From Tennessee, he followed his Cherokee family first to Arkansas in 1828, then to Texas in 1832. Sam Houston's Cherokee name was "the Raven".

The Cherokees are also important in Texas history because they took over the leadership role of the Indian tribes of East Texas from the Caddo. They became the dominant Indian tribe in East Texas.

The importance of the Cherokees in Texas is more historical than cultural. By the time they arrived in Texas their culture had become very much like the Americans and Europeans in many ways. To find the original Cherokee Indian culture you have to go back 200 years before they came to Texas.

The Cherokees are one of the five civilized tribes. They were called this because by the time large numbers of European settlers arrived around them, the Cherokees had already learned to make and use metal tools, European style clothes and European style houses.

In the east and in Texas the Cherokee were primarily farmers who lived in villages. They also hunted and gathered wild plants for food and medicines when they could. Before European contact, they farmed corn, beans, pumpkins, squash, and several other kinds of plants. They did not have domesticated animals like cows or chickens. They did have dogs.

They moved into the area of Texas the Caddo Indians lived in. By 1823 the Caddo had lost much of their former population to European diseases. By the time the Cherokee arrived, the Caddo were down to no more than two thousand. So, much of the land the Caddos had lived on was empty by 1823. Along with the Cherokee, several other tribes from the Southeastern United States also moved into this region of Texas. These were the Alabama, the Coushatta, the Shawnee, the Biloxi, some Creek Indians and a few other smaller groups.

They all arrived at a critical time in Texas history. Texas was part of Mexico in 1823. In the next 25 years there would be a revolution in Mexico, the Texas revolution, and Texas would become a part of the United States. During this same time period thousands of Americans and Europeans immigrated to Texas wanting land - including the land the Indians lived on.

In all these revolutions both sides wanted the Cherokees and the other tribes to take sides with them. This was dangerous for the Cherokees. If they chose sides with a loser, the winner would punish them afterwards and chase them off their land. They stayed neutral in these revolutions.

Even after Texas won the revolution, agents of the Mexican government came to the Cherokees and asked them to make war on the Texans. The Cherokees refused to do this.

In February of 1836 Sam Houston negotiated a treaty with the Cherokees on behalf of the Provisional Government of Texas. When Sam Houston became president of the Republic of Texas in September of 1836, he tried to get the 1836 treaty ratified by the new Texas Government. They did nothing about the treaty until 1837. In 1837 the Texas Senate rejected the treaty signed by Houston. Still, while Houston was president, things were all right for the Cherokee for several years. Then Texas elected a new President, Mirabeau Lamar. Lamar did not like the Cherokees, or any other Indians for that matter, and he said so. Lamar and other were also concerned because the Mexicans were trying to get the Cherokees and other Texas Indians to help them take back Texas.

The Texas Cherokees moved to Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. There, they were reunited with the eastern Cherokees. The eastern Cherokees had also been forced to move from their lands. The government of the United States and the State of Georgia forced the eastern Cherokees off their land and forced them to move to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. The United States Supreme Court ruled that this was an illegal act and broke treaties.
The Tigua are the only Puebloan tribe still in Texas. The Pueblos are a number of different Indian tribes who lived in the southwest. The southwest includes far west Texas, New Mexico, Arizona with bits of southern Colorado and Utah. All these different Puebloan tribes shared similar ways of living, even though they spoke different languages and had slightly different cultures. Other Puebloan tribes in Texas include the long gone prehistoric Pueblos along the Canadian River in the Texas Panhandle and probably the Jumano.

So Europeans and Americans share very similar culture, but they are also different in important ways.. The Pueblo Indians were like the Europeans and Americans. They spoke many different languages and had slightly different cultures. There were, and still are, Hopi Puebloans, Taos Puebloans, Jimez Puebloans, Zuni Puebloans and, of course, our Tigua Puebloans. These are all different tribes. But, because they share so much culture in common we group them together as Puebloan.

The main thing that sets the Puebloan Indians apart from other Indian tribes are their distinctive houses. They build Pueblos. Their name, Pueblo, is Spanish and means "town". That is what we still call Pueblo Indian towns, Pueblos. A Pueblo is also a big building with many rooms in it. Sort of like our modern apartment buildings. Families live in a group of rooms in a Pueblo. Often many families live in one Pueblo. Many Pueblos had hundreds of people living in them. Some Pueblos were 4 or 5 stories high. In larger Pueblos there are several individual Pueblo buildings built around a plaza or square. Really big Pueblos like the Zuni or some of the Hopi Pueblos have several squares or plazas. The plazas are used all year round for ceremonies and group activities. Puebloan Indians have lots of ceremonies. So when the Spanish saw the big towns with the buildings, the Pueblos, they named the people who built them Pueblo Indians.

Pueblo Indians, including the Tigua, are farmers. Most of their food comes from crops they plant and tend. Corn is the main crop they plant. Notice I used the verb "is" and not "was". The Pueblos are still here and they still farm. They also raised many other crops. For food they raised beans and squash. They also raised cotton that they used to make cloth. They also raised gourds that could be dried out and used as containers.

They stored and cooked their food in well-made pottery. The Tigua and other Pueblos are famous for their beautiful pottery. Much of this pottery has painted designs that are very pretty.

The men hunted deer, rabbits, antelope, bear and any other wild game they could find for meat. The women and children would collect wild foods like berries when they were in season.

They knew how to grow cotton and weave cotton cloth. So their clothes were made of cotton. They also used leather and fur on their clothes. The men would wear a breach cloth. A breach cloth is what Tarzan wears.

Near El Paso is a special place called Hueco Tanks. Hueco tanks are a rocky outcropping in the middle of a desert. There are many caves and springs with water in Hueco Tanks. The springs form lakes and pools in depressions and hollows in the rock at Hueco Tanks giving it its name. Hueco means bowl in Spanish and refers to the bowl like depressions in the rock and a tank is a small lake or pool of water. The Tigua consider Hueco Tanks to be a sacred place. They go there to worship. Hueco Tanks is now a Texas State park. The Park Service lets the Tigua in to worship. In the caves and cliffs there are pictures drawn on the rocks called pictographs. Many Indians, including the Tigua, made these pictographs.

By the 1930s many people thought the Tigua were extinct. But they were not. In the 1960s they began asserting themselves and laying claim to the land they had lost. In 1968 Texas finally recognized the Tigua as a tribe. Later in 1968 Lyndon Johnson signed an act of the U S Congress recognizing the Tigua as a tribe and making their land a reservation. This is where the Tigua still live.




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