Caddo Indians of East Texas

524 words | 2 page(s)

The Caddo Indian tribe played an important role in the history of the Mid-South and East Texas in particular. However, in the popular imaginatio,n as well as official histories, the Caddos are either unknown or ignored. While “no one has ever made movie or written fiction in which Caddo Indians played a major role”, on the academic level, “if Caddo tribes are mentioned at all in standard American history books, it is in a sentence or two.” (Carter, 2001, p. 6) The following brief history of the Caddo Indians will try to oppose this trend.

Before the colonization of the Americas by the Europeans, the Caddos occupied a territory of what now includes Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. (Wishart, 2007, p. 43) Caddo Indians thus played an important role in pre-colonial history, as demonstrated by this wide land mass. Archeological and other findings have seen a rich Caddo culture as early as 1000 A.D., including “complex and socially-ranked societies with well-planned civic and ceremonial centers. (Wishart, 2007, p. 43)

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The flourishing of Caddo culture, as with most Native American tribes, was drastically put to a halt by encounters with European colonists. For example, when the Spanish arrived in 1542, they brought diseases that radically reduced to the Caddo culture. (Wishart, 2007, p. 43) During the time that followed, the Caddos migrated, a significant portion of the remaining population finding a home in East Texas, where the Hasiani Confederacy was established along the Neches River in the 18th century. (Wishart, 2007, p. 43) During this time, the Caddo were under duress from both colonists and other Indian tribes. In East Texas, they found “themselves under attack from the Osages, Chickasaws, and Chitimachas.” (La Vere, p. 103) The Caddos also bordered with both French and Spanish colonists, and the influence of the latter was apparent, as “by the mid-eighteenth century…the Caddos had abandoned most of their traditional crafts and were increasingly dependent upon European metal goods.” (Wishart, 2007, p. 43)

The re-drawing of borders made Caddo life more difficult. The growing power of the United States meant that the Caddos occupied an undefined border between Spanish Texas and American Louisiana. A subsequent settlement regarding the border between the United States and a new independent Mexican state meant that the Caddos were largely neglected in this redrawing of frontiers. (Wishart, 2007, p. 43) During this period, the population of Caddos is believed to have been as low as 1,000, disease and alcohol affecting the population. (Wishart, 2007, p. 43) When Texas became independent, the situation worsened, as hostilities to Natives increased, and the Caddos were forced to migrate, eventually ending up in a Wichita reservation in increasing dwindling numbers, and there remain only about 5,000 identified Caddos in Oklahoma today.

The Caddos have been forgotten, a tragic example of Native American life. They are a more silent example of the horrors of colonization and the violent history of the U.S. We can only hope that through history, we can at least remember them.

  • Carter, C.E. (2001). Caddo Indians: Where we come from. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma University Press.
  • La Vere, D. (2004). The Texas Indians. College Station: Texas A&M University Press.
  • Wishart, D. (2007). Encyclopedia of the Great Plains Indians. Wichita: University of Nebraska Press.

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