Difference between revisions of "Indians of Texas"
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Revision as of 22:27, 14 April 2008
Indian Tribes of Texas
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 existed.
Spanish period. 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.