American Indian Tribal Affiliation Study
Phase I: Ethnohistoric Literature Review
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Chapter One:
Purpose of This Work

In 1944, the United States of America entered into a treaty with los Estados Unidos de Mexico that, among other stipulations, allowed for construction of a water storage reservoir on the Rio Grande—the river that marks the boundary between Texas and Mexico. The treaty required that the reservoir and dam be placed below Fort Quitman and not interfere with the amount of water available to Mexico below Falcon Reservoir in Starr and Zapata counties, Texas. In 1960, the United States Congress authorized construction of that dam near Del Rio, Texas, under Public Law 86-605. The dam was completed in 1969, and the waters of the Rio Grande—from its confluence with the Devils River to a point below its confluence with the Pecos River—were contained in what was called Amistad ("friendship" in Spanish) Reservoir (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Location of Amistad Reservoir and the Amistad NRA lands. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Although the reservoir was constructed prior to the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act, archeological resources were considered and (to some extent) mitigated prior to construction. This work was accomplished under the River Basins Surveys, organized to recover approximately ten percent of the archeological resources threatened by reservoir construction (Guy 1990:48). A number of sites were recorded, and some of the most significant—Devils Mouth (Johnson 1964), Conejo Cave (Alexander 1974), among others—were excavated as part of this effort (Figure 2). Data from these excavations have been used to develop the chronological sequence of human occupation in the region. Given the remarkable preservation of perishable materials in the dry caves and rock shelters of the region, the level of information available from those excavations is often exceptional.

Once flooded, the reservoir quickly became a favorite of fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts. Since, by Congressional Decree (60 Stat. 885), appropriations for the National Park Service (NPS) include funds to administer, protect, improve, and maintain areas "under the jurisdiction of other agencies of the Government, devoted to recreational use," the day to day operations to manage Amistad Recreation Area were placed under the jurisdiction of the NPS. In late 1990, Congress issued another directive stating that the reservoir would be Amistad National Recreation Area to recognize the significant cultural and environmental resources under the NPS care.

Over the ensuing years, NPS has taken a number of significant steps in caring for the cultural resources at Amistad National Recreation Area (Amistad NRA). These steps include, among others:

inventory and evaluation of curated materials;

re-evaluation and assessment of sites on its lands;

cultural resources study for Congress; and

training to encourage monitoring of significant sites under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.

The present study is yet another of these steps. It is the first of a two-phase effort to identify Native American tribes that may have interests in park resources and management issues. The study is mandated by sections 101 and 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (25 USC 3001), and by internal NPS commitments to "establish relationships between park resources and associated past and present peoples" (NPS-28, Cultural Resource Management Guideline). NPS-28 also requires "parks with Native American collections and the potential for the excavation or inadvertent discovery of Native American materials [to] program affiliation studies as soon as possible." Since Amistad NRA contains a large number of recorded archeological sites (Labadie 1994), and several archeological districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places are wholly or partly within its boundaries, the park meets the requirements of having Native American collections as well as the potential for excavation of Native American sites. Hence, NPS contracted with the authors to conduct an ethnohistoric literature study directed towards identifying the Native American tribes who have pre-contact, historical, and contemporary associations with lands and resources now within Amistad NRA.

Figure 2. Excavations in progress at the Devils Mouth site prior to inundation of Amistad Reservoir. This and other excavations resulted in much more detailed information than is available for many other regions of the state (Photo courtesy of Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin).


As noted, the goal of the study is to identify those Native American tribes "affiliated" with the Amistad NRA. Affiliation is defined by Merriam-Webster (1998) as an effort "to bring or receive into close association as a member or branch." Typically, affiliation represents the association of a smaller organization with a larger one. Any affiliation study for a unit of the National Park Service (NPS)—the larger organization—is to determine which Native American tribes—the associate organizations—should be afforded an opportunity to participate in specific activities of the larger organization.

The study employs archival documents, archeological data, and other anthropological and historical literature to identify groups that, in the past, had an affiliation with the lands now under the jurisdiction of the Amistad NRA, as well as contact with other groups that may have cultural or historical ties to park lands. We stress that this is only the initial phase. A second phase of this study will be undertaken by the NPS at a future date. That phase of the study will involve ethnographic interviews and fieldwork with Native American tribes that we conclude have (or may have) affiliations with the Amistad NRA. The goal of that phase will be to create a final list of the tribes or Native American groups with ties to these lands and to identify resources that may have traditional significance to them. The final Ethnographic Overview and Assessment will include both phases.

Because of certain federal mandates, it is important that the Amistad NRA complete the overview and assessment in the near future. Amistad NRA has extensive archeological collections, including human remains, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) requires federal agencies to inventory human remains, associated funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony. The act further requires that the agencies determine, to the extent feasible, which of those items are affiliated with any federally recognized tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community of Indians and consult with those federally recognized groups about the disposition of the specific items. NAGPRA defines cultural affiliation as "a relationship of reasonably traced historic or prehistoric association between a present day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and an identifiable earlier group" (25 USC 3001 Section 2(2)c). In addition, recent amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act (16 USC 470) and internal NPS guidance (NPS-28) also require consultation with groups and individuals (especially Native Americans) with cultural and historical ties to the park unit. Clearly, the key to completing these requirements is identification of the specific groups that are affiliated and considered to hold cultural and historic ties to the park unit. The overview and assessment seeks to complete this identification process, and will provide the Superintendent of the Amistad NRA with a list of affiliated, federally recognized tribes. As such, it will guide decisions about management of culturally significant resources, interpretation, planning, and future consultations about disposition of human remains and/or objects in accord with specific federal mandates.

We would be remiss, however, if we did not acknowledge that affiliation studies have inherent problems and challenges. Brandt (1997:1), in discussing the problems of establishing cultural affiliation for the Salinas Pueblos, notes:

Anthropological models, particularly of . . . Indian communities as closed corporate communities, are largely an artifact of the single fieldworker model and theoretical models . . . which ignored both the complex histories and interactions of communities through time, as well as seeing them as cultural isolates in equilibrium.

Such models can lead to the assumption that aboriginal territories were somehow 'fixed' in space and could be drawn on a map, much as the boundaries of modern states and counties are drawn today. The difficulty in actually drawing such boundaries was highlighted during the work of the Indian Claims Commission (ICC). Like nineteenth century treaties between the United States and specific tribes, as well as United States legal judgments related to private land claims, decisions reached by the Commission were underlain with the premise of exclusive occupancy (Levine and Merlan 1997:1-3). Thus, despite complicated histories of movement, relocation, and/or interaction, many tribes found it necessary to negotiate their ancestral boundaries with neighboring tribal groups to avoid areas of overlap so that the Commission would resolve their claim (Levine and Merlan 1997:3). For example, in case 257, the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache tribes presented data to the Commission that documented the historic presence of all three in the Southern and Rolling Plains of Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado (Wallace n.d.). Nonetheless, the final adjudication segmented those lands into arbitrary and independent segments among the three (ICC 1974), ignoring the broader historical evidence.

Another complication of affiliation studies for park units in Texas is that none of the federally recognized tribes reside in close proximity to the unit. Since, in Texas, the lands of the Amistad NRA were formerly held in private ownership and only recently acquired by the United States government, Native Americans have not resided in or close to the park unit for over a century. Thus, access to those lands by Native Americans has been limited or non-existent. Memories of traditional use of a distant land, such as the Amistad NRA, would have dimmed with each passing generation.

Affiliation studies also grapple with the problem of what constitutes evidence of cultural affiliation. For example, is there some magical number of individuals from a particular Native American tribe that had to be present in the Amistad NRA before that tribe is considered "affiliated"? Would a tribe that was present only infrequently have less or no affiliation? If members of one Native American group (e.g., Ervipiame) is shown to have occupied the lands that are now under government ownership, but moved from those lands and later intermarried with or joined with a group that is today one of the federally recognized tribes (e.g., Tonkawa), is the latter affiliated? [1]

Finally, affiliation studies in Texas face yet another challenge. Here, such studies are likely to identify non-federally recognized Native American groups that may be associated with the physical area of the study. In some cases, the people in the group may be lineal descendants of a Native American group that did not survive European colonization (e.g., Teaname). In other cases, the group resides in Mexico (e.g., Seminole Maroon) and outside the jurisdiction of United States law and regulation. Can they be affiliated even though they are not federally recognized tribes? Equally problematic are several newly-formed groups, often found in the state's large urban centers. These groups have organized under the premise they have common ties as descendants of one or more of the aboriginal groups who resided in the state in the past. Some of the newly-formed groups in the state (The People of LaJunta [Jumano/ Mescalero]), Lipan Apache Band of Texas, Tap Pilam—the Coahuiltecan Nation, Comanche Penateka Tribe, and the Tribal Council of Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas) have applied for but not yet received federal recognition (Bureau of Indian Affairs, Regardless of whether they eventually receive federal recognition, can they be considered affiliated? In response, we conclude that NPS's legal requirements require identification of affiliated, federally recognized tribes but also require documentation of other groups, if present.

In summary, where the data demonstrate the likelihood that certain federally recognized tribes were present in the Amistad NRA in the historic past, we include their names as affiliated. In this, we make no distinctions between federally recognized tribes present for long stays and those present for only a brief period since we find nothing in the laws or regulations that require or indicate such distinctions. We also conclude that federally recognized tribes whose members can be shown to include remnants of Native American groups that once resided in or used the Amistad NRA must be considered affiliated as well. Moreover, since the ethnohistoric data indicate that territories frequently overlapped and varied through time, more than one federally recognized tribe can be affiliated with the Amistad NRA at any one period of history. These findings mirror those made in affiliation studies completed outside of Texas (see Brandt 1997; Levine and Merlan 1997). Affiliation studies are not confined to identification of federally recognized tribes. Federal agencies also have an obligation to consult and consider comments of other individuals and groups (whether Native American or not) that may have cultural or historical ties to a physical area, cultural site, or natural resource. In addition to identifying those federally recognized tribes affiliated with Amistad NRA, we have also attempted to identify the broadest range of Native American groups that can, or may be, associated with the lands of the park. Where other groups have stated to NPS that they believe they hold ties, but we have no firm evidence of such ties, we make no claim for their affiliation but recommend that they be given an opportunity to present such data to the NPS during Phase II of the study. Phase II of the study, as well as subsequent research, will, no doubt, refine our list of such groups and tribes, adding to or subtracting from the conclusions we reach.

The following sections of this chapter present a summary of the methodology we employed, a brief listing and summary of the sources used, and list contacts made with the agencies and tribes.


Our contract stipulated that we should seek to identify Native American groups that occupied the Amistad NRA during late prehistoric and historic times. Our methodology attempted to address the issue of the cultural affiliation of Native American groups according to modern ethnic designations. At the same time, we tried to broaden the research to maximize the cultural and economic information that could be provided to the National Park Service.

Recognizing the types of biases intrinsic to this kind of study, we established certain methodological guidelines to follow during the research. The primary aspects of the methodology included: 1) a conscientious effort to rely as much as possible on primary archival sources; 2) the use of "the direct historical approach" as the means to attempt to relate the prehistoric past to historical events; 3) the definition of a broad geographical research area to allow for a more accurate perspective on the movements of native groups, particularly during the nineteenth century; and, 4) the deliberate emphasis on the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as the periods most likely to yield concrete information about the cultural affiliation of native groups who lived in or utilized the Amistad NRA and their descendants. Each of the above mentioned methodological choices made by the authors addressed specific objectives. The following is a detailed explanation of the reasons for such choices.

Reliance on Primary Archival Sources

Many researchers who have conducted studies of the Lower Pecos have employed secondary archival sources (Hickerson 1994; Turpin 1986 among others). At times, this use of secondary sources is because the scope of the project does not require full knowledge of early historical groups (cf. Turpin 1986). However, regardless of the goal of one's research, the continuous use of secondary sources tends to cement misconceptions and misinterpretations of the facts and does not challenge interpretations often made in the early twentieth century when these documents were first translated. The majority of those secondary sources are based on translations that were made with specific cultural agendas and shaped by particular points of view. Some of these translations, although generally correct, omit details and parts of original texts that can prove to be of considerable importance when dealing with cultural affiliation and Native American issues in general.

Furthermore, consistent reliance on mostly secondary sources does not advance our knowledge of the culture or the modes of living of native groups. For these reasons we maximized the use of primary archival materials (Figure 3) and minimized our use of secondary sources. It should be recognized that such an approach to research is labor intensive and time consuming. Moreover, the documents themselves can carry their own biases, something we address later in this chapter. Nonetheless, the primary documents often produce unique and innovative results and can address Native American issues from new perspectives and sources.

Figure 3. Copy of a page of a document from the Berlandier papers, the type of primary source material that yields the most accurate information in this type of research (traced from Berlandier papers, microfilm on file, Texas Department of Transportation).

Direct Historical Approach

The Direct Historical Approach proposed by Julian Steward (1942:337-343) states that to attempt to link archeological evidence to ethnohistoric evidence, one should move back in time (down streaming to the prehistoric period) and then move forward in time (up streaming to the historic period). Although Steward's methodology aimed at "working from the known to the unknown" (1942:337), that is, from historic archeological sites to protohistoric or even prehistoric periods and cultures, he was the first to recognize that "every tribe in the country cannot . . . be traced through its archaeology" (Steward 1942:341). Steward understood the open potential of the methodology. He stressed that: "if one takes cultural history as his problem, and peoples of the early historic period as his point of departure, the difference between strictly archaeological and strictly ethnographical interest disappears" (Steward 1942:341). In fact, he advocated a direct historical approach to ethnology. Steward did not see any historical detail as too minor lobe unimportant, just as he did not discard any element of material culture in the construction of "definable configurations" (Steward and Setzler 1938:4-10). In fact, he criticized "not commissions but omissions" (Steward and Setzler 1938:10). We acknowledge that this methodology has its limitations and critics (see e.g., LaCapra 1995:799-828, Galloway 1992:178-195, and for a brief, but timely, assessment of Julian Steward's work and methodologies see Thomas [1983:59-68]).

Most academicians' critiques of this methodology center on the researcher's wholesale acceptance of the texts produced by the colonizers. Galloway points out that archeologists who use this methodology often fail to question the evaluation and interpretation of relevant texts that have been studied by historians. Similarly, she recognizes that modern researchers do not consider the historical context, cultural background, and biases of the colonizers cum reporters who wrote the documents that we use.

We agree that these warnings are important and should be heeded. At the same time, we unequivocally believe that the historical information contained in these same documents is important, relevant, and unique. As such, they represent invaluable resources that we should consider. Therefore, the Direct Historical Approach is the simplest method—often the only method—to link evidence between prehistoric and historic groups. In fact, one of the reasons we chose to concentrate on primary archival sources was to minimize some of the problems mentioned above. For example, researchers should not choose to ignore some of the information provided by the colonizers while accepting other information that appears to make sense. Questioning the interpretation of historians or the reliability of the original sources is very different from discarding them or using them selectively because of the inherent biases and cultural differences of the original observers. The history of such biases is itself part of the history of colonization.

In sum, we believe that written historical artifacts (i.e., documents) should be used to augment, clarify or raise questions about material artifacts (archeological finds). Since the information comes from two very different types of evidence, each with inherent and specific biases (artifacts versus written records), the researcher needs to be duly cautious. On the other hand, when and where archeological information is scarce or ephemeral, historical documents provide the only record for the presence or absence of native inhabitants, their cultural behavior, mode of living, and the environment.

Geographic Area Considered in the Study

Amistad NRA is physically restricted to the portion of the Rio Grande where it is joined by the Pecos and Devils rivers (see Figure 1). Here, a total of approximately 58,500 acres or 91.4 square miles are under the jurisdiction of the NPS. Although this acreage stretches 127 miles northwest to southeast along the Rio Grande, 27 miles north/south on the Devils, and 20 miles north/south along the Pecos, its total extent is only a small part of the area occupied by and used by various Native Americans groups throughout the historic period. As will be shown, this is especially true of the later historic groups that often traveled on horseback. Their movements across Texas led us to consider two distinct geographic regions for purposes of this document. The first is a general area (macro-region) delimited to the north by the 32° parallel, to the west by the 106° 30' meridian, to the east by the 98° meridian (just east of San Antonio) and to the south by the 27° parallel (Figure 4). The southern boundary extends to the Conchos River in Mexico, the drainage of the Sabinas River and east to the general area of Monclova (Figure 4). The latter region (the micro-region) is made up of the Amistad NRA and its environs. Each of these regions is briefly described below and is more fully described in the chapter that follows.

The macro-region (see Figure 4) has no single physiogeographic distinction. Instead, it incorporates portions of a number of distinct regions, including the South Texas Plains, Edwards Plateau, Rolling Plains, Southern Plains, Trans-Pecos, and the western slopes of the Sierra Madre Oriental. The two unifying characteristics of these regions are: 1) they surround the micro-region and the Amistad NRA; and 2) the historic groups that used or traveled through the micro-region often traveled widely through the macro-region, and a portion of the documentary accounts of those groups relate to their encounters with Europeans in the macro-region. To better understand the activities and itineraries of each group, we believed it important to capture archival data from this broad macro-region as well as the data from the more focused micro-region. This broader region was selected to permit the inclusion of information about the movements of various native groups through or near to the general region of the Amistad NRA, particularly during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The reader, however, should be aware that our search for data from the macro-region was not as intense as our search for data relating to the micro-region.

Figure 4. The geographic macro- and micro-regions considered in this study. (click on image for an enlargement [PDF format] in a new window)

The micro-region that we employ in this document is the area known to archeologists as the Lower Pecos Archeological Region (Bement 1989). The Amistad NRA is located in the approximate center of this micro-region that stretches north along the Pecos and Devils rivers, upstream along the Rio Grande, and south some 100 miles into Mexico. In general, the Lower Pecos Archeological Region is considered to be the lands containing rock art sites famous for their large polychrome figures (Labadie 1994). The micro-region also contains rock shelters in the walls of the canyons along portions of the Rio Grande, Pecos, and Devils rivers. These rock shelters are well known for their deep, stratified deposits. Many of the recorded rock shelters with cultural deposits and rock art sites are within the boundaries of the Amistad NRA. Given the hunting and gathering economy of the Native American groups that occupied or used the lands of the Amistad NRA, we felt the adoption of the Lower Pecos Archeological Region as our micro-region was appropriate. In our documentary effort, then, we conducted a more intense search for data relevant to the micro-region.

Apart from the use of the two regions defined above, we use the word "Texas" to mean the territory of Texas as understood in its modern geographic and political boundaries. Given the spatial and temporal scope of this study it would have been unrealistic to tailor our statements to the boundaries of Texas as they changed through time. It is to be noted that it took Father Doctor Jose Antonio Pichardo (1931-1946) a lengthy treatise to trace and justify the evolution of the history of Texas' legal boundaries during Spanish colonial times. As an example, on February 10, 1762 (Alonso de Munoz 1762) the Coahuila-Texas border was defined as extending from the city of Monclova (in modern Coahuila, Mexico) to the Medina River in Texas. Although the Medina River generally was accepted as the southwestern boundary of colonial Texas, the same cannot be said about the eastern and northern borders of Spanish colonial Texas. Disputes with France and the United States over the eastern boundary led to Pichardo's treatise (see above); the northern border remained uncontested and undefined for a longer period of time. Thus, throughout this study and unless otherwise specified, Texas is to be understood in its geopolitical modern confines.

In summary, this study considers a macro-region to better understand the movements of native groups in the later period of colonization, while the micro-region of the Lower Pecos is used to analyze, in minutia, the information revealed by historical records about the specific area of the Amistad NRA. Each of the two regions is discussed in more detail in the next chapter.

Emphasis on the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries

In order to identify Native Americans whose ancestors inhabited or utilized the geographic area encompassed by the Amistad NRA, the focus of our work had to be the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The nature of contact between the European colonizers and the colonized Native American groups as well as the relationships that they established caused, as time went on, an amalgamation of the smaller native groups into broader, more powerful ethnic [2] entities. These amalgamating processes diluted and perhaps eliminated some ethnic designations. Moreover, the process of amalgamation and the establishment of coalitions was accelerated with the presence and pressure of incoming groups such as the Apache, with the establishment of Catholic missions and, later, with the influx of groups such as the Comanche, Tonkawa, Seminole and others. The ethnic panorama visible in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries reflected group dynamics and interactions that were, necessarily, rather different from those at the onset of European colonization of Texas in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.

For these reasons it was apparent to us that the study should address the later period of colonization differently than the earlier period. Most early native ethnic names disappear from the historical records, or those groups amalgamated with later ethnic groups. Few clues of the ethnic or cultural affiliation for those early peoples with modern groups are found beyond the records of the mid-to-late eighteenth century. To establish a working-baseline for the native groups present in Texas, the authors used the Sacramental Records of all missions on the Rio Grande, the San Antonio River, and the Texas coast. The authors took the 1750s as a temporal mid-point, and down streamed (went back in time) to the earliest records of the missions on the Rio Grande (Appendix 1) and then up streamed (moved forward in time) to the last records of the missions on the San Antonio River and the Texas coast (Appendix 2). These records provided information on native group affiliations that were then compared to the later records of the San Antonio Missions, the Gulf Coast Missions, and the census records available for the Mexican and early Anglo-American periods in Texas (Appendix 3).

Ecclesiastical and civil records (Figure 5) and censuses, however, do not constitute proof that a group (or groups) inhabited a given area before entering a mission or being counted in a census. On the other hand, they do provide direct evidence that members of a group were in the area at a specific time, and indirect evidence that those individuals may have been living in the area for some period of time. Sacramental records and censuses often include the ethnic affiliation of an individual. Often, these records also provide relative population numbers and life spans. Moreover, these are the records that provide quantifiable demographic and ethnic information: most other archival references to groups are too imprecise and often do not provide ethnic affiliation.

Yndios Christianos, y
Gentiles de la Micion
de S. Bernardo

familias casadas. ----

Padron de los Yndios Christianos, Neophitos, y Gentiles Cathecumenos que tiene, y se hallan en esta Micion, y Viba Yndios Christianos, y Combersion de el s.s. Bernardo de el rio Grande de el Norte, este ano de mil setecientos y treynta, y quatro años. Fran. co este año de mil setecientos y treynta, y quatro aHos. Fran. co Salinas Governador de Nacion // 21 Papanac con su muger Ysabel con dos hijos hacen Quatro—Pedro de Nacion Ocora con su Muger Melchora con tres hijos que hasen cinco — y su sobrino que son seis — Nicolas de Nacion Chaguam con su muger Xaviera con tres hijos que asen cinco — francisco Ygnacio Nacion Xacajo, y su muger Ana con una hija asen tres — Lorenzo Nacion PastanCoiam, y su muger Geronima con tres hijos que asen cinco — Joachin Nacion Minicu, y su Muger Luiza con dos hijos q. asen quatro — Pedro de Nacion Pamajo con su Muger Theresa, y una hija hasen tres — Joseph de Nacion Pajaca, y su Muger Margarita con dos hijos hasen quatro — fran. co de Nacion Ocam, y su Muger con tres hijos que hasen Cinco — Manuel de Nacion Chaquan y su Muger Ynes con tres hijos hazen cinco = Joseph de Nacion Ocam, y su Muger Anttonia con dos hijos que hasen quatro — Pedro de Nacion Putai y su Muger Andrea con su hijo hazen tres — Pedro de Nacion Cotujan, y su Muger Estefania con una hija hazen tres.

Figure 5. Transcript from the Sacramental Records at Mission San Bernardo showing the types of information to be obtained from such records (After Saltillo Archives transcripts on file. Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin).

It should be noted that the concept of cultural affiliation is potentially different from the concept of ethnic affiliation, since the former may be understood in a broader manner than the latter. A group can claim to have a cultural affiliation to another group (or groups) with whom it amalgamated through historical and cultural processes. This does not necessarily imply that the group maintained (or divorced itself) from an ethnic affiliation that the group held prior to the process of amalgamation. The loss of an ethnic designation (group name) and the adoption of cultural features from another group (or groups), due to the interaction between groups and the processes of colonization, may have produced cultural affiliations that were (and are) different from a group's prior ethnic affiliation. Unfortunately, it is rare that oral history or archival records provide information about these changing associations for the majority of the native groups on record.

The overwhelming number of ethnic group names that appear in the early archival records shrink to about a few hundred by the middle of the Texas mission period. By the late 1700s the archival records show a few core groups, such as the Apache and Comanche (with their respective internal divisions) who, because of their military and strategic importance, obfuscated the presence of groups politically weak and with few members. Compared to the array of groups predominately found in the Lower Pecos Archeological Region in the early historic period (Wade 1999a), very few native groups originally present can be traced to modern times. Most of the groups we were able to identify entered the modern territory of Texas during the later part of the eighteenth century.

During the later years (ca. 1800-1880), the vast majority of the documentation comes from the records of the Texas and United States military departments operating in Texas and Oklahoma and from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Again, the documentation is imperfect. The letters, reports, and other handwritten documents were penned by individuals with variable knowledge of specific Native Americans and equally variable knowledge of the geography of Texas. Through time, their knowledge of both improved and one is able, with some precision, to pinpoint some Native American camps and their occupants. Certainly, Robert Neighbors, the Commissioner for Indian Affairs in Texas, and most of his agents were quite well informed; they were personally acquainted with many of the Native American chiefs and bands in the state, and traveled widely to meet and parley with them. A few military personnel had similar knowledge of the geography, albeit somewhat less familiarity with specific tribes. On the other hand, the documents show the weaknesses of the Texan and American system when dealing with Native Americans. Estimates of their total numbers varied widely (Figure 6), ranging from rough statements to specific head counts of those individuals residing on the two small reservations in north central Texas (see Appendix 3). Similar difficulties can be identified in the government's ability to determine which tribe was where and with whom they were traveling. This problem was exacerbated by the government's early decision to divide Native American from non-Native American settlements (BLA 1:124). An awareness that Native Americans frequently traveled through the Southern Plains, following the Pecos or other water sources en route to conduct raids in Mexico, is expressed in many documents as a distant but constant concern of settlers and military officials alike (cf. BIA 1:163). Because Native American and non-Native American populations were largely segregated until quite late, and because the area of the Amistad NRA had only a handful of Anglo-American or Hispanic settlers prior to 1875, the amount of data directly related to these lands is limited and often must be inferred.

Figure 6. Copy of the census taken in 1859 at the Upper or Comanche Reserve (Redrawn from the files of the Bureau of Indian Affairs 3:246).


Ethnohistory has been described by Washburn (1961:33) as "a method of approaching knowledge" about the changes that occurred in the lives of native peoples all over the world during and after the colonial period (for a discussion of the history of the concept and the practice of ethnohistory see also Baerreis [1961], Leacock [1961], and Sturtevant [1966]). As a practice, ethnohistory relies, almost exclusively, on documents written by the very people who colonized native populations. The biases that permeate these records are compounded by the historical processes of selection of subject matter and the vagaries of archival recording, maintenance, destruction, and availability of particular records at various archival repositories. Thus, the records available to today's researcher are themselves the result of historical processes that include intrinsic biases that should be always kept in mind.

There are other aspects of ethnohistoric research that must be carefully weighed by the researcher and the reader. First, any ethnohistoric project both benefits from, and is hampered by, each researcher's viewpoint, his or her conscious or unconscious preconceived notions, and his or her previous research interests and exposure to specific historical periods and subjects. Modern researchers also have to deal with the difficulty of accessing some archives. For example, it is quite possible that some documents relevant to this study are only housed at European archives. Since travel to access distant archives is not practical, some relevant data may be missed. On the other hand, often the problem is not access to a specific archive but locating particular documents amongst hundreds of uncatalogued microfilms. Many archives cannot afford the expense of expert individuals who can read, catalogue, and (hopefully) transcribe or translate old, torn, faded, and sometimes barely legible documents. If the archival repository does have such an individual, it is unrealistic to expect that such professional be versed on all aspects of the various historic periods, and, at the same time, be able to recognize the relevance of all documents. Given these attendant problems, what the historical researcher finally uses as evidence in any given project reflects multiple biases. Researchers try to minimize this intrinsic pre-selection process by opening various avenues of research, widening the field of procurement and doing hit-and-miss runs on archival boxes and microfilm drawers. If all this sounds like a long litany of potential biases and some less than scientific methods, that's because it is.

In this project, we have relied heavily on archives at the Center for American History and the Nettie Lee Benson Library Archives of The University of Texas at Austin. It is appropriate to state that these two repositories have excellent collections even though they present many of the problems mentioned above. We have also used the archives of the University of Texas at El Paso, Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, the very excellent collection of the Zimmerman Collection at the University of New Mexico, and the Saltillo Municipal and State Archives. We would have liked to explore further the Zimmerman Collection and the Saltillo Archives but time constraints made that difficult. Moreover, the Saltillo Archives are in the process of being relocated, making some of their data unavailable. Without wanting to sound pedestrian we wish to underscore the difficulty of exploring and profiting from the collections housed in any given repository during a visit of a few days. An archive is like a marriage partner: it takes a lifetime to know.

To reiterate, the practice of ethnohistory is an intrinsically biased process. It reflects the biases of the recorder, the compiler, the archivist, and the modern researcher. This biased process is, in a very real sense, intertwined with the history of the documents. The effects of these biases can only be minimized by the awareness of the problem and by an overt attempt to make that problem explicit to readers for their independent evaluation.


In conformance with the scope of work for this study, contact was made with a number of Native American tribes in May 1998 (Appendix 4). The list of tribes included those tribes known to have had a substantial presence in Texas in the nineteenth century, or tribes that the authors' (Wade 1998; Kenmotsu 1994) previous research indicated may have been present in or close to the Amistad NRA during the nineteenth century. These contacts were made through letters, signed by the Amistad NRA Superintendent. The letter explained the purpose of the study and its timeline, and requested acknowledgment of whether the tribe was interested in participating in the study. A copy of the scope of work and details about the Amistad NRA were included with the letter. The following tribes (and addressees) were contacted:

Wichita and Affiliated Tribes (Mr. Gary McAdams, President)
Kiowa Tribe (Mr. Billy Evans Horse, Chairman)
Comanche Tribe (Mr. Keith Yackeyonny, Chairman)
Apache Tribe of Oklahoma (Mr. Henry Kostzuta, Chairman)
Tonkawa Tribe (Mr. Don Patterson)
Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma (Mr. Marshall Grover, President)
Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas
Fort Sill Apache Tribe
Caddo Indian Tribe (Ms. Stacy Halfmoon, NAGPRA Coordinator)
Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma (Mr. Ricardo Salazar, Chairman)
Ysleta del Sur Pueblo
Seminole Nation of Oklahoma

Only two of the tribes contacted responded (Kickapoo Tribe of Okiahoma and Apache Tribe of Oklahoma [formerly the Kiowa Apache Tribe]), and both indicated that they wanted to be consulted on the outcome of the study. Although only two responded, the completed research indicated that, as suspected, most of the groups contacted had an historic presence in the region of the Amistad NRA. The Pawnee could not be documented to have been in the region at any time. As the evidence stands we cannot include the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, but, given their affiliations with a number of Apache bands, we do not exclude the possibility that they were affiliated (on the problem of Ysleta del Sur see Gerald [1974, particularly pp. 29-48]). Although references to the Caddo in the Amistad NRA are tenuous, they are sufficient to continue to include them as well. Therefore, with the exception of the Pawnee, each of the tribes will be given a copy of the present report with its appendices, and they will be contacted during Phase 2 of the study.

At the conclusion of the ethnohistoric review, we realized that several additional tribes and groups were historically present in the macro-region and/or in the micro-region and should be contacted. In the United States, these are the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, the Prairie Band of Potawatomi, the Poarch Band of Creek, the Mescalero Apache Tribe, the Jicarilla Apache Tribe, the White Mountain Apache Tribal Council, the Muscogee Nation, the Cherokee Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribes, the Absentee Shawnee Tribe, the Eastern Shawnee Tribe, the Kickapoo of Kansas, the Delaware Tribe of West Oklahoma, and the Delaware Tribe of Indians. Two other groups to be contacted continue to reside in Mexico. These are the Seminole Maroon in Nacimiento, and the Kickapoo in Muzquiz. Rather than send these groups and tribes a copy of the May 1998 letter, they will be sent a copy of the present study along with a cover letter explaining the study and indicating that they will be contacted during Phase 2 of the study.

Finally, several Native American organizations have recently formed in Texas. While none of these organizations is federally recognized, they are mentioned here because all have submitted letters of intent to be federally recognized and one or more may have lineal descendants (as defined under NAGPRA) from historic groups who were affiliated with the lands of the Amistad NRA. Thus, they may have cultural or historical ties to the Amistad NRA. These are the The People of LaJunta (Jumano/Mescalero), Lipan Apache Band of Texas, Tap Pilam—the Coahuiltecan Nation, Comanche Penateka Tribe, and the Tribal Council of Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas. Each of these groups is also listed in Appendix 5.


In the remainder of the report, the reader will find an ethnohistoric review of the information about specific tribes with associations to Amistad NRA or to nearby lands, including a synopsis of the data pertaining to each group associated with the Amistad NRA. Our review is based on the archival data compiled during this contract. That chapter is followed by an archeological review that attempts to summarize the archeological material from the Lower Pecos Archeological Region (the micro-region) in relation to the ethnohistorical record. In the final chapter, we summarize our conclusions for the Native American groups in the United States and in Mexico with historical ties to the Amistad NRA. Management recommendations for additional research needs are also provided in the final chapter.

The text is followed by an annotated bibliography of published sources pertinent to the historical tribes associated with the Amistad NRA region. This bibliography includes not only a summary for each reference but also our evaluation of its relevance to the NRA and the accuracy of its data. Where appropriate, direct quotations from the reference are provided in order that the reader may experience the content of the original text. Finally, a series of appendices have been placed on the CD-ROM in the packet attached to the last page. Appendix 1 is a requirement of the NPS contract, while several others (Appendices 2-4) provide supporting documentation, particularly Appendix 4. Appendix 4 contains chronological lists of Native American groups encountered by one or more Europeans. The list includes the names of the individual groups encountered, where, any statements about the groups, and the documentary reference. Appendix 5 lists the Native American federally recognized tribes that were consulted at the initiation of this effort, and Appendix 6 contains information from several pertinent early American travelogues. Appendix 7 contains a list of archeological sites in the region that contain archeological materials that date after A.D. 1200. In preparing these appendices, we sought to find ways to present some of the original documentary data in a manner that could be easily accessed in the future by appropriate park management and other officials. Electronic copies of these data have been provided to the Amistad NRA. In accord with our contract, any data in this report that has not been previously published by the authors or is not in the process of being published by the authors is the property of the NPS. These data may be used with their consent or that of the Texas Department of Transportation.


1. See Levine and Merlan (1997), Fish et al. (1994), Rushforth and Upham (1992) for discussion of problems associated with movements of aboriginal groups away from (read 'abandonment') lands they previously occupied.

2. Here the term "ethnic" follows Barth (1969:16), who states that ethnic can be used to acknowledge distinct groups where each holds "a systematic set of rules [that] governs . . . social encounters" with other groups.

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Last Updated: 24-Apr-2007