American Indian Tribal Affiliation Study
Phase I: Ethnohistoric Literature Review
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Chapter Five:
Summary and Recommendations

Our contract with the NPS called for us to identify federally recognized tribes with possible ties to the lands of the Amistad NRA (see Figure 1) in Val Verde County, Texas. This study was undertaken as part of a long-term commitment of the NPS to manage its resources with care as well as with respect for the communities having historical associations with those resources. However, because Native American communities left these lands long ago, and because our knowledge of the tribes that once occupied those lands is, at best, imperfect, the study focused on the data contained in Spanish and English hand written documents. These documents are far from unbiased descriptions of the past; we tried to be mindful of the pitfalls of such research (cf. Galloway 1992:178-195). Despite those problems, the information contained in primary documents is important, relevant, and unique, and, therefore, critical to understanding which tribes might have historical ties to the recreation area.

Published travel accounts, congressional reports, and, to some extent, secondary and summary data were also employed in the study. The latter sources were evaluated against the primary documentation to ensure we were not adopting modern misconceptions or misinterpretations of facts or documents. Travel documents, congressional reports, and other various materials reviewed yielded additional information, often about flora and fauna or about policy issues or decisions that affected the relevant native groups during the historic period.

Archeological data from the Lower Pecos Archeological Region (see Figure 4) were also employed. However, the archeological data are sparse. Only 183 of the sites recorded in the micro-region contain archeological materials or rock art diagnostic of the period A.D. 1200 to 1880 (see Appendix 7). Many of these sites contain a few pieces of native-made pottery post-dating A.D. 1300 or small arrow points that date after A.D. 1200. In three important ways, however archeological data support some of our findings. First, the data show that the groups using the region continued to maintain a hunting and gathering subsistence base. Second, the low number of sites indicates that either the number of people occupying the region was small or that their residence there was brief, thereby limiting the amount of material discarded during their stays. Finally, the rock art from the final periods first contains depictions of Spanish priests and mission-like structures, and later is historic Plains Indians artwork that parallels the sequence of historic Native American use of the region found in the documentary evidence.

The knowledge we acquired from primary documents was combined with a variety of historical and archeological summaries that have been completed for the region. The analysis and synthesis of this documentation, plus the information gathered from the list we compiled of the archeological sites with materials dating to historic periods, has provided data about the early residents and/or travelers through the region. From these data, we were also able to identify a number of federally recognized tribes having historical ties of varying strength to the Amistad NRA. The research also yielded information about a few other non-federally recognized groups that have ties to the lands of the recreation area. In the remainder of this chapter, we summarize our findings about the modern Native American tribes that can be affiliated with the recreation area. This summary is followed by a series of recommendations for Phase 2 of this study and for other affiliation studies undertaken by the NPS.


A number of Native American tribes have historical ties to the land of the Amistad NRA (Table 7). The ties vary widely from one group to another and are clearly related to their historical presence in the region and/or to their historical association with Native American groups who had earlier historical ties to Amistad within their tribe. Thus, the Tonkawa—whose original homeland was well to the north of Texas but moved into North and Central Texas in the mid-1600s—hold close historical ties to Amistad for several reasons. First, they were occasionally present in Nueces, Frio, Sabinal, and Pecos River drainages during the 1840s and 1850s. While the reports of their travels through the lands are not abundant, it is clear that they passed through the region infrequently. Second, when they were found in these lands, they were usually in the company of the Lipan and/or Mescalero Apaches. Each of these Apache groups had strong ties to the Amistad NRA area, and, in traveling together, it is likely that the Tonkawa became acquainted with at least some, if not all, of the geography within the NRA. Finally, the Tonkawa hold strong ties to Amistad because of the Yorica, Ervipiame, and Sanan nations began residing with the Tonkawa during the mid-eighteenth century, eventually becoming clans of that tribe (Newcomb 1993). Since those nations that were among the various groups that can be associated with the Amistad NRA during the period 1600-1750, their subsequent ties with the Tonkawa strengthen the affiliation of the Tonkawa to the region.

As noted, the ties of the Apache to the Amistad NRA are substantial. The historical presence of the Apaches in the region can be documented as early as 1729 when Berroteran's scouts found them hunting buffalo just south of the mouth of the Pecos. Within a few decades, they were being distinguished in the documents as Mescalero and Lipan. Their presence along both sides of the Rio Grande continued through ca. 1881, and some may have settled in northern Mexico at the close of the historic era. [1] Because the Lipan largely joined the Mescalero on their reservation in southern New Mexico, Mescalero ties to Amistad are the strongest of the Apachean ties. On the other hand, some members of the Lipan are reported to have settled among the Fort Sill Apache Tribe, the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, and the Tonkawa Tribe. They may have also settled among the White Mountain Apache in Arizona and/or the Jicarilla Apache Tribe in New Mexico. Thus, all Apache tribes may have some level of affiliation to the Amistad NRA.

Table 7. Federally recognized tribes affiliated with or possibly affiliated with the lands of the Amistad NRA

Wichita and Affiliated Tribes
Seminole Nation of Oklahoma
Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas
Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma
Fort Sill Apache Tribe
Mescalero Apache Tribe
Jicarilla Apache Tribe
Caddo Indian Tribe
Poarch Band of Creek Indians
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Absentee-Shawnee Tribe
Eastern Shawnee Tribe
Citizen Potawatomi Nation
Tonkawa Tribe
Alabama-Coushatta Tribes
Kickapoo of Kansas Tribal Council
Comanche Tribe
Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
White Mountain Apache Tribe
Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma
Muscogee (Creek) Nation
Cherokee Nation
Delaware Tribe of Indians
Delaware Tribe of West Oklahoma
Ysleta del Sur Pueblo
Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribal Council

The Comanche and their long-time allies, the Kiowa, also can be documented in the region of the Amistad NRA, although less frequently than the Apache and typically they used the land to travel to/from their forays in Mexico. The Seminole—some of whom settled for a while south of the Amistad NRA—became the de facto border patrol along the Rio Grande for the Mexican government during the 1850s. These patrols briefly took them to the lands of the Amistad NRA, giving them ties to those lands. Similarly, the Kickapoo traveled through the region serving as border patrols, and later they passed through the Amistad area in at least one of their moves back to Indian Territory. Today, some of the Kansas band of Kickapoo reside in Muzquiz, Coahuila, and their members frequently travel to and from their small reservation near Eagle Pass and the Kickapoo lands in Oklahoma.

The ties of the remaining groups are more diffuse. The Caddo, Waco (part of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes), the Anadarko (one of the Caddoan tribes), the Alabama-Coushatta, the Cherokee, the Muscogee (Creek), the Tawakoni, and the Wichita tribes have some presence in northern Mexico, just to the south of the Amistad NRA. [2] A few of their members were noted at times among other tribes traveling to and from Mexico and we conclude that they likely passed through the lands of the Amistad NRA. The Delaware, and occasionally their allies the Shawnee, were employed as scouts during the nineteenth century and their travels to gather information or to lead military parties required familiarity with the lands of the Lower Pecos, and thus with the area of concern. It is not known, however, if their travels resulted in their camping or residing on those lands. Finally, we found no direct evidence that the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo had ties to the region, but, given their affiliations with a number of Apache bands, we do not exclude the possibility that they may have ties to the area and have left their name in Table 7. Phase II of the study should include contact with all of these tribes to seek to confirm or refute their association with the lands or resources at Amistad NRA.

Finally, two groups with special ties to the lands of the Amistad NRA are noted: the Seminole Maroon and the Kickapoo of Muzquiz. The Seminole Maroon and the Kickapoo accompanied Wild Cat and his Seminole band to northern Mexico in the 1850s. The initial group of Kickapoo subsequently left Mexico and returned to Indian Territory. After the Civil War, however, another small group of Kickapoo returned to Mexico with a few Potawatomi allies. They remain there to the present day. Travel between Muzquiz, Mexico, their small reservation near Eagle Pass, and the main Kickapoo reservation in Oklahoma is still common. This placement, the presence of at least one of their camps on the Devils River in 1871, and their travel through the region indicate that they can be associated with the Amistad NRA. Unlike the Kickapoo, the Seminole Maroon never returned to Indian Territory and still maintain a presence just south of the mouth of the Pecos. During those years, they sometimes assisted the Seminole in the border patrols undertaken to repel Apache and Comanche raiders from the north, giving them ties to the lands and resources of the recreation area.

However, their closest ties are the result of their work—between the years of 1871 and 1911—as scouts for the U.S. Army at Fort Clark and, to a lesser extent, at Fort Davis. These years of service required that they travel through and become familiar with much of the Lower Pecos region, as well as with most of the Trans-Pecos of Texas. Descriptions of their travel through the region and of a few battles fought with various tribes during those efforts tie them to these lands. Since they do not reside in the United States, they are not federally recognized, but they are included in the lists provided in Appendix 5.

In addition to the federally recognized tribes that might hold historical ties to the lands or resources of the Amistad NRA, several Native American organizations may have members who are lineal descendants (as defined under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, 25 U.S.C. 3001) of historic groups who were affiliated with Amistad. These groups have recently formed. They are: The People of La Junta (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 is listed in Appendix 5 with contact names and addresses.


1. Phase 2 should contact each of the tribes listed above in Table 7, as well as the Seminole Maroon. In addition, several non-federally recognized groups (The People of La Junta (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) merit receiving some type of communication. Although they cannot be described as affiliated because of their lack of federal recognition, each group's oral history may include some association with the area. The initial focus of the contacts with those tribes whose ties were noted as unclear should be to verify the associations with the Amistad.

2. Primary documents are essential (required) to accurately identify the native groups associated with a particular region and to define the nature of that association, and should continue to be the foundation of the research for affiliation studies.

3. The NPS should consider mechanisms to improve their ability to share knowledge between park units and/or to conduct research on the broad contextual landscape of the sixteenth through the late nineteenth centuries. Studies similar to the present one have been completed for several park units in the southwestern region of the country (e.g., Brandt 1997; Levine and Merlan 1997; Esber et al. 1997) and it is anticipated that more will be completed in future years. The NPS has been a leader in these affiliation studies. Few federal agencies and no state agencies in Texas have initiated these types of studies (see Freeman [1997] and Kenmotsu et al. [1994] for exceptions). However, we offer the notion that the park-unit-by-park-unit approach to the work may not be the most economical use of funds or knowledge. On the one hand, we fully agree that this is an important—indeed essential—type of study. It is mandated by Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended; it will be a key element in ensuring that the agency meets the intent and spirit of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act; and, it is a way to ensure that constituent groups are identified and have the opportunity to be contacted and offered the opportunity to comment on significant decisions that will be made by individual part units in the future.

On the other hand, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. That is, many of the original documents that must be reviewed for Gran Quivira National Monument, Pecos National Monument, Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, Big Bend National Park, and others, are the same ones that must be accessed for the Amistad NRA. The reasons for this are twofold. First, European settlement of New Mexico, northern Mexico, and Texas was intimately related. The early thrust of settlement was clearly directed toward Santa Fe as a supplier of hides, food, and other resources as well as to the mining communities in northern Mexico. Contact with native groups to the east—on the Southern Plains, Lower Pecos, and Trans-Pecos—was undertaken as part of that larger Spanish political agenda. Later, Spain's attention was directed toward re-occupation of New Mexico (after 1680) and then toward holding the French at bay in Louisiana. Decisions for all of these endeavors emanated from Mexico and Spain. Consequently, the activities at the Salinas Missions, Santa Fe, and Parral, were influenced by the activities at Saltillo, La Junta de los Rios (Presidio, Texas), San Juan Bautista, and San Antonio, and elsewhere in northern New Spain (John 1975). Similarly, the contact made by the Texan and United States governments with Indians was broad based and directed toward maintaining a north-south line that divided Indian from non-Indian areas (BIA 1847-1853, 1:42).

The second reason that the same documentary evidence is applicable to many park units is that Native American occupants of these regions were intimately related. As shown in studies by Wade (1998), Kenmotsu (1994), and Griffen (1969), among others, the groups who occupied these regions interacted with each other on a regular and systematic basis. Knowledge of the actions being undertaken by the Spanish in any one place in northern New Spain quickly spread among the various native groups (Figure 31). Similar rapid spread of information through a wide range of Indian tribes can be documented for the nineteenth century, as well (cf. Mulroy 1993), and intermarriage was frequent (Kenmotsu 1994).

Figure 31. Dancing figures from 41VV7, Castle Canyon site (Courtsey The University of Texas at Austin, Jackson 1942:235, Figure 198).

In sum, this frontier was an interconnected whole and actions taken by Native Americans or Spaniards (later Mexicans or Americans) affected a wide region and all natives. The current park-unit-by-park-unit approach dissects the history into arbitrary bits that may distort reality. Multiple researchers accessing the same documents is not efficient. At minimum, multiple researchers investigating the same subject increase the overall dollars expended. Further, it may affect the overall understanding of groups affiliated with any single park unit. In other words, while the study is essential, the dissection itself has likely introduced further biases into the ethnohistoric record for individual park units. A research effort to integrate the various studies already completed for the NPS would be timely and economically efficient. Furthermore, such research would provide the NPS with a unique understanding of the history of native groups within the lands under NPS purview as well as a record of the pioneering research activities of the National Park System.


1. Note, however, that while the terms Mescalero and Lipan are the most prominent in the documents, other names are given to Apaches who occupied the Lower Pecos, including Natagee, Pelones, Apaches Jumanes, Azain, Duttain, and Negain.

2. Note that some of these individual groups have split into several federally recognized groups. Each of these groups is listed.

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Last Updated: 24-Apr-2007