American Indian Tribal Affiliation Study
Phase I: Ethnohistoric Literature Review
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Prior to 1700, the region of the Amistad NRA was dominated by a number of small bands with distinct names, including:

Bibit (Mabibit)
Manos Prietas
Saesse (Sanan)

After 1700, the use of the lands of the Amistad NRA and the Lower Pecos changed. The change was related to the movement of Apache into the region and the increasingly regular traffic along a corridor from the Rio Grande Mission to San Antonio.

The corridor from the Rio Grande missions to San Antonio focused Spanish/native interactions east, as well as north and south, of the Lower Pecos. These activities concentrated around the settlements, presidios, and missions and along the corridor.

Both Apache activities and their experiences with the Spanish east of the Nueces River were quite different from their activities and experiences west of the Nueces River. After 1830, however, the Apache were largely confined to the area of the Lower Pecos and regions north and west of this area.

From the period 1750 to 1875, and especially during the nineteenth century, the Amistad NRA was part of a vast region between El Paso and San Antonio that was only sparsely occupied by Euro Americans. During these years, the land was dominated by Lipan and Mescalero Apache as well as by several Comanche bands and their allies (e.g., Kiowa, Kiowa-Apache, formerly Apache Tribe of Oklahoma, that traveled through the micro-region.

Modern tribes with historical ties to the lands of the Amistad NRA are:

Mescalero Apache Tribe
Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
Jicarilla Apache
Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas
Seminole Nation of Oklahoma
Tonkawa Tribe
Comanche Tribe
Cherokee Nation
Kickapoo (in Musquiz)
White Mountain Apache Tribal Council
Fort Sill Apache Tribe
Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma
Kickapoo of Kansas Tribe
Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma
Wichita and Affiliated Tribes
Citizen Potawatomi Nation
Seminole Maroon (in Mexico)

Other federally recognized tribes that may be affiliated with the Amistad NRA are:

Absentee Shawnee Tribe
Ysleta de Sur Pueblo
Delaware Tribe of West Oklahoma
Poarch Band of Creek Indians
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation
Anadarko (part of the Caddo Tribe)
Keechi (part of the Wichita Affiliated Tribes)
Tawakoni (part of the Wichita Affiliated Tribes)
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Eastern Shawnee Tribe
Delaware Tribe of Indians
Muscogee (Creek) Nation
Caddo Indian Tribe
Alabama-Coushatta Tribes
Waco (part of the Wichita Affiliated Tribes)
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee

Between the late 1700s through the late 1800s, the lands of the Amistad NRA became an area through which various Native American tribes traveled, but not one where they stayed. The dominant tribes in the area during this period were the Lipan and Mescalero Apache, the Comanche, and the Kiowa.

A number of tribes from East Texas and the eastern seaboard of the United States established ties with the broader area in which the Amistad NRA is situated (e.g., the macro-region) during the mid-nineteenth century. Sought by the Mexican government as a means of protecting that nation's northern flanks, the Seminole leader Wild Cat settled Seminole, Seminole Maroon, Kickapoo, and a few members of the Caddo, Anadarko, Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Potawatomi, and other tribes south of the Amistad NRA. The presence of the Shawnee can be documented near the Amistad NRA as early as the 1830s, and the Delaware may have had a presence there as well.

The Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas resides in a small reservation south of Amistad NRA (near Eagle Pass) and also has strong ties with the Kickapoo at Muzquiz, Mexico, located just south of the recreation area. At times in their history, they traveled to and from Indian Territory (modern Oklahoma), often passing through the lands of the Amistad NRA, using this area to avoid most of the Anglo-American and Hispanic settlements to the east.

The Seminole Maroon, who remained in close proximity to the Amistad NRA, patrolled the lands of the recreation area as scouts for the United States army, often spending weeks combing the region for Native Americans. Thus, they, too, are affiliated with the Amistad NRA.

The NPS's completion of affiliation studies in the traditional park-unit-by-park-unit may hamper full identification or understanding of the native groups associated with a particular park. Historically, Texas, eastern New Mexico, and northern Mexico were an integrated whole. Governmental policies in one region affected native groups throughout all the other regions. Similarly, the Native Americans who occupied these lands had an intricate and very complex set of relationships with each other. It is recommended that the National Park Service consider mechanisms to share knowledge between park units and/or to conduct research on the broad contextual landscape of the 16th through the late 19th centuries.

The NPS and others conducting affiliation research should seek to find the largest possible number of documents to demonstrate affiliation with as much accuracy as feasible. Individuals with variable backgrounds, knowledge, and personal agendas wrote the documents. Reliance on a single document may result in a skewed understanding of the native groups occupying and utilizing a region. Reliance on documents by multiple individuals will present a more accurate picture of the cultural landscape that existed at a given point in time.

Although mandated by federal law, recent affiliation studies in Texas are few and subject to a series of pitfalls. Because Native Americans were largely removed from the state in the mid to late nineteenth century, knowledge about which Native Americans can be affiliated with specific areas—that is, those that can be determined to have an association with those areas—of the state must rely on archeological sites or documentary records. Moreover, much of the state was occupied by hunting and gathering groups whose territories were large and overlapped. Hence, more than one Native American group is likely to be affiliated with the same physical area, a problem exacerbated by the frequent movement of Native Americans into and out of the region during the historic period. Finally, federal law related to affiliation does not distinguish between short term and long term occupancy nor does it require some minimal number of individuals of a specific group to be present before that group can be considered affiliated. Thus, affiliation studies seek to identify the broadest range of associated groups. Archeologists who have labored to equate site and tool types with specific cultures may find such conclusions at odds with their own research.

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Last Updated: 24-Apr-2007