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Bidai Tribe

Bidai (Caddo for ‘brushwood,’ probably referring to the peculiar growth characteristic of the region). An extinct tribe, supposed to have belonged to the Caddoan stock, whose villages were scattered over a wide territory, but principally about Trinity river , Texas, while some were as far north as the Neches or beyond. A creek emptying into Trinity river between Walker and Madison Counties, Texas, bears the name of the tribe, as did also, according to La Harpe, a small bay on the coast north of Matagorda bay. A number of geographic names derived from this tribe survive in the region. The tribal tradition of the Bidai is that they were the oldest inhabitants of the country where they dwelt. This belief may have strengthened tribal pride, for although the Bidai were surrounded by tribes belonging to the Caddo confederacy, the people long kept their independence. They were neighbors of the Arkokisa, who lived on lower Trinity river and may have been their allies, for according to LaHarpe (1721) they were on friendly terms with that tribe while they were at war with the people dwelling on Matagorda bay. During the latter part of the 18th century the Bidai were reported to be the chief intermediaries between the French and the Apache in the trade in firearms; later they suffered from the political disturbances incident to the controversy between the Spaniards and the French, as well as from inter-tribal wars and the introduction of new diseases. As a result remnants of different villages combined, and the olden tribal organization was broken up. Little is known of their customs and beliefs, which...

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