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Coahuiltecan Indians

Coahuiltecan Indians. The name was derived from that of the Mexican State of Coahuila, the tribes of this group having extended over the eastern part of that province as well as a portion of Texas. Also called:

Coahuiltecan Connections. As Coahuiltecan are included all of the tribes known to have belonged to the Coahuiltecan linguistic family and some supposed on circumstantial evidence to be a part of it. It is probable that most of the so-called Tamaulipecan family of Mexico were really related to this, and that the Karankawan and Tonkawan groups were connected as well, though more remotely.

Coahuiltecan Location. The Coahuiltecan tribes were spread over the eastern part of Coahuila, Mexico, and almost all of Texas west of San Antonio River and Cibolo Creek. The tribes of the lower Rio Grande may have belonged to a distinct family, that called by Orozco y Berra (1864) Tamaulipecan, but the Coahuiltecans reached the Gulf coast at the mouth of the Nueces. Northeast of that point they were succeeded by Karankawan tribes. Toward the north it is probable that the Coahuiltecans originally extended for a long distance before they were displaced by the Apache and Comanche. (See also Mexico.)

Coahuiltecan Subdivisions

In considering the Coahuiltecan stock it has been found necessary to change the original plan of giving separate consideration to each tribe because we are here confronted by an enormous number of small tribal or band names, of many of which we do not know even the location. In lieu of subdivisions, therefore, we shall give as complete a list as possible of these small tribes or bands, as far as they are known. They are as follows:


As indicated, some of these were perhaps Tonkawan, Karankawan, or of other affiliations. Some were represented by single individuals and no doubt many of the names are synonyms or have become distorted in the process of recording. The exact nature of these groups can now never be known. The above list does not include a great many names given only by Cabeza de Vaca or La Salle and his companions in the same region. The multiplicity of tribes and confusion in names is not so serious in any other region north of Mexico.

Coahuiltecan History. The Coahuiltecan tribes were first encountered by Cabeza de Vaca and his companions who passed through the heart of their country, and by the Spaniards when they invaded Coahuila and founded Parral. From the early part of the seventeenth century onward, their country was traversed repeatedly. In 1675 the Coahuiltecan country on both sides of the Rio Grande was invaded by Fernando del Bosque, and in 1689 and 1690 the Texas portion was again traversed by De Leon and Manzanet. In 1677 a Franciscan mission for Coahuiltecan tribes was established at Nadadores and before the end of the century others were started along the Rio Grande and near San Antonio. Great numbers of Indians were gathered into these missions during the first part of the eighteenth century but the change of life entailed upon roving people, disease, and the attacks of hostile tribes from the north reduced their numbers rapidly. Today none of these Indians are known to survive in Texas. In 1886 Dr. A. S. Gatschet found remnants of two or three tribes on the south side of the Rio Grande and some of their descendants, survive, but they are no longer able to speak their ancient language.

Coahuiltecan Population. Mooney (1928) estimated that in 1690 the Coahuiltecan peoples totaled 15,000; no figures embracing all of them occur in the various narratives.