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Yscanis Tribe

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Yscanis Indians. A tribe of the Wichita confederacy; they were entirely distinct from the Asinais (Hasinai), though the names of the two tribes have been confused. It is possible that the Ysconis, or Isconis, reported to Domingo de Mendoza in 1684 among the tribes awaiting him somewhere in central or east Texas, were the Yscanis1 . In 1719 LaHarpe visited them (the “Ascanis”) on Canadian river, where they were living a settled life with the Wichita, Taovayas (Tawehash), and Tawakoni. LaHarpe also reported another village of the Ascanis 60 leagues farther to the north west2 . Little more is heard of these tribes till the middle of the 18th century, by which time they had all moved southward into north Texas, under pressure from their bitter enemies, the Comanche and the Osage. According to an official report made in 1762, the Yscanis had been among the numerous tribes which, about 1746, asked the missionaries at San Antonio for missions in central Texas. If this be true, they were possibly the Hiscas, or Haiscas, mentioned in documents relating to the San Xavier missions3 . In 1760 Fr. Calahorra y Saenz, of Nacogdoches, went among the Yscanis and Tawakoni to establish peace, and soon afterward made an unsuccessful attempt to found a mission for them. These two tribes were at that time living close together on a stream in north Texas, apparently farther north than the place where Mezières found them a decade later4 . The Yscanis took part in the peace conference held by Mezières in 1770 at the Kadohadacho village, and two years later they sent representatives to Bexar to ratify the convention before the governor of Texas. When, in 1772, Mezières visited the tribe, they were living near the east bank of the Trinity, somewhere below the present Palestine, 7 leagues east of one of the Tawakoni villages, and an equal distance west of the Kichai. The village consisted of 60 warriors and their families. They lived in a scattered agricultural settlement, raised maize, beans, melons, and calabashes, were closely allied with the other Wichita tribes, whose language they spoke, and were said by Mezières to be cannibals. There are indications that after this the Yscanis united with the Tawakoni, with whom they had always been most closely associated, to reappear, perhaps, in the 19th century, as the Waco. In his reports of his expeditions made in 1778 and 1779 to the Wichita tribes Mezières does not mention the Yscanis, but he fully describes the two Tawakoni villages, then both on the Brazos. Morfi, about 1782, on what authority is not known, states that the “Tuacana nation, to which are united some 90 families of the Ixcani, occupies two towns on the banks of the river Brazos de Dios”5 . This not improbable, for although the Yscanis are sometimes mentioned by name as late as 1794, at least, it is always in connection with the other Wichita tribes, and with no indication as to their location. After 1794, so far as has been learned, the name is not used. But a quarter of a century later, when the Tawakoni villages are again mentioned in the records (now English instead of Spanish), one of them appears as that of the Waco, a name formerly unknown in Texas, and not accounted for by migration. The Waco may have been the Yscanis under a new name.

For Further Study

The following articles and manuscripts will shed additional light on the Yscanis as both an ethnological study, and as a people.

Footnotes

  1. Mendoza, Viage, 1683-84, MS. 

  2. Margry, Déc., vi, 293, 1886 

  3. Royal cedulas of Apr. 6, 1748, and Mar. 21, 1752, MSS. in Archivo Gen. de Mexico 

  4. contemporary docs. in Bexar Archives 

  5. Mem. Hist. Tex., bk. 11, MS. 


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