Indians, Spanish Period

The English and French introduced the Indians to firearms, and the Spanish introduced them to horses. Indian tribes with these two possessions were more successful than others.

In the late 1680s, the Spanish soldiers and missionaries headed to the Caddos, farmers living in strong villages who were not warlike except for their traditional fights with Osages and Tonkawa. The Caddos objected to Spain's idea of moving them into compact towns. The Caddo preferred to live in small clusters near the river valleys. The missionaries were unsuccessful in converting them to Christianity and only insulted the Caddos' beliefs. The Caddos invited the Spanish into their villages to gain trade advantages, especially firearms, but the Spanish refused to supply them with weapons.

When the Spanish entered Texas, they changed the trade network. The Apache, Comanche, and Kiowa Indians migrated to the South Plains to be closer to the supply of Spanish horses. The Spanish also set up missions among the smaller groups that needed protection from northern invaders. The Jumanos were targets of Spanish slave raids to capture people to work in the mines in Chihuahua. By the mid-1600s they became trade middlemen, trading Pueblo cloth, turquoise, bows, metals, and horses for their buffalo skins. This worked well until the Apaches attacked. By 1710, the Jumanos had lost their identity as a culture. Some of them merged with the Apaches, and others became laborers in Chihuahua and blended in with the Mexican people.

The Coahuiltecan Indians were also attacked by the Apaches. The missions protected them and the Jumano. These Indians married the Spanish Mexican people and their identity as "Indians" changed to Hispanic.

The Apaches had problems with the Comanches and with the Spanish. The Apaches needed the Spanish to fight the Comanches while continuing to raid San Antonio owned by the Spanish.

The Comanches used horses to move into new areas. They connected with French gun traders through the Caddo and Wichita tribes, making them enemies of the Spanish. The families formed independent bands. The Comanches stole horses and then traded them for agricultural goods and firearms.

The Wichita bands were also powerful with horse and gun trading. They moved away from the more powerful and European-armed Osages. They traded their extra crops to the Comanches for horses and then traded the horses to the French and Caddos. The Wichitas tried to make peace with the Spanish in San Antonio, but the Spanish could not compete with the French trade.

The Spanish protected the Lipan Apaches by establishing the Santa Cruz Mission. The Wichitas and the Lipans competed for the same hunting grounds. The mission was a target for Lipans enemies, including the Wichitas. In 1758, an attack on the mission killed many and allowed the Wichita and other groups to loot it and burn it down. The small Spanish military group hid in a nearby presidio (military fort).

The Lipans Apaches had few allies. An alliance with the Tonkawas lasted one hundred years, during which time both groups dwindled due to disease and war. The Tonkawas were shoved out of the South Plains by the Comanches. They were hated by other Indians because of their raids, competition for hunting grounds, and their reputation for cannibalism (eating their enemies).

Source: Indians, Spanish Period
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