Before European contact there were hundreds of Indian tribes living along what would become Los Caminos Reales. After the Europeans had been in the area for a while, many of the tribes had vanished.
The Caddoans lived in the East Texas Forests in three loosely joined confedercies called the Hasinais, Kadohadachoes, and Natchitoches. They were not nomads. The Caddo were farmers who raised corn, squash, a variety of beans, sunflowers, seeds and tobacco.
The Tonkawas originally lived in central Texas along streams and rivers. There were several tribes that went by the Tonkawa name and several groups made up a tribe. They were buffalo hunters and gatherers living in buffalo hide tepees in a maternally related kinship unit. The used dogs to transport all of their belongings.
The Coahuiltecans lived in south Texas. There were more than two-hundred bands living in small family units. Because of their location, they practiced female infanticide and occasionally male infanticide as a means of population control. This was their means of adaptation to their harsh environment. For more information on The Coahuiltecans click here.
A.D. 1600 is known as the beginning of the end of native cultures in Texas. The reduction in Indian populations resulted from European introduced diseases. Wars for available resources with intruding Indian groups, such as the Apache or Comanche also reduced population size. In 1739, an epidemic swept through the San Antonio Missions, killing many Indians and scaring away many others. Other epidemics followed. Also, mission life killed or changed the Indians from within. The Coahuiltecans were destroyed or absorbed into Spanish society. The Tonkawas had been decimated by diseases and warfare and the Caddoans were either dead, absorbed into society or relocated.
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