40,000-12,000 years ago Asian nomads cross from present-day Siberia to present day Alaska over the Bering Straight hunting for edible plants and animals. Bering straight eventually melts- American Indians descended from these people. Around 7,000 BC, people of the New World began developing agriculture, creating strong tied to the land.

Indians of Texas

Women had strong influence and status in many Indian cultures. While some made war with or raided neighboring groups regularly, most preferred to avoid conflicts or were victims of them. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the fewest number of New World inhabitants lives North of the Rio Grande.

  • The Coastal Indians – Karankawa and Coahuiltecan people. Both had roots in modern-day Mexico. Lacked formal political structure. Karankawas eventually wiped out by settlers completely. Hunter-gatherers, living near the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Northeast Texas Indians – East of the Trinity River, Caddos; advanced agriculture, engaged in extensive trade. Matrilineal society; strong women rights. Primarily relied on farming, but men hunted during winter.
  • Jumano Indians – Trans-Pecos area, living in two distinct banks. They were sedentary (agricultural-based) and nomadic (full-time hunting; West Texas plains) Accomplished traders- traveled widely to trade. Most contact with the Spanish prior to 1680s. The Spanish were interested in Jumano country to develop trade with them and the Caddo Indians, the buffalo, and the fresh water pearls.
  • Plains Indians – Apaches, Comanches, Wichitas, and Tonkawas. Discovered the horse and became agile riders. Comanches: riding skills and high mobility made them most powerful.

Spanish Background and Spain’s New World Colonization

  • Iberian Legacy – The Iberian Peninsula had come under rule of Greeks and was later taken by the Romans. From the Romans, the Spaniards derived much of their culture: language, law, customs, faith, etc- and their country’s name- Hispania. When Visigoths took over and began imposing their culture, Iberian began forging a new combined German and Roman way of life, as did the Visigoths themselves.
  • Spain’s Unification – Span became a unified nation as a result of the uniting of Castile and Aarogon by Isabella and Ferdinand in 1479.
  • Column’s Motives – While Columbus’s primary motive was economic and political gain, he also had a desire to spread his own religion when he sailed in a westerly course hoping to find the East Indies (reach Asia) in 1492.
  • Conquistadors – With a desire to gain fortunes in the New World and a strong military, “reconquista” history from the Muslim era and the crusades, conquistadors eagerly came and explored Texas looking for treasures and gold.
  • Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca (Florida), Friar Marcos Niza, Coronado (both sent to investigate de Vaca’s stories), De Soto, and Moscoso – Explorers in great conquests looking for wealth, but returning empty handed and discourages, discouraging further colonization until later.
  • Presidio – Military Garrison and fort (from Roman praesidium; meaning a militarized region protected by fortifications). Provided protection from Indians, and a garrison for soldiers to train and quip. Also protected the missions.
  • Rancho – A ranch; provided settlements with food, resources, and products otherwise absent on the frontier to missions and Presidios. Also helped Presidio soldiers by furnishing them with meat and resources necessary for military expeditions

New Spain Colonization Timeline

First permanent Spanish settlement in New Spain actually established in New Mexico, not Texas.

  • Early 1700’s – French Canadian Lous Juchereau de St. Denis helps Spanish establish missions among East Texas Indians. Defaced the French and became loyal to Spain; married a Spaniard.
  • 1682 – Frenchman Sieur de La Salle travels down the Mississippi hoping to assert title to all lands drained by the river for France. Through poor navigation ended up at Matagorda Bay, he was left with only one ship and diminishing colonists. He eventually lost his ship and died in 1687 at the hands of his own frustrated men. Did manage to establish a settlement on the Texas cost but Indians wiped out remaining survivors. Though failing many times, La Salle alerted the Spaniards the dangers of losing Texas.
  • 1716 – Spaniards succeed in revitalizing missionary work among East Texas Indians (near Neches River and Nacogdoches) and laying claim to the territory in order to ward off French Encroachments.
  • 1718 – Expedition led by Martin de Alarcon established a Presidio and Mission in San Antonio.
  • 1731 – Civilian settlement is established at San Antonio with approximately 55 people from the Canary Islands.
  • 1757 – Spanish establish and mission and Presidio on the San Saba river in order to Christianize the Apache Indians. This didn’t last long and the Mission was attacked and destroyed completed.

Additional Notes

“Tejas” meant “friends” in the language of the Hasinai. This is where Texas gets its name.