Interested in Native American history? Here are a few Texas sites to add to your Lone Star travel itinerary.
Texas history is inextricably linked to Native American history, and vice versa. The Bullock Museum (1800 Congress Ave., Austin) is a must-visit for history buffs, and Texas Time Travel is a great online resource with an interactive map that plots locations of historic significance. And for those who want to visit those places in person, here are a few recommendations.
The Caddo, considered the most sophisticated known prehistoric culture in what is now Texas, founded a large settlement in approximately 800 A.D. in this East Texas prairie, and their highly developed political and ceremonial system dominated trade and religion throughout the region for some 500 years. Today, visitors to the site can see ancient earthwork platform mounds and a burial mound on an interpretive trail. 1649 S.H. 21 West, Alto 936.858.3218 (Currently closed due to tornado damage. Call or check the Texas Historical Commission website for updates.)
After the 1786 peace treaty between the Comanches and the Spanish government, Comancheros, a distinct culture of Puebloan and mestizo traders, acted as middlemen in exchanges of New Mexicans’ flour, sugar, tack, tobacco, and other goods for nomadic Plains Indians’ horses, mules, buffalo robes, and other items. When the Comanches began taking hostages in response to Anglo encroachment, Comancheros mediated captive exchanges, and the trade increasingly involved guns and whiskey. The Comanchero Canyons Museum — located in the Caprock Canyons area, a favorite rendezvous point — displays historical artifacts and replicas from the canyons and surrounding areas. The annual Comanchero Rendezvous takes place this coming weekend, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, at the museum, and attendees are encouraged to bring artifacts. 200 S. Third St., Quitaque, 806.455.1588
The famed Quahadi Comanche chief Quanah Parker, the son of captive turned adopted Comanche Cynthia Ann Parker and warrior Peta Nocona, led the last band of Comanche to surrender to life on the reservation and became the first chief of the unified Comanche tribe, as opposed to being chief of a single band. He led his people into assimilation and the 20th century, and went on to become a cattleman, politician, and early leader of the Native American Church of Oklahoma and its peyote movement. Quanah Parker Trail is a guide to places with ties to Parker or to the Comanche or other Plains tribes. Many of the sites are marked with large roadside arrow sculptures created by sculptor Charles Smith. Various sites throughout the Panhandle and the Plains
Photography (From top): Children in Caddo garments/Courtesy Texas Historical Commission, courtesy Comanchero Canyons Museum, Carreta (cart) donated to the Comanchero Canyons Museum by Marisue Potts of Motley County/courtesy Comanchero Canyons Museum, Library of Congress
From the July 2019 issue.