The Indigenous Groups Along the Lower Rio Grande - Indigenous Mexico (2023)

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The American state of Texas and the Mexican state of Tamaulipas share a long border along the Rio Grande River. For thousands of years, Native American tribes either lived along this river or passed over it on their way south (or north). This boundary was finalized in 1848, but a century earlier, much of the Rio Grande River area was being settled by Spanish and Mexican settlers who had come from other parts of Mexico to settle the lands that were already inhabited by many tribal groups.

Indigenous Roots Along the Rio Grande

For anyone who is researching their Tejano roots, the names of these indigenous tribes along the Rio Grande can be significant because each Tejano researcher is likely to be descended from some of these tribal groups. However, by the middle of the 19th Century, the culture and languages of many of these people had disappeared, and our information about them is very limited today. However, the following works can provide some information about the Rio Grande tribes that we will discuss below:

  • Gabriel Saldivar, Los Indios de Tamaulipas (Mexico City: Pan American Institute of Geography and History, 1943).
  • J. R. Swanton, Linguistic Material from the Tribes of Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1940).
  • Rudolph C. Troike, “Notes on Coahuiltecan Ethnography,” Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 32 (1962).
  • Campbell, Thomas N. “Coahuiltecans and Their Neighbors,” in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 10 (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1983).
  • Martin Salinas, Indians of the Rio Grande Delta: Their Role in the History of Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990).
  • Bobbie L. Lovett, Juan L. González, Roseann Bacha-Garza and Russell K. Skowronek (editors), Native American Peoples of South Texas (Edinburg, Texas: The University of Texas – Pan American, 2014). Online: https://www.utrgv.edu/chaps/_files/documents/native-american-peoples-of-south-texas-pdf.pdf.
  • Frederick Henry Ruecking, The Coahuiltecan Indians of Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico (Master’s Thesis: The University of Texas, August 1955).

Los Indios de Tamaulipas

Along the Texas-Tamaulipas boundary lived a multitude of small tribes in the mid-Eighteenth Century. In 1943, musicologist, teacher and historian, Gabriel Saldívar Silva, wrote Los Indios of Tamaulipas, to provide the names of many of these indigenous groups, most of which were eventually assimilated into colonial society and disappeared as distinguishable cultural entities.

Nuevo Santander

In September 1746, José Escandón (1700-1770) – a native of Cantabria Province in Spain – received word that he had been appointed to head the colonization project known as “Nuevo Santander” – the establishment of small settlements along the Rio Grande that would commence in the next year. In 1747, Escandón engineered a seven-point penetration from southern Tamaulipas with a convergence of all the expeditions at the mouth of Rio Grande. On June 1, 1748, he was officially appointed the Governor of Nuevo Santander, named for his home province in Spain.

In a period of seven years from 1747 to 1755, Escandón would establish 23 settlements and 15 missions with 1,337 families (6,000 colonists) along the Rio Grande in Tamaulipas. The whole colony was settled with remarkable speed. The settlements along the lower Rio Grande Valley included:

  1. Reynosa (founded in March 1749)
  2. Camargo (founded in May 1750)
  3. Dolores (founded in August 1750)
  4. Revilla (founded in October 1750)
  5. Mier (founded in March 1752)
  6. Laredo (founded in May 1755)
  7. Matamoros (originally settled in 1749; the Catholic parish was founded in 1793)

Nuevo Santander by 1800

By 1800, Nuevo Santander had one city, 25 villas, 3 mining districts, 17 haciendas, 437 ranchos and eight missions – and consisted of about 30,000 people. Many famous Tejano families – de la Guerra, de la Pena, Benavidez, Villarreal, Leal, Montemayor, Longoria, Trevino and Guerra – were part of the original settlement and later moved northward to other parts of Texas. They are the ancestors of many Tejanos living today.

The San Antonio River represented the northernmost reaches of the Nuevo Santander colony. A map showing the extent of the Nuevo Santander colony in the late Eighteenth Century is shown on the following page. This map has been reproduced from the San Benito History website:

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Grupos del Norte

According to Saldívar, when the Spaniards arrived, they found four cultures in the area of present-day Tamaulipas. Of the four cultural groups, Saldívar described the Grupos del Norte (“Groups of the North”) who inhabited the northernmost region as nomadic groups that lived mainly in the area between the Purificación and Bravo Rivers (The Río Bravo is known as the Rio Grande to Americans today). These numerous small northern Tamaulipas tribes appeared to speak closely-related languages and shared the same basic culture.

Because the Spaniards did not initially take an interest in describing individual native groups or classifying them into ethnic and linguistic groups, major dialectic and cultural contrasts went unclassified for a long time. But, in some of the local missions of Nuevo Santander, some of the Spanish padres referred to each Indian group as a nación, and described them according to their association with major terrain features or with Spanish jurisdictional units.

The Origin of the Word Coahuiltecan

Eventually, many of the ethnohistorians and anthropologists came to believe that the entire region was occupied by the Coahuiltecans. But, according to Native American Peoples of South Texas (page 13),

By the mid-nineteenth century, Mexican linguists had constructed what is now known as “Coahuiltecan culture” by assembling bits of specific and generalized information recorded by Spaniards for widely scattered and limited parts of the region. This term was based on limited linguistic evidence that suggested an affinity between their languages (Ruecking 1955; Swanton 1915, 1940). That said, the languages within this “Coahuiltecan family” were as disparate as English, German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. While the Spanish did refer to the speakers of these linguistically-related groups as “Coahuiltecos”, the term “Coahuiltecan” was never used by the Spanish or by any of these language speakers.

Classification of the Coahuiltecans

The Coahuiltecan tribes were made up of hundreds of autonomous bands of hunter-gatherers who ranged over the eastern part of Coahuila, northern Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and southern Texas south and west of San Antonio River and Cibolo Creek. It was the practice of the Coahuiltecans to move from one traditional campsite to another, following the seasons and herds of migrating animals.

As discussed in Native American Peoples of South Texas,“the identification of names for groups is problematic. Most cultures refer to themselves as ‘the people’ or ‘the human beings’ with other modifiers which may refer to a key food, their local environment, or an adornment or body paint associated with their group… Of the locally known names, more than half refer to local topographical and vegetational features. Others refer to specific flora and fauna, body decorations, or are names given to them by the Spanish and others peoples from other areas of Mexico (Campbell 1983:347).”

The Coahuiltecans of South Texas

In a 2019 conference at San Jose State University, Professor Adrian Chavana of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, provided an overview of the Coahuiltecans of Southern Texas:

Although the term Coahuiltecan implies a unified, homogenous group of people, there were more than sixty nomadic bands of Coahuiltecan people who lived without a central polity in what is now South Texas prior to the arrival of the Spanish. Living a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle of seasonal migrations, plant staples of the Coahuiltecan people included mesquite flour, pecan, agave, yucca, and prickly pear cactus, and meat sources included bison, deer, turkey.

Seven distinct languages were spoken— Cotoname, Comecrudo, Solano, Aranama, Mamulique, Garza, and Coahuilteco (Pakawa/Tejano). These seven, largely mutually unintelligible languages, are considered by linguists to be language isolates. That is, none of the languages are related to any of the fifty-eight major American Indian language families, a consequence of the uninterrupted occupation of the region for 11,000 years.

Despite political and social differences, the various Coahuiltecan bands did have one thing in common— the mitote ceremony. An all-night ceremony of singing, drumming, dancing, and the ceremonial consumption of the peyote cactus, this ancient religious ceremony is well documented by Spanish missionaries.

Martin Salinas as an English-Language Resource

Martin Salinas’ Indians of the Rio Grande Delta: Their Role in the History of Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico (1990) makes a good English language resource for people who would like to study the tribal groups along the Rio Grande. Martin Salinas describes the historical mention of each tribe over time.

Ruecking’s Estimates of the Coahuiltecan Population

In 1955, Frederick Henry Ruecking’s Master’s thesis for the University of Texas, compiled a list of 614 Coahuiltecan group names for northeastern Mexico and southern Texas and estimated the average population per group as 140 and therefore reckoned the total population at 86,000. He estimated that the entire Coahuiltecan area encompassed approximately 198,000 square miles.

Ruecking’s Band-Clusters

Ruecking clustered all the Coahuiltecan bands “around a central, dominant band.” Referred to as “band-clusters,” these groups were “bound together by (1) geographic proximity, (2) historic association, (3) cultural or linguistic affinity, and/or (4) a similarity in band names. In his thesis, Ruecking recognized eight band-clusters, suggested three more and indicated four others as possibilities.

The Carrizo Cluster Along the Rio Grande

Ruecking referred to the Coahuiltecan Indians along the lower Rio Grande and extending upstream to the area of Camargo (over 100 miles northwest of Brownsville) as the Carrizo Cluster (See the map below.) Carrizo is the Spanish word for “canes” or “reeds.”

Ruecking’s association of the Carrizo Cluster into one cluster was “based upon a specific statement by Escandón who remarked that these people followed the leadership of the chief of the Kadima band but that each band had its own chief who acted as a lieutenant to the Kadima chief.” In total, Ruecking’s analysis compiled 51 bands as part of the Carrizo cluster. His map of the Carrizo cluster (from page 37) has been reproduced below:

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Carrizos As a Collective Name

According to Martin Salinas, Carrizos became a descriptive name the Spaniards used to refer collectively to various Indian groups living along both sides of the Rio Grande between Laredo and the Gulf Coast. Thus, it should be noted that all the Rio Grande tribes – whatever their individual name – were collectively known as the Carrizos by the Spaniards and by many of the historians who studied them.

The Transition to Mission Life

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Campbell and Salinas both point out that after 1750, many Coahuiltecans joined Franciscan missions located in San Antonio, Mier, Camargo, Revilla, Reynosa and other locales. It appears that many of the Coahuiltecans were displaced by horse-riding newcomers to the region, namely the Lipan Apaches and the Comanches (discussed later in this study).

The Missions as Focal Points of Interaction

As Salinas notes in Chapter 10 of his book, the “Spanish missions became focal points of interaction between Spaniards and specific Indian groups” and “documents of the missions constitute a major source of information on movements of Indian groups displaced by Spanish colonists.” Salinas discusses eight Spanish missions and their Indian populations on pages 49 to 62. These missions – who were the primary recipients of Rio Grande Indians – were:

  1. Santa Teresa de Alamillo (founded 1646)
  2. San Nicolás de Agualeguas (1675)
  3. Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Cabezón de la Sal of San Fernando (1749)
  4. San Joaquín del Monte of Reynosa (1750)
  5. Divina Pastora de Santillana (1749)
  6. San Agustín de Laredo of Camargo (1749)
  7. Purísima Concepción of Mier (1767)
  8. San Francisco Solano de Ampuero of Revilla (1750)

As the settlement of Nuevo Santander proceeded, the Coahuiltecans found themselves competing with the Spaniards, the Comanches and Apaches for land, food and other resources. Over time, the Spanish missions provided a refuge and a place of employment for the displaced and declining Indian populations. Each mission village usually became home to dozens of indigenous groups who came from the surrounding areas.

The Unusual Ethnic Mix

The irrigation system promised the native people a more stable supply of food and water than they normally enjoyed. In addition, the missionaries and their lay helpers instructed the natives in the Catholic faith and in the elements of Spanish peasant society. The Indians learned various trades, including carpentry, masonry, blacksmithing, and weaving; they also did a great deal of agricultural work. However, the missions also concentrated a large number of indigenous people in one area, where they became more vulnerable to smallpox and measles epidemics that frequently took a terrible toll on the native population.

In the mission system, local Indians mixed with displaced groups from Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and Texas. This displacement created an unusual ethnic mix that led to the gradual assimilation of many of the indigenous tribes of the Rio Grande.

An Important Note About Accuracy

Before reading this report about the indigenous tribes that lived along the lower parts of the Rio Grande, it is important to remember that different chroniclers and authors assembled their information from disparate sources. Not all the historians are in agreement about the names and dispositions of each tribal group, and some tribal groups were known by multiple names.

One group may have been given one name, and when a second Spanish expedition passed through decades later, they may have assigned a different name. And frequently, two or three tribes that appeared to have no close connections may have been given the same name by the Spaniards. The names and locations provided in this report are based on historical accounts of 18th and 19th century chroniclers and the modern-day authors who studied the annals, mission records and censuses.

Boundaries in the Pre-Hispanic World

Professor José Ramírez Flores (1900-1983) – who wrote a book on Jalisco’s indigenous languages – has noted that many native tribes usually followed the course of rivers in seeking sustenance and frequently crossed the territories of other tribes. Most native groups did not form strong national identities (as the Spaniards and the Aztecs did) and their movements created mixtures of customs and linguistic dialects that confuse our attempts to classify and categorize them today. The boundaries that are so normal to our modern society had little to no meaning to many of the indigenous groups in Tamaulipas, Texas and other parts of present-day northern Mexico.

The Tribes Along the Rio Grande

According to Martin Salinas (page 69), at least 49 separate groups were linked to the Rio Grande delta area in the decade 1747 to 1757, but there may have been other groups that were never recorded. The following map, entitled “Overview of the Rio Grande Valley, Texas – Counties and Geography” (by Zietz, Dec. 25, 2018) shows the primary cities on both sides of the Rio Grande border. Matamoros and Reynosa are about 50 miles apart. Mier, located in the western corner of the map, is an estimated 110 miles northwest of Matamoros. Matamoros is more than twenty miles west of the Gulf Coast shoreline.

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Gulf Coast Indigenous Groups

According to Salinas, the Aguichacas were first recorded in 1780 as one of eight Indian groups that were living near the Gulf Coast just south of the Rio Grande, and in 1793, they were listed as one of 15 groups living in the same area.

Although Salinas discusses them on page 31 of his book, he notes that some Spanish sources did not take note of the Aguichacas Indians, so Salinas suggests that they may have been “overlooked” or “were a subdivision of some Indian group recorded under a different native name.”

The Matamoros Native Tribes

Located on the southern bank of the Rio Grande, directly across from present-day Brownsville (Texas), Matamoros was originally settled in 1749 by thirteen families from other Rio Grande villages, but it did not start a Catholic parish until 1793.

The Tribes of the Lower Rio Grande

The following information on the Rio Grande tribes will roughly follow the course of Saldívar’s map and the tribal groups he references. The tribes discussed will use the same numbering system that Saldívar used on his maps below. The numbers used in the map’s legend (not shown here) have been matched up with their appropriate tribal group.

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Atanagunypacam (Number 17 on the Map)

The Atanaguaypacam were a Coahuiltecan group that lived on the Gulf Coast near the mouth of the Rio Grande. In the middle of the Eighteenth Century their settlements were reported to be along the shores of the numerous small bays and islands near the mouth of the Rio Grande.

Tugumlepem (Number 15)

The Tugumlepem Indians lived in the extreme southern part of the Texas coast. In the middle of the 18th Century, their settlements were between the sites of present-day Port Isabel and Brownsville in eastern Cameron County.

Mayapem (Number 14)

During the 18th Century, the Mayapem Indians (Mallopeme) ranged on both sides of the Rio Grande, ten miles upstream from present-day Brownsville. In the latter half of that century, some of them entered missions on the south bank of the river: San Agustín de Laredo at Camargo and San Joaquín del Monte near Reynosa.

Salinas discusses the Mayapemes extensively on pages 49-51 in his work. He notes that the Mayapemes were first recorded by Escandón’s reconnaissance in 1747. They were frequently mentioned in the chronicles of the period up to 1818, but Salinas suggests that they “apparently lost their ethnic identity through being absorbed by Spanish-speaking populations along the lower Rio Grande.”

Segujulapem (Number 13)

The Segujulapem had settlements on the north bank of the Rio Grande in what is now Cameron and Hidalgo counties, roughly 55 miles upstream from Brownsville. The name Segujulapem is said to mean “those who live in the huisaches” (shrubs).

Peupuetem (Number 12)

The Peupuetem (Peupuepuem) lived on the north bank of the Lower Rio Grande in the middle Eighteenth Century, somewhere in the area present-day Cameron and Hidalgo counties, about 25 miles upstream from Brownsville. The name is said to mean “those who speak differently.”

Saulapaguet (Number 18)

The Saulapaguemes (Saulapaquet) were a Coahuiltecan band that lived on both sides of the Rio Grande at various points between Matamoros and Reynosa, about 25 miles upstream from Brownsville. Salinas discusses the Saulapaguemes on pages 60-61, stating that they were first recorded in 1747 among many groups living in the Rio Grande delta area. Some entered missions at Reynosa and Camargo, where they remained until well after 1800. After 1814, they seem to disappear from the written record, mostly likely assimilated into Spanish-Mexican frontier society.

Pintos of the Lower Rio Grande

The Pintos were known to be in two Texas locations. The Pintos of the Lower Rio Grande – discussed by Salinas on pages 59-60 – were not included on the list of Indian groups recorded by Escandón in 1747 for the Rio Grande delta area. However, in 1750 and 1753, Escandón did report that the Pintos lived in the vicinity of Reynosa. There were other references to the Pintos living near Reynosa clear up to the end of the 18th Century and in the early years of the 1800s.

In 1886, the Swiss-American ethnologist and linguist, Albert Samuel Gatschet, heard from informants that the Pintos spoke a language identical to the Comecrudos. Gatschet was also told that two Pinto women were living at La Bolsa on the Rio Grande, midway between Reynosa and Matamoros.

Cootajanam (Number 11)

The Cootajanam (Cootajan) reportedly had settlements on the north bank of the Rio Grande in the area of present-day Cameron and Hidalgo counties, some 50 miles inland from the Gulf Coast.

Catanamepague (Number 19)

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The Catanamepaque lived on the south bank of the Rio Grande, some 35 miles upstream from Brownsville during the late 1700s.

Sepinpacam (Number 10)

The Sepinpacam lived on the north bank of the Rio Grande about 35 miles upstream from Brownsville, near the area where Cameron and Hidalgo counties now meet. The name, which is said to mean “salt makers,” suggests that they produced salt at La Sal Vieja, a salt-lake near present-day Willacy County (just north of Cameron County and Brownsville).

Uscapem (or Usapemes) (Number 20)

According to Saldívar and Salinas, the Uscapemes (Usapemes) Indians are believed to have lived along the Rio Grande, about 40 miles upstream from Brownsville. In the middle of the 18th Century, their main settlements were east of Reynosa.

Parampamatuju (Number 9)

The Parampamatuju (Parammatugu) lived along the north bank of the Rio Grande near Camargo, roughly 50 miles upstream from Brownsville. The name is said to mean “men who are painted bright red,” which likely referred to the use of red pigment for body painting.

Alcalerpaguet (Number 21)

The Alcalerpaguet Indians lived on the south bank of the lower Rio Grande, a short distance downstream from present-day Reynosa. At times, the Alcalerpaguet also foraged and camped on the Texas side of the Rio Grande.

Aretpeguem (Number 22)

The Aretpeguem Indians also lived on the south bank of the lower Rio Grande, a few miles downstream from present-day Reynosa.

Segutmapacam (Number 23)

According to both Saldívar and Ruecking, during the second half of the Eighteenth Century, the Segutmapacam were living on the south side of the Rio Grande, close to present-day Reynosa and about 55 miles upstream from Brownsville.

Comecrudo (Number 50)

The Comecrudo Indians – known to the Spaniards as “raw meat eaters” – were a Coahuiltecan people who lived along the south bank of the Rio Grande near Reynosa and hunted and gathered wild plant foods on both sides of the river. At times, the Comecrudo Indians were also referred to as Carrizo, which as we know applied to many Coahuiltecan groups along the Rio Grande below Laredo.

Salinas discusses the Comecrudos of the Rio Grande on pages 37-38 of his work. According to his book, the Comecrudos had been recorded as early as 1730, but were also noted in Escandón’s account of his reconnaissance in 1747. As late as 1886, the ethnologist A. S. Gatschet found a few elderly Comecrudo near Reynosa who could still speak their native language. Gatschet’s Comecrudo vocabulary and texts helped to establish the linguistic affiliations of many Indian groups of southern Texas and northeastern Mexico. According to Salinas, 25 Comecrudos lived in the Reynosa area in 1886.

Sicujulampaguet (Number 24)

The Sicujulampaguet Indians lived on the south bank of the Rio Grande, about 35 miles downstream from Camargo. In the middle Eighteenth Century, some of their settlements were in what is now southern Hidalgo County.

Guiguipacam (Number 29)

In the second half of the 18th Century, the Guiguipacam (or Gikipakam) Indians lived on the Rio Grande just west of Reynosa.

Coospacam (Number 30)

The Coospacam (or Kospakam) Indians lived along the south bank of the Rio Grande, some 25 miles downstream from the mouth of the Rio San Juan between present-day Camargo and Reynosa.

Apennapem (Number 31)

The Apennapem (or Apemapem) lived along the Rio Grande to the east of Camargo in the 18th Century.

Umalayapem (Number 32)

In the second half of the Eighteenth Century, the Umalayapem Indians had their principal settlements on the south bank of the Rio Grande, 16 miles east of Camargo. They sometimes foraged and camped on the Texas side of the river, principally in the area of present Starr and Hidalgo counties.

Tanniaquiapem (Tanaquiapem) (Number 25)

Salazar studied and discussed the Tanaquiapemes (also known as Tanakiapam) extensively on pages 64-66 in his book. First recorded in 1732, they appear to have lived in the eastern frontier area of Nuevo León. However, in the second half of the Eighteenth Century, they were reported to be living on the south bank of the Rio Grande, some 25 miles southeast of Camargo and 65 miles west of Brownsville. Saldívar notes that the Comecrudo and Tanakiapam had a combined population of 200 families (or 600 persons) before 1800.

Cotonames (Number 26)

Salinas provides an in-depth examination of the Cotoname on pages 40-43 in his work. First recorded in 1757, the Cotoname are mentioned as an independent tribal group living on both sides of the Rio Grande, about 20 miles southeast of Camargo. By 1797-1798, mission reports claimed that the Cotonames were one of ten Indian groups living east of Reynosa.

Samples of the Cotoname language have survived and been of considerable interest to linguists. From 1808 to 1831, various accounts refer to the Cotonames as living near towns on the south bank of the Rio Grande, especially in the areas of Reynosa and Mier. However, they continued to decline in population after this and the last of them were recorded in southern Hidalgo County in 1886 by the linguist Gatschet.

The Tribes of the Middle Rio Grande

Just to the west of Rio Grande City in Starr County, the Rio Grande begins to turn more sharply northward. The map on the following page shows the native groups that Saldívar placed along the Rio Grande at this middle portion of the river.

Samacoalapem (Number 38)

In the late 1700s, the Samacoalapem band lived on the south bank of Rio Grande about 5 miles west of the Rio San Juan.

Garza (Number 39: Not on the Map)

Saldívar listed the Garza Indians (Spanish for “herons”) as being located to the southwest of the Samacoalapem some distance inside of Tamaulipas, thus it was not on seen on the map above. The Garzas – like many other tribes in this area – were commonly referred to as Carrizo. In 1767, they were reported near Vallecillo, Nuevo León, but later in the 18th Century, they lived near the Rio San Juan, upstream from Camargo.

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Salinas discusses the Garzas on pages 96-97 in his work and states that the name Garzas “was applied to combined remnants of various Indian groups” that originally lived in the Cerralvo area (Nuevo León). From 1756 until as late as 1829, the Garzas were said to be living along the Rio Grande near Mier. In 1770, the Garzas at Mier were reported to number 101, and shortly after 1793, they numbered about 300. But Salinas notes that this was increase was likely “due to absorption of additional Indian group remnants” from that area.

Tejón (Number 33: Not on the Map)

Saldívar listed the Tejón (Texón) Indians (Spanish for “badger”) as being south of the Rio Grande, some distance into Tamaulipas (and near the border of Nuevo León). However, Salinas discussed the Tejón on pages 66-68 and states that Escandón first noted them in 1750 as living along both sides of the Rio Grande west of Reynosa. At that time, they appeared to be sharing territory with the Zacatiles Indians, who had migrated from the area of eastern Nuevo León. In 1753, the Tejones were one of four Indian groups seen at Reynosa and their population was estimated to be about 200.

The Tejones continued to live near Reynosa as late as 1814. By 1886, when the linguist Gatschet visited Reynosa, the Tejones had disappeared from the area and likely assimilated, but there were claims that the Tejón spoke the same language as the Comecrudo.

Like many other native groups along the Rio Grande, the Tejón were sometimes referred to as Carrizos. In 1886, a group of Carrizos, apparently including a few Tejones, was living near Charco Escondido about twenty miles south of Reynosa, and as late as 1907 some Tejones still lived near Reynosa at a community known as Las Prietas.

Perpacug (Number 8)

The Perpacug (also known as Pexpacux) Indians lived on the north bank of the Rio Grande opposite the mouth of the Rio Alamo in what is now known as Starr County.

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Concuguyapem (Number 7)

The Concuguyapem (or Konkuouyapem) lived on the north bank of the Rio Grande between present-day Zapata and Rio Grande City and 20 miles upstream from the mouth of the Rio San Juan.

Clancluiguyguen (Number 6)

Saldívar believed that this band was located on the north bank of the Rio Grande some 25 miles upstream from the mouth of the Rio San Juan. Also known as Tlanchuguin, this band was also noted as living on the north bank of the Rio Grande between present-day Zapata and Rio Grande City.

Perpepug (Number 5)

The Perpapug (Pexpacux) Indians lived on the north bank of the Rio Grande below the area of present-day Rio Grande City, roughly 15 miles below the mouth of the Rio Salado. The maps of Jiménez Moreno and Saldívar show them on the north bank of the river in what is now Zapata County, but the documents give only a general location. The name is said to mean “white heads,” which suggests some distinctive form of head decoration, perhaps a special kind of head dress.

Lugplapiagulam (Number 4)

The Lugplapiagulam (Hueplapiagulam) Indians, whose name is said to mean “ground chili pepper,” lived along the north bank of the Rio Grande in the area between present Rio Grande City and opposite the mouth of the Rio Salado. The maps of Jiménez Moreno and G. Saldívar place this group in the area of present Zapata County, but the available records do not specify any particular locality.

Malnombre (Number 42)

On Saldívar’s map, the Malnombre are number 42, located to the southwest of the Lugplapiagulam along the Rio Salado. Salinas discusses the Malnombre (Spanish for “bad name” or “bad reputation”) on pages 98-99 of his book. From 1715 to 1748, the Malnombre was mentioned as being one of several hostile groups in eastern Nuevo León. However, in the second half of the 18th Century, the Malnombre was reported to be living along the Rio Grande, first at Camargo (after 1764) and then at Mier (1772). They seem to disappear from the scene by 1818, probably mixing with other native groups.

Masacuajulam (Number 3)

According to Saldívar, the Masacuajulam lived on the north bank of the Rio Grande a few miles upstream from the mouth of the Rio Salado.

The Katuxano Cluster Along the Upper Rio Grande

Ruecking referred to the Coahuiltecan Indians along the upper Rio Grande as the Katuxano Cluster. This cluster occupied the triangular region roughly northeast of Monclova (Coahuila) and between Eagle Pass and Laredo, Texas, but it did not cross deeply into Texas. In some modern-day maps, this area is referred to as the “Mesa de Catujanes.” In 1674, the bands living in this area were under the leadership of the chief of the Katuxano, which indicates that the bands were probably culturally affiliated. Ruecking listed 13 bands as being part of this cluster, and his map of the region follows.

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Other Indigenous Groups of the Rio Grande

Saldívar’s Tamaulipas map does not provide a great deal of tribal information in Rio Grande beyond the intersection of Rio Grande and Rio Salado. The following paragraphs discuss some of these indigenous groups through other sources (primarily Salinas). The Department of Justice map on the following page shows the major Texas border cities from Brownsville to El Paso:

The Indigenous Groups Along the Lower Rio Grande - Indigenous Mexico (8)

The Pomulum Indians (also known as the Pamulam, Pamuli and Pomuluma) are believed to have inhabited both sides of the Rio Grande between present Eagle Pass and Laredo in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1708 they were reported on the Rio Grande with eight other groups, all said to speak the same language. Over time, the Pomulum Indians entered several missions in Coahuila and Nuevo León.

The Yemé Indians – referred to as the Western Carrizos by Salinas (pages 92-93) – inhabited both sides of the Rio Grande in the vicinity of Laredo. Between 1789 and 1823, the parish church at Laredo showed that many Carrizo children were baptized there, some of whom may have been Yemé Indians. According to Salinas, these Carrizos were known as Yemé, to distinguish them from the Carrizos of the Camargo area, which were usually called Yué.

The Cuero Quemado Indians (Spanish for “burned skins”) were first mentioned as early as 1735 when they were believed to have taken part in an attack on the Spanish settlement near Cerralvo (Nuevo León). Salinas discusses the Cuero Quemados on page 96 of his work and states that later records noted their presence on both sides of the Rio Grande between Camargo and Revilla. When Escandón arrived in the area in 1750, he referred to them as being native to the Camargo area. Cuero Quemado may have also been a local Spanish name for a downstream group of Tepemaca Indians, who occupied the Rio Grande valley in the area between Laredo and Rio Grande City.

The Tepemaca Indians are believed to have inhabited both sides of the Rio Grande between Laredo and Rio Grande City and also along the Río Alamo upstream from Mier. The Tepemacas appear to be closely related to the Cuero Quemados, who lived farther down the Rio Grande, and it has been suggested that both names may refer to the same people.

The Casas Chiquitas Indians (Spanish for “small houses”) were discussed by Salinas on pages 33-35. First recorded in 1777, it is believed that they inhabited land along the Rio Grande below Laredo. Over time, some of the Casas Chiquitas entered Spanish missions, while others moved onto Reynosa, where they eventually lost their tribal identity.

Discussed on pages 102-103 in Salinas, the Pajarito Indians (Spanish for “little bird”) occurred as a group name in two different sections of Texas. In 1757, 56 Pajaritos were reported as living near the mission at Camargo. Later, the band was said to inhabit a Rio Grande tributary, Rio San Juan, some 30 miles southwest of Camargo.

The Bobole Indians lived in settlements on or near the Rio Grande in the present Eagle Pass area, but they also crossed into Texas to hunt bison in the southwestern part of the Edwards Plateau, particularly in the area of present Kinney and Edwards counties. Ruecking listed them as the possible Bobole Cluster, but admitted that this name was “a catch-all for certain Coahuiltecan bands” but the association of the bands was not clearly established.

The Cacalote Indians (“crow” or “raven”) is a name that was applied by the Spaniards to several Indian groups. Two Cacalote groups of northern Mexico can be connected with the Texas area. One of these groups lived south of the Rio Grande near the site of present-day Presidio, Texas, in the early 18th Century, but is said to have ranged north of the Rio Grande in the late 17th Century. Some Cacalotes have been identified as Conchos Indians, but this identification is debatable.

The Oposme (Oposime, Oposine, Opoxme) Indians, apparently a Concho band, lived on both sides of the Rio Grande in the vicinity of present Presidio in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Their main settlement, known as San Francisco de la Junta, was on the south bank of the Rio Grande near the mouth of the Conchos River. In the late 18th Century, the Oposmes lost their identity in the Spanish-speaking population of northern Chihuahua.

The Patarabueye Indians lived along the Rio Grande and lower Río Conchos, in Mexico, near the site of present Presidio. It is also believed that they were known as the Otomoaco Indians earlier in the 16th Century. They may be related to the Jumanos.

The Apaches and Comanches Arrive

As noted in the following map of the indigenous people in Texas in the early 1700s, the Comanches and Apaches were far to the north of the Rio Grande [Source: Native American Tribes of Texas Website, “American Indians in Texas.” Online:

http://www.native-languages.org/texas.htm [Accessed Oct. 25, 2019]].

The Lipan Apache were a nomadic people who had steadily moved south and adapted to their new environment by hunting small and large game animals. With the introduction of the horse by the Spaniards, the Lipan Apache became skilled horseman who could hunt for bison, peccary, and deer with greater ease. Like other Apaches, they also became skilled raiders of settlements, frequently stealing horses, cattle and other goods.

In the 17th Century, after the initial Lipan Apache migration to and settlement of western Texas, the Comanches also entered the region. The Comanches originally came from Canada, moving south from the northern Rockies to the plains of Texas, where they acquired horses through trading with both the Pueblo Indians and the Spaniards. They quickly became expert horsemen. Eventually, their entire way of life would depend upon the buffalo, which provided them with clothing, shelter, and much of their food.

The Apache-Comanche Feud

As early as 1779, the Comanches began raiding settlements south of the Rio Grande, frequently attacking the Lipan Apache bands in the area. This was the beginning of a desperate, long-lasting feud to control the plains where both the Apaches and Comanches hunted buffalo. The Comanches regularly made raids on Apache villages in order to push them off their land and gain undisputed possession of the rich hunting grounds.

Outnumbered, and suffering many casualties, the Lipan were displaced to the south by the Comanche. This aggression also pushed the Lipans farther east towards the coastal plain of Texas. The Lipans, in turn, displaced some of the Coahuiltecan groups native to southern Texas and northern Tamaulipas, driving many of them into the safety and security of the missions.

The Settlers and Carrizos Team Up

According to Omar Valerio-Jiménez, in his work, River of Hope: Forging Identity and Nation in the Rio Grande Borderlands (2013), the northern villages along the Rio Grande (Las Villas del Norte) began establishing alliances with the Carrizos of Camargo and the Garzas of Mier not long after the Nuevo Santander colonists first arrived in the area.

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The Villas had teamed up with Carrizos in the area of Laredo to fight the Lipan Apaches and Comanches to counter their forays to the south. Over the decades, both the Cotonames and Carrizos fostered friendly relations with the residents of Laredo, Revilla and Reynosa, serving as servants, shepherds, vaqueros and salt miners… and fighting allies against the native intruders from the north. In fact, in the 19th Century, some of the settlers began calling the Carrizos “Indios Mansos” (tame Indians), some of whom served as domestic laborers for the colonists.

The Carrizos had originally fought against the Spaniards, but in 1790-92, when the Mescalero and Lipan Apaches attacked the Spaniards in Laredo, the Carrizos assisted the Spaniards. This alliance remained in place for decades, except for a brief revolt in 1812. On April 3, 1812, the Carrizo Indians in Camargo – and possibly some Garza Indians from Mier – rebelled and temporarily took over the town. This revolt was probably due to local grievances against municipal authorities, but may have been connected to the Mexican revolt taking place then in Querétaro and Guanajuato, where the independence movement had been launched. However, the rebellion was crushed a month later on May 16, 1812.

The Comanche Offensive of 1836-1837

Starting in 1836, coincident with the success of the Texas Revolution, bands of Comanches, Kiowas, Lipan Apaches and Mescalero Apaches were crossing the Rio Grande in large numbers to strike at settlements in the region. During 1836 and 1837, Comanche bands made almost continuous raids against the settlements along the lower Rio Grande, from Laredo to Matamoros.

Over the decade, the Comanches killed thousands of people and stole thousands of head of livestock. The following map shows the paths followed by the Comanches in their raids over the Rio Grande [Map Source: Smallchief, “The Routes Used by Comanche to Raid Mexico” (Dec. 11, 2018) at Wikipedia.

The Indigenous Groups Along the Lower Rio Grande - Indigenous Mexico (10)

The Carrizos, inhabiting the Reynosa area, also collaborated with the residents of Matamoros against both the Comanches and Lipan Apaches, who frequently raided Mexican livestock in that region. In one incident during July 1837, a band of Comanches that reportedly had a thousand warriors came to within a few leagues of Matamoros. They killed a Colonel Cortina and carried off large numbers of mules and horses, while also raiding and burning local ranchos in the area.

The Threat Recedes

Over time, the Apaches and Comanches would make peace with the new Republic of Texas (which became independent in 1836). Between 1838 and 1851, the Lipan Apaches signed peace agreements with both Texas and with the United States government, although they continued some of their raiding along the Rio Grande well into the 1870s.

Eventually, the Comanche threat also receded and, in 1867, the Comanche and Kiowa signed a peace treaty with the U.S., establishing a reservation in Oklahoma. In the summer of 1875, the last band of the Comanche led by Quanah Parker surrendered to the United States.

The Present-Day Coahuiltecan People

Although most of the languages and cultures of the Coahuiltecan people have disappeared, they are still remembered by the southern Tejanos in the present day. Many proud Tejanos have Carrizos and Garzas among the ancestors listed in their extensive, well-documented pedigrees. But some people have actually been able to maintain their cultural and spiritual links to their ancestors.

Tāp Pīlam Coahuiltecan Nation

In 2001, the Tāp Pīlam Coahuiltecan Nation was recognized by the 77th Texas State Legislature as an aboriginal tribal family of Texas. Texas Senate Resolution No. 1038 states that, “while many Native American tribes eventually became displaced and assimilated in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Coahuiltecan tribe’s proud rituals and traditions have endured, and aspects of its daily life are the same as those in use at the time of its first contact with Europeans.”

The Tāp Pīlam Coahuiltecan Nation sponsors the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions whose mission is “to work for the preservation and protection of the culture and traditions of the Tāp Pīlam Coahuiltecan Nation” through: “education, research, community outreach, economic development projects and legislative initiatives at the federal, state and local levels.”

The Miakan-Garza Band

The Indigenous Cultures Institute was founded in 2006 by members of the Miakan/Garza Band. The Institute is “dedicated to the study and revival of the Coahuiltecan language, through ceremonial songs and lessons that provide easy access to learning.”

The Texas 83rd Legislature recognized the Miakan-Garza family of San Marcos and San Antonio as a Texas Indian tribe with “immeasurable contributions to the State of Texas.” Members of the Miakan-Garza Band – who are direct descendants of Zaragosa Garza, a cacique of the Mier Band of the Garza Tribe – still practice their traditional ceremonies and maintain long held family ties.

The Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas

The Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas – with approximately 1,500 tribal members – has filed for Federal Recognition with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. At this time, they are not recognized as a formal tribe by the State of Texas or the federal government. The Carrizo/Comecrudo also call themselves Esto’k Gna (from their native tongue).

Juan Mancias, the Tribal Charmain of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, has stated that their history was “written down so badly by Texans… We were just called ‘Mexicans’ and were labeled that because we fought alongside the Mexicans against the whites, but we were here long before the Mexicans or the whites.” He says that “Carrizo/Comecrudo is not just a Tribe and/or Nation, it is a way of living. It is the Dream of the Ancestors to survive, and give life to their future Generations in spite of downfalls that have haunted every aboriginal people in the Western Hemisphere.”

According to the tribe, during the period of Texas’ independence from 1836 until annexation by the United States in 1845, President Mirabeau B. Lamar expanded the Texas Rangers militia to wage an all-out war on native cultures. By 1875, the Texas Parks and Wildlife stated that “all of Texas’ original Indian groups had been killed or forced to move to Oklahoma.” But Mancias says his ancestors didn’t leave. They went into hiding. Mancias explained that “both sets of my grandparents were still living out of fear of the Texas Rangers throwing them into reservations.” Mancias, explaining the survival of his people, states that in the latter half of the 20th Century, there was a resurgence in the understanding of the Carrizo people. And in 1988, Mancias and others began advocating for federal recognition and broader cultural understanding of the tribe.

Today, three tribes have reservations in Texas, but none of them lived in Texas before the Spanish invasion. The modern-day descendants of the Coahuiltecans, Carrizos and Garzas hope to change that in the years to come.

Copyright © 2020, by John P. Schmal.

Bibliography:

Campbell, Thomas N. “Coahuiltecans and Their Neighbors,” in Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 10. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1983.

Campbell, Thomas N. Campbell, The Indians of Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico: Selected Writings of Thomas Nolan Campbell. Austin: Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, 1988.

Chavana, Adrian, “Reclaiming Tribal Identity in the Land of the Spirit Waters,” NACCS Annual Conference Proceedings 2019 Indigenous Knowledge for Resistance: Lecciones from Our Past. San Jose, California: San Jose State University, 2019.

“Coahuiltecan Indians.” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/bmcah), accessed February 04, 2014. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Flores Montemayor, Eduardo. Historia, Lenguas y Leyendas de Tamaulipas. I.T.C.A., Conaculta: Mexico, 2003.

Flores, José Ramírez.Lenguas Indígenas de Jalisco.Guadalajara, Jalisco: Gobierno de Jalisco, 1980.

Gerhard, Peter. The North Frontier of New Spain. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1982.

Hodge, Frederick Webb (Editor). Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington: GPO, 1907, 1910; rpt., New York: Pageant, 1959.

Lovett, Bobbie L. et al. (Editors), Native American Peoples of South Texas (Edinburg, Texas: The University of Texas – Pan American, 2014). Online: https://www.utrgv.edu/chaps/_files/documents/native-american-peoples-of-south-texas-pdf.pdf.

Miller, Hubert J. Jose de Escandon: Colonizer of Nuevo Santander. Edinburg, Texas: The New Santander Press, 1980.

Sacred Land Film Project, “Garcia Pasture” (2020). Online:

Saldívar, Gabriel. Los Indios de Tamaulipas. Mexico City: Pan American Institute of Geography and History Publication No. 70, 1943.

Salinas, Martín. Indians of the Rio Grande Delta: Their Role in the History of Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990.

Stephens, Rosemary, Native Americans Oppose Mining Along Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas,” Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribal Tribune, May 4, 2016.

Swanton, J. R. Linguistic Material from the Tribes of Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1940.

Thomas, Cyrus and John R. Swanton, Indian Languages of Mexico and Central America and Their Geographical Distribution. Washington: GPO, 1911.

Troike, Rudolph C. “Notes on Coahuiltecan Ethnography,” Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 32 (1962).

Vigness, David M., “Indian Raids on the Lower Rio Grande, 1836-1837,” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. 59, No. 1 (July 1955), pp. 14-23.

(Video) Indigenous Peoples and Mission Persecution in New Spain, Mexico and California with

Valerio-Jiménez, Omar S. River of Hope: Forging Identity and Nation in the Rio Grande Borderlands. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press Books, 2013.

Valerio-Jiménez, Omar S. “Neglected Citizens and Willing Traders: The Villas del Norte (Tamaulipas) in Mexico’s Northern Borderlands, 1749–1846,” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Summer 2002), pp. 251-296.

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FAQs

What native American tribes lived in the Rio Grande Valley? ›

The first peoples to come here were the Lipan Apaches, the first major tribe. Along with the Lipan Apaches were the Kikapoos, and then the Comanches. The Comanches were the thorn on everybody's side.

What are the indigenous groups in Mexico called? ›

(2). The ten largest indigenous language groups are Náhuatl (22.7% of indigenous language speakers), Maya (13.5%), Zapoteco (7.6%), Mixteco (7.3%) Otomí (5.3%), Tzeltal (5.3%), Tztotzil (4.3%), Totonaca (3.9%), Mazateco (3.2%) and Chol (2.4%).

What are the 3 major indigenous populations of Mexico? ›

Oaxaca, with 1,165,186 indigenous language speakers, accounting for 34.2% of the state's population. Chiapas, with 1,141,499 indigenous language speakers, accounting for 27.2% of the state's population. Veracruz, with 644,559 indigenous language speakers, accounting for 9.4% the state's population.

What are the 2 most famous indigenous cultures of Mexico? ›

When most people think about the Indigenous people of Mexico, they think of the Aztecs and Mayans. But the Aztec Empire only ruled over eight of the current 32 states of Mexico and the Mayans inhabited only five states of present-day Mexico. We believe that EVERY MEXICAN STATE HAS A STORY TO TELL.

What are the 4 main tribes in Texas? ›

What is now known as the Texas Gulf Coast was home to many American Indian tribes including the Atakapa, Karankawa, Mariame, and Akokisa. They were semi-nomadic, living on the shore for part of the year and moving up to 30 or 40 miles inland seasonally.

What did Native Americans call the Rio Grande? ›

The Rio Grande has been known by many names over time and in different parts of its course. The Pueblo Indians called it Posoge (sometimes spelled P'Osoge), which meant "big river." The expedition of Hernando de Alvarado called it Río de Nuestra Señora in 1540.

Are there indigenous groups in Mexico? ›

Mexico is home to 68 Indigenous Peoples, each speaking their own native language and together accounting for 364 variants.

What is Mexico's largest indigenous group? ›

Nahua. The Nahua people are the largest indigenous group in Mexico today. They live in villages and towns throughout Central Mexico and speak at least one variant of language in the Nahua language family, the most common of which are Nahuat and Nahuatl.

What are the 3 main native American tribes found in New Mexico? ›

There are 23 tribes located in New Mexico – nineteen Pueblos, three Apache tribes (the Fort Sill Apache Tribe, the Jicarilla Apache Nation and the Mescalero Apache Tribe), and the Navajo Nation, and a considerable urban Indian population which is also served by the Indian Affairs Department.

How many indigenous groups are there in Mexico? ›

Indigenous Peoples in Mexico

Mexico is home to 68 Indigenous Peoples, each speaking their own native language and together accounting for 364 variants. There are 16,933,283 indigenous persons in Mexico, representing 15.1% of the total population.

How do you know if you're an indigenous Mexican? ›

Another way to find out if you have indigenous Americas-Mexican DNA is to have your family members tested. If you have any male relatives, they can take the Y-chromosome DNA test to see if they have indigenous American ancestry.

What was the first tribe in Mexico? ›

The Olmecs, Mexico's first known society, settled on the Gulf Coast near what is now Veracruz.

What are 3 main Mexican cultures? ›

Mexicans make several cultural subdivisions within the nation. The most common one identifies northern, central, and south or south-eastern Mexico. The extensive and desertlike north was only sparsely populated until the middle of the twentieth century, except for some important cities such as Monterrey.

What was the most feared tribe in Texas? ›

The Comanches, known as the "Lords of the Plains", were regarded as perhaps the most dangerous Indians Tribes in the frontier era. The U.S. Army established Fort Worth because of the settler concerns about the threat posed by the many Indians tribes in Texas. The Comanches were the most feared of these Indians.

Who was the most powerful tribe in Texas? ›

"Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History" gives a blow-by-blow account of the hardscrabble and bloody life on the Texas frontier in the middle decades of the 19th century.

What is the oldest tribe still living in Texas? ›

Tribe of Texas. Located an hour and a half north of Houston in the Big Thicket, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe is the oldest Indian reservation in Texas.

What is the Rio Grande known for? ›

As the fifth-longest river in the USA, the Rio Grande (or the Río Bravo for our friends in Mexico) is known for its importance to Big Bend National Park's wildlife.

Why are Red Indians called? ›

The term "Red Indians" was also more specifically used by Europeans to refer to the Beothuk, a people living on Newfoundland who used red ochre in spring to paint not only their bodies, but also their houses, canoes, weapons, household appliances and musical instruments.

Why are Native Americans called Indian? ›

The term "Indian," in reference to the original inhabitants of the American continent, is said to derive from Christopher Columbus, a 15th century boat-person. Some say he used the term because he was convinced he had arrived in "the Indies" (Asia), his intended destination.

Where do most indigenous people live in Mexico? ›

The majority of the indigenous population is concentrated in the southern and south-central region of Mexico. Over two fifths (42.6 per cent) of those who speak an indigenous language live in three of Mexico's 31 states: Oaxaca, Yucatán and Chiapas.

What is the most indigenous state in Mexico? ›

States
RankStatePercentage
1Oaxaca34.2%
2Yucatán30.3%
3Chiapas27.2%
4Quintana Roo16.7%
29 more rows

Are Apaches Mexican? ›

They're known as Apaches, and they don't just live in the United States. They have homes and communities in the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Sonora, northern Durango, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas. They're alive, here and now, in the 21st Century, but officially they do not exist in Mexico.

What are the 3 largest ethnic groups in Mexico? ›

According to the linguistic criterion, the most numerous native ethnic groups in Mexico are Nahuatl (1.6 mln), Maya (0.8 mln), and Tzeltal (0.6 mln). The states with the highest share of Native Mexicans are located in the country's southeast. These are Oaxaca (31%), Chiapas (28%), and Yucatan (24%).

What two races make up a Mexican? ›

A large majority of Mexicans have varying degrees of Spanish and Native Meso-American ancestry and have been classified as "Mestizos".

What is the oldest tribe in New Mexico? ›

Taos Pueblo (or Pueblo de Taos) is an ancient pueblo belonging to a Taos-speaking (Tiwa) Native American tribe of Puebloan people. It lies about 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the modern city of Taos, New Mexico. The pueblos are considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States.

What is the Apache tribe known for? ›

The Apache Tribe is famous for fighting for its land and its fierce warriors. They held off the Spanish, Mexican, and expanding Americans.

Are Pueblo and Navajo the same? ›

The term Navajo comes from Spanish missionaries and historians who referred to the Pueblo Indians through this term, although they referred to themselves as the Diné, is a compound word meaning up where there is no surface, and then down to where we are on the surface of Mother Earth.

Are Aztecs indigenous to Mexico? ›

The Aztecs were the Native American people who dominated northern Mexico at the time of the Spanish conquest in the early 16th century. A nomadic culture, the Aztecs eventually settled on several small islands in Lake Texcoco where, in 1325, they founded the town of Tenochtitlan, modern-day Mexico City.

Do Mexicans have indigenous DNA? ›

The farther away ethnic groups live from each other, the more different their genomes turn out to be. But most people in Mexico or of Mexican descent these days are not indigenous but rather mestizo, meaning they have a mixture of indigenous, European, and African ancestry.

What makes you an indigenous Mexican? ›

Indigenous Mexican Americans or Mexican American Indians are American citizens who are descended from the indigenous peoples of Mexico.

What is the best DNA test for Mexican heritage? ›

Ancestry DNA and 23andMe offer the best test for Hispanic ancestry.

What 3 tribes lived in Mexico before the Spanish arrived? ›

Mexico was the home to many great civilizations including the Olmec, the Maya, the Zapotec, and the Aztec. For over 3000 years before the Europeans arrived these civilizations flourished. The Olmec civilization lasted from 1400 to 400 BC followed by the rise of the Maya culture.

Who came first Mayans or Aztecs? ›

In short, the Maya came first, and settled in modern-day Mexico. Next, came the Olmecs, who also settled Mexico. They didn't build any major cities, but they were widespread and prosperous. They were followed by the Inca in modern-day Peru, and finally the Aztecs, also in modern-day Mexico.

Who was in Mexico before the Aztecs? ›

The Aztecs were not the first people to settle in Mexico. For 2,500 years before their arrival, the area had been home to many civilizations, including the Olmecs, Toltecs, and the people of Teotihuacan.

What is considered rude in Mexico? ›

Mexicans often "hold" a gesture (a handshake, a squeeze of the arm, a hug) longer than Americans and Canadians do. Don't stand with your hands on your hips; this signifies anger. It is considered rude to stand around with your hands in your pockets.

What is considered most respectful in Mexican culture? ›

Show heightened respect to those that are noticeably older than yourself. Give way to them in public, and allow them to be served first or take your seat if all are full. Do not toss someone an object to pass it to them. Hand it to them directly and respectfully.

What language does Mexicans speak? ›

Mexicans

› ... › Mexican History ›

Indigenous Mexico is a One-Stop Resource for Information on Mexico's Indigenous People. EVERY MEXICAN STATE HAS A STORY TO TELL. When most people think abou...
Mexican Civilizations. Before the Spanish conquest, Mexico was inhabited by many indigenous civilizations, each with their own languages and traditions.

Mexico's Indigenous Population

https://www.culturalsurvival.org › publications › mexicos-...
https://www.culturalsurvival.org › publications › mexicos-...
Mexico's indigenous population is one of the two largest in the Americas (only Peru is comparable in size). More than one in ten Mexicans speaks an indigeno...

Who settled the Rio Grande Valley? ›

The Spanish began colonizing the area in the 1700s establishing missions and presidios along the Rio Grande river. Land grants and porciones were awarded by the King of Spain to early settlers in the area. These were primarily used for cattle, sheep and goat ranching.

What region of Texas did the Apaches live in? ›

The several branches of Apache tribes occupied an area extending from the Arkansas River to Northern Mexico and from Central Texas to Central Arizona. Generally, the Apaches are divided into Eastern and Western, with the Rio Grande serving as the dividing line.

What Indian tribe was in Brownsville Texas? ›

The Matamoros Native Tribes

Located on the southern bank of the Rio Grande, directly across from present-day Brownsville (Texas), Matamoros was originally settled in 1749 by thirteen families from other Rio Grande villages, but it did not start a Catholic parish until 1793.

Where did the Coahuiltecan tribe live in Texas? ›

The early Coahuiltecans lived in the coastal plain in northeastern Mexico and southern Texas. The plain includes the northern Gulf Coastal Lowlands in Mexico and the southern Gulf Coastal Plain in the United States.

Why is the Rio Grande so famous? ›

The Rio Grande Through Time

1830s: The river becomes the center of the border dispute between South Texas and Mexico. It then transforms into a common escape route for Texan slaves after Mexico abolished slavery in 1828. 1884: The Rio Grande officially becomes the border between Mexico and the US.

Why is the Rio Grande important in history? ›

After the Mexican-American War — during Texas' first round of being a U.S. state — the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo established the Rio Grande as the border between the United States and Mexico. People living along some parts of the river woke up as part of a different country.

What is Rio Grande known for? ›

Since 1848, the Rio Grande has marked the boundary between Mexico and the United States from the twin cities of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, to the Gulf of Mexico. As such, crossing the river was the escape route used by some Texan slaves to seek freedom.

Are Apaches Mexican? ›

They're known as Apaches, and they don't just live in the United States. They have homes and communities in the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Sonora, northern Durango, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas. They're alive, here and now, in the 21st Century, but officially they do not exist in Mexico.

Are Apaches Mexican or Native American? ›

The Apache (/əˈpætʃi/) are a group of culturally related Native American tribes in the Southwestern United States, which include the Chiricahua, Jicarilla, Lipan, Mescalero, Mimbreño, Ndendahe (Bedonkohe or Mogollon and Nednhi or Carrizaleño and Janero), Salinero, Plains (Kataka or Semat or "Kiowa-Apache") and Western ...

Are Comanche and Apache the same? ›

The Comanche (/kuh*man*chee/) were the only Native Americans more powerful than the Apache. The Comanche successfully gained Apache land and pushed the Apache farther west. Because of this, the Apache finally had to make peace with their enemies, the Spaniards. They needed Spanish protection from the Comanche.

What was the most feared Indian tribe in Texas? ›

The Comanches, known as the "Lords of the Plains", were regarded as perhaps the most dangerous Indians Tribes in the frontier era. The U.S. Army established Fort Worth because of the settler concerns about the threat posed by the many Indians tribes in Texas. The Comanches were the most feared of these Indians.

What is the oldest Indian tribe in Texas? ›

Tribe of Texas. Located an hour and a half north of Houston in the Big Thicket, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe is the oldest Indian reservation in Texas. Our rich history and beautiful enclave are what tribal citizens and tourists alike love about our nation.

Who was the most powerful tribe in Texas? ›

"Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History" gives a blow-by-blow account of the hardscrabble and bloody life on the Texas frontier in the middle decades of the 19th century.

What does Coahuiltecan mean in English? ›

Definition of Coahuiltecan

: a presumed language family of possible Hokan relationship of northeastern Mexico and southern Texas including Coahuiltec, Comecrudo, Cotoname, and Tamaulipec.

Who are Coahuiltecan tribes? ›

The Coahuiltecans were hunter-gatherers, and their villages were positioned near rivers and similar bodies of water. In the late 1600s, growing numbers of European invaders displaced northern tribal groups who were then forced to migrate beyond their traditional homelands into the region that is now South Texas.

What is unique about the Coahuiltecan tribe? ›

The Coahuiltecans, despite the single overarching name, represented many different ethnic groups, tribes, and nations native of the South Texas and Northeast Mexico region. Historic accounts describe these people as highly mobile family units of hunters and gatherers that resided near rivers and streams.

Videos

1. Native Americans Had CRAZY Ways Of Farming... Here's What They Did!
(Down On The Farm)
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