History

Texas Hill Country Native Americans: A Forgotten History

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Texas history did not begin with Spanish missionaries coming to Texas. People lived in the state for thousands of years before that, but many have forgotten these original inhabitants. Since many of the tribes in Texas lived nomadic lives, evidence of great cities don’t exist, but that does not mean their influence on the state was any less. In fact, for many groups in the Texas Hill Country, this wayward life contributed to how they later interacted with Europeans who settled the land. Texas Hill Country Native Americans remain a part of the state’s heritage and a part of history that should not be forgotten.

Apaches

Texas Hill Country Native Americans included the Lipan Apache like this warrior on a horse

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The group known to many as Apaches in the Hill Country were technically one of two Apache groups in Texas, the Lipan Apaches. The second group, the Mescalero Apaches, lived in far West Texas. The Lipan Apache had the distinction of having tightly knit family groups, to the extent that a widower would live with his in-laws and acquire a new wife from that family after his first wife passed away. Perhaps this close community was needed as the Lipan Apaches were nomads who followed buffalo herds throughout the Hill Country. When European settlers came to the area, the Lipan Apaches were most accepting of even the Spanish missions, as they needed protection from the Comanches who’d recently started coming into Texas from the north. But this alliance with Spanish missions and later with settlers would not last.

Though before 1842, the Apaches embraced the help from Texas settlers, even going so far as to become Texas Rangers, an unsolved murder of Chief Flacco the Younger escalated tensions to the breaking point. The Apaches moved south to Mexico but raided Texas for years until 1873, when a U.S. army colonel invaded the Apache villages and sent anyone left to a New Mexico reservation, ending the raids and their influence in Texas.

Comanche

Texas Hill Country Native Americans included the Comanche
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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