Tag Archives: Native Americans

Today in Texas History – November 16

From the Annals of the Treaties –  In 1845, the Republic of Texas signed its final Indian treaty. The agreement came at the end of the Tehuacana Creek Councils, which had commenced in the spring of 1843.  Pioneer Jesse Chisholm had worked to convince a number of Indian groups, including the Caddos, Tawakonis, Delawares, Lipan Apaches, and Tonkawas, to meet on the Tehuacana Creek near the Torrey Brothers trading post south of Waco.

The next council met at Fort Bird on the Trinity River in the fall of 1843. These councils resulted in a peace treaty between the Republic and the Wacos and Caddos.  The failure to reach an accord with the Comanche caused President Sam Houston to call another council to meet at Tehuacana Creek in April 1844.  The Comanche were yet again missing.  In October 9, 1844, Houstonnegotiated a treaty with a part of the southern Comanche, Kichais, Waco, Caddos, Anadarkos, Hainais, Delawares, Shawnees, Cherokees, Lipan Apaches, and Tawakonis. At the November 1845 council the Wacos, Tawakonis, Kichais, and Wichitas agreed to the treaty of October 9, 1844.  The Comanche continued fighting for another 30 years.

Today in Texas History – January 24

From the Annals of Best Intentions –  In 1845, the Texas Senate ratified a peace treaty between Anglo settlers and 11 Native American tribes.  The treaty was negotiated by Sam Houston whose attitudes towards Native Americans was markedly different than that of the general public based on his years of living with the Cherokee.  Houston hoped that the treaty would usher in a new era of peaceful relations between the Anglo-Texan settlers and the tribes still in control of vast areas of the Republic.  Had Texas remained an independent country the outcome could have been different.  However, with statehood all Indian affairs became the responsibility of the federal government and any chance of peace with the most aggressive tribes such as the Comanche, Kiowa and Wichita was gone.

Image of Sam Houston in Cherokee clothing.

Today in Texas History – October 11

From the Annals of Suicide –  In 1878, Kiowa chief Satanta committed suicide by jumping from his prison cell in Huntsville.  Satanta was probably close to 60 at the time.  He had been a rising leader since the Medicine Lodge Treaty council in October 1867, where he came to be known as the “Orator of the Plains.”  In 1871 Satanta and his fellow chiefs Satank and Big Tree were arrested for their part in the Warren Wagon Train raid. Satank was killed while trying to escape. Satanta and Big Tree were tried for murder at Jacksboro which was the first time Native American chiefs were tried in a civil court. They were convicted and sentenced to hang, but Texas governor E. J. Davis commuted the sentences to life imprisonment. Satanta was quickly paroled in 1873, but was re-arrested for his role in the attack on Lyman’s Wagon Train in Palo Duro canyon and in the second battle of Adobe Walls.  His second incarceration was too much for the Kiowa Chief who took his life rather than spend his remaining days in prison.

Today in Texas History – September 8

From the Annals of the Indian Wars –  In 1874, Lt. Frank Baldwin and three army scouts captured the “white Indian” known as “Tehan” in what is now Hemphill County during the initial phases of the Red River War.  His anglo name is unknown as he was taken by the Kiowas when he was a child and given the name Tehan (“Texan”). He was adopted by the medicine man Maman-ti and grew up to become a fierce warrior. He was completely assimilated as a Kiowa and was striking for his red hair, fair skin, and bull-like neck.  As an apprentice brave, Tehan took part in several raids during the early 1870s.  When captured, Tehan made a show of being grateful for his delivery from the Kiowa.   Baldwin met up with Captain Wyllys Lyman train of supply wagons, and transferred custody of Tehan to Lyman.   Indian scouts sent out to look for Tehan discovered Lyman’s wagon train.  The Kiowas besieged the train from September 9 to 14, during which time Tehan escaped and rejoined his adopted tribe, sporting a suit of clothes the troops had given him.  The ultimate fate of Tehan is unknown.

Today in Texas History – February 26

In 1871, Clint and Jeff Smith were abducted as young boys from their home on Cibolo Creek, and lived as  Indian warriors for years. They returned to white society, married and had children, but always held on to some part of that life. Their story, “The Boy Captives,” first published in 1927, continues to be available. It is a first-hand account of their incredible, and sometimes horrifying, experiences.

From the Annals of the Captives – In 1871, Clinton and Jefferson Smith were captured by Lipan and Comanche raiders.  The brother, eight and ten at the time, were taken while herding sheep on Cibolo Creek near Boerne.  Initial efforts to find the boys failed.  Their father, Capt. Henry Smith, and his cousin Capt. John W. Sansom, of the Texas Rangers and numerous other Rangers combined with a volunteer posse led by Capt. Charles Schreiner, in an effort to rescue the boys.  The large group pursued the Indians from near Kendalia to Fort Concho in West Texas but never recaptured the boys.  Clint and Jeff were not returned to their family for several more years.

In his 1927 book, “The Boy Captives,” Clinton gave a first hand account of his and his younger brother Jeff’s time with the Comanche.   Clint’s roamings with the Comanches took him  into Utah, over the Rocky Mountains,as far west as the Pacific coast. After a period of adjustment, Clint said he became nearly indistinguishable from any other young warrior, as he chased Rangers and soldiers with his adopted family.  He remained in captivity for five years.  Jeff was sold to Geronimo who branded him for identification. time. Clint begged his Indian father, Tasocowadi, to bring Jeff back, even offering to trade all his belongings.  Geronimo, however, would not agree to the deal.

The Indians gave their captives native names. Clint became “Backecacho” (End of Rope), while Jeff was called “Catchowitch” (Horse Tail), and also “Na-i-Flink.” They were often used as bait on bear hunts, and mocked as they were made to exhibit feats of prowess such as fighting other Indian children or, as Jeff once described, being tied to a wild buffalo and made to ride it.

After being ransomed back and returning to Anglo culture, the brothers somehow successfully re-integrated.  They both married, raised children and took up ranching. As with many other returned captives, their experiences with the Indians never left them completely.  Clint and Jeff both expressed that they felt bound to their native brothers and each other in ways only they understood.

Today in Texas History – December 11

From the Annals of the Indian Conflicts – In 1737, Cabellos Colorados, a Lipan Apache chief, was captured by Spanish forces.  The Spanish established a settlement in San Antonio in 1718 which the Apaches viewed as an easy target for raids against the European invaders.  Not much is known about Cabellos Colorados.  He does appear in Spanish records which comment on his raids.  One known raid on San Antonio occurred in 1731, and in 1734 his band seized two citizens in a raid. He also stole horses from San Francisco de la Espada Mission and killed Indians from the missions of San Juan Capistrano and Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña. After numerous raids in 1736 and 1737, he was captured and imprisoned at Bexar until October of 1738 when he was sent as a prisoner to Mexico.

Today in Texas History – October 22


rom the Annals of the Republic – In 1836, Sam Houston was inaugurated as the first constitutionally elected President of the Republic of Texas.  Among the most pressing issues facing the new President were relations with the Native Americans who still dominated much of the claimed national territory. Houston’s years living with the Cherokees and actually becoming a Cherokee citizen gave him a different perspective than most.  During his first term, Houston held conferences with tribal leaders in an attempt to address past grievances and establish new trust. He appointed agents to deal with the tribes and to run government trading houses.  Houston attempted to limit further settlement by pulling back surveyors and military companies from the frontier.  He did recognize that Anglos needed some protection.  He created a force of 280 mounted riflemen to enforce the trade laws and deal fairly with both sides, removing white trespassers and arresting Indian raiders.  But there was to be no peace between whites and Indians. Many Texans refused to wait for Houston’s policy to work and demanded that the Indians be removed from Texas and violence inevitably resulted – instigated by both sides.  By the end of Houston’s term in 1838, a change in policy was inevitable.