The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997 Page: 119

Book Reviews

Caddo Indians: Where We Came From. By Cecile Elkins Carter. (Norman: University
of Oklahoma Press, 1995. Pp. xiii+42o. List of illustrations, acknowledg-
ments, prologue, maps, photographs, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN o-
8061-2747-3. $38.95, cloth.)
The fact that two books can appear on the same subject within months of
each other hardly deserves attention in this age of prolific publication by uni-
versity and commercial presses. Yet when the two books concern a long over-
looked topic such as the Caddo Indians, their almost simultaneous appearance
is indeed a surprising and welcome turn of events. Todd Smith's The Caddo In-
dians: Tribes at the Convergence of Empires, I542-1854 (1995) ably documented
the evolution of Caddo relationships with Spanish, French, Texan, and Ameri-
can authorities during three centuries. Although Cecile Elkins Carter uses the
same sources and offers a chronological framework similar to Smith's, her
study offers more in the way of ethnohistorical material. For this reason, the
two books should not be viewed as competitors but rather as complementary
Carter, an enrolled tribal member currently serving as cultural representative
of the Caddo tribe of Oklahoma, came to her interest in this subject relatively
late in life, but she now writes about it as a true insider. The most unique feature
of her study is the frequent introduction of oral testimony by modern tribal el-
ders who discuss Caddoan traditions of music, dance, religious ritual, kinship,
and leadership patterns. These vignettes are offered by Caddos from all stations
in life and presented without any heavy-handed anthropological jargon or analy-
sis. All these oral histories are of interest to the academic and the casual reader,
and some, such as Julia Edge's story of her Turkey Dance in the 197os, are
downright poignant.
Although Carter covers the Spanish and French colonial periods in detail, the
strongest parts of her story of Caddo-white relations are found in the concluding
nine chapters. This coverage begins at about 18oo with increased American in-
fluence among the Caddo groups in western Louisiana and southwestern
Arkansas. Pressure on Caddo lands by the U.S. government and other tribes be-
ing removed from the southeastern states culminated in the Treaty of 1835,
whereby the Kadohadacho and Natchitoches were forced to join their Hasinai
brethren in East Texas. Despite the continuous demonstrations of peace by Cad-
do leaders such as Dehahuit and Jose Maria, they were driven farther west, and
by 1855 occupied a small reservation in Young County. Even that tiny estate
came under assault by John R. Baylor and his frontier vigilantes who, in 1859,
forced the Caddos and Wichitas to a new reservation in western Indian Territo-
Three centuries of Caddo history offer unimpeachable evidence of a people
greatly wronged. Carter not only articulates those wrongs but also captures the
spirit of the Caddo people who have maintained the essence of their culture
through all the tribulations.



University of Nebraska at Omaha


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