Heritage, Volume 10, Number 2, Spring 1992 Page: 24
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The Alabama and Koasati
were the only East Texas
Indians permitted to remain
in Texas during the time of
the Indian removals.
chaeologist. His work exposed six disturbed
burial pits with the types and arrangements
of goods seen in other 19th century Southeastern
The burials were wearing clothing decorated
with glass beads sewn on the collars,
arms, and legs, silver conchos, and silver
pendants. One individual was wearing a red
hat made of hemp or palmetto, and it had
glass beads, silver, and feathers sewn onto
the hat. These clothing styles are quite
similar to the 1828 drawings of Koasati men
in Texas by Lino Sanchez y Tapia, and to
19th century drawings in the National Archives
of Alibamu men.
Jean Louis Berlandier, a member of the
same Mexican boundary commission as
Sanchez y Tapia, commented that the
Koasati "do not look like a native people.
To see them you would say they were a
gathering of settlers."
A wide variety of Euro-American goods
have been found at the Carl Matthews and
Arthur Patterson sites, and between them
these date from ca. 1820 to 1870. They
included glass beads, silver ornaments
(pendants, rings, and earrings), cut brass/
copper strips for making jewelry, metal
tools such as knives, iron arrowheads, and
awls; the latter two items were made from
barrel hoop scrap and copper rod stock.
Gunparts, English-made gunflints for guns
and pistols, and lead musket balls are
present, and several lead masses at the Carl
Matthews site indicate that the Koasati
Indians manufactured their own lead balls.
English and American-made whiteware,
stoneware, and porcelain saucers, plates,
and cups are relatively common, and along
with cast iron kettles, eventually replaced
native-made ceramics as culinary utensils
by the 1850s. Wine bottle glass is present in
Alibamu and Koasati sites, and some pieces
of bottle glass have been reworked to serve
as handy scraping and cutting implements.
No aboriginally manufactured artifacts were
recovered among the goods found with the
burials, although many of the silver and
iron pieces had been modified to make
ornaments and bracelets.
A vessel (top) and ceramics (bottom), artifacts excavated from Koasati sites in Texas and Louisiana. Photos
by James Bruseth.
Studying the archaeology and ethnohistory
of the Alibamu and Koasati provides
us with an opportunity to examine
certain dimensions of native history of
these Indian groups that have been overlooked
or understressed in standard histories
of the state of Texas (such as the role
of Native Americans in the development
of political and economic relationships in
the Province and Republic of Texas), and
to document their heritage in this state.
Moreover, a focus on the nature of cultural
contacts between Europeans, Texans, and
the Alibamu-Koasati Indians is a pathway
to a fuller understanding of the cultural,
economic, social, and political lifeways
of those living during the late 18th and
19th century in this state.
Timothy Perttula is an archaeologist with the
Department of Archaeological Planning and
Review at the Texas Historical Commission.
24 HERITAGE * SPRING 1992
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 10, Number 2, Spring 1992, periodical, Spring 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45420/m1/24/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.