Heritage, Volume 6, Number 3, Fall 1988 Page: 14
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Many people may not be aware of the
digging for pottery that is proceeding
throughout Northeast Texas in a number
of Caddoan Indian burial sites. Some relic
hunters collect only for themselves. Others
are commercial pothunters, who may lease
land for the purpose of "mining" the archaeological
deposits or may trespass to dig
these sites for personal gain without permission.
In either case, the landowner and
the rest of the people of Texas lose out in
this grab for artifacts.
In testimony before the Senate Natural
Resources Committee, Robert Mallouf,
State Archaeologist for Texas, said: "In a
state as environmentally rich and diverse
as Texas, American Indian culture flourished.
Because they did not have or need
written languages, the keys to our understanding
of their cultures are found only in
the campsites, pueblos, and villages they
left behind-places that we now call archaeological
"We know from our scientific studies of
these varied peoples that they were not the
unorganized savages that we see portrayed
on our television sets. Texas had both
nomadic and sedentary Indian cultures.
These early Texans often had highly sophisticated
cultures, with priesthoods and
ceremonial and trading centers. They had
strong religious beliefs, and they had great
reverence for their dead, often placing offerings
of decorated clay pots, shell ornaments,
and stone tools for the deceased to
use in the afterlife. In some cases they dug
deep burial chambers, up to 15 or 20 feet
deep, with timbered roofs, in which they
placed their dead-and then covered the
chambers with huge mounds of earth. They
did all of this with wood and stone tools,
and used woven baskets to carry the dirt.
"These campsites, villages, and cemeteries
represent the human history and
legacy of Texas. They are the capitol buildings,
Alamos and San Jacintos of the Texas
Indians, and as such, represent important
pages of our state's history books. In addition,
they are our only sources of scientific
information on over 11,000 years of our
state's human history. They are limited in
number, and they are now endangered by
greed and ignorance."
Caddoans are an example of an Indian
tribe whose ancient burial sites are threatened
with eradication by pothunters. They
were mound-builders who brought a new
lifeway to the woodlands of Northeast
Texas from east of the Mississippi during
J K L M
Shards of Caddoan pottery showing a variety of designs: Holly Fine Engraved, Weches Fingernail Impressed,
and Duren Neck Banded.
the first millennium A.D. -the frontiersmen
of their day. They were settlers, farmers
and wide-ranging traders, homebodies
who built villages and substantial societies.
The very name of "Texas" derives from one
Caddoan group who called each other
Tayshas, meaning allies or friends. The
Spaniards pronounced it Tejas, and gave
this name to the province where these
The Caddoan Indians were effective
farmers, men and women together planting
corn, squash, beans, sunflower seeds
and tobacco. During the growing season,
the women tended the crops and gathered
wild nuts, berries and fruits, while the men
hunted and fished. They were able to produce
more food and goods than they
needed so they traded widely, going as far
afield as the pueblos of New Mexico. The
pottery made by the Caddoans was some of
the finest made by Texas Indians. They
made bottles, bowls, large storage jars and
ceramic smoking pipes.
The social organization of the Caddoans
was more complex than that of most
other Texas Indians. Tribes had head
chiefs and sub-chiefs and even law enforcement
officials. The community worked
together to build new houses when needed.
Each lodge was made of a large domeshaped
frame of wooden poles, grass
thatched on the outside. Inside, platforms
for sleeping areas were built above head
level and reached by ladder. Storage areas
were built in at ground level. Wooden
stools, pottery, baskets, and woven reed
mats were arranged about the use areas.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 6, Number 3, Fall 1988, periodical, 1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45436/m1/14/: accessed April 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.