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A Curriculum Guide with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Texas Indians


TexasIndians.com Teaching Tips

2012 There are some new things to see.

I hope your kids are getting some good use from this site. You can help me make this site even better. Take a few minutes and let me know what you are doing. Let me know WHEN you are doing it. Let me know what you want or need. I really need the feedback.

I am looking for good projects other than dioramas. If you have one (or two ) share them with the rest of us. I will give you and your school credit. I will post pictures of projects and reports by the kids. This is a good reward for good work, seeing their stuff on the net.

If your kids want to send me questions please group them together first and have each group ask about one tribe. If they are using the E-mail be sure to take them all to Da Rules page on how to safely use e-mail. If the number of e-mails keeps growing as it has, I may have to find some help with this.

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Teaching tips

There are some Texas Indian tribes that are a must for all your kids and there are some that are better avoided. Some tribes, like Comanche and Caddo are so very important in Texas history they are a must. Other tribes are important too, but there is so little information available out there about them that they are hard for kids to research and find anything. The Jumano are a good example of an important tribe with little available information. Some tribes are just too hard for younger kids to connect with. Lastly there are the boring tribes that never did much of anything, and had few noteworthy characteristics.

Here is my top ten + a few list from the must to the worst in terms of teaching them to kids and kids researching them.

Do you have kids who cannot go online? Are you limited in the number of phone lines? We have this site on a CD that can be used just like being on line. Go to our CD page for details

1. The Caddo, a must for all the kids in the class. A very civilized tribe that lived in organized villages. Built spectacular mounds, had beautiful art, had a complex and sophisticated political system. USE THIS tribe to counteract the stereotype that all Indians are buffalo hunting Plains Indians or all Indians are brutish savages living in the dirt. Environment lesson: They farmed because farming was the best way to get food. Their region had good rainfall, rivers, creeks, springs, and climate for farming. No big herds of buffalo or other animals. They were sedentary because they did not have to move around to get food so had permanent houses.

Cultural adaptations: Physical, They made pottery, pottery is rodent proof to save seeds in and store grains and foods. Farming cultures always make pottery. They had large nice permanent houses and farming tools like hoes and digging sticks. They lived in the piney woods so they had lots of tools to work wood like plains, saws, and drills.

Social environment: Farmers have larger and denser populations. The Caddo formed confederations to protect and defend themselves from other tribes with their large numbers. They also traded goods all over Texas, the Mississippi river valley and the southeastern United States.

2. The Comanche, another absolute must for all the kids in a class. The most important single tribe in shaping Texas history. The Spanish could never gain a military advantage over this tribe, the best light cavalry in the world. They forced the Spanish to stay in south Texas and prevented European settlement north and west of San Antonio. Mexico tried to use Moses Austin and his settlers as a barrier between Mexican settlers and the Comanche. Austin shrewdly settled in east Texas and not in central Texas where the Mexican Government wanted them.

Environmental lesson: They hunted and gathered because this is the best way to get food on the plains. Large herds of buffalo and elk are easy to hunt. Easier way to get food than farming. Prior to the horse many plains cultures did farm along the rivers. Chasing buffalo on foot was not practical. The Arikara and Mandan Indians still farmed after the horse. Hunting means nomadic lifestyle.

Material Cultural adaptations: Nomads need portable shelter so they have tee-pees. Pottery is heavy and easily broken when moving so they did not use much pottery. They used leather for containers along with baskets. They used packs on dogs and travois to carry their things. See the horse page for lots more on this and pictures of travoises.

Social environment: The Comanche raided just about everyone around them and stole goods, horses and kidnaped children and women. So they were enemies with just about everyone around them. They became friends with the Kiowa and occasionally made allies with other plains tribes.

3. Karankawa, hard to find much reliable info on. Important as an example of environmental adaptation. As a coastal culture they represent something different, not a plains tribe and not sedentary farmers. A good example of negative racial stereotyping and demonization. The only people who had trouble with them were people who shot at them, stole from them or tried to make them slaves. We now have examples of how friendly they could be to people who were friendly to them.

Environment: Coastal dwellers who used the resources in the Gulf and bays. Semi-sedentary. They would live for half the year in one place near a bay and then move inland as hunter gatherers for the rest of the year. The villages near the bays were occupied during the winter when fish come into the bays and shell fish like oysters are safe to eat. Lots of food coming into the bays means they could stay in one place without moving and without farming. In the spring and summer they moved inland to harvest berries and hunt deer. Now they were nomadic hunter gatherers.

Material cultural adaptation: Canoes, nets and wickiup houses that are not as permanent as farmers like the Caddo, but more permanent than a tee-pee.

Social Adaptation: They seem to have been friendly. They shared the inland areas they roamed in with other tribes and they traded with many other tribes. When provoked they could be fierce enemies.

4. The Tigua. A Jumano Puebloan tribe that still lives just east of El Paso. A very good example of Pueblo Indian culture. Pueblo culture is very important and interesting. There are many good cultural lessons here. Neat houses like apartment buildings. Communal living. An example of very civilized Indians. Historically important too with the first mission church in Texas.

Environment: Lived in an arid dry region. Not big herds of animals like buffalo and limited plant foods. They did have reliable rivers and somewhat reliable seasonal rainfall. So they farmed next to the rivers and during the season with rain. Populations were small prior to corn and farming because of the limited food supply. After corn and farming populations grew rapidly.

Adaptations: Exceptional pottery. Large Pueblos to house large populations. Lots of farming tools. Their religion revolved around growing crops and making rain.

5. Jumano,
The traders of the southern plains and west Texas. The Puebloan Tigua are actually a branch of the Jumano. Probably not all one tribe. They traveled long distances to trade.

Environment: See the Tigua above.

6. Apaches,
An example of Indians forcing other Indians to move and change. Displaced by the Comanches. They were very adaptable themselves. They came from icy Canada down to the plains, became farmers, got pushed into central Texas by the Comanches and became hunter gatherers, got pushed into south Texas and New Mexico and learned to live in deserts. Good example of a people adapting to new environments.

7. Black Seminoles Run away slaves who joined, married into and became a part of the larger Seminole tribe. A good way for Black students to connect to the subject. We have em posted.

8. Kiowa,
A large and important South Plains buffalo hunting tribe. They are one of the tribes important after the Civil War. Use the Kiowa for historical lessons. Very typical south plains buffalo hunter-raiders. Their material culture and lifestyles is almost the same as the Comanche.

9. Wichita,
Another large and important South Plains tribe. A mix between the Caddo and South Plains buffalo hunters. Sometimes they farmed, sometimes they hunted and gathered. Another tribe that was forced to move long distances.

Environement: When they lived in Kansas and Oklahoma they lived in large villages next to rivers and farmed. After the horse they began hunting buffalo. In Texas some of them roamed around and hunted and others lived in villages and farmed.

These next tribes are important, but hard for kids to find meaningful information on and/or connect with. Some are OK for older kids but not for fourth graders.

10. Tonkawa,
Important because they lived in central Texas right in the middle of everything. Not much significant data for younger kids available on this tribe. Lots of mentions, little material kids can connect with. Hard to research. Fourth graders avoid, seventh graders can get into the history connections. More like a history lesson than a cultural lesson.

11. Coahuiltecan,
Often portrayed as a very primitive tribe that lived in a harsh environment with few resources. Not true. Most descriptions are of the later refugee survivors of these peoples. There is no such thing as a Coahuiltecan tribe, never was. There were hundreds of small bands of Indians living similar lifestyles in the same region. Because most of the books and descriptions are of refugees younger students misinterpret the data to see these Indians as wretched, dirty, nasty beggars who eat disgusting foods and live in filth and squalor. Other than the shocking foods there is little in the way of the things kids tune in to. No neat houses, clothing, weapons. Hard for kids to understand and interpret what they can find. Useful as a leason on critical thinking about historical sources. Fourth graders avoid, Ok for seventh graders who can handle the abstract cultural concepts.

12. Atakapans,
Very hard to find info on. The info you can find is hard for the kids to connect with and is of questionable quality. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

13. Waco,
a branch of the Wichita tribe. Not worth teaching as a separate tribe. Teach the Wichita instead.

Here are a few tribes no one seems to use. We got em posted.

Cherokee. Sam Houston's adopted tribe. Important to Texas history. The Cherokee took a leadership position over all the east Texas tribes. Came from Georgia, Carolina, Kentucky area to escape white encroachment. Very civilized. Developed their own alphabet and published their own newspaper in their own language. Not very good for teaching cultural differences because they had adopted almost all of the white southern farming-plantation material culture. They lived in European style houses with European furnishings, some owned slaves, farmed and some ran plantations. Many of them were literate and educated.

Environment: In their eastern homeland and in Texas they lived much like the Caddo as woodland farmers. They adapted to their SOCIAL environment by adopting European technology and lifestyles.

Kickapoo, More and more info becoming available. They still live here.

Alabama -Coushatta, Still live here. Colorful. A part of the same very important Southeastern Indian group of tribes the Caddo belonged to, but not Caddo. Very civilized farmers. You can go visit them if you are near East Texas.

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