‘Our history begins with them’: Native Texan tribes a big part of Tejano history

Tejano Moments: Native Texas Tribes

SAN ANTONIO – Before the Spanish, French or Mexicans explored the area we now know as Texas, others were already here -- Native Americans.

Several different tribes inhabited the area and others migrated here as the area was being developed.

In the late 1600s as Spanish explorers set their sites on the new land north of Mexico, they first encountered tribes like the Caddo, Karankawa and Coahuiltecans. These tribes were settlers in the southeastern part of the state and known as the first people of Texas.

“The Coahiltecans lived primarily from the Balcones fault south and along the Rio Bravo and San Antonio River, where are probably as closest as San Antonio and their history and contribution as we’re going to get to any other tribe,” TexasTejano.com historian Rudi Rodriguez said.

As time progressed on more tribes started to migrate into New Spain areas like the Apaches, Jumanos and Comanches.

Courtesy: TexasTejano.com (Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

The Apaches held ground in the Hill Country areas while the Comanches were nomadic and followed the buffalo north to south wherever food was abundant.

One of those areas is now what we call Comanche Lookout Park. At the peak of the park is where the Comanche could wait and see if anybody was coming along the Camino Reales to either warn the tribe of incoming trouble or to plan for a sneak attack.

Eventually, some of the tribes would begin to assimilate to mission culture. Tejanos would become the direct descendants of the first Spanish, Mexican and Native Texan tribes.

“That’s part of the mix, if you will, a mezcla in Spanish of the Tejano population,” Rodriguez said.

As those cultures blended the Native Americans in Texas become a part of the legacy and heritage of Tejano history.

“The Native Americans, once again, I believe, has given us a window into the past and their history,” Rodriguez said. “Our history begins with them.”

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About the Author

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with more than 10 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. You can catch Erica on GMSA and GMSA at 9 most mornings.

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