Bidai Tribe


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The Bidai tribe is named with a Caddo word meaning “brushwood,” probably referring to the peculiar growth characteristic of the region. Extinct today, they belonged to the Caddoan stock, whose villages were scattered over a wide territory, but principally about Trinity River in Texas, while some were as far north as the Neches River or beyond.

The Bidai were the oldest inhabitants of the country where they dwelt. Although the Bidai were surrounded by tribes belonging to the Caddo Confederacy, the people long kept their independence. They were neighbors of the Arkokisa, who lived on lower Trinity River and may have been their allies.

During the latter part of the 18th century the Bidai were reported to be the chief intermediaries between the French and the Apache in the trade of firearms; later they suffered from the political disturbances incident to the controversy between the Spaniards and the French, as well as from inter-tribal wars and the introduction of new diseases.

Little is known of their customs and beliefs, which were probably similar to those of the surrounding tribes of the Caddo confederacy. They lived in fixed habitations, cultivated the soil, and hunted buffalo, which ranged through their territory.

Early on, they were estimated to number about 100, but in 1776-1777 an epidemic carried off nearly half their number.

About the middle of the 19th century a remnant of the Bidai were living in a small village 12 miles from Montgomery, Texas, cultivating maize, serving as cotton pickers, and bearing faithful allegiance to the Texans.

The women were still skilled in basketry of “curious designs and great variety.”

The few survivors were probably incorporated by the Caddo.