Texas Indian Tribes

(Federal List Last Updated 5/16)

Alabama-Coushatta Tribes
Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas
Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo of Texas

(Not recognized by the Federal Government)



The Arista Indian Village. Letter of Intent to Petition 5/21/2002.

Atakapas Ishak Nation of Souteast Texas and Souuthwest Louisiana. Letter of Intent to Petition 02/02/2007.

Blount Band of Apalachicola Creek Indians. Letter of Intent to Petition 01/17/1996

Comanche Penateka Tribe. Letter of Intent to Petition 4/3/1998.

Creek Indians of Texas at Red Oak

Jumano Tribe (West Texas) (formerly The People of LaJunta (Jumano/Mescalero)). Letter of Intent to Petition 3/26/1997.

Lipan Apache Band of Texas, Inc. Letter of Intent to Petition 5/26/1999.
Pamaque Clan of Coahuila y Tejas Spanish Indian Colonial Missions Inc. Letter of Intent to Petition 4/23/2002; BAR Papers filed 2005.

Tap Pilam: The Coahuiltecan Nation. Letter of Intent to Petition 12/3/1997.

Tribal Council of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas. Letter of Intent to Petition 7/6/1998.

United Mascogo Seminole Tribe of Texas. Letter of Intent to Petition 12/31/2002.

The Yanaguana Bands of Mission Indians of Texas. Letter of Intent to Petition 10/19/2004


The first visits by Europeans to the area we now call Texas were made by the Spanish and the French.

When the first documented European explorers stepped ashore on the Gulf Coast of Texas in 1528, they were possibly greeted by distant descendants of cultures first described by modern academics as “Clovis” cultures, or Paleo-Indians.

The French presence in Texas began more than three centuries ago. Cavelier de La Salle became the first French official to reach Texas when in 1685 he led about 280 colonists.

European settlement and encroachment into Indian lands displaced the Caddos, Coahuiltecans, Apaches and Comanches, who were forced westward. Some native groups disappeared entirely.

Once a province of Spain, and later part of the Mexican Empire, Texas boasts a history of European settlement that spans four centuries.

There were more than 90 expeditions into the region called “New Spain” by the early 18th century. Zuniga founded a mission at El Paso, Texas in 1659, and dozens more followed. Texas has flown six flags and was the only state to enter the Union by treaty as an independent nation.

There is also evidence that native tribal groups from other parts of North America, such as the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Kickapoo, Shawnee, and Comanche also migrated to Texas from other areas.

Most of these tribes came as refugees from the increasingly populated areas east of the Mississippi. By the early 18th century, the influence of these groups had substantially changed life for the original inhabitants of the area.

At the time the first European expansion in this area occurred, there were a number of indian tribes in the area, which when you are talking about the state of Texas, is vast and contains a number of different climates and ecosystems.

The Caddos in east and northeast Texas were perhaps the most culturally developed. They were successful agriculturists who lived in permanent abodes.

It was a group within this tribe that the early Spanish authorities called the Tejas, which is said to be the tribes’s word for friend. From this origin, the name evolved to become the name for Mexican province, then the republic, and now the state.

The Karankawas ranged along the Gulf coast between present Galveston and Corpus Christi. They were loosly organized in a very primitive culture, and lived mostly fishermen.

The Coahuiltecan occupied the region along the lower Rio Grand. Members of this tribe eked out a sparse existance of nourished mainly by roots, herbs, and prickly pear cactus. Because of their location remote from the main settlements of early Texas, they had little contact with the Texans.

The Lipan, or Lipan-Apache, were among the more important subgroups of Apaches in Texas. They ranged the furthest eastward and had the most contact with the early Texas settlements.

The Lipans fought the Texans, but on many occasions in the nineteenth century became allies of the Texans in campaigns against other Indians. Other related groups of Apaches, especially the Mescalero-Apache, ranged generally from west Texas into present New Mexico and Arizona.

The well known Comanche tribes were relative latecomers to Texas, after migrating from the north and northwest. They were perhaps the most troublesome to the early settlers, and were also the most feared.

Their mobility and horsemanship seemed to amplify their numbers in the eyes of the early Texans. The Tonkawa occupied the region of central Texas. Like the Comanche, they were very mobile and hunted buffalo, deer, and smaller game.


225 million BC to 65 million BC – At least 16 types of dinosaurs roamed Texas from 225 million years ago to about 65 million years ago, at which time dinosaurs disappeared.

11,000-8000 BC – The first immigrants drift into the area now called Texas. Artifacts from pre-historic periods, as well as bones of mammoths, horses, camels, ancient bison, giant short-faced bears and giant armadillos, have been found at the Lubbock Lake Landmark site.

c. 8000-7000 BC – Burials from this era are the earliest so far discovered in Texas: Midland Man, discovered in Midland County in 1953; a female, whose remains were found near Leander in Williamson County in 1983; and the remains of a man and a boy discovered shortly thereafter at a site near Waco.

c. 4000 BC – People in the lower-Pecos River area leave distinctive rock art painted on cave walls and other rock surfaces.

c. 1500 BC – Corn farmers settle near Presidio in an area known as La Junta de los Ríos (the meeting of the rivers) where the Río Grande and Mexico’s Río Conchos join. It is believed to be the oldest continuously cultivated farmland in Texas.

AD 800 – 1500 AD – Farmers/hunters build and occupy what is today called the Buried City, stone dwellings located southeast of Perryton in Ochiltree County on the northern edge of the Panhandle, as well as other sites along the Canadian River.

c. 1400 AD – The Caddo Confederacy establishes a civilization in East Texas based on agriculture.

1527-1536 AD – The Panfilo de Narvaez expedition set out to explore the Gulf coastline from Florida to Texas. The group was attacked by Indians and its boats were swamped. All the expedition members died except for four survivors, who wandered across Texas and the Southwest, eventually contacting the Spanish in Mexico City nearly 10 years later (1536).

Lavar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and a black slave named Esteban were two of the three survivors, who described cultures and the geography of the regions they traversed. They gave the world the first description of the American buffalo (bison).

1659 AD – Zuniga founded a mission at El Paso, Texas.

1684 AD – La Salle established a short-lived French colony at Matagorda Bay on the Texas Gulf coast, called Fort St. Louis. Spain shifted its focus from New Mexico to eastern Texas as a result.

Juan Dominguez de Mendoza led an expedition into west Texas from El Paso in search of the French colony. La Salle’s people mutinied against him.

1686 AD – Alonso de Leon, governor of Coahuila, led the first of five land expeditions north of the Rio Grande into east Texas, in search of La Salle’s French colony. He found it in 1689; very few survivors were left, due to Indian attack and disease.

1718 AD – A large Spanish expedition marched into Texas to set up missions.

1786 AD -Pedro Vial blazed a trail from San Antonio to Santa Fe, which became known as the Santa Fe Trail.

Evidence of human habitation in the area now known as Texas dates back roughly 11,000 years. Archaeologists have found this evidence by looking at several types of sites, including camp sites where people lived; quarries where people cut away stone to use as tools; kill-sites, with evidence of hunters and the remains of their prey, and cave painting sites.

For example, a site in Val Verde County, Texas, contains the bones of a large number of bison, along with fragments from the weapons used to kill them and tools used to cut away the meat.

This cave dates to nearly 10,000 years ago. By around 6000 BC, there is evidence that people were shifting away from a life focused on hunting and gathering, to a more settled agricultural society.

We know this from the discovery of tools used for grinding grain to be used for food. From around 1,000 BC, we find evidence of large numbers of people being buried in ritualized ways, by using burial mounds, which indicates a substantial growth in the population in the area.

Sometime around 1,000 AD, there begins to be evidence of long-distance trade in the use of materials that are not native to the area, and must have been acquired through contact with groups of people living some distance away.

Genealogy:Sources of records on US Indian tribes