Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Karankawa Indians

Now extinct, the Karankawa indians once ranged from Galveston Bay to Corpus Christi and thereabouts. It's an interesting tribe that is now extinct and there is very little we know about them, given the recency of their extermination.

I've been reading various tomes of their history online, including one that made a lot of sense. The author noted that they were simply responding to how they were being treated. He gave examples of how well they treated folks like Cabeza De Vaca when he survived the rest of his shipmates and lived with the tribe for several years.

That they could be vicious and fight like warriors is true as well. They were often over 6 feet tall, and dwarfed most europeans that came to this continent. Their reputation as cannibals was partly true, as like most all indian tribes in Texas, they felt they could gain the power and strength of their enemies if they ate a small part of their body after a battle.

They were hunters and fishermen and gatherers and wintered next to the coast when fish moved into the shallow bays and oysters were safe to eat. During the warm months they lived inland, where they hunted and gathered, mostly living a hand to mouth existence no matter where they lived.

Efforts by the Spaniards to Christianize them, which lasted for about 100 years, failed miserably.

When I go fishing in some of the areas that were their old stomping grounds, particularly the more isolated and rugged areas, you can almost feel their spirits. You know they led a harsh life living on the coast. Hurricanes, tropical storms, monsoon like weather much of the time and last but not least, mosquitos must have made life quite miserable at times when wintering on the coast.

Still, the history of the early Anglo settlers to this area does survive, and from what we know the bays and oceans literally teamed with abundant life. Fish could be caught by the hundreds of pounds in winter using gill nets and trot lines, and deer, alligator and other species were plentiful for hunting. The land was fertile and the area received much rain most of the time.

That'd be a place I'd like to visit in a time machine.

1 comment:

  1. Yes I would like to take that trip with you. You seem to be very in tune with nature so yes I bet their spirts do make themselves known to you when you are out in their fishing grounds. Good post, thanks.