The Caddo Indians are the principal southern representatives of the great Caddoan linguistic family, which include the Wichita, Kichai, Pawnee, and Arikara. Their confederacy consisted of several tribes or divisions, claiming as their original territory the whole of lower Red River and adjacent country in Louisiana, eastern Texas, and Southern Arkansas.

Indian Group

Southern Indians

Caddo is a popular name contracted from Kadohadacho, the name of the Caddo proper, as used by themselves. It is extended by the whites to include the Confederacy. Most of the early writers, and even many of the later ones used different names for the Kadohadacho. Chevalier de Tonti, a French explorer, called them Cadadoquis, M. Joutel, historian for La Salle's exploring party, called them Cadaquis, and John Sibley, Indian agent at Natchitoches, called them Caddoes. They were called Masep by the Kiowa, Nashonet or Nashoni by the Commanche, Dashai by the Wichita, Otasitaniuw (meaning "pierced nose people") by the Cheyenne, and Tanibanen by the Arapaho.

The number of tribes formerly included in the Caddo Confederacy can not now be determined. Only a small number of the Caddo survive, and the memory of much of their tribal organization is lost. In 1699 Iberville obtained from his Taensa Indian guide a list of eight divisions; Linares in 1716 gave the names of eleven; Gatschet procured from a Caddo Indian in 1882 the names of twelve divisions, and the list was revised in 1896, by Mooney, as follows: Kadohadacho (Caddo Proper), Nadako (Anadarko), Hainai (Ioni), Nabaidacho (Nabedache), Nakohodotsi (Nacogdoches), Nashitosh (Natchitoches), Nakanawan, Haiish (Eyeish, Aliche, Aes), Yatasi, Hadaii (Adai, Adaize), Imaha, a small band of Kwaps, and Yowani, a band of Choctaw. A more recent study by Dr. Herbert E. Bolton, of the University of California, reveals the fact that there were two confederacies of the Caddoan linguistic stock inhabiting northeastern Texas, in stead of one, as indicated by Mooney and Fletcher. Bolton says that the Caddo whose culture was similar to the Hasinai, lived along both banks of the Red River from the lower Natchitoches tribe, in the vicinity of the present Louisiana city of that name, to the Natsoos and Nassonites tribes, above the great bend of the Red River in southwestern Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma. The best known members of this group were the Cadodacho Grand Cado, or Caddo proper, Petit Cado, upper and lower Natchitoches, Adaes, Yatasi, Nassonites, and Natsoos. On the Angelina and upper Neches rivers, lived the Hasinai, that comprised some ten or more tribes, of which the best known were the Hainai, Nacogdoche, Nabedache, Nasoni, and Nadaco.

Of the names mentioned by the different writers nine tribes named by Mooney in his list are found under varying forms in the lists of 1699, by Iberville, and 1716, by Linares. It will be noticed from the above lists that both Mooney and Bolton included the Cadodacho, Natchitoches, Yatasi, and Adai in the Caddo Con federacy. It appears from the evidence at hand that during the eighteenth century two confederacies existed instead of one as indicated by Mooney. In this paper the Yatasi, Adai, Natchitoches, Natsoos, Nassonites, and Cadodacho will be considered as the tribes that belonged to the Caddo Confederacy.

It is impossible at the present time to identify all the tribes that belonged to the Caddo Confederacy, but a sketch of the best known tribes that inhabited the Louisiana territory will be under taken. The Natchitoches lived on Red River, near the present city of Natchitoches, Louisiana. Whether the army of De Soto came in contact with them is unknown, but the companions of La Salle, after his death, traversed their country, and Douay speaks of them as a powerful nation." In 1730 according to Du Pratz, the Natchitoches villages near the trading post at Natchitoche numbered about two hundred cabins. The population rapidly declined as a result of the wars in which they were forced to take part, and the introduction of new diseases, particularly small pox and measles.

In 1805 Dr. John Sibley, Indian agent at Natchitoches, in a report to Thomas Jefferson relative to the Indian tribes in his territory said:

There is now remaining of the Natchitoches but twelve men and nineteen women, who live in a village about twenty five miles by land above the town which bears their name near the lake, called by the French Lac de Muire. Their original language is the same as the Yattassee, but speak Caddo, and most of them French.

The French inhabitants have great respect for this nation, and a number of very decent families have a mixture of their blood in them. They claim but a small tract of land, on which they live, and I am informed, have the same rights to it from Government, that other inhabitants in their neighborhood have. They are gradually wasting away; the small pox has been their great destroyer. They still preserve their Indian dress and habits; raise corn and those vegetables common in their neighborhood.

The Yatasi tribe is first spoken of by Tonti, who states that in 1690 their village was on the Red River, northwest of Natchitoches. In the first part of the eighteenth century, St. Denis invited them to locate near Natchitoches, in order that they might be protected from the attacks of the Chickasaw who were then waging war along Red River. A part of the tribe moved near Natchitoches, while others migrated up the river to the Kadohadacho and to the Nanatsoho and the Nasoni.

At a later date the Yatasi must have returned to their old village site. John Sibley, in a report from Natchitoches, states that they lived on Bayou River (Stony Creek), which falls into Red River, Western division, about fifty miles above Natchitoches. According to Sibley's report they settled in a large prairie, about half way between the Caddoques (Cadodacho) and the Natchitoches, surrounded by a settlement of French families. Of the ancient Yattassees (Yatasi) there were then but eight men and twenty-five women remaining. Their original language differed from any others, but all of them spoke Caddo. They lived on rich land, raised plenty of corn, beans, pumpkins, and tobacco. They also owned horses, cattle, hogs, and poultry.

The Adai village was located on a small creek near the present town of Robeline, Louisiana, about twenty-five miles west of Natchitoches. This was also the site of the Spanish Mission, Los Adaes. The first historical mention of the Adai was made by Cabeca de Vaca, who in his "Naufragios", referring to his stay in Texas, about 1530, called them Atayos. Mention was also made of them by Iberville, Joutel, and some other early French explorers. In 1792 there was a partial emigration of the Adai, numbering fourteen families, to a site south of San Antonio de Pejar, southwest Texas, where it is thought they blended with the surrounding Indian population. The Adai who were left in their old homes at Adayes, numbered about one hundred in 1802. According to John Sibley's report in 1805 there were only twenty men of them remaining, but more women than men. Their language differed from that of all other tribes and was very difficult to speak, or understand. They all spoke Caddo, and most of them spoke French also. They had a strong attachment to the French, as is shown by the fact that they joined them in war against the Natchez Indians.

The Cadodacho (real Caddo, Caddo proper), seem to have lived as a tribe on Red River of Louisiana from time immemorial. According to tribal traditions the lower Red River of Louisiana was their original home, from which they migrated west and northwest. Penicaut reported in 1701 that the Caddo lived on the Sabloniere, or Red River, about one hundred and seventy leagues above Natchitoches, which places them a little above the big bend of Red River near the present towns of Fulton, Arkansas, and Texarkana. In 1800 the Caddo moved down the Red River near Caddo Lake, which placed them about one hundred and twenty miles from the present town of Natchitoches. Sibley says:

They formerly lived on the south bank of the river, by the course of the river 376 miles higher up, at a beautiful prairie, which has a clear lake of good water in the middle of it, surrounded by a pleasant and fertile country, which had been the residence of their ancestors for time immemorial. They have a traditionary tale, which not only the Caddoes, but half a dozen other smaller nations believe in, who claim the honor of being descendants of the same family; they say, when all the world was drowning by a flood, that inundated the whole country, the Great Spirit placed on an eminence, near this lake, one family of Caddoques, who alone were saved; from that family all the Indians originated.

In 1719 the Assonites (Nassonites), and Natsoos, dwelt along Red River, often on both sides of the channel about one hundred and fifty leagues northwest of Natchitoches. They lived near the Cadodacho and were related to them.

The Cadodacho was the leading tribe in the Caddo Confederacy. This nation wielded a great influence over many of the tribes belonging to the Southern Caddoan family. In 1805 their influence extended over the Yatasi, Nandakoes, Nebadaches, Inies, or Tackies, Nacogdoches, Keychies, Adai, and Natchitoches, who looked up to them as their father, visited and intermarried among them, and joined them in all their wars.

It is impossible to determine with exactness the population of the Caddo during the early period, for no record of a census is available until after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Fletcher says that before the coming of the French and Spanish they were no doubt a thrifty and numerous people."' One writer states that during their early history they must have numbered about ten thousand. No doubt this estimate included both the Caddo and Hasinai Confederacies. According to a report from the Indian agent at Natchitoches made in 1805 the tribes of the Caddo confederacy at that time numbered approximately six hundred, not including children.

All the tribes of the Confederacy spoke the Caddoan language. However, the language of the Adai differed from all the others and was very difficult to speak. The Caddoes had a very convenient way of communicating with each other and with other tribes, through the medium of a sign language. Their tribal sign was made "by passing the extended index finger, pointing under the nose from right to left." When they wanted to accuse some one of telling a lie, or falsehood, they did that "by passing the extended index and second fingers separated toward the left, over the mouth".

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