Archived Chat 4

Native American Heritage

This is the archive of our Chat held on February 15, 2001.
Topics: Native American/Indian Traditions, history and distribution in Texas. What are the current issues facing them? How have traditions been maintained? What is the status of today's Indian Reservation?

edservices: Good morning, Guest!
guest5: Hello Nancy!
itcsarah: Good morning Nancy.
edservices: Hi, Sarah!! Welcome back!
edservices: Is Billy Turpin in the chatroom?
plains-indians-billy: yes
edservices: Good Morning, Billy!
plains-indians-billy: Good Morning to all!
edservices: We have two guest speakers in the chatroom right now, Sarah from the Institute of Texan Cultures, and Billy. Billy, can you tell us your title and your role?
plains-indians-billy: I am president of the Texas Intertribal Indian Organization in the Amarillo area.
edservices: What is the purpose of your organization?
edservices: Good morning, Chris!
tpwchris: Good morning!
plains-indians-billy: To preserve the heritage and show the history of the native americans in the panhandle.
edservices: Sarah, can you tell us about the role of the Institute?
itcsarah: The history of the Native Americans in Texas is a pretty sad one.
plains-indians-billy: I have to agree.
edservices: Tell us more.
itcsarah: The exhibit area of the Institute focuses on the numerous cultures that settled Texas and of course it has a large Native American area. The Native American area primarily addresses the Caddo and Apache tribes.
plains-indians-billy: By the end of 1875 there was no native americans in the state of Texas. They had all been pushed out.
edservices: 1875?? Where did they go?
plains-indians-billy: Most of them went to the Indian Territory. Which is now Oklahoma.
itcsarah: I got curious about the Native American tribes in Texas when I realized that the three present groups: Kickapoo, Alabama-Coushatta, and Tiquas are all "imported" tribes. None of these tribes were original tribes of the area and so I wanted to know what happened to all the native tribes that were originally here.
edservices: So when did the new tribes come in, and were they successful?
itcsarah: There are many reasons why the original tribes of the area "disappeared." The research I did on this lead to my creating The Mystery of the Disappearing Indians of Texas website at:
itcsarah: The US government created reservations and forced clans of the various tribe to live there. The reservations that remain are now considered independent NATIONS within the United States.
irene: Hi! Do native americans prefer to be called native american or Indians?
itcsarah: Indians!
irene: Are you sure since I associate Indians with those of India.
itcsarah: The Tiqua tribe came south from around Albuquerque, NM I think in the late 19th century.
edservices: Billy, what does your organization prefer? Native American or Indian?
plains-indians-billy: It is a mixture within the organization. We have 95 active members and some prefer Native Americans and some Indians. It is always a discussion which should be used.
itcsarah: #15. When there is confusion between Native Americans and Indians of India at ITC we typically refer the those from India as Eastern Indians, but I guess that really doesn't clarify anything either as there were many Native American tribes on the east coast!
irene: Can you tell me more about the Texas Indians that befriended (I think) the Spanish during the Texas Revolution.
plains-indians-billy: I do not know much of that history in that part of Texas.
itcsarah: #17 I can't help on that one at all! Think I'm confused with the SPANISH and the Texas Revolution as I always think of the Mexicans and Tejanos and the Anglos as the primary groups of the Texas Revolution.
itcsarah: I know the Comanche were VERY active during the Texas Revolution, but not in a friendly manner.
irene: Weren't the Spanish and Mexicans co-existing in that part of the state?
plains-indians-billy: She is very right.
plains-indians-billy: The Commanche were seen as enemies to both.
tpwvicki: #17-If you have something specific in mind, I'll sure try and research it for you. guest8 Today, what exactly does your organization do for the Plains Indians?
guest8: What are some of the stories/heritage that is being kept alive to pass on to the next generation>
tpwchris: Here's an interesting fact: Sam Houston lived with the Cherokee Indians for years, during which he learned to respect them for who they were.
itcsarah: My intimate knowledge and their stories is with the Hopi tribe in northern Arizona
edservices: I'm interested in the celebrations and games, the culture that is trying to be preserved and celebrated today. Can you tell us about children's games?
plains-indians-billy: We as an organization, we represent the Comanche and Kiowa Indians in different functions. Especially at museums like the Panhandle Plains Museum. As president, if someone cannot be there, then I represent that tribe.
irene: In what part of Texas did the Cherokee's live? Are they still here?
plains-indians-billy: He learned the Cherokee way but the plains Indians are a completly differt. Their beleives are different.
itcsarah: The Hopi remember and pass on through the generations the stories of the federal people coming into their homes on the reservation and taking their children away to boarding schools. I am sure this same story is told by many other tribes in this country and Texas.
plains-indians-billy: Cherokees did not live in Texas.
tpwvicki: #24 - We use a story in our Texas Buffalo Soldier program from Comanche Chief Quannah Parker's band about why the black soldiers were called buffalo soldiers.
guest8: How are their belief's different?
irene: Why were the black soldiers called buffalo soldiers?
plains-indians-billy: One of the big things that is on right now for the Plains Indians is a big push to visit the older people and get stories on tape to preserve them and also their language.
guest8: What are some of the most common foods, favorite foods? I love the Indian Fry Bread!
edservices: We had a question on Monday from someone who was very upset that Native American history / culture was not being preserved. Any comments?
debbe: on question #31, in reading, they regarding the soldiers hair as resembling the hair of the buffalo
plains-indians-billy: They were called Buffalo soldiers because of their dark skin and their hair felt like that on the buffalo.
itcsarah: One game I watched a small Indian child play recently....a pop bottle was laying on it's side and the boy had a string tied to a twig. The end of the string had a loop in it. The kid was laying on a flat roof top about 10 feet over the bottle. He was trying to get the loop over the neck of bottle and stand it up. Patience, patience, patience was the name of the game.
edservices: When I visited Alaska, I got to watch part of the Eskimo Olympics. edservices What impressed us all the most was the spirit of cooperation. Contestants helped each other.
tpwsteve: When I was at the Texas Zoo in Victoria, we did a Native American program throughout the month of November. Each classroom received a "loaf" of Fry Bread. I think some of the teachers brought their classes just to get the bread.
edservices: The loudest applause was for the contestant who was just eliminated. He / She had done her best and it was appreciated.
tpwvicki: #30 - His great grandson told us that they were praying for the return of the buffalo andd the first thing that they saw were the black soldiers. They thought they were "buffalo man" or buffalo who had died and come back as man. That particular band had a high respect for the soldiers and would not engage them in battle.
itcsarah: Billy is certainly right when he says one of the primarily objectives of many tribes today is the preservation of their language. The Hopis just this year got their own broadcasting station on the reservation and will be broadcasting in the Hopi language as one way to preserve their language.
plains-indians-billy: Todays Indians are just like everyone else today. They go to the grocery store too. In the old days they hunted buffalo and made bread out of yucca seed or bear grass by grinding the seeds into flour.
edservices: I heard a young Indian girl (high school) complain that because she was Indian, everyone thought she should be mystical, have visions, etc. Is it tough for Indian teens to preserve their culture and be a US teen?
plains-indians-billy: Up in the panhandle, Amarillo area, we have a homecoming pow-wow. The reason it is called the homecoming is because it is a gathering of mostly Comanche and Kiowa Indians. This is their native land. It is open to all native americans though.
itcsarah: There are many cultural differences across the native tribes as well as differences with Anglos. One of the things that was important to me as a teacher was Indian children learn by observation and watching quietly and NOT asking alot of questions. This makes for real problems if the teacher is Anglo.
tpwchris: I just read that on March 19, 1840, a great meeting was called for the Council House at San Antonio between the Commanches and the Texans. The Commanches were asked to bring in all white prisoners as a sign of goodwill and as a sign of willingness to sign a peace treaty. When the day of the meeting arrived, the Commanches only brought in 1 white prisoner which angered the Texans. The Texans threatened to hold all Commanches prisoner unless all of the white prisoners were released. A bloody fight broke out and 35 Indians were killed and 29 captured (including women and children). This started a new wave of violence between the Indians and the west.
itcsarah: got the story right. The Comanches were all killed and these were the leaders of the many Comanche clans.
irene: Can anyone go to the Pow-Wows? Not just Indians?
debbe: The Alabama-Coushatta cultural committee holds classes ranging from headstart to adults to learn the language and we also teach classes on native basketry, dances and traditional foods. These are some of the ways that our traditions can be preserved.
edservices: What are some of the differences between the tribes?
irene: Are there any Commanche's left in Texas? My father thinks he's part Commanche.
plains-indians-billy: It was the attitude of the white man. Belief was that the white man and the red man could not live in harmony. White man was here to rule. This was stated by the 2nd president of the Republic of Texas whose name was Mirabeau Lamar in December 1838. It was his opening statement to congress.
edservices: How does the Alabama-Coushatta differ from Comanche and Apache? plains-indians-billy Yes. They are open to the public.
irene: I visited the Alabama-Coushatta reservation years ago and thought it was all so beautiful but sad at the same time. Wish things hadn't turned out so bad for the Native Americans.
plains-indians-billy: The big difference is the language. Each tribe had their own. itcsarah Yes anyone can go to Pow Wows and they are wonderful. But as a white person going to a pow wow I DO NOT TAKE MY CAMERA and I try not to ask any questions. I just watch and enjoy.
itcsarah: Each tribe also has its own ceremonial dances and rituals although most are related to the harvest and planting.
debbe: The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe has come a very long way from the time we came to Texas in the 1800s to the present. We have endured many hardships, but have overcome them, in which, today brings us to the present where we can now sustain ourselves and our families.
edservices: Does that declaration from Lamar still have an affect? How do you feel about things today? Do you feel like that sentiment remains?
tpwchris: Also, the Spaniards were also insensitive to the "red man" as the goal of the Spanish monks was to convert and tame and convert them.
itcsarah: The original clothing of the various tribe varied by their geographic location as clothing was made like their homes, from the land and the flora and fauna around them. Of course today such clothes are now cermonial costumes as all Indians dress just like everyone levis and cowboy boots!
plains-indians-billy: When you have a pow-wow it is the coming together of many tribes. So the dancing and the drums, everyone dances the same. They are differnt at a pow-wow than they are at a tribal ceramony.
guest9: I am reading an excellent book, "Black Elk Speaks" by John Neihardt. It is an interview with a Lakota Elder (Holy Man) on the beliefs of the Plains Indians.
plains-indians-billy: Yes it does. Especially in Oklahoma and several large reservations out west and north. There are still a lot of prejustice against the Indians today.
irene: I heard that Pow-Wow's were also a competition between tribes. Is this true? itcsarah #46 The book I read this week was Comanches of the West 1895-1908. It included a wonderful 21 page summary history of the time period and wonderful photographs taken near Ft. Sill.
debbe: To non-indians, the wording ceremonial costumes are used, to native americans, the use would be ceremonial regalia.
plains-indians-billy: Today is not a competion between tribes but between the dancers. They get prizes for dances and that causes competion between them.
itcsarah: Pow wows are competitions but think they are among the individuals competing not the tribes.
edservices: Debbie, did you ever live on a reservation?
itcsarah: Debbie...thanks for the correction....I need to put that into the hopper of changes here at ITC!
tpwsteve: What is the origin of the term "Pow wow"?
irene: I was reading memoirs of Friar Gaspar Jose de Solis (1767-1768) in which he described working with the following Texas Indian groups: Caxanes, Guapites, Carancageraces and Copanes. Can you tell me more about them? In his letters he states that there were only a few living on the banks of some rivers in Texas.
plains-indians-billy: Pow-wow is a gathering of the medicine men and holy men to discuss tribal matters.
debbe: yes, it is "debbe"- Debbie Thomas, member of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas
moderator: Thank you, Debbie, for joining us after our technical difficluties this morning-we're glad you're here.
plains-indians-billy: There has not been any reservation in Oklahoma since 1898. itcsarah One of the problems for me in studying the tribes of Texas is all the different names and spellings for the same tribes. The French called them one thing and the Spanish another and through the centuries the same group got additional names. So to questions #51 I have no idea what those groups are.
edservices: Do you think there has been a difference in "success" of the different tribes?
plains-indians-billy: Yes. Definatly.
debbe: this is debbie, yes, i do live on the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation
edservices: What is life like on your reservation?
itcsarah: I have trouble with the word success and what you are meaning by that. I would say any Indian alive today is successful by virture of having gotten born and being alive. By success do you mean assimiliated? By success do you mean having knowledge of their individual heritage?
itcsarah: Some tribes have been able to preserve their culture better than others especially ones not in Texas.
irene: I wonder if those Indian groups that I mentioned were unique tribes that died out completely. The friar describes their life along the river and of their journeys to the coastline and back.
edservices: Yes, success is an odd word. I guess I mean feeling happy with one's heritage and feeling like you have an important place in Texas today.
tpwvicki: #57 - You might go on some of the American Indian web sites and see if there is any mention of those tribes, Irene.
irene: Thanks Vicki.
itcsarah: Most Indians in Texas do not live on reservations but in URBAN areas. If they are a first generation urban Indian then I think they have a very hard timem, but with each passing generation in a city environment more of their inidividual heritage is lost. edservices What is most important for kids of other backgrounds to understand about fellow Texans who are Indian?
guest9: How many families live on the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation?
tpwsteve: I understand that some reservations have various businesses from which they derive income. What revenue generating businesses are conducted within the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation?
moderator: The chatroom will be closing in a few minutes so we might want to wrap up with any final questions and brief answers.
guest9: Is the native language still spoken in the home and passed on to the next young generation? I sure hope so.
guest9: Does the Alabama-Coushatta still practice timber management on their lands? Or do they practice clear cutting?
debbe: Life on the reservation could almost be like living in a town or city, except we are surrounded by the beautiful forests, everyone knows each other, we are a close community. The Tribe is continually findings way to improve economically, but we also try to maintain our traditional customs.
plains-indians-billy: People think Indians are mystic and religious. That is something that is taught. The best thing to remember is they are just like you.
itcsarah: I think it is important for others to know that Indian children are just like other children. The wear levis, eat MacDonalds, drink coke, like reggae music, etc. just like other kids in this country.
tpwsteve: I would like to thank edservices, the moderator and the guest speakers today. I fear too many people are dependent on unrelistic sources, such as Hollywood, to gain their general knowledge about Native Americans.
irene: Repecting other customs and their heritage is important. Discrimination is useless and wish that everyone could see that underneath the outer skin layer we are all alike.
moderator: What a wonderful discussion! Thank you all for your participation. We hope you enjoyed this forum and we hope to do more like it in the future.
itcsarah: Goodbye.
edservices: Thanks to everyone!

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