Analysis of bones found near the present-day western Texas town of Midland suggests that humans lived in the area as early as 15,000 years ago. Between 1000 bc and the arrival of Europeans, several Native American cultures existed in different parts of what is now Texas. A well-developed society existed in the wooded areas of eastern Texas. Abundant rainfall allowed the inhabitants, whom archaeologists call Mound Builders, to raise corn, beans, squash, and tobacco. They built houses of poles, thatch, and mud plaster. They made beautiful pottery and used stone implements. Several mounds, each about 3.8 m (12 ft) high and 46 m (150 ft) long, are thought to have been made by these prehistoric people. Along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico early inhabitants lived principally on seafood and practiced ceremonial cannibalism. They made pottery that was waterproofed with asphalt. In central Texas large middens, or refuse piles built up over many years, have revealed advances in technology during the Stone Age.
More advanced stone implements were found in the top layers of the refuse, and cruder ones were found at the bottom. Dwellings made of stone slabs were discovered along the Canadian River in the Texas Panhandle. The people who lived there hunted and planted corn and beans. An early people, whom archaeologists call Basket Makers, settled in the Texas Panhandle and along the Pecos River. They lived in caves or built shelters of poles and adobe mud. They made baskets, bags, and sandals from the yucca and other plants and raised corn and squash and killed game with a dart-thrower. When the first European explorers arrived, they found that the settled, agricultural Native Americans living in Texas were usually peaceful.
The peoples of eastern Texas belonged to the Caddoan linguistic group and were loosely organized into two confederacies, the Caddo of the Texarkana area and the Hasinai on the upper Angelina and Neches rivers. When Spanish explorers first met the Hasinai, the Spaniards were greeted with the word techas, or allies. The Spanish pronounced the word as Tejas (Texas), and adopted it for both the area and the people. The native inhabitants lived in small villages with 7 to 15 dome-shaped huts. They were accomplished farmers and raised many different crops. Deer, bears, and fish were plentiful, and long trips were sometimes undertaken to hunt buffalo. The Karankawa lived along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. They used dugout canoes to catch seafood from the lagoons along the shore, smearing their bodies with fish oil to repel mosquitoes.
The Wichita and Tonkawa of central Texas hunted and planted beans and corn, but they depended less on farming than did their eastern neighbors. The Coahuiltecan, who lived south of present-day San Antonio, ate beans, cacti, and small animals. The Lipan peoples, who were related to the Apache of the southwest United States, inhabited the western part of Texas. Late in the 18th century, bands of Comanche entered the Texas area and pushed the Apache southward. The Apache and the Comanche depended on the buffalo for food and used its hide for shelter and clothing. The Comanche, in particular, became expert horsemen. "Texas" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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