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TALES OF THE ALABAMA-COUSHATTA INDIANS* BY HOWARD N. MARTIN There is not much left in the Big Thicket to tell us about the first men who hunted in its woods. At least ten thousand years ago hunters left their spear heads in East Texas in the remains of sloths and mastodons and other now-extinct animals, but so far nothing has been found to show that these early Americans roamed or settledin the Thicket area. Three groups of Indians are historically associated with the Thicket. They are the Atakapans, the Caddoes, and the AlabamaCoushatta . In the historical beginning, however, only the Atakapan and the Caddo moved through the Thicket with any regularity . Other tribes from as far away as Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas made periodic hunting trips into the Thicket for bear meat, skins, and tallow; and Tonkawas, Lipans, and Wichitas met in peace at the medicinal springs around present-day Sour Lake and Saratoga. But primarily the Thicket was the meat house of the mound-building Caddoes, who occupied the fertile rolling hills to the north, and the cannibalistic Atakapans, who bounded the Thicket on the Gulf Coast and on the Trinity bottoms. Then at the end of the eighteenth century, the Alabama and Coushatta began "Copyright Howard N. Martin, 1966. Used by permission of the copyright owner. 33 34 17. Howard N. Martin. to settle on the northern and western fringe of the Thicket, and the woods became theirs. Howard N. Martin's collection of "Tales of the Alabama-Coushatta Indians" is selected from his unpublished history of the two tribes and from his FOLKTALES OF THE ALABAMA-COUSHATTA INDIANS . Mr. Martin's research on these East Texas Indians will undoubtedly be the basis for a definitive work on the only tribes of Indians left in Texas.-F.E.A. The Trail West for the Alabama Indian Tribe Asmall group of armed settlers moved quietly across the prairie to form a tight circle around an Indian camp on the Lower Brazos Reserve in Central Texas. Clouds obscured the moon and accentuated the darkness of that December night in 1858. THE ALABAMA-COUSHATTA INDIANS In the distance a coyote howled. But in the Indian camp there was no sound or movement among the Anadarko and Caddo men, women, and children. No one stood guard while the seventeen Indians slept. After the Texans had taken positions around the Indians, the leader rose to a standing position and began firing a shotgun into the camp. The other men also opened fire. At point-blank range the blazing rifles took frightful toll. Seven of the Indians were killed instantly; most of the others were seriously wounded. Indian Agent Robert S. Neighbors immediately appealed to Governor Runnels for prompt action against the murderers of these peaceful Indians. The agent pOinted out that these Indians had harmed no one and were the innocent victims of vengeful white settlers. Details of this event must be recorded among the more tragic incidents in the history of this state's relations with its Indian population . The misfortune of the Anadarko and Caddo Indians on this occasion, however, proved to be a lucky break for the Alabama Indian Tribe located then, as now, on a reservation in Polk County, Texas. The Alabama tribe was a proud but peaceful member of the Upper Creek Confederacy. When the French began establishing posts along the Gulf of Mexico in the eighteenth century, they found the Alabamas living in several villages on the Alabama River where the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers meet. The state of Alabama and the Alabama River are named for these Indians. The French built Fort Toulouse at this river junction. Although they were at war with the Alabamas from 1702 until 1713, the French later maintained friendly relations with them and other nearby tribes. They also convinced these Indians that the English were enemies. So, when the French abandoned Fort Toulouse and Mobile to the English in 1763, most of the Alabamas destroyed their villages and followed the French to Louisiana. Some settled along the Mississippi and Red rivers, while the majority drifted westward to build a village near Opelousas. By 1800 the Alabamas had begun moving across the border into 35 Map 2. INDIAN VILLAGE SITES AND INDIAN TRAILS. (White numbers on black background refer to village sites. Villages numbered 1 through 8 existed prior to 1835; numbers 9 through 11 were established after 1835.) 1. Peachtree Village 2. Flea Village 3. Fenced-in Village 4...


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