Happy Indigenous People’s Day! ❤️
I began my career as a seventh grade English and Texas History teacher, and throughout those years I had the privilege to learn all about the many diverse and rich communities of Native Texans — the Karankawa, when I have lived almost my entire life, spanning the lands between today’s Houston and Galveston; the Coahuiltecans in the Rio Grande Valley; the Caddo of East Texas; and the Apache and Comanche in the plains of the Hill Country and the west. (And there are even more tribes!)
I loved learning and teaching about their architecture and their crafts and their religions and their political structures. The land that makes up Texas had been full of complex and meaningful human civilization for thousands of years by the time that Spaniards set foot on it. (And it was full of the descendants of those Native people when the United States annexed it following the Mexican-American War.)
And because I am a teacher in my truest heart, I would like to share some of my favorite facts about these great cultures!
🌎 The Coahuiltecans could CHASE DOWN A DEER ON FOOT. They would just run after it until it became exhausted.
🌎 The Caddo were part of the Mississippi mound building cultures. They built these enormous earthen structures, but their purpose is a mystery (to us).
🌎 The Karankawa had pet dogs!
🌎 The Comanche could, using only the strength of their legs, swing their bodies underneath their galloping horses and shoot arrows upside down!
🌎 The real first Thanksgiving (the first instance of Native people offering Europeans assistance and hospitality) actually took place centuries before the Pilgrims in West Texas.
Of course, there’s so much that we don’t know about the history of these people, but I think it’s important to take a moment to sit with what we DO know. And I think it’s even more important that we apply those understandings to solving issues of inequity that Native people face today. (For example, Native women are assaulted, murdered, or disappeared at rates higher than any other group in America.) After all, who could disagree with teaching and learning about “our diverse history and all who have contributed to shaping this Nation?”