Karankawa Indians Handbook of Texas

Karankawa Indians Handbook of Texas

The editors at the Handbook of Texas kindly provided me the opportunity to revise their entry on “Karankawa Indians.” While sharing all my edits is a bit cumbersome, the most significant change is visible in the final paragraph which refutes the Karankawas’ extinction:

Generally, Karankawas either incorporated themselves into the colonizers’ society, integrated into other Native American groups, or moved south to Tamaulipas, Mexico, to escape pressure from the growing Texan population. Karankawas encountered similar problems south of the Rio Grande. Accused of plundering settlements in the Reynosa area, the tribe came under continued attack from Mexican authorities. By the late 1850s, these Karankawas had been pushed back into Texas, where they settled in the vicinity of Rio Grande City. Local residents did not welcome the tribe, and in 1858 a Texan force, led by Juan Nepomuceno Cortina, attacked that small band of Karankawas. Following that defeat, the coastal Texas tribe was considered extinct, but surviving Karankawas across the Gulf Coast retained and passed down aspects of their culture generation after generation. In the twenty-first century, the Karankawa Kadla (mixed Karankawas) formed to gather and organize individuals who identified as being partially Karankawa. The Karankawa Kadla has since revitalized the Karankawan language, worked with local authorities to protect burial sites, and developed education programs that combat traditional Anglo education. After centuries of strife, Karankawas remain on their homelands as a persistent people.

For more on the Karankawa Kadla, visit their tribal page.

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