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But the coming of the Europeans—as well as intruding native raiders, such as the Comanche, Tonkawa, and Apache—triggered devastating cultural upheaval and movement among coastal native groups.Some were pressured southward into the traditional territories of other native groups, others forced into slavery, and others enticed or coerced into Spanish missions.Teeming with fish, acting as a magnet for birds and wildlife, and giving nutrients to plants, the river offered a cornucopia of potential foods for the people who lived near it.Nowhere was that food more plentiful than at its mouth in modern Cameron County, Texas.In the following sections, we look first at the lesser known native populations of the lower coast, the peoples of the Rio Grande delta.From there we work upward to the Indians of the central coast—the Mariames and the Karankawa—and finally to the groups of the upper coast—the Atakapan speakers and Bidai In addition we provide extensive links to other resources on that feature data from Protohistoric, or early Historic, archeological sites in the coastal region.It was a gruesome story repeated across the region and indeed much of North America: disease, warfare, death, or assimilation.Within the course of just a few centuries, most of the coastal native societies were gone forever.
Joutel’s diary, written some 150 years later, is written from the perspective of a colonist—albeit a hapless and unintentional one—encountering native groups (chiefly Karankawa) who viewed La Salle and his colonists at Fort St. The Frenchman, intent on sustaining the meager colony in the wilderness while struggling with the erratic behavior of La Salle, made little mention of native ways, other than recording their periodic threats and attacks on the settlers.In the Mitchell Ridge cemetery site on Galveston Island, for example, we see not only early Historic period European objects, such as glass trade beads and mirrors, intermixed with traditional native objects, but also provocative bioarcheologcial evidence suggesting interbreeding among native and European populations. Louis near Victoria, there is evidence that the Karankawa killed the French colonists in 1689 but subsequently lived and traded among the Spanish at the presidio built over the same site a few decades later.A number of archeologists and historians have specialized in the cultutural groups of the coastal region, and references to their work are provided below for further information.For thousands of years, aboriginal peoples fished and collected marine resources along the sandy shores and trekked across the prairies and marshes in search of wild game and fruiting plants.In more recent times, remnant groups of these longstanding cultures—the Atakapa, Akokisa, Karankawa, Mariames, Comecrudos, and others unnamed—were encountered by European explorers, soldiers, and missionaries.