THE TONKAWAS

By: Annelise Mraz

Brief talk about the Tonkawas:

  • lived in Austin, Texas in the Coastal region
  • nearly extinct in 1960's- 35 people in all in Oklahoma
  • some Tonkawa are still living near Austin
  • driven from Texas to Oklahoma by the Americans
  • enemies included the Comanches and Apaches
  • believed they were descendants of wolves

Tonkawa Diet:

  • never farmed based on certain beliefs, one belief including that wolves don't farm and so the Tonkawa should not farm either on account of the history of believing they were descendants of wolves.
  • hunter-gathers
  • ate buffalo, deer, fish, mussels, pecans, blackberries, roots, etc

How Food was Obtained:

  • gathered pecans, roots, and blackberries
  • used bow and arrow to hunt game
  • traded with neighboring tribes for corn

What the Tonkawas lived in:

  • lived in large buffalo-hide tepees
  • tepees could be packed up in a hour
  • some use tepees for fun or to connect to their heritage today
  • others live in normal houses or apartments today

Weapons/ Tools and their Uses:

  • The Bow and Arrow was used for hunting game and defending the tribe
  • The Spear was also used for hunting and warfare. The spear was smaller and easier to use
  • The Club wasn't used for hunting it was actually used for warfare, duels, executions, and for ceremonial purposes
  • Tomahawks or axes were used for hand-to-hand combat, throwing short distance, and for tools

Special Traditions and Religion:

  • The Tonkawa believed that they were decedents of the wolves
  • The Tonkawa had an annual Wolf Dance for they believed that the wolves protected the tribe.
  • Tonkawa had a special tradition for death: when someone close was dying all of his friends and family would enter the tepee and form a circle and place their hands on the dying person. The rest of the tribe would make a second circle while swaying and chanting until the person died. After the person died the tribe would cut of the corpse's hair, paint their face yellow and the body was wrapped in buffalo skinned robes.

Orgainization of Leadership:

  • The Tonkawa had a chief that controlled the tribe
  • Tonkawa's status was based on fraternal kinship

Where are the Tonkawa now?:

  • The Tonkawa live in a reservation in Oklahoma
  • Only fifteen families still carry on Tonkawa tradition
  • The Tonkawa own two casinos in Oklahoma so they can live on

Interesting Facts:

  • The Tonkawa used dogs to transport from site to site
  • Did not stand out as much as other tribes. Most were short and not as dark skinned as other tribes
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