The Coahuiltecan

South Texas Plains

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The Coahuiltecan (koh-ah-weel-TAY-kahn) lived on the dry South Texas Plains, a land that is covered by scrub plants and has little water. Not a single, unified group, the Coahuiltecan included many groups who lived near each other. The men hunted animals like deer and rabbits with bows and arrows. They used simple traps to catch small animals. They also hunted lizards, snakes, and insects for food. While hunting animals was a way of getting some food, they probably got most of their food from the women and children gathering plants, roots, and fruits. The Coahuiltecan were nomads; in an environment that was harsher than that of the coastal groups, their struggle for food was constant.

They moved around almost daily so it was not worth the time and effort to build anything. When they did camp at one place for more than a day or two they might build simple windbreaks or lean-tos of brush and tree limbs. Usually they lived and slept in the open since the climate in South Texas is fairly warm year round. They did make simple baskets to carry things in and wove grass mats to sit and sleep on.

Shamans, who led religious ceremonies, made medicine, and cared for the sick were important to the Coahuiltecans. At times groups would gather for all-night feasting and dancing at celebrations called mitotes. Like many of the other native groups, the Coahuiltecans died from diseases and attacks from others. By 1800 there were only a few left, and they joined other native groups.