Written by Teresa Palomo Acosta
Read by Teresa Palomo Acosta
Produced by KUT for Texas Women's History Month in cooperation with the Ruthe Winegarten Memorial Foundation for Texas Women's History. First broadcast on Austin radio station KUT in March, 2011.
Angelina, probably a member of the Caddo nation, served as a guide and translator for native people and European explorers between 1716 and 1721. In this role, she, like other Indian women, including Sacagawea in the American West and Malintzin Tenepal in Mexico, became a mediator, negotiator, and peacekeeper among the Indian, Spanish, and French.
The Spanish established a mission among her people in 1690 in present-day East Texas. The mission marked the beginning of a friendship between the two peoples, one that she promoted through her talents and skills.
She received the baptismal name Angelina from the Spanish missionaries. Father Damian Massanet described Angelina as an "Indian maiden with a bright intellect and possessing [a] striking personal appearance," who "expressed a desire to learn the Father’s language." One account of her life describes her as "learned" and "sagacious."
In the 1690s, Angelina traveled to study at San Juan Bautista Mission in Guerrero, Coahuila, thirty-five miles south of present-day Eagle Pass. She later returned to her people. In 1718, Angelina helped found San Antonio de Valero Mission (the Alamo). The last written record of her life comes from 1721. The date of Angelina’s death is unknown.
Angelina has been honored by the State of Texas by having both a county and a river named for her. She is the only woman in the state to have been accorded this recognition.
Acosta, Teresa Palomo and Ruthe Winegarten. Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003.