Written by Teresa Palomo Acosta
Read by Teresa Palomo Acosta
For hundreds of years, Caddo women made pottery for daily, as well as for decorative uses and cultural rites and rituals. Archeological records have revealed the existence of a rich tradition of pottery-making by Caddo women dating back to about 800 in the Common Era, when the Caddo people began to live more settled community lives. Indeed, the extraordinary skill and creativity of Caddo potters is confirmed by the tens of thousands of pottery fragments or near-complete ceramics found at Caddo archeological sites.
Working with clay gathered from riverbanks, Caddo potters fashioned hardy and plain bowl, jar, and bottle forms for use in cooking and storage. They also made elaborate vessels. The women used the coiling method to shape their pottery. They fired their works over open flames to produce earth-tone colors in yellow, red, brown, grey, and black. Employing flint tools, the potters engraved their wares with “parallel lines, cross-hatching, and curvilinear patterns.” Highly valued, this pottery was traded outside Caddo homelands.
With the removal of the Caddo from Texas to Indian Territory in Oklahoma in1859, this tradition of pottery-making died. Recently, however, Jereldine Redcorn revived it, teaching herself the techniques of her ancestors. Examples of Caddo pottery preserved by the University of Texas at Austin can be viewed at the Texas Beyond History Web site. Thus, Caddo women potters’ ancient contributions to Texas art and culture can still be studied and admired.
Abernethy, Francis E. "FOLK ARTS AND CRAFTS," Handbook of Texas Online. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
La Vere, David. The Texas Indians. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004.
Perttula, Timothy K. "CADDO INDIANS," Handbook of Texas Online. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Audio Source Information
Our project, "Texas Women's History Moments," received the 2012 National Council on Public History Outstanding Public History Award and the American Association for State and Local History Leadership in History Award. The audio clips were broadcast on KUT radio from 2011-2016 during Women’s History Month.