Written by Teresa Palomo Acosta
Read by Spike Gillespie
In the early time before Spanish, French, Mexican, and American explorers arrived in present-day Texas, an incalculable number of Indian women made this place their homes. Unfortunately, we know none of these women by name. But thanks to new archeological and historical research, we are learning who they were and what they did.
To begin, they were not the "squaws" so disparaged in literature and popular culture. Like women of any time and culture, their lives were complex. During the Paleoindian period between about 12,000 and 8,000 BCE, Indian women were important to the survival of their bands, helping men hunt, butcher animals, and dress the hides. They also gathered seeds, nuts, and berries for sustaining their families. Most Indian cultures were female-centered. In matrilineal groups, descent was traced through the mother. In matrilocal groups, a man lived with his wife’s family after marriage.
During the Archaic period, from 8,000 BCE through about 800 in the CE, Caddo women of present-day east and northeast Texas became priest-chiefs, thus possessing both religious and political authority. By about 800, Caddo women began to fashion some of the most renowned ceramic pottery east of the Rocky Mountains. They created utilitarian vessels as well as religious ones. Today, the Caddo pottery tradition has been revived by Jeraldine Redcorn. Her "Intertwining Scrolls" container is currently displayed in the White House in President Barack Obama’s office.
Timeline at www.womenintexashistory.org.
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.