This book presents a synthesis of prehistoric as well as historic information concerning the native peoples of Texas between approximately A.D. 1300 and A.D. 1700. In more than fifteen years of conducting archaeological investigations in Texas, I have found that people seldom fail to express an interest in Texas history and prehistory. Discounting the willfully ignorant, most people seem genuinely interested in the lives of others. Archaeology, the study of past people, is a branch of anthropology, the study of people, and both share the same fundamental goal: to describe and explain similarity and diversity among humans.
So anthropology as well as archaeology can be viewed as an extension of people's common curiosity in each other, although the degree of curiosity varies considerably. Some of us are drawn to difference, embracing and celebrating the exotic. Others are more comfortable with the familiar, preferring to observe the strange and different with a sort of horrified fascination from afar. Whatever our preference, we are constantly engaged in recognizing similarity and distinguishing difference in people and in the world around us.
Anthropology emphasizes a holistic approach to the study of people, often incorporating multiple disciplines and multiple lines of evidence (e.g., archaeology, history, ethnography, geography, biology, and linguistics) in order to provide a more precise context. At least this is the way anthropology was described to me more than twenty years ago. Today anthropology, like so many fields, is increasingly specialized. Although specialization has its benefits, an obvious advantage of a holistic approach is its potential for constructing a well-rounded synthesis by incorporating several different perspectives. This orientation is perhaps most evident here in the incorporation of historical, ethnographic, environmental, and archaeological data across the large region known today as the State of Texas. To be sure, other peoples, places, and events outside Texas (some quite distant) are relevant to our discussion in terms of interaction, identity, and impact, and these too are considered. But the focus of our discussion is Texas.
Similarly inclusive is the treatment of prehistory and history within the same volume. With the important exception of historical archaeology, Texas archaeology and history are generally treated as separate subjects, both in terms of academic disciplines and as texts. History is typically associated with events that occurred after the advent of the written record (in this case, the arrival of Europeans in North America) with everything prior falling under the purview of prehistory/archaeology. This book integrates aspects of both: space, people, plants, and animals are viewed as points on a continuum neither beginning nor ending with the advent of written histories or archaeological reconstructions. Thus, this synthesis is fundamentally anthropological in its perspective, relying primarily on comparisons and contrasts to recognize similarity and difference among multiple lines of evidence.
The aboriginal hunter-gatherers of Texas are also addressed in a similarly holistic perspective by comparing and contrasting them with other foragers and hunter-gatherer peoples documented by ethnographers in similar environments around the world. Archaeological and environmental data are used to reconstruct the material world and daily practice of prehistoric peoples in Texas. The historical documents of early Europeans provide eyewitness accounts and insight into the lives of their indigenous historic descendants. The resulting synthesis reflects a geographically and culturally diverse as well as dynamic region, but one in which different peoples were surprisingly integrated across vast distances and hundreds of years.
What follows is a reconstruction of this region in the last years of purely aboriginal interaction and in the first years of aboriginal/European interaction, an attempt to meld the old with the new and the familiar with the exotic and to communicate the complexity and diversity of Texas's vast cultural heritage to its current inhabitants. Granted, any synthesis covering hundreds of years and tens of thousands of square miles is bound to leave some things out as well as contain some gross overgeneralizations, and this one is no exception. For some, this book will, no doubt, be far too general and for others, far too technical. Ultimately, however, Texas may best be described through the diverse and fluid character of its peoples, and there is no question that Texas was a culturally diverse and fluid place—some might even say an exotic place—three hundred to seven hundred years ago.
In fact, few regions in North America present a better example of both cultural diversity and a cultural crossroads than Texas. Geographically, mountains, deserts, forests, and plains converge here, as have the cultural traditions of Mesoamerica, the American Southwest and Southeast, the Great Plains, and, more recently, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Between A.D. 1300 and 1700, Texas was home to hundreds of different aboriginal groups and perhaps a dozen indigenous linguistic families. In contrast, Europeans introduced about half as many languages toward the end of this period, most of them derivative of Latin. According to early Spanish and French historical documents, many indigenous groups in what is now Central, South, and East Texas were linked together and participated in a large political, economic, and social alliance known as Tejas. It was this loose-knit association of diverse native cultures for which the Spanish and Mexican Province of Tejas (or Texias), later the Republic of Texas, and finally the State of Texas was named. This book explores the prehistoric, environmental, anthropological, and historical evidence for the development, persistence, and fate of Tejas.
Geographic and Cultural Diversity
Texas was and still is a geographically diverse region. Biology, geology, and climatic regimes grade from almost impenetrable swamps and dense pine forests in the east to belts of post oaks, greenbrier, and Blackland Prairie as one moves west. The Edwards Plateau of Central Texas rises sharply above these surrounding prairies and savannas on its eastern and southern flanks to the almost Mediterranean environment of the Central Texas Hill Country. Somewhat reminiscent of southern France, rolling oak and juniper parklands are the dominant biotic regime found in the thin soils and rugged limestone or Karst topography of the Edwards Plateau. Rainfall percolating through sparse soils and underlying limestone fills a large underground aquifer from which many clear springs, streams, and rivers originate. Cypress and sycamore trees often line these streams and rivers and stands of native pecans are present on most terraces.
Moving north from the limestone hills of the Edwards Plateau, the oak savanna gives way to a broken country of mesas and rolling plains and rises again along the Caprock escarpment to the high Cibola (buffalo) plains of the Llano Estacado. Moving west from the Hill Country, the terrain ascends to the high grasslands of the Stockton Plateau and Marfa Plain and then rises once more into scattered stands of piñon and ponderosa pines in the Davis Mountains before dropping into the arid desert of the Hueco Bolson in far West Texas. To the south of the Edwards Plateau, juniper-lined arroyos of the Balcones Canyonlands eventually yield to sage and mesquite, culminating in either the dense brush country, or monte, of South Texas to the southeast or the deep desert canyons of the Lower Pecos to the southwest.
In general, the streams and rivers of Texas drain from higher elevations in the north and west toward the southeast, eventually emptying into the Gulf of Mexico along more than 630 miles of coastline. Over the course of tens of thousands of years, silt and gravel transported from higher elevations have created a broad, almost level coastal plain. Many of the larger rivers that cross the Gulf Coastal Plain are characterized by large meanders and occasional oxbow lakes, or resacas, as they approach the coast. Barrier islands, formed by the interaction of outwash sediment from these rivers and gulf waters, line the coast of Texas. This string of barrier islands shelters a rich environment of lagoons and estuaries and within them numerous species of plants and animals that make their home between sea and land.
Fewer than 150 years ago, Texas was also home to a number of animal species that can now be seen only in protected parks and zoos. On the plains, tremendous herds of bison (Bison bison), accompanied by pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana), often took days to pass prairie dog towns consisting of thousands of burrows containing mostly prairie dogs (Cynomys gunnisoni), but also supporting burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia), ferrets (Mustela nigripes), and rattlesnakes (Crotalus atrox). Grizzly bears (Ursus horribilis) roamed the Davis Mountains of far West Texas until the turn of the twentieth century. Beavers (Castor canadensis), found in the Big Bend as late as the 1930s, constructed dams creating small wetlands across much of Texas. Desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), now extirpated in Texas, grazed alongside mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in West Texas until the 1950s. Black bears (Euarctos americanus), mountain lions (Felis concolor), wolves (Canis lupus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), whooping cranes (Grus americana), turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), Attwater's Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri), and quail (Colinus virginianus) were all found throughout large portions of Texas. Several cats including ocelots (Felis pardalis), bobcats (Lynx rufus), and jaguarondis (Felis yagouaroundi) prowled dense brushy thickets, and the largest cat in the Americas, the jaguar (Felis onca), was also found here. Numerous wetlands, most now drained, were inhabited by many of these species as well as alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), otters (Lutra canadensis), mink (Mustela vison), muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus), and untold numbers of waterfowl and migratory birds.
Prior to urban development, intensive agriculture, and ranching, Texas possessed extensive grasslands and open parkland savannas with deep soils capable of capturing and retaining significantly more moisture than today. Consequently, springs, streams, and rivers flowed with greater volume and frequency, with many flowing year-round where today we see only dry stream beds. For example, a survey conducted in 1981 of the 281 major and historically recorded springs in Texas found that about half were failing or had already failed (Brune 1981). Thus, a contemporary time traveler to Texas in A.D. 1500 would likely be astonished by the number of springs, perennial streams, and wetlands, as well as by the numbers and variety of flora and fauna.
But it would be a mistake to characterize prehistoric and early historic Texas as a vast pristine wilderness, untouched by human hands. By the time Europeans arrived in the first half of the sixteenth century, this region had been occupied for perhaps fifteen thousand years, even as many as twenty thousand or thirty thousand years. Although most prehistoric Texans made a living by hunting and gathering, some began farming here as early as the twelfth and thirteenth centuries A.D. Some of these farmers built small towns or pueblos consisting of multi-roomed wattle and daub plastered houses and farmed the arid river valleys of far West Texas along the Rio Grande. Others raised corn along the tributaries and in the main valley of the Canadian River in the semi-arid Panhandle plains and constructed semi-subterranean homes or pithouses from large stone slabs, wood, and wattle and daub plaster. People in north central Texas farmed along the Brazos and Red Rivers and lived in small round or rectangular structures framed with wooden poles and covered with hides, reed mats, or grass thatch. Farther east, people cut clearings in the dense pine forests, erected earthen mounds and topped them with houses and temples, and cultivated corn, melons, and squash in the deep soils of East Texas. Thus, hunter-gatherers and farmers had interacted for hundred of years by the time of European contact.
Nevertheless, for thousands of years most indigenous peoples in Texas practiced hunting and gathering or foraging. Faunal assemblages and botanical remains from archaeological sites indicate that medium and light game animals (such as deer and rabbits) and various plants (i.e., nuts, bulbs, and tubers) were common components of the terrestrial diet for many people across this region. Bison, antelope, freshwater fish, and mussels were also often present, and almost certainly a wide variety of plants that were not preserved in the archaeological record. But the importance and frequency of some plants and animals as a daily dietary component may have been more significant in some areas (such as the plains and prairies) during specific seasons than in others, and in some areas these food sources were, no doubt, absent altogether. Moreover, the significance of hunting has likely been overstated. Studies of twentieth-century foragers in similar environments indicate that wild plants frequently represented 70 percent or more of the daily diet, suggesting a substantial if not primary investment of time and labor spent foraging for plants.
Historical accounts and more recent research among hunter-gatherers in North America as well as sub-Saharan Africa and Australia also indicate purposeful and significant alteration of the landscape through the use of fire. Several Spanish accounts mention indigenous groups setting brushfires in order to drive game toward hunters. Ethnographic data as well as range and wildlife management studies also indicate that fire can be an important ecological tool in maintaining healthy habitats for a number of diverse plant and animal species. Periodic burns decrease brush species (such as mesquite and juniper), temporarily increase soil fertility, and encourage the growth of grasses. Conservationists have also noticed that the combined effects of controlled burns often result in a higher water table. Ironically, after years of suppressing fire, this ancient tool is slowly becoming an integral part of modern range and wildlife management practices and is increasingly seen as a way to support and maintain valuable rangeland as well as soil and water resources.
Fishing is also a form of foraging, and fisher folk plied the lagoons and estuaries of the Texas coast. Numerous groups also exploited the immense aquatic resources (fish, shellfish, water fowl, and aquatic plants) in the undammed rivers and rich wetlands of the Trinity River basin in North Texas, the broad river valleys of the Gulf Coastal Plain, the swamps of East Texas, and the Rio Grande Delta in South Texas. Today bits and pieces of freshwater mussel shells mark prehistoric campsites along inland streams and rivers where many species of mollusks are now extinct or their numbers have been greatly reduced. Large piles, or middens, of oyster and clam shells, some larger than a football field and taller than a house, once marked the locations of campsites along the Texas coast (Aten 1983).
Thus, despite the introduction of farming (by 1100 A.D. at the latest), foraging in a variety of forms remained the predominant means of subsistence. Moreover, the long duration of the foraging tradition throughout most of Texas implies a remarkably successful adaptation to this region. The exact date for the arrival of the first hunter-gatherers in Texas remains uncertain, and until recently data pointed to the peopling of North America between eleven thousand and thirteen thousand years ago. However, based on scientific evidence from Monte Verde, Chile, many archaeologists now acknowledge a date in excess of approximately fourteen thousand years ago (Dillehay 1997, 2000; Dillehay et al. 2008). Deeper archaeological deposits at this same site may yield even earlier dates than fourteen thousand years ago. Notwithstanding, if the peopling of the Americas advanced from eastern Siberia into western North America and then through the Americas from north to south, as many archaeologists hypothesize, it is likely that hunter-gatherers inhabited North America, including Texas, for some time prior to their expansion into South America.
Identity: Comparing and Contrasting—Lumping and Splitting
Given fourteen thousand-plus years of successful foraging, the people of the Americas had ample time and opportunity to evolve and diversify in terms of customs, language, and social, economic, and political organization. Some foragers became increasingly specialized by limiting their focus to just a few key resources, such as fish or bison, while others concentrated on exploiting a very broad resource base. Some hunter-gatherers eventually turned to the domestication of plants and animals (entirely independent of Old World processes) and became farmers and herders. Evidence for all of these forms of subsistence can be found in the archaeological and historical record, and we may infer still more forms of subsistence within this range.
Unfortunately, several aspects peculiar to foraging tend to mask the diversity among hunter-gatherer groups within a region. For example, hunters and gatherers do not typically generate large amounts of nonbiodegradable possessions or construct large cities or monumental architecture. High mobility, minimal material possessions, and direct reliance on resources in the immediate environment produce comparatively ephemeral material remains, often making it difficult to identify campsites. These attributes also suggest that even culturally different forager groups would have a correspondingly high degree of similarity in technology and materials (there are only so many ways to catch and skin a rabbit). Combined with poor preservation of perishable artifacts that might have distinguished one group from another (such as clothing, fetishes, tattoos), it would be easy to mistake similar artifacts, technology, and subsistence and settlement patterns as indicative of cultural homogeneity throughout the region.
In contrast to hunter-gatherers, farmers tend to be more sedentary and occupy more densely populated settlements. As a general observation, dense, sedentary populations produce comparatively large amounts of durable cultural debris (ceramics, architecture, roads) that is confined to a fixed geographic area and related to specific practices, materials, and technologies in that area. These contrasting images frequently result in an implicit perception of foragers as less socially and technologically sophisticated as well as more culturally homogenous than sedentary agriculturalists.
In fact, the application of generalized categories or stereotypes, also sometimes referred to as "lumping," represents a fundamental step in assigning meaning to objects, people, and the world around them. People can hardly be expected to grasp immediately the totality of something at first encounter. So these initial and often cursory assignations represent the first steps in the process of identity construction and are intended to do little more than get us in the "ballpark." Any deeper meaning or understanding requires far more context.
When we first encounter others, we make cursory examinations and may entirely misconstrue who people are and what they represent. Eyewitness accounts from crime scenes suggest that even the most basic morphological characteristics (i.e., height, weight, sex, and age) can be confused. Closer inspection and previous experience may lead us to a more precise, if inaccurate, description. But it is important to always keep in mind that individuals are composed of multiple identities. None of us are simple creatures. All of us are unique individuals. In this sense, the statement, "You don't know me," rings true. The people we know as mother, father, brother, and sister are friends, enemies, lovers, bus drivers, librarians, or doctors to others. Each of us is a combination of almost infinitely entwined social interactions in which we tell people who we are and they, in turn, tell us who we are.
This is certainly true when discussing groups of people and, perhaps more importantly, when discussing how we group people. The terms "forager" and "hunter-gatherer" are used interchangeably in this book and are intended to reflect primarily small mobile groups of people who obtain the majority of their foods from wild sources. But this generalization does not include early European accounts of the fisher folk of the Pacific Northwest who sustained themselves entirely off wild foods and lived in plank houses in large sedentary villages with populations numbering in the hundreds. Nor do these terms recognize those who primarily gathered rather than hunted and are referred to as "gatherer-hunters."
Food producers too are often lumped together as "agriculturalists" or "farmers," despite considerable and significant variation. For example, growing corn in the American Southwest, cultivating taro in Polynesia, ranching in Texas, and herding reindeer in Finland are hardly comparable. But this does not stop people from assigning extremely broad labels to specific activities and the people who conduct them.
Similarly, the term "Spanish" in this book, as well as many other terms, does not precisely describe what it implies. As anthropologist Mariah Wade (2003: xxi) points out, "the Spain that colonized the Americas was composed of many . . . Castilians, Catalans, Basques, and Galicians as well as Italians, Portuguese, French, and Greeks." The issue of identity, who precisely they or we are, is complex. First, because humans group people and things through comparative analogy from general to more specific terms and, second, because identity on both an individual and cultural scale is, by definition, a fluid and ever-changing but, nevertheless, contextually based process.
As one anthropologist put it, "To be German in 1995, for example, involves emphasizing or de-emphasizing different things than being German before re-unification; and both would be very different to nominally equivalent identifications in 1938, or 1916, or 1871" (Jenkins 1996: 93). Individuals, families, communities, cities, states, and whole civilizations rise and fall while retaining and discarding situationally relevant traits and practices from their histories, creating new ones, adopting others in interaction, and often passing some on to the emerging identities that follow. Although frequently perceived in rather static terms as a sort of label or moniker, cultural identity may be more precisely characterized by dynamic multi-dimensional social interactions at multiple scales through time and space.
Today the people of Texas present a vast and diverse population that is constantly changing. Shortly after the beginning of the twenty-first century, Texas surpassed New York as the second most populous state in the United States, second only to California. The results of this growth are numerous, significant, and pervasive changes that can be felt in virtually every facet of political, economic, and social institutions as well as in the environment. Yet, despite dynamic change and significant diversity, the contemporary inhabitants of Texas retain a broader sociocultural identity—Texans. This book presents a model of late prehistoric and early historic Texas that was also extremely dynamic and diverse and suggests that as early as A.D. 1300 aboriginal peoples living in this region may have also recognized a broader sociocultural identity.
Although the prehistoric inhabitants of Texas almost certainly did not think of the region as we think of Texas today, Spanish colonial documents defined this region as the Province of Tejas based on the existence of a large indigenous alliance, referred to by Native American member groups as "Tejas" or "Texia." Tejas was composed of dozens of different groups who spoke different languages and lived in what is today East, Central, South, and (perhaps) West Texas. Many Texans today recognize the term "tejas" as a Caddoan word for friend. But as early as 1691, a Spanish friar named Fray Francisco Casañas de Jesús María, living among the Asinai Caddo, recorded that the word "tejas" referred to an "ancient" alliance that integrated dozens of diverse groups across the region through political, economic, and social ties.
Archaeological investigations conducted in Texas over the past sixty-five years also recognize some type of broadscale integration in the archaeological record of the very late prehistoric period that immediately preceded European contact. This culture, referred to by archaeologists as "Toyah," is distinguished by a remarkably similar and widespread group of artifacts, generally associated with hunting and gathering, that seems to have appeared approximately seven hundred years ago and spread across almost half the state. Though centered on the Edwards Plateau of Central Texas, Toyah archaeology extends into adjacent areas in virtually every direction (Black 1986, Collins 1995, Hester 1995, Johnson 1994, Kalter et al. 2005, Mallouf 1987, Shafer 2006b).
Although most archaeologists agree that Toyah represents some type of widespread prehistoric phenomenon, explanations for the emergence, spread, and disappearance of Toyah—as well as its connection to the historic period, if any—remain unclear. Archaeologists do acknowledge widespread similarity, as well as some diversity, in Toyah sites across the region. But they also point to the scarcity of historic artifacts in Toyah sites, suggesting to some (Johnson 1994) little or no connection to historic Native American groups. Although almost half of the four hundred-year Toyah Interval falls well within the Historic Period (between approximately A.D. 1535 and A.D. 1700), archaeologists, with few exceptions (Arnn 2007, Kelley 1947), are reluctant to draw direct connections between Toyah and historic Native American groups that occupied the same region.
This book presents a decidedly different perspective from most archaeological models of both prehistory and, in particular, late prehistory and the early historic period in Texas. Perhaps the greatest contrast in the approach presented here is the emphasis on variation and change over a broad area, as well as the concept of culture as a continuum. Rather than focusing on defining a specific material culture in space and time, material culture is viewed as a product of various identities that are themselves derivative of a larger (spatially and temporally) cultural tradition, possessing both antecedent and descendant traits. This perspective allows for the numerous conditions and causes that surround identity construction and avoids isolating sociocultural groups in time and space.
Although it is certain that some elements are more pervasive and/or specific to the construction of sociocultural identity (climate certainly plays a significant role in shaping the identity of peoples living near the Arctic Circle), the causes and conditions for identity may also be attributable to a number of interrelated reasons. These may include the diverse historical traditions of the individuals and groups from which identity coalesced, its geographical location, and broader historical trends at a larger regional scale beyond its borders (Bush 2004: 127). It is also likely that many of these factors are constantly changing through time and that some cultures may not necessarily reflect a specifically designed coherent system, but may be better understood, "as a culture of assimilation where new people and new customs were readily absorbed" (Bush 2004: 131).
The latter example can explain the disappearance of one culture and the simultaneous rise of another as one or more groups are assimilated or integrated into neighboring ones. This type of culture change is common throughout history and there is no reason to suspect that it did not occur in prehistory. Identities are fundamentally processual, "generated in transaction and interaction and are, potentially, flexible, situational, and negotiable" (Jenkins 1996: 102). Similarly, religion, politics, ethnicity, race, and language are multi-dimensional and inherently transformative (Friedman 1994, Jenkins 1996, Jones 1997, Sahlins 1985). Identity then is a complex mosaic process composed of various attributes maintained internally and externally that require change in order to remain referentially meaningful through time and across space. In order to understand identity, we must also look at the interactions, transformations, and fluctuating processes from which it emerged.
Although most people live their lives in the present (from day to day) and at a local/community (face-to-face) scale, there is often a temporally and spatially broader field of social interaction in which individuals as well as groups participate in kinship, trade, and alliance relationships encompassing large regions and, usually, several generations. Moreover, it is the combination of these practices, the knowledge of the past as well as the anticipation of the future, occurring at various scales and in different dimensions that results in the formation of social and/or cultural identity as well as its inevitable transformation (Jenkins 1996, Sahlins 1985, 2002).
If the local community is the place where group-specific cues and categories of similarity and difference are presented and reinforced through repeated daily face-to-face social interaction (be it foraging, child care, storytelling, food preparation, craft production, etc.) and in which behavioral expectations of similarity and difference are formed (Schortman 1989: 53), then it is in the broader context of social interaction beyond the immediate community, among others, that local behavioral expectations and identities are presented, challenged, changed, and/or reinforced (Barth 1969).
Perhaps nowhere is this dynamic, multi-dimensional aspect of social interaction more evident than among hunter-gatherers living in marginal or environmentally variable regions. Anthropologists (Wobst 1974, MacDonald and Hewlett 1999, McBrinn 2005) have long recognized that the forager band, as a basic human organizational unit of between twenty-five and seventy-five people, is simply too small to be endogamous (marry within the group). People require a larger social network or marriage group consisting of perhaps two hundred to six hundred individuals in order to acquire suitable marriage partners and remain reproductively viable. Marriage partners are not the only things exchanged in an endogamous group. Language, cosmology, technology, and culinary habits are also frequently shared among the various bands that together form a marriage group, also sometimes referred to as a linguistic group. In addition, when resources are particularly scarce in one area of the endogamous marriage/linguistic group, a band may benefit from access to a broader resource base by visiting another more abundant band territory.
However, in some arid and semi-arid regions (such as the American Southwest, the Kalahari, or portions of Australia) even participating in a social organization as large as a marriage group may not be sufficient to offset or buffer the risks of a variable environment. Droughts and floods may create widespread and long-term environmental catastrophes that require social contacts well beyond local boundaries. Therefore, bands, as well as marriage groups, may participate in a much broader social organization, the "risk-sharing economic network," perhaps encompassing different language groups, geographic zones, and even subsistence patterns (McBrinn 2005: 3). Thus, these three fundamental types of hunter-gatherer identities (bands, marriage groups, and long-distance networks) also reflect different temporal and spatial contexts of hunter-gatherer interaction.
Theoretical perspectives concerning human interaction differ on a number of issues but, "all agree that societies rarely, if ever, are isolated from each other and developments in one cannot, therefore, be understood without reference to events occurring within contemporary interaction partners" Thus, "our most basic task at present is to develop a theoretical framework that will facilitate the study of intersocietal contact" (Schortman 1989: 52). Applying this argument specifically to archaeology suggests that, to varying degrees, similarities and differences in material culture depend on the "strategies and intentions of interacting groups and on how they use, manipulate and negotiate material symbols as part of these strategies" (Hodder 1986: 185).
These three fundamental identities—bands, marriage groups, and long-distance networks—provide a framework for contextualizing ethnographic, environmental, historical, and archaeological data into a region-wide model for hunter-gatherer cultural identity at three interrelated scales: 1) the community/band composed of several families numbering perhaps fifty individuals who interact with each other on a daily basis, 2) the endogamous social aggregate (simplified here to marriage group and/or marriage/linguistic group) composed of several bands related by kinship and language that may interact a few times a year, and 3) long-distance social networks composed of numerous marriage/linguistic groups that may have little or no direct contact during the year or that may have indirect contact through representatives, traders, or messengers.
Three Fundamental Scales of Identity
Archaeologically, the smallest scale of hunter-gatherer identity addressed here is that of the band, or community, represented by individual sites. Given an array of site types with different functions occupied by various members of a band/community at different times of the year, sites occupied most frequently and for the longest periods by the broadest demographic sample of band members are considered the key archaeological component for observing community identity. This site type, generally referred to as a "residential base camp" by ethnographers and archaeologists (Binford 1980, Halstead and O'Shea 1989, Hardesty 1977, Hitchcock and Bartram 1998, Kelly 1995, Lourandos 1997, Price and Brown 1985, Yellen 1977), also corresponds to numerous indigenous settlements reported and described in Spanish colonial documents from the Province of Tejas as rancherías (Campbell 1988, Foster 1995, Hickerson 1994, Kenmotsu 2001, Wade 2003). Thus, the residential base, explicitly defined within ethnographic, archaeological, environmental, and historical contexts, provides the fundamental archaeological component and correlate for observing identity and social interaction in the prehistoric and historic record.
The archaeological correlates of community/band identity are represented here by individual residential base sites, i.e., rancherías. Groups related by language and/or kinship are correlated archaeologically with numerous sites in a geographically circumscribed area possessing very similar material culture (e.g., stylistic decoration, artifact classes, assemblages, materials, and features) that can be distinguished as a group from other sites in adjacent areas. These areas may also correspond to the historically documented location and range of Native American linguistic groups and/or naciones, referred to by some as tribes, documented by Spanish and French chroniclers.
The archaeological correlates of long-distance networks are observable in the broad distribution of the same or similar artifact types, stylistic decoration, assemblages, and/or related features throughout a region, as well as the distribution of various exotic (non-local) artifacts and materials in different areas of this same region. Here too the material evidence for long-distance networks may correspond with documentary evidence describing specific goods that were traded among several groups and across vast distances within a large region.
These three fundamental aspects of hunter-gatherer identity also correspond to overlapping temporal and spatial dimensions of social interaction that often reflect the scope of individual and group intentions or objectives. For example, community/band identity may be actualized at a local and immediate scale corresponding approximately to the daily practice and annual cycle of individuals and families observed in the residential base camp. Moreover, the intentions and strategies of people living within such communities would tend to be reflected in individual sites, such as residential bases, by the ephemeral and pragmatic character of material correlates related primarily to seasonal subsistence and settlement, such as tools, features, faunal assemblages, and site locations with respect to specific local resources.
At a broader geographic scale, several small bands inhabiting adjacent territories may exchange marriage partners in order to maintain a viable reproductive population. Through proximity and intense social interaction over time, these communities may also come to share many of the same practices, evidenced by similar material culture in residential sites, and even the same language. At this scale of analysis, the archaeological correlates of the combined intentions and strategies of several communities may be evident in the degree of similarity, longevity, and distribution of stylistic decoration in specific artifact types, such as ceramics or arrow points, among several sites within a particular geographic area. Thus, this type of archaeological correlate may signal social reproduction of identity in an endogamous marriage/linguistic group rather than the more temporally immediate and spatially local goals of the material culture resulting from daily subsistence within a specific community.
Although evidence for long-distance social networks, such as exotic artifacts, technologies, or materials, may suggest rather ambitious intentions by specific groups or individuals, archaeological correlates may reflect extremely limited interaction and/or differential interaction by the parties involved in terms of the quantity, quality, and distribution of artifacts. For example, a long-distance interaction network between coastal populations and inland groups may be evident by only a handful of marine shell fragments in just a few inland sites. Alternatively, coastal sites may reflect the entire lithic assemblage of the inland group with whom they interacted. Both examples present interaction between two groups, but one indicates the transfer of material and the other the transmission of ideas and technology. In terms of social interaction, this example suggests two groups or identities employed different strategies and objectives resulting in different outcomes for each party. Despite the infrequency and distance of such interactions, this book presents evidence indicating long-distance networks between some groups may have endured for several hundred years spanning virtually the entire region.
Thus, this book presents a fundamental framework for investigating social interaction by reconstructing identities throughout the regional landscape. Whereas the community/band is represented by individual sites (primarily the residential base), the endogamous marriage/linguistic group is represented by clusters of communities with similar material culture that also corresponds to historical, ethnographic, and environmental data concerning community size, location, subsistence and settlement patterns, and language. Long-distance social networks are defined archaeologically by the presence of exotic goods and the broad distribution of Classic Toyah artifacts in individual sites throughout the region, as well as historical documentation of trade and social interaction. What is argued here is that the broadest distribution of Toyah material culture represents the approximate extent of a large regional social field in which numerous individuals donned multiple identities at various scales according to specific situations and conditions.
It is also reasonable to infer that during this four hundred-year period social interaction, as well as identities, did not remain constant. Although the primary focus here is on communities, marriage groups, and long-distance social networks, these basic identities likely functioned as vehicles or platforms through which other ephemeral, but perhaps more situationally relevant identities could be donned or discarded (Appadurai 1996, Bernardini 2005, Friedman 1994, Jones 1997, Sahlins 1985). Thus, identity represents a significant source or potential for influencing situations and achieving specific goals. Identity then may be best viewed as an agent of action that individuals use in various situations to achieve specific goals and objectives.
The reconstruction presented here is a combination of almost one hundred years of archaeological investigation in Texas and surrounding areas, the earliest European eyewitness accounts of indigenous people in Texas, environmental data covering significant portions of Texas, and ethnographic interviews of twentieth-century hunter-gatherer groups living in similar environmental settings (i.e., sub–Saharan Africa and portions of Australia). Together, these various types of information provide a general model of hunter-gatherers and a context for conceptualizing many of the people who once lived in the land of the Tejas. This model provides the framework for describing, reconstructing, and explaining similarity and diversity among indigenous peoples who lived in Texas between A.D. 1300 and 1700.
This reconstruction of Texas differs from most in at least three basic ways. First, it presents prehistory and history as different points along the same continuum by combining prehistory and history in the same volume. Second, it focuses on defining specific sociocultural identities in the archaeological record, and third, it examines how these identities interacted across this region through time. All of these issues are generally under-represented in the archaeological literature of Texas.