Coahuiltecan or Paikawa was a proposed language family in John Wesley Powell's
John Wesley Powell
John Wesley Powell was a U.S. soldier, geologist, explorer of the American West, and director of major scientific and cultural institutions...

 1891 classification of Native American languages that consisted of Coahuilteco
Coahuilteco language
Coahuilteco was a language isolate that was spoken in southern Texas and northeastern Coahuila . It was spoken by one tribe of a group of American Indian hunter-gatherers named the Quems....

 and Cotoname
Cotoname language
Cotoname is an extinct language isolate spoken by Native Americans indigenous to the lower Rio Grande Valley of northeastern Mexico and extreme southern Texas .-External links:* * *...

. The proposal was expanded to include Comecrudo
Comecrudo language
Comecrudo is an extinct Comecrudan language of Mexico. The name Comecrudo is Spanish for "eat-raw"; Carrizo is Spanish for "reed". It was best recorded in a list of 148 words in 1829 by French botanist Jean Louis Berlandier...

, Karankawa
Karankawa language
Karankawa is the extinct, unclassified language of the Texan coast, where the Karankawa people migrated between the mainland and the barrier islands. It was not closely related to other known languages in the area, much of which are also poorly attested, and may have been a language isolate...

, and Tonkawa
Tonkawa language
The Tonkawa language was spoken in Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico by the Tonkawa people. A language isolate, with no known related languages, Tonkawa is now extinct...

. It is now generally believed that all of these languages were unrelated, with all but Comecrudo in the Comecrudan family language isolate
Language isolate
A language isolate, in the absolute sense, is a natural language with no demonstrable genealogical relationship with other languages; that is, one that has not been demonstrated to descend from an ancestor common with any other language. They are in effect language families consisting of a single...


The term is also a general name for the speakers of these languages, a historic group of indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 who lived in the southern Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 region near the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

, and along the Gulf Coast and its islands.

The earliest Spanish
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

 explorers to make contact with the natives in this region described a prosperous and friendly people. But the people were most often described in their post-contact condition, which left them in a state similar to a society that has survived a terrible disaster. They reportedly ate anything they could; for example, they ate ant eggs, rotten wood, deer dung, spiders, rattlesnakes, lizards, worms, and dirt. Scholars believe that as much as 90% of the population died due to infectious Eurasian disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...

s, which led to social dissolution and could account for how they lived after contact.

The Coahuiltecan language and culture are now extinct. Their descendants were absorbed into the Hispanic populations living in the south Texas region today. A group called the Quems
The Quems were a group of American Indians that were recorded as having settled along both banks of the Rio Grande in what is now Texas and Coahuila . A group of hunter-gatherers, they are known to have settled around present-day Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras...

were also recorded as having settled along both banks of the Rio Grande.

External links

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