Karankawa
Overview
Karankawa were a group of Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 peoples, now extinct as a tribal group, who played a pivotal part in early Texas
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...

 history
History of Texas
European conquistadors first arrived in the region now known as Texas in 1519, finding the region populated by various Native American tribes...

.

The term Karankawa has been popularly applied to a group of Native American tribes who had a common dialect and culture. These people can be more specifically identified as the Capoques (Cocos), Kohanis, Kopanes, Kronks, and Karankawa (Carancaquacas) bands. They inhabited the Gulf Coast of Texas from Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay is a large estuary located along the upper coast of Texas in the United States. It is connected to the Gulf of Mexico and is surrounded by sub-tropic marshes and prairies on the mainland. The water in the Bay is a complex mixture of sea water and fresh water which supports a wide...

 in the present-day Greater Houston
Greater Houston
Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown is a 10-county metropolitan area defined by the Office of Management and Budget. It is located along the Gulf Coast region in the U.S. state of Texas...

 area, then south toward Corpus Christi Bay
Corpus Christi Bay
Corpus Christi Bay is a scenic semi-tropical bay on the Texas coast found in San Patricio and Nueces counties, next to the major city of Corpus Christi. It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by Mustang Island, and is fed by the Nueces River and Oso Creek from its western and southern extensions,...

.

Exposure to new infectious disease
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, loss of control over territory, conflict with the newly arrived Europeans, and war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 brought them to extinction before 1860.
The Karankawa language
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...

, of which only about a hundred words are preserved, cannot be classified, as so little is known of languages in this region.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Karankawa were a group of Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 peoples, now extinct as a tribal group, who played a pivotal part in early Texas
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...

 history
History of Texas
European conquistadors first arrived in the region now known as Texas in 1519, finding the region populated by various Native American tribes...

.

The term Karankawa has been popularly applied to a group of Native American tribes who had a common dialect and culture. These people can be more specifically identified as the Capoques (Cocos), Kohanis, Kopanes, Kronks, and Karankawa (Carancaquacas) bands. They inhabited the Gulf Coast of Texas from Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay is a large estuary located along the upper coast of Texas in the United States. It is connected to the Gulf of Mexico and is surrounded by sub-tropic marshes and prairies on the mainland. The water in the Bay is a complex mixture of sea water and fresh water which supports a wide...

 in the present-day Greater Houston
Greater Houston
Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown is a 10-county metropolitan area defined by the Office of Management and Budget. It is located along the Gulf Coast region in the U.S. state of Texas...

 area, then south toward Corpus Christi Bay
Corpus Christi Bay
Corpus Christi Bay is a scenic semi-tropical bay on the Texas coast found in San Patricio and Nueces counties, next to the major city of Corpus Christi. It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by Mustang Island, and is fed by the Nueces River and Oso Creek from its western and southern extensions,...

.

Exposure to new infectious disease
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, loss of control over territory, conflict with the newly arrived Europeans, and war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 brought them to extinction before 1860.

Language

The Karankawa language
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...

, of which only about a hundred words are preserved, cannot be classified, as so little is known of languages in this region. The meaning of the name Karankawa is not certain. It is believed to mean "dog-lovers" or "dog-raisers." That rendering seems credible, since the Karankawas had dog
Dog
The domestic dog is a domesticated form of the gray wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term is used for both feral and pet varieties. The dog may have been the first animal to be domesticated, and has been the most widely kept working, hunting, and companion animal in...

s, which were a fox
Fox
Fox is a common name for many species of omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family. Foxes are small to medium-sized canids , characterized by possessing a long narrow snout, and a bushy tail .Members of about 37 species are referred to as foxes, of which only 12 species actually belong to...

 or coyote
Coyote
The coyote , also known as the American jackal or the prairie wolf, is a species of canine found throughout North and Central America, ranging from Panama in the south, north through Mexico, the United States and Canada...

-like species. In a nomadic-type culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

, the people seasonally migrated between the mainland and the barrier islands.

Environment

The 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 along the Texas Coast from Galveston Island
Galveston Island
Galveston Island is a barrier island on the Texas Gulf coast in the United States, about 50 miles southeast of Houston. The entire island, with the exception of Jamaica Beach, is within the city limits of the City of Galveston....

 to a location southward past Corpus Christi, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Corpus Christi is a coastal city in the South Texas region of the U.S. state of Texas. The county seat of Nueces County, it also extends into Aransas, Kleberg, and San Patricio counties. The MSA population in 2008 was 416,376. The population was 305,215 at the 2010 census making it the...

 endured much hardship from the elements, but they also adapted well to the rich fishing and hunting. The bay
Bay
A bay is an area of water mostly surrounded by land. Bays generally have calmer waters than the surrounding sea, due to the surrounding land blocking some waves and often reducing winds. Bays also exist as an inlet in a lake or pond. A large bay may be called a gulf, a sea, a sound, or a bight...

s, back bays, lagoon
Lagoon
A lagoon is a body of shallow sea water or brackish water separated from the sea by some form of barrier. The EU's habitat directive defines lagoons as "expanses of shallow coastal salt water, of varying salinity or water volume, wholly or partially separated from the sea by sand banks or shingle,...

s and bayou
Bayou
A bayou is an American term for a body of water typically found in flat, low-lying areas, and can refer either to an extremely slow-moving stream or river , or to a marshy lake or wetland. The name "bayou" can also refer to creeks that see level changes due to tides and hold brackish water which...

s along the Texas Coast, were the tribal hunting and harvesting grounds. Men waded from the shallow waters in the bays to the deep pools with lance
Lance
A Lance is a pole weapon or spear designed to be used by a mounted warrior. The lance is longer, stout and heavier than an infantry spear, and unsuited for throwing, or for rapid thrusting. Lances did not have tips designed to intentionally break off or bend, unlike many throwing weapons of the...

s or bow
Bow (weapon)
The bow and arrow is a projectile weapon system that predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.-Description:A bow is a flexible arc that shoots aerodynamic projectiles by means of elastic energy. Essentially, the bow is a form of spring powered by a string or cord...

s and arrow
Arrow
An arrow is a shafted projectile that is shot with a bow. It predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.An arrow usually consists of a shaft with an arrowhead attached to the front end, with fletchings and a nock at the other.- History:...

s, to spear fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

. Older men, women and children harvested waters for blue and stone crabs
Florida stone crab
The Florida stone crab, Menippe mercenaria, is a crab found in the western North Atlantic, from Connecticut to Belize, including Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba and the Bahamas that is widely caught for food.-Description:...

, oyster
Oyster
The word oyster is used as a common name for a number of distinct groups of bivalve molluscs which live in marine or brackish habitats. The valves are highly calcified....

s, mussel
Mussel
The common name mussel is used for members of several families of clams or bivalvia mollusca, from saltwater and freshwater habitats. These groups have in common a shell whose outline is elongated and asymmetrical compared with other edible clams, which are often more or less rounded or oval.The...

s, sea turtle
Sea turtle
Sea turtles are marine reptiles that inhabit all of the world's oceans except the Arctic.-Distribution:...

s, shellfish
Shellfish
Shellfish is a culinary and fisheries term for exoskeleton-bearing aquatic invertebrates used as food, including various species of molluscs, crustaceans, and echinoderms. Although most kinds of shellfish are harvested from saltwater environments, some kinds are found only in freshwater...

, and other edible crustacean
Crustacean
Crustaceans form a very large group of arthropods, usually treated as a subphylum, which includes such familiar animals as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill and barnacles. The 50,000 described species range in size from Stygotantulus stocki at , to the Japanese spider crab with a leg span...

s. They also ate deer and turtles.

They wintered around the coastal bays, eating oysters, clam
Clam
The word "clam" can be applied to freshwater mussels, and other freshwater bivalves, as well as marine bivalves.In the United States, "clam" can be used in several different ways: one, as a general term covering all bivalve molluscs...

s, shellfish, black drum
Black drum
The Black Drum is a saltwater fish similar to its cousin, the Red Drum. It is the only species in the genus Pogonias. Though most specimens are generally found in the 5-30 lb range, the black drum is well known as the largest of all the drum family with some specimens reaching excesses of...

, redfish
Redfish
Redfish is a common name for several species of fish. It is most commonly applied to members of the deep-sea genus Sebastes, or the reef dwelling snappers, Lutjanus. It is also applied to the slimeheads or roughies , and the alfonsinos ....

, spotted seatrout
Spotted Seatrout
The spotted seatrout also known as speckled trout,or spotted weakfish is a common estuary fish found in the southern United States...

 and the other abundant species of fish. During the summer months and hot weather, the oysters, clams and other shellfish are not safe to eat and the fish make an annual migration out of the pass. During this period, tribal bands would migrate inland. Trying to escape the damage of summer tropical storms and hurricanes was another reason for their migration. Historic accounts tell of Karankawas encountered as far inland as Colorado County at Eagle Lake
Eagle Lake, Texas
Eagle Lake is a city in southeastern Colorado County, Texas, United States. The population was 3,664 at the 2000 census. It is home to a golf course, the largest private lake in Texas, and the Eagle Lake Regional Airport, which services light aircraft....

, close to 100 miles (160.9 km) from the coastline. No evidence shows they made permanent camps there.

They traversed the bays in dugouts
Dugout (boat)
A dugout or dugout canoe is a boat made from a hollowed tree trunk. Other names for this type of boat are logboat and monoxylon. Monoxylon is Greek -- mono- + ξύλον xylon -- and is mostly used in classic Greek texts. In Germany they are called einbaum )...

. They built round huts covered in thatch
Thatching
Thatching is the craft of building a roof with dry vegetation such as straw, water reed, sedge , rushes, or heather, layering the vegetation so as to shed water away from the inner roof. It is a very old roofing method and has been used in both tropical and temperate climates...

. Some of the campsites have evidence of populations of several hundred. The Karankawa discarded clam and oyster shells, heaping them in huge mounds around the campsites. Their most prized hunting tools were the long bow, some well over six feet long, and arrow
Arrow
An arrow is a shafted projectile that is shot with a bow. It predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.An arrow usually consists of a shaft with an arrowhead attached to the front end, with fletchings and a nock at the other.- History:...

s, with shafts as long as three feet to make it easier to spot and retrieve them from the shallow waters. Archeological excavation of campsites found evidence of discarded remains of deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

 and American Bison
American Bison
The American bison , also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds...

, apparently the major inland game for the tribe. The Karankawa also harvested a variety of local roots, berries
Berry
The botanical definition of a berry is a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. Grapes are an example. The berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp. They may have one or more carpels with a thin covering and fleshy interiors....

 and nut
Nut (fruit)
A nut is a hard-shelled fruit of some plants having an indehiscent seed. While a wide variety of dried seeds and fruits are called nuts in English, only a certain number of them are considered by biologists to be true nuts...

s. They used the leaves of Ilex vomitoria, the Yaupon Holly
Yaupon Holly
Ilex vomitoria, commonly known as Yaupon or Yaupon Holly, is a species of holly that is native to southeastern North America. The word yaupon was derived from its Catawban name, yopún, which is a diminutive form of the word yop, meaning "tree". Another common name, Cassina, was borrowed from the...

, to prepare as a ceremonial drink
Black drink
Black drink was the name given by colonists to a ritual beverage called Asi, brewed by Native Americans in the Southeastern United States...

. The men drank it in quantity for psychoactive effects from its caffeine
Caffeine
Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid that acts as a stimulant drug. Caffeine is found in varying quantities in the seeds, leaves, and fruit of some plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding on the plants...

.

Appearance

The heavily tattoo
Tattoo
A tattoo is made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment. Tattoos on humans are a type of body modification, and tattoos on other animals are most commonly used for identification purposes...

ed, pierce
Pierce
-Places:United States*Pierce, Colorado*Pierce, Idaho*Pierce, Kentucky*Pierce, Nebraska*Pierce, Texas*Pierce, Wisconsin*Mount Pierce , a peak in the White Mountains* Pierce County , several placesCanada...

d, and painted nomadic Karankawa tribe for the most part held the islands in south Texas. Their territory was perhaps from the west end of Galveston Island down the coast to the mouth of 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 inland about 25–65 miles depending on the region. Superb hunters, fisherman, warriors and longbow
Longbow
A longbow is a type of bow that is tall ; this will allow its user a fairly long draw, at least to the jaw....

 archery
Archery
Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity...

 experts, they were a powerful enemy to anyone wishing to take the prime hunting grounds away.

They made a strong impression on the Europeans who wrote of encounters. The men were strikingly tall, described as between six and seven feet (180–213 cm). They were tattooed and wore shell
Seashell
A seashell or sea shell, also known simply as a shell, is a hard, protective outer layer created by an animal that lives in the sea. The shell is part of the body of the animal. Empty seashells are often found washed up on beaches by beachcombers...

 ornaments
Fashion
Fashion, a general term for a currently popular style or practice, especially in clothing, foot wear, or accessories. Fashion references to anything that is the current trend in look and dress up of a person...

. Many greased their bodies with shark liver oil
Shark liver oil
Shark liver oil is obtained from sharks that are caught for food purposes and are living in cold, deep oceans. The liver oil from sharks has been used by fishermen for centuries as a folk remedy for general health...

 to ward off mosquito
Mosquito
Mosquitoes are members of a family of nematocerid flies: the Culicidae . The word Mosquito is from the Spanish and Portuguese for little fly...

es and other biting insects. The men pierced each nipple, as well as the bottom lip of the mouth, with small pieces of cane.

Men wore their coarse hair long–down to their waist. The Karankawa practiced head flattening.

Cannibalism

In common with other coastal tribes of Texas
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...

 and Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, the Karankawa practiced ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

 cannibalism
Cannibalism
Cannibalism is the act or practice of humans eating the flesh of other human beings. It is also called anthropophagy...

 of blood enemies. In 1768, a Spanish priest wrote an account of the Karankawa ritual ceremonies. He portrayed the Karankawa as believing that eating the captive's flesh would transfer the captive's power and strength to those who consumed him. The natives tied a captive to a stake. While dancing around him, they would dart in, slice off a piece of flesh and roast it in front of the victim in a prepared campfire. Then they would devour it.

Some recent authors have suggested that the Karankawa were mistaken for the Atakapa
Atakapa
The Atakapan people are a Southeastern culture of Native American tribes who spoke Atakapa and historically lived along the Gulf of Mexico. They called themselves the Ishak, pronounced "ee-SHAK", which translates as "The People". Although the people were decimated by infectious disease after...

 (Atakapan or Attakapan) people, Gulf Coast tribes whose lands stretched from Galveston Bay to Bayou Teche
Bayou Teche
The Bayou Teche is a waterway of great cultural significance in south central Louisiana in the United States. Bayou Teche was the Mississippi River's main course when it developed a delta about 2,800 to 4,500 years ago...

 and Vermilion Bay
Vermilion Bay
Vermilion Bay is a bay in southern Louisiana in the United States.Vermilion Bay is located in southwestern Iberia Parish and southeastern Vermilion Parish...

 in Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

. The people of these tribes were known for their body tattoos and their cannibalism of enemies.

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca
Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca
Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was a Spanish explorer of the New World, one of four survivors of the Narváez expedition...

, a Spanish conquistador, refuted the common held notion that the Karankawa people were cannibals in his diaries after living with them. Cabeza De Vaca also acknowledged the fact that he and his fellow Spanish conquistadors committed acts of cannibalism on their own dead to stay alive after shipwrecking off Galveston Bay. The Karankawa people found this act to be foreign and surprised that Cabeza de Vaca and his men would do such an act.

Gender roles

One unusual aspect of the Karankawa culture was their distinction in having three gender roles: male, female, and a third role taken on by some males. Males who took on this third role are called berdache (Karankawa: monanguia), and generally took on female roles and activities in daily life, while playing a special role in religious rites. According to some accounts, the berdache were passive sexual partners for the other males.

Housing and location

The Karankawa used willow saplings and animal skins to make huts, sometimes known as wikiups. They often built by the ocean. They lived along the Texas coast of the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

, near the modern-day Mexican border. The Tonkawa
Tonkawa
The Tickanwa•tic Tribe , better known as the Tonkawa , are a Native American people indigenous to present-day Oklahoma and Texas. They once spoke the now-extinct Tonkawa language believed to have been a language isolate not related to any other indigenous tongues...

, Atakapa
Atakapa
The Atakapan people are a Southeastern culture of Native American tribes who spoke Atakapa and historically lived along the Gulf of Mexico. They called themselves the Ishak, pronounced "ee-SHAK", which translates as "The People". Although the people were decimated by infectious disease after...

, and Coahuiltecan
Coahuiltecan
Coahuiltecan or Paikawa was a proposed language family in John Wesley Powell's 1891 classification of Native American languages that consisted of Coahuilteco and Cotoname. The proposal was expanded to include Comecrudo, Karankawa, and Tonkawa...

 peoples were their neighbors. They stayed by the coast in the winter and moved further inland in summer, when fish moved into deep water and clams were not safe to eat.

Encounters with the Spanish

The Karankawa peoples were living a nomadic existence in 1519 when they first encountered Spaniards
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....

, led by Alonso Álvarez de Pineda
Alonso Álvarez de Pineda
Alonso Álvarez de Pineda was a Spanish explorer and cartographer. His map marks the first document in Texas history.-Expedition:The Spanish thought there must be a sea lane from the Gulf of Mexico to Asia...

, who were surveying the coast. Governor Francisco de Garay
Francisco de Garay
Francisco de Garay was a Spanish Basque conquistador. He was a companion to Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World and arrived in Hispaniola in 1493. Here he attracted attention when he encountered a large gold nugget worth four thousand pesos.- Jamaica:From 1514 to 1523...

 of Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

 had commissioned de Piñeda to explore the Gulf Coast from Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 to Veracruz
Veracruz
Veracruz, formally Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz de Ignacio de la Llave , is one of the 31 states that, along with the Federal District, comprise the 32 federative entities of Mexico. It is divided in 212 municipalities and its capital city is...

. In 1528, one of the two barges belonging to the Pánfilo de Narváez
Pánfilo de Narváez
Pánfilo de Narváez was a Spanish conqueror and soldier in the Americas. He is most remembered as the leader of two expeditions, one to Mexico in 1520 to oppose Hernán Cortés, and the disastrous Narváez expedition to Florida in 1527....

 expedition struck aground at Galveston Island, and the survivors, including Cabeza de Vaca, were cared for by the Capoques band of Karankawas.

By 1793, some of the Karankawa were converted to Christianity and lived at the mission Nostra Señora del Refugio, built in 1791 at the mouth of the Mission River
Mission River
The Mission River is a river in Texas. It is formed by the confluence of Blanco and Medio creeks in central Refugio County and runs southeast, past Refugio, for twenty-four miles to its mouth on Mission Bay, an inlet of Copano Bay...

. The traditional Karankawa lived with the Lipan Apache
Lipan Apache
Lipan Apache are Southern Athabascan people who are aboriginal to present-day Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas prior to the 17th century. Present-day Lipans mostly live throughout the U.S...

.

Encounters with Jean Lafitte

After being run out of New Orleans around 1817, the pirate Jean Lafitte
Jean Lafitte
Jean Lafitte was a pirate and privateer in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century. He and his elder brother, Pierre, spelled their last name Laffite, but English-language documents of the time used "Lafitte", and this is the commonly seen spelling in the United States, including for places...

 relocated to the island of Galveston
Galveston, Texas
Galveston is a coastal city located on Galveston Island in the U.S. state of Texas. , the city had a total population of 47,743 within an area of...

, where he established another "kingdom" named Campeche. In Galveston, Lafitte either purchased or set his claim to a lavishly furnished mansion used by French pirate Louis-Michel Aury
Louis-Michel Aury
Louis-Michel Aury was a French Corsair operating in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean during the early 19th century.Aury was born in Paris, France, in about 1788. He served in the French Navy, but from 1802 served in privateer ships...

, which he named Maison Rouge. The building's upper level was converted into a fortress where he placed a cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

 to command Galveston harbor.

In 1819, 300 Karankawa warriors tried to retrieve one of their women from Lafitte's men at the Maison Rouge compound. Lafitte had 200 pirates as defenders and also used two cannon against the natives, causing numerous casualties and deaths. The Karankawa had to retreat.

Republic of Texas

Stephen F. Austin
Stephen F. Austin
Stephen Fuller Austin was born in Virginia and raised in southeastern Missouri. He was known as the Father of Texas, led the second, but first legal and ultimately successful colonization of the region by bringing 300 families from the United States. The capital of Texas, Austin in Travis County,...

 founded a settlement in their territory in 1823. The settlers frequently fought with the Karankawa. The tribe sided with the United States of America in the Texas War of Independence. In that war, the Karankawa chief, Jose Maria, and most of his 20 warrior were killed.

In 1858 Juan Nepomuceno Cortina attacked and killed a band of Karankawa.

External links

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