Pawnee, Wichita, Kitsai
Adai, Cahinnio, Eyeish, Hainai, Hasinai, Kadohadacho,
Nabedache, Nabiti, Nacogdoche, Nadaco, Nanatsoho, Nasoni,
Natchitoches, Nechaui, Neche, Ouachita, Tula, Yatasi
Caddo Nation is a confederacy of several Southeastern Native
American tribes. Their ancestors historically inhabited much of what
is now East Texas, Louisiana, and portions of southern
Oklahoma. They were descendants of the Caddoan Mississippian culture
that constructed huge earthwork mounds at several sites in this
territory. In the early 19th century,
Caddo people were forced to a
reservation in Texas; they were removed to
Indian Territory in 1859.
Caddo Nation of
Oklahoma is a federally recognized tribe
with its capital at Binger, Oklahoma. Descendants of the historic
Caddo tribes, with documentation of at least 1⁄16 ancestry, are
eligible to enroll as members in the
Caddo Nation. The several Caddo
languages have converged into a single language.
1 Government and civic institutions
2 Pre-contact history
2.2 Oral history
3 Post-contact history
3.1 Late 19th century to present
4 21st-century tribal issues
5 Notable Caddo
6 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Government and civic institutions
Caddo Nation was previously known as the
Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma.
The tribal constitution provides for election of an eight-person
council, with a chairperson, that is based in Binger, Oklahoma.
The tribe operates its own housing authority and issues its own tribal
vehicle tags. It also operates an administrative center, dance
grounds, several community centers, the
Caddo Nation Heritage Museum,
and an active
NAGPRA office, located south of Binger. As of 2012,
5,757 people are enrolled in the nation, with 3,044 living within the
state of Oklahoma. Individuals are required to document at least
Caddo ancestry in order to enroll as citizens.
In July 2016, Tamara M. Francis was re-elected as the Chairman of the
Caddo Nation. Chairman Tamara Francis is the daughter of the first
elected female Chairman, Mary Pat Francis. She is the fourth elected
female leader of the
Caddo Nation. The council consists of:
Chairman: Tamara M. Francis
Vice-Chairman: Carol D. Ross
Acting Secretary: Philip Martin
Treasurer: Marilyn McDonald
Oklahoma City Representative: Jennifer Wilson
Binger Representative; Marilyn Threlkeld
Fort Cobb Representative Maureen Owings.
The tribe has several programs to invigorate
Caddo culture. It
sponsors a summer culture camp for children. The
Caddo Culture Club both teach and perform
Caddo songs and
dances to keep the tradition alive and pass it on to the next
generations. The Kiwat Hasinay Foundation is dedicated to preserving
and increasing use of the
Main article: Caddoan Mississippian culture
Map of the
Caddoan Mississippian culture and some important sites
Caddo are thought to be an extension of
Woodland period peoples,
the Fourche Maline and Mossy Grove cultures, whose members were living
in the area of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and
Texas between 200
BCE and 800 CE. The Wichita and Pawnee are related to the Caddo, as
both tribes speak Caddoan languages.
By 800 CE, this society had begun to coalesce into the Caddoan
Mississippian culture. Some villages began to gain prominence as
ritual centers. Leaders directed the construction of major earthworks,
serving as temple mounds and platforms for residences of the elite.
The flat-topped mounds were arranged around leveled, large, open
plazas, which were usually kept swept clean and were often used for
ceremonial occasions. As complex religious and social ideas developed,
some people and family lineages gained prominence over others. By
1000 CE, a society that is defined by archaeologists as "Caddoan" had
emerged. By 1200, the many villages, hamlets, and farmsteads
established throughout the
Caddo world had developed extensive maize
agriculture, producing a surplus that allowed for greater density of
settlement. In these villages, artisans and craftsmen developed
specialties. The artistic skills and earthwork mound-building of the
Caddoan Mississippians flourished during the 12th and 13th
The Spiro Mounds, near the
Arkansas River in present-day southeastern
Oklahoma, were some of the most elaborate mounds in the United States.
They were made by Mississippian ancestors of the historic
Wichita tribes, in what is considered the westernmost point of the
Mississippian culture. The
Caddo were farmers and enjoyed good
growing conditions most of the time. The Piney Woods, the geographic
area where they lived, was affected by the Great Drought from
1276–1299 CE, which covered an area extending to present-day
California and disrupted many Native American cultures.
Archeological evidence has confirmed that the cultural continuity is
unbroken from prehistory to the present among these peoples. The
Caddoan Mississippian people were the direct ancestors of the historic
Caddo people and related Caddo-language speakers who encountered the
first Europeans, as well as of the modern
Caddo Nation of
Caddo turkey dance,
Caddo National Complex, Binger, Oklahoma, 2000:
The turkey dance relays
Caddo oral history of their creation story says the tribe emerged from
an underground cave, called Chahkanina or "the place of crying,"
located at the confluence of the
Red River of the South
Red River of the South and
Mississippi River in northern present-day Louisiana. Their leader,
named Moon, instructed the people not to look back. An old
carried with him a drum, a pipe, and fire, all of which have continued
to be important religious items to the people. His wife carried corn
and pumpkin seeds. As people and accompanying animals emerged, the
wolf looked back. The exit from the underground closed to the
remaining people and animals.
Caddo peoples moved west along the Red River, which they called
Bah'hatteno in Caddo. A
Caddo woman, Zacado, instructed the tribe
in hunting, fishing, home construction, and making clothing. Caddo
religion focuses on Kadhi háyuh, translating to "Lord Above" or "Lord
of the Sky." In early times, the people were led by priests, including
a head priest, the xinesi, who could commune with spirits residing
Caddo temples. A cycle of ceremonies developed around
important periods of corn cultivation. Tobacco was and is used
ceremonially. Early priests drank a purifying sacrament made of wild
Centuries before extensive European contact, some of the Caddo
territory was invaded by migrating Dhegihan-speaking peoples, Osage,
Ponca, Omaha, and Kaw, who moved west beginning about 1200 due to
years of warfare with the
Iroquois in the
Ohio River area of
present-day Kentucky. The
Iroquois took control of hunting grounds in
the area. The Osage particularly fought the Caddo, pushed them out of
some former territory, and became dominant in the region of
present-day Missouri, Arkansas, and western Kansas. These tribes had
become settled in their new territory west of the Mississippi prior to
mid-18th-century European contact.
Most of the
Caddo historically lived in the
Piney Woods ecoregion of
the United States, divided among the state regions of East Texas,
southern Arkansas, western Louisiana, and southeastern Oklahoma. This
region extends up to the foothills of the Ozarks. The
Piney Woods are
a dense forest of deciduous and pinophyta flora covering rolling
hills, steep river valleys, and intermittent wetlands called "bayous".
Caddo people primarily settled near the
When they first encountered Europeans and Africans, the
organized themselves in three confederacies: the Natchitoches,
Hasinai, and Kadohadacho. They were loosely affiliated with other
neighboring tribes. The Natchitoches lived in now northern Louisiana,
the Haisinai lived in East Texas, and the
Kadohadacho lived near the
border of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
Caddo people had a diet based on cultivated crops, particularly
maize (corn), but also sunflower, pumpkins, and squash. These foods
held cultural significance, as did wild turkeys. They hunted and
gathered wild plants, as well.
Kaw-u-tz, photographed in 1906
Caddo first encountered Europeans and Africans in 1541 when the
Spanish Hernando de Soto Expedition came through their lands. De
Soto's force had a violent clash with one band of
Caddo Indians, the
Tula people, near present-day
Caddo Gap, Arkansas. This historic event
has been marked by the modern town with a monument.
French explorers in the early 18th century encountered the Natchitoche
in northern Louisiana. They were followed by fur traders from outposts
along the Gulf Coast, and later by missionaries from
France and Spain,
who also traveled among the people. The Europeans carried chronic
infections such as smallpox and measles, because these were endemic in
their societies. As the
Caddo peoples had no acquired immunity to such
new diseases, they suffered epidemics with high fatalities that
decimated the tribal populations.
Influenza and malaria also
devastated the Caddo.
French traders built forts with trading posts near
These stations attracted more French and other European settlers.
Among such settlements are the present-day communities of Elysian
Fields and Nacogdoches, Texas, and Natchitoches, Louisiana. In the
latter two towns, early explorers and settlers kept the original Caddo
names of the villages.
Having given way over years before the power of the former Ohio Valley
tribes, the later
Caddo negotiated for peace with the waves of
Spanish, French, and finally Anglo-American settlers. After the 1803
Louisiana Purchase, by which the United States took over the former
French colonial territory west of the Mississippi River, the US
government sought to ally with the
Caddo peoples. During the War of
1812, American generals such as William Henry Harrison, William Clark,
Andrew Jackson crushed pro-British uprisings among other Southeast
Indians. Due to the Caddo's neutrality and their importance as a
source of information for the
Louisiana Territory government, they
were left alone. In the 1830s, the federal government embarked on a
program of Indian removal of tribes from the Southeast in order to
enable European-American settlement, as new migrants pressed from the
In 1835 the Kadohadacho, the northernmost
Caddo confederacy, signed a
treaty with the US to relocate to independent Mexico (in the area of
present-day East Texas). Then lightly settled by Mexican colonists,
this area was being rapidly transformed by greatly increased
immigration of European Americans. In 1836, the Americans declared
independence from Mexico and established the Republic of Texas, an
independent nation. The name "Texas" is derived from the Hasinai
word táysha, meaning "friend".
Texas was admitted to the US as a state. At that time, the
federal government forced the relocation of both the
Hasinai and the
Kadohadacho onto the Brazos Reservation. In 1859, many of the Caddo
were relocated again to
Indian Territory north of Texas, in
present-day Oklahoma. After the Civil War, the
Caddo were concentrated
on a reservation located between the Washita and Canadian rivers in
In the late 19th century, the
Caddo took up the
Ghost Dance religion,
which was widespread among American Indian nations in the West. John
Wilson, a Caddo-
Lenape medicine man who spoke only Caddo, was an
influential leader in the Ghost Dance. In 1880, Wilson became a peyote
roadman. The tribe had known the Half Moon peyote ceremony, but Wilson
introduced the Big Moon ceremony to them. The
Caddo tribe remains
very active in the
Native American Church
Native American Church today.
Late 19th century to present
Moccasins made by Mrs. Sien-Coit Sturm (Caddo), 1909, collection of
the Bata Shoe Museum, in Toronto, Ontario
Congress passed the
Dawes Act to promote assimilation of tribes in
Indian Territory. It authorized distribution of tribal communal
landholdings into allotments for individual households in order for
them to establish subsistence family farms along the European-American
model. Any tribal lands remaining after such allotments were to be
declared "surplus" and sold, including to non-Native Americans. The
allotment system was intended to extinguish tribal Native American
land claims to enable admission of
Oklahoma as a state and assimilate
Native Americans into the majority culture. At the same time, tribal
governments were to be ended. The territory had already been settled
by numerous European Americans outside the tribal territories.
Caddo vigorously opposed allotment. Whitebread, a
said, "because of their peaceful lives and friendship to the white
man, and through their ignorance were not consulted, and have been
ignored and stuck away in a corner and allowed to exist by
sufferance." Tribal governments were dismantled at this time, and
Native Americans were expected to act as state and US citizens. After
some period, the adverse effects of these changes were recognized. The
Caddo and other Native American peoples suffered greatly from the
disruption of the loss of their lands and breakup of their traditional
Under the federal
Indian Reorganization Act
Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and the Oklahoma
Indian Welfare Act of 1936, the
Caddo restored their tribal
government. They adopted a written constitution and a process of
electing officials. They organized in 1938 as the
Caddo Indian Tribe
of Oklahoma. They ratified their constitution on 17 January 1938.
In 1976, they drafted a new constitution, which continues elected
representative government. During the 20th century,
Caddo leaders such
as Melford Williams, Harry Guy, Hubert Halfmoon, and Vernon Hunter
have helped shape the tribe.
In a special election on 29 June 2002, the tribe adopted six
amendments to the constitution. Tribal enrollment is open to
individuals with a documented minimum of 1/16 degree
21st-century tribal issues
Sometimes, severe disagreements have developed among factions of the
tribe that have not been resolved in elections. In August 2013, a
group led by Philip Smith attempted to recall Brenda Shemayme Edwards,
the chairman of the Tribal Council. This faction conducted a new
election, but the victor stepped down, and Edwards refused to leave
office. In October 2013, Smith and his supporters broke into the Caddo
Nation headquarters. They chained the front doors from the inside and
blocked off the entrance to the administration building. The
opposition called the Bureau of Indian Affairs Police.
Operation of the tribe was split between two factions. The Court of
Indian Offenses, which had been overseeing issues for a year because
of the internal conflict, in October 2014 ordered a new election for
In the January 2015 elections, all the top tribal positions were won
by women: Tamara Michele Francis as chair, Carol D. Ross as vice
chair, Jennifer Reeder as secretary, and Wildena G. Moffer as
In July 2016, Tamara M. Francis was re-elected as the Chairman of the
Caddo Nation. The Council consists of Chairman Francis, Vice Chairman
Carol D. Ross, Acting Secretary Philip Martin, Treasurer Marilyn
Oklahoma City Representative Jennifer Wilson, Binger
Representative Marilyn Threlkeld, Fort Cobb Representative Maureen
(Chairman Francis is the daughter of the first elected female
Chairman, Mary Pat Francis. She is the fourth elected female leader of
John Wilson (1840-1901),
Caddo peyote roadman
Sho-e-tat (Little Boy) or George Washington (1816-1883), Louisiana
A stirrup dance by the
Caddo Culture Club,
Caddo National Complex,
Caddo dancers, members of the
Caddo Cultural Club, Binger, Oklahoma,
T. C. Cannon, Kiowa-
LaRue Parker, former tribal chairperson
Jeri Redcorn, Caddo-Potawatomi potter
John Wilson, peyote roadman
Indigenous peoples of North America portal
List of sites and peoples visited by the Hernando de Soto Expedition
Caddo Nation. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
^ a b Constitution and By-Laws of the
Caddo Indian Tribe of Oklahoma.
Archived 2013-06-30 at
Archive.is National Tribal Justice Resource
Center. (retrieved 13 September 2009)
^ a b 2011
Oklahoma Indian Nations Pocket Pictorial Directory.
Archived May 12, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
Oklahoma Indian Affairs
Commission. 2011: 7. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
Hasinai Summer Youth Camp.
Hasinai Society. 2008 (retrieved 13 Sept
^ General Information. Archived 2009-01-05 at the Wayback Machine.
Hasinai Society. 2008 (retrieved 13 Sept 2009)
^ Edge, Donald.
Caddo Culture Club. Archived 2009-07-04 at the Wayback
Caddo Nation: Heritage and Culture. (retrieved 13 Sept 2009)
^ Background. Kiwat Hasinay Foundation.(retrieved 13 Sept 2009)
^ a b c "Tejas-
Caddo Timeline". Retrieved
^ Carter, 17=8
^ Fforde et al., 154
^ "Great Drought". (2008). Encyclopædia Britannica. (Retrieved
September 30, 2008). Encyclopædia Britannica Online
Caddo Fundamentals-Caddoan Languages and Peoples". Retrieved
^ a b Sturtevant, 625
^ a b c d e Meredith, Howard. "
Caddo (Kadohadacho)," Encyclopedia of
Oklahoma History and Culture,
Oklahoma Historical Society, Accessed
July 9, 2015.
^ Sturtevant, 626
^ a b Louis F. Burns, "Osage" Archived January 2, 2011, at the Wayback
Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma
History and Culture, retrieved 2 March 2009
^ Sturtevant, 616–617
^ Sturtevant, 619
^ Peter Kastor, The Nation's Crucible: The
Louisiana Purchase and the
Creation of America,(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004) 159-160.
^ Bolton 2002:63–64
^ Stewart, 86–88
^ "Art on the Prairies". All About Shoes. Bata Shoe Museum. 2006.
Retrieved 26 July 2015.
Caddo Nation Constitutional Amendments. Archived 2010-06-02 at the
Caddo Nation. (retrieved 14 Sept 2009)
^ M. Scott Carpenter, "
Caddo Nation fight stops tribal government",
The Journal Record, 1 October 2013, retrieved 10 Oct 2013
Caddo Nation told to prepare for new election for all positions",
Indianz.com, 7 October 2014
^ Scott Rains, "
Caddo Tribe To Get New Leadership", The Lawton
Constitution, 10 October 2014, retrieved 2 Feb 2015
^ "Women take chair and top tribal positions in
Caddo Nation results",
Indianz.com, 14 January 2015, accessed 14 January 2016
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Earliest Europeans. Norman: University of
Oklahoma Press, 2002.
Carter, Cecile Elkins.
Caddo Indians: Where We Come From, Norman:
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Peyote Religion: A History. Norman: University of
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Nebraska Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8032-6602-2
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Caddo.
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