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Special Collections & University Archives: Tāp Pīlam Coahuiltecan Nation

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Tāp Pīlam Coahuiltecan Research Guide

Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan

Ancestral Land Acknowledgement

Our institution in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas sits on the ancestral land of the Karankawa, Tāp Pīlam Coahuiltecan, Ndé Kónitsąąíí Gokíyaa (Lipan Apache), Carrizo/Comecrudo, and Rayados/Borrados. We acknowledge and pay respect to their Elders and their past, present, and future peoples, cultures, languages, and communities.

Summary: Coahuiltecan

This research guide aims to help students interested on researching the Coahuiltecan peoples of South Texas. Provided are a secondary sources and published research held by the UTRGV Special Collections and Archives in physical and digital repositories. Primary sources on Coahuiltecan people are not available via our institution but information has been provided for accessing external resources.

We strongly recommend visiting the website for the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation.

Native Land is an app to help map Indigenous territories, treaties, and languages.

IMPORTANT: UTRGV Special Collections and Archives recognizes Native American Sovereignty and seeks to accurately and respectfully honor and represent the heritage, history, and culture of indigenous people using their preferred terminology. Therefore, our staff welcome suggestions for restorative efforts to improve description and representation.

Background: Coahuiltecan

Coahuiltecans were one of the indigenous groups that occupied the Rio Grande delta area of South Texas. Unlike most native groups, there is no set example of Coahuiltecan culture. This is because the Coahuiltecans are actually multiple native groups placed into a larger group which was labeled the Coahuiltecans after the Mexican state of Coahuila. Most sources on this list can provide examples of what types of food were eaten, how they obtained food, how they would move, and even how they would fight. What sources will lack is the ability to describe the distinct cultural identities of the groups that made up the Coahuiltecans.

Ethnolinguistic Distribution of Native Texas Indians

Ethnolinguistic Distribution of Native Texas Indians. From Atlas of Texas. Published by The University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Business Research, 1976.

At one time there were over 200 bands of Coahuiltecan people living on the South Texas plan. They were nomadic, hunter-gathers, who lived off what the land had to offer, including plants, nuts, berries, fish, reptiles, and large and small game (rabbits, birds, javelinas, bison, and deer). It is also believed the Coahuiltecan processed mesquite tree bean bods into meal or flour by grinding them on metate, or a flat stone surface.  They hunted game with bows/arrows and throwing sticks and fished using nets and spears.

Secondary Sources: Coahuiltecan

External Resources: Coahuiltecan

Bexar Archives

The Bexar Archives are described on the Briscoe Center for American History website as “the official Spanish documents that preserve the political, military, economic, and social life of the Spanish province of Texas and the Mexican state of Coahuila y Texas. Both in their volume and breadth of subject matter, the Bexar Archives are an important source for the history of Hispanic Texas up to 1836.” Included with these documents of the past of Spanish Texas are the interactions between the Spanish settlers and the indigenous peoples of Texas. These sources are useful for getting a sense of how the Spanish settlers interacted with natives, what they thought about them, and overall how they treated them. The Bexar Archives contents can be viewed translated or in their original form online or through the UTRGV Special Collections and Archives microfilm collection.

Indigenous Cultures Institute

The Indigenous Cultures Institute was founded in 2006 by members of the Miakan/Garza Band, one of the over six hundred bands that resided in Texas and northeastern Mexico when the Spaniards first arrived. The site provides access to a wealth of programs and resources, including the Coahuiltecan language, Nakum Journal, sacred sites, performances, and more.

Texas Beyond History: Native Peoples of the Coastal Prairies and Marshlands in Early Historic Times

Texas Beyond History (TBH) is a public education service of the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin, in partnership with the Department of Anthropology at Texas State University and these 15 partners. Begun in 2001, it interprets and shares the results of archeological and historical research on the cultural heritage of Texas with the citizens of Texas and the world.

BORDER LAND: The Struggle for Texas, 1820-1879

A project of The University of Texas at Arlington Center for Greater Southwestern Studies and UTA Libraries that seeks to map sites of conflict between Native Americans and Euro-Americans in Texas from the creation of the First Mexican Republic to the outbreak of the U.S.-Mexico War (1821-1846)

Indigenous Mexico: Coahuiltecan is a culmination of decades of research by John P. Schmal, a historian, genealogist, and lecturer. He specializes in the genealogical research and Indigenous history of several Mexican states, especially Chihuahua, Nayarit Zacatecas, Jalisco and Guanajuato. He is also the author of several books

NBC News Learn: Coahuiltecans, the First People of Texas

Studio A Texas State University: Coahuiltecan

Research Compiled by William D. Bennett

William Bennett is a former student assistant at Special Collections & Archives. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communication at UTRGV with minors in history and anthropology. William hopes to pursue a career in either broadcast or print journalism in the future, but he still has an interest in history. During his time with Special Collections & Archives, William collaborated and assisted with the creation of several exhibits and events and compiled resources for research guides.


The research guides compiled by UTRGV staff and students are intended to assist patrons who are embarking upon new research endeavors. Our goal is to expand their knowledge of the types of resources available on a given topic, including books, archival materials, and websites. In so doing, our compilers have taken care to include collections, digital items, and resources that may be accessed not only through UTRGV but also via other institutions, repositories, and websites.

We wholeheartedly respect the research interests of others. Therefore, please contact us if you wish to submit a resource for consideration, or if you have a question about or an issue with a specific cited resource.

Books from Our Catalog: Coahuiltecan

Primary & Secondary Source Databases: Native Americans

See also...

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