Late Prehistoric Stage:
This stage started about AD 1, and ended in 1541 when the Spanish expedition led by Vasquez de Coronado explored the Panhandle region. These late Prehistoric Indians were hunters and gatherers, and they also developed into farmers who grew crops such as corn, beans, and squash to supplement their diet. As horticultural activities increased, the groups became more sedentary, their populations expanded, and the open camps of earlier days were replaced by large permanent villages.
During the first 1,000 years the Late Prehistoric stage is characterized by the presence of pottery and small arrow points. During this stage Indians hunted bison and other smaller animals, many of which require a moister climate than the Archaic stage.
The best known culture is the Antelope Creek people who lived in the Texas Panhandle during the latter years of the Late Prehistoric Stage. The homesteads, hamlets, and villages of the complex are especially numerous in the middle part of the Canadian River Breaks. Carbon dating shows these people lived in the area between the years AD 1200-1500. The Antelope Creek people were farmers, hunters, and miners. They raised crops, hunted bison and other game, and mined Alibates flint. They were prolific tool makers, probably using the flint and tools as trade items. Since the flint was traded far and wide, this culture was enriched by social contact with many other cultures. Many trade items such as turquoise, obsidian, pottery, and shells can be found in these archeological sites.
What happened to the Antelope Creek people is unknown, but their villages had been abandoned by the time Coronado reached the area in 1541. Possibilities are drought, change in subsistence strategy, or pressure from the encroaching Apaches.
In 1541 when Coronado’s expedition arrived in the Texas Panhandle, he described people living in what is now the south plains area. He called these people Querechos who have been identified as Apaches. These Indians were described as nomadic “cow” hunters (the Spanish had never seen bison), people who lived in skin tents, and used dogs to pull their possessions as they followed the herds. Apaches dominated the Southern Plains by the end of the 1500s.
The Comanches are a Shoshonean people who migrated from the northwest onto the Southern Plains. The word Comanche is believed to come from a Ute word meaning “someone who wants to fight with me all the time.” By the mid-1700s the Comanches had driven the Apache tribes south out of the Texas Panhandle and the Llano Estacado. Soon the entire area was called “Comancheria.” Soon after the Comanches moved into the area, the Kiowa tribe migrated into the region. The Comanche and Kiowa fought over the bison range until they decided to become friends instead of enemies. This friendship would last for over 100 years.
The Comanche and Kiowa tribes ruled the Panhandle area until the mid-1870s when white bison hide hunters invaded the land killing thousands of bison, removing their hides, and leaving the rest of the bison to rot on the plains. This hide-tanning business was the beginning of the end for the Indian tribes in the Texas Panhandle. By 1876 the Comanche and Kiowa tribes were placed by the US military on reservations in Indian Territory, what is now Oklahoma.
- SS 4.1A (Describe the region in which Native Americans lived.)
- SS 4.7B (Describe regions in Texas … that result from physical characteristics.)
- SS 4.8 D (Explain the geographic factors ... that influence settlement)
- SS 4.9A (Describe ways people have adapted to and modified their environment.)
- SS 4.9B (Identify reasons people have adapted to and modified their environment)
- SS 4.10 A (Explain the economic patterns of … Native Americans.)
- SS 4.22 A (Differentiate and use primary sources.)
- SS 4.22 B (Analyze information by categorizing, relationships, comparing, and contrasting.)
- SS4.23 A (Use social Studies terminology correctly.)
- SS 4.23C (Express ideas orally based on research and experiences.)
- SS 4.23 D (Create visual material.)
- ELA 4.1 C (understand the major ideas and supporting evidence in spoken messages.)
- ELA 4.2D (Monitor his/her own understanding of the spoken message and seek clarification as needed.)
- ELA 4.5B (demonstrate effective communications skills that reflect such demands as reporting and providing information.)
- ELA 4.21A (Frame questions to direct research.)
Lewis, Willie Newbury, Between Sun and Sod, Texas A&M University Press, College Station, 1976.
Rathjen, Frederick W., The Texas Panhandle Frontier, Texas Tech University Press, 1973.
Speer, Roberta D., Culture History of Prehistoric Indians of the Texas Panhandle Region, unpublished paper.
Sources for word definitions:
1. artifact. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved July 03, 2009, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/artifact
Sources for photos:
Clovis Point - Courtesy of PPHM Archeology Department
Bison Hide Hunters - Courtesy of Kansas State Historical Society
Sources from the art collection at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas:
Ben Carlton Mead, Coronado's Coming, oil on canvas glued to wall (mural), 1934.
Ben Carlton Mead, Antelope Creek Focus, oil on canvas glued to wall (mural), ca. 1940.
H.D. Bugbee, Kiowas Hunting Buffalo, oil on canvas glued to wall (mural), 1957.