Caddos, Anadarkoes, Tawaconies, Southern Delawares — so many Native American tribes disappear from U.S. history books, and from U.S. history. These histories should be better preserved and better taught.
Texas history texts mention the Caddo Tribe, but largely ignore what must have been a significant cultural empire, if not an empire that left large stone monuments. Teaching this material in Texas history classes frustrates me, and probably others. Student projects on the Caddos are frequently limited in what they cover, generally come up with the same three or four factoids and illustrations.
The Caddo Tribe lived in an area spanning five modern states, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and eventually Missouri. Here is an interactive map that offers more information and useful photos of Caddoland than I have found in any other source: The Caddo Map Tool.
This is just an image of the tool — click on the image above and it will link to the actual site. One of the things that excites me about this map is its interactive features, especially the map that carries links to photos that show just what the local environment looks like.
The best part is that this just a small part of a project at the University of Texas’s College of Liberal Arts called “Texas Beyond History: The Virtual Museum of Texas’ Cultural Heritage”.
The on-line display for Caddo history includes information from Works Progress Administration (WPA) digs of a Caddo settlement known as Upper Nasoni, conducted during the Great Depression. For example, from a museum in Seville, Spain, the UT educators pull this map:
Caption from the Texas Beyond History site: The Upper Nasoni settlement on the Red River, based on Teran’s 1691-1692 expedition. The map, drawn by an unknown member of the expedition, is the earliest known cartographic depiction of a Native American community in Texas. Original map in the Archivo General de Indias, Seville.
These are small parts of a much grander exhibit of Caddo history and culture, including downloadable lesson plans; similar treatments are given to other tribes and other geography in Texas. This is a rich, rich site. For economics, here are great examples of traditional economies; for geography, here are outstanding examples of how real geographers use maps, with examples specific to Texas for Texas history, and examples useful to show how geographers work in other parts of the world that Texas kids can visualize; for history, here are dozens of warm-ups, lesson plan suggestions, lecture images and possibilities for student projects from academically solid, on-line sources.
So, while you’re checking out Caddoland, be sure also to look at these displays: Hank’s House, a burned pit house from the 1300s, found in the Texas Panhandle; Plains Villagers of the Texas Panhandle; Frontier Forts; etc., etc., etc.
Also, be sure to read the February 2007 plea for donations, which explains some of the hopes and dreams of the site’s creators. Four months later, we can already see some of the results, and it’s spectacular.
Foundation administrators? Are you paying attention?
These tools should work well in a classroom with a live link to the internet; the possibilities for lesson plans are enormous and titillating. Have fun.