The extinct Coahiltecans and other native Americans


For nearly 200 years after De Vaca’s travels, no recorded forays into the area exist. It was not until the mid 1700s that Spain began to send scouting parties into South Texas; first to track down rumors of French incursions, and later to prevent future foreign intervention in the depopulated area. Of course, the area was not really without people, a number of native groups collectively called Coahuiltecs lived in and roamed throughout South Texas.

The Coahiltecans lived in groups of from 100 to 140 and these groups together formed larger bands held together by common language and the proximity to each other. Some anthropologists believe that they were a loose confederation of families without a leader or chief. There is some evidence, however, that at least the Carrizo had a form of tribal government with clan leaders reporting to the band’s chief. The Carrizo was probably the largest group of Coahiltecans. It consisted of some 50 clans that primarily lived along the Rio Grande in the Zapata area but also trekked to streams in southern Duval County.

Another group known as the Orejon consisted of 14 clans and lived primarily in the Nueces River Valley in proximity to Corpus Christi but also roamed into parts of Duval County. The Pacal was a group of 24 member clans whose primary residence was on the Nueces, north of Laredo, but they ventured into northwestern Duval County. Finally, members of the Venado band also made their home in the Duval County area in the 1700s.

Frederick Henry Ruecking, Jr. in his Masters Thesis "The Coahuiltecan Indians of Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico" wrote:
". . . these people were either displaced or exterminated during the process of European settlement. . . The Indians of this region, known as the Coahuiltecans, have acculturated and assimilated into the society of Mexico. None remains that can describe the old way of life. After nearly two hundred years of constant contact with the Spanish settlers, the Coahuiltecans have lost their ethnic identify."
It would be another 200 years before a written record of any exploration of the Duval County area. Indians, including the peaceful Tejones in the West and the semi nomadic warriors the Comanche in the north, continually inhabited the area. Also found in the area were the Karankawas. 

Don Blas Maria de Falcon, in charge of the Spanish soldiers at Camargo in the middle of the eighteenth century, frequently made runs to the other side of the Rio Grande towards the coast and encountered a number of Indian tribes. Falcon claimed to have explored the Rio Nueces extensively and concluded that the Indians that occupied the area were from the coast. There were no settlements in the area and the land, said Falcon, did not lend itself for cultivation and sustaining a populous. 

The presence of Indians prevented the founding of permanent settlements. Only caravans of transients on their way to Goliad or other parts of Texas passed through the area.