For many years before the arrival of whites, Indians in Texas lived out their own history. The arrival of whites--French, Spanish, Mexican, American--changed their lives forever. The native peoples of Texas correctly perceived that the white desire to settle on the land would mean the end of their way of life. They fought back, some through diplomacy, others through murderous raids. In the end, both peaceful and warlike Indians ended the struggle in the same way--in defeat.
Most of the Indian peoples were removed from Texas and relocated on reservations in Oklahoma. Over the years, many Indians have returned to Texas and live in a number of small communities, most notably in the Dallas area. The 2000 census revealed that 188,000 Texans identified themselves as Native Americans.
Three tribes have their official home in Texas.
- The Alabama-Coushatta reservation in East Texas is home to about 500 people, who are notable for their efforts to combine their cultural heritage with the modern world. They operate a tourist complex and in recent years have sought to add a gambling facility to generate income.
- The Tiguas, descendants of southwestern pueblo tribes, were recognized by the state of Texas in 1967 and today occupy a reservation near El Paso. They operate a gambling operation and are noted for their annual Fiesta de San Antonio in June.
- The Kickapoos have traditionally ignored the border between the United States and Mexico, with the Mexican branch of the tribe being among the most successful in preserving their traditional native culture. In 1985, the Kickapoos were granted land near El Indio, Texas, a move designed to make them eligible for United States aid. About 600 people spend most the year in Nacimiento, Mexico, but spend the summer and early fall working as migrant agricultural workers in the U.S.
Since the end of the Indian Wars, the federal government has been the primary manager of relations between Indians and whites. However, beginning in the 1930s, the state of Texas was involved in managing the Alabama-Coushatta reservation. In 1965, a separate agency called the Texas Commission for Indian Affairs (later the Texas Indian Commission) was formed to administer the reservation. In time, the commission also managed affairs with the Tiguas and Kickapoos. The commission was abolished in 1989, with most of its responsibilities transferred to the federal government. Many Indian activists have called for a new commission to be established that would help better represent their cause in Texas state government.