The Texas State Archives maintains a wealth of material relating to the Native American peoples of Texas. The holdings, which range from the colonial era of Spanish rule during the eighteenth century through the years of the Republic and to the present day, depict the cultures and histories of those tribes which once resided, and in some instances still live, in Texas.
Rich collections such as the Nacogdoches Archives and the Texas Indian Papers provide narrative and statistical evidence concerning the encounters and varied relationships that colonists, settlers, and well-known historical figures had with the indigenous peoples of Texas. Other collections from the nineteenth century such as the Mirabeau B. Lamar Papers and the Andrew Jackson Houston Papers contain plentiful correspondence that details the differing perspectives of Mirabeau Lamar, Sam Houston, and other leaders concerning the status of Indians during and after the Republic.
Records produced by state agencies that provided economic and material aid to those tribes remaining in Texas following the nineteenth century are especially informative. The assistance provided by the State Board of Control and its successor, the Board for Texas State Hospitals and Special Schools, to help the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation gain economic sustenance and political control of their affairs from the early through the middle of the twentieth century is well documented, with correspondence and reports providing daily snapshots of the challenges and achievements stemming from this era.
Management of Native American reservations and other affairs in Texas during the later twentieth century can be found in the administrative, financial, and legal records of the Texas Indian Commission. The political emergence of the Tigua and Kickapoo Indians in Texas after decades of political neglect and administrative oversight, as well as the timely assistance provided to these tribes by the Commission, are just two of the compelling events recorded within the agency’s history.
Other collections in the State Archives provide records and materials that give glimpses into the cultures of the state’s tribes. One of the goals of the Texas Tourist Development Agency was to make various tourist attractions and facilities more widely known to the general population in and out of Texas; its visual records of Alabama-Coushatta and Tigua villages are instances of such an effort.
Another collection, the James L.D. Sylestine papers, contains considerable amounts of stories, legends, and songs from the Alabama and Coushatta tribes in both textual and audio form. Lastly, the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, a branch of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in Liberty, Texas, has a large collection of arrowheads and spear-points from tribes that once lived in southeastern Texas; there are also collections of handcrafts and baskets made by the nearby Alabama-Coushatta tribe.
These collections and others with entries in this guide are just some of the larger and well-known holdings in the State Archives pertaining to Native American tribes in Texas. Additional collections are available at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), most available through this website, for those interested in accessing material not mentioned in this guide. A “Subject Guide to Native American Holdings at the Texas State Archives, about 1700-2004” is available in full online at: https://txarchives.org/tslac/finding_aids/90021.xml.
- Artifacts at the Texas State Archives, pre-1900
- Nacogdoches Archives, 1736-1838, bulk 1820-1836
- The Indian Papers of Texas and the Southwest, 1825-1916, bulk 1838-1870
- Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar papers, 1733-1859, bulk 1835-1841, 1857-1859
- Andrew Jackson Houston papers, 1812-1941, bulk 1835-1859
- Texas Secretary of State executive record books, 1835-1917
- Texas Adjutant General’s Department biennial reports, 1870s-1880s
- Captain John J. Dix papers, 1860-1928
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice records, 1849-2004
- James Ludwell Davis Sylestine papers, [17–]-1989, bulk 1900-1980s
- Texas State Board of Control board members files, 1885-1890, 1917-1953, bulk 1920-1953
- Texas State Board of Control building records and contracts, 1854, 1885, 1909-1949, 1967, undated, bulk 1920-1928
- Texas Board for Texas State Hospitals and Special Schools records regarding Alabama-Coushatta Indians, 1938-1939, 1948-1965, bulk 1956-1964
- Texas Indian Commission records, 1957-1989
- Texas Department of Corrections photographs, about 1911-about 1985, undated, bulk about 1965-about 1980
- Texas Secretary of State, Statutory Documents, deed files, 1848-1994, bulk 1928-1963
- Texas Tourist Development Agency audiovisual material, about 1963-1987
- Texas Historical Commission, Marketing Communications Division records, 1955-1998, 2002, undated
- Texas Governor George W. Bush General Counsel’s legal opinions and advice, 1995-2000
- Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center (SHRLRC) holdings related to Native Americans, about 10,000 BCE – 2000 CE, bulk about 10,000 BCE – 1800 CE
For more information about the holdings at the State Archives and conducting research in our collections, contact the Reference Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-463-5455.