Evidence indicates that humans first reached regions of Texas about 11,500 years ago. Anthropologists have organized the early peoples of Texas into the Southeastern, Gulf, Pueblo, and Plains cultures. Each of these cultures adapted its way of life to the local environment.
The Southeastern and Gulf Cultures For hundreds of years, the Caddos lived and farmed in the East Texas timberlands. More than 24 groups made up the Caddo people, who were the most advanced, numerous, and productive of all the native Texas nations.
The marshy lands along the Texas coast made farming difficult for Gulf peoples. Instead, they led a nomadic life hunting game and gathering nuts, cacti, and other plants. The Coahuiltecans seldom strayed from the dry and brushy land of the South Texas Plain. The Karankawas lived along the Gulf Coast and on the islands between Galveston and Corpus Christi Bays.
The Pueblo and Plains Cultures The Jumanos lived as a trading and buffalo-hunting people who roamed in present-day Texas, New Mexico, and northern Mexico. They acted as intermediaries between the eastern farming groups and the western Pueblo people who lived in cities built on the sides of cliffs. The Apaches moved south onto the Plains and eventually prevailed over the Jumanos. Another Pueblo people, the Tiguas, still live in the Ysleta area today.
The Plains cultures became mobile with the reintroduction of horses by the Spanish. The Mescalero and Lipan Apaches used horses to hunt buffalo and attack their enemies. Their most dangerous enemies were the Spanish and the Comanches, whose territory, the Comancherķa, was a vast land. The Comanches hunted and warred, although they shared the Texas plains with their allies, the Kiowas. Like the other nomadic people of the plains, the Kiowas lived in tepees that enabled them to pick up and move quickly. The Kiowas, like the Apaches and Comanches, were finally forced onto reservations after the destruction of the buffalo herds.