Clipped From The Facts

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 - 'Water Walkers' of Brazoria County First humans...
'Water Walkers' of Brazoria County First humans to inhabit the region left an indelible impression^ By Karma Lowe tribe welcomed the Spaniards Christi. arriving a h n ,,t \ Ann •- •* • ^ By Karma Lowe The Facts W hen a Spanish expedition expedition wrecked near present-day present-day Brazoria County during the exceptionally cold November of 1528, a band of Karankawa Indians rescued the dying explorers. The Indians carried 80 marooned sailors to their tribal camp, stopping along the way to build wanning fires. When they reached camp, the rest of the Family Dining Best food away from home Banquet Rooms Private Parties Restaurant tribe welcomed the Spaniards with a dance that continued all night. Expedition treasurer Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca later documented the eight years he spent with the nomadic Karankawas as a slave and medicine medicine man, providing the first written account of the now vanished vanished tribe. Karankawas, the "water walkers," were the first humans to inhabit the coastal region from Galveston to Corpus MlSHwy.332Wrtt, Ltte j aH-Tpo, WaUaj, ftlam-IOpm WttttnJ* SEE WHO'S THE TALK OF THE TOWN READ SEEN & HEARD IN BRAZOS LIVINO THEIBEST KEPT SECRET IN BRAZORIA COUNTY! Hal Hrncir's Custom Built Homes Since 1976. isn't It Time You Found Out About Our Quality Built Homes? 497^9530, Pager Christi, arriving about 1400 A.D. Their beach-combing lifestyle included minimal clothing and a diet of mostly oysters and fish that they hunted with longbows and venison which is said to explain the light color, rather than cinnamon hue, of their complexion. The Indians must have made quite an impression on the ill- fated Spaniards. Witnesses who documented their appearance described the men as "standing seven feet tall, magnificently formed, strongly built and approaching perfection in their bodily proportions." The Karankawa men were said to have long coarse hair, similar to that of a horse. And because of their bareheaded nature, their hair took on a reddish reddish tone. The Karankawa women's appearance was quite contrary to their male counterparts. counterparts. One historian describes the women as looking "sullen, morose and uninviting." This was said to be caused by the labor-intensive nature of domestic domestic toil, which was solely the responsibility of the women. Spanish settlers are documented saying the women were "quite plain and even in youth not pretty." pretty." Those who encountered the Karankawa people were often most surprised by the white teeth of the tribe members. Even in their older years their teeth remained strong and white. Europeans and other Indian tribes were often repulsed by the foul-smell emanated by members of the tribe who smeared themselves with alligator alligator grease to ward off mosquitoes. mosquitoes. After several days of constant constant sun exposure, the alligator grease developed a pungent odor. Besides their intimidating size and odoriferous emanation, A n* , .,,. Facts photo: Karma Lowe «fe-slze rendition of a Karankawa Indian is on display display at the Brazoria County Museum. Karankawas also wore tattoos that were quite distinctive and unusual. They wore lines and figures tattooed onto their face with a blue substance. Tattooing was limited to their faces and worn by both men, age 10 or older, and women alike. Some historians have documented documented a quite unusual child- rearing technique practiced by the Karankawas. For children who were not yet able to walk, instead of being kept in a cradle, the Karankawas would strap the baby to a "baby-board." The board had the outline of the child's body and was suspended suspended to the ceiling of the lodge, fastened by the thongs of CELEBRATING a deerskin. For the Karankawa*) this was a method used to assu¥6 the child would have a straight :£ back. & h However, it also subjected lithe lithe child to flattening of the f** forehead, causing it to be broa later in life. The Karankawas paid a hea,,- price for their first encounter Mi with Europeans, however. The| : |i new arrivals introduced previ->|j ously unknown diseases that .«ij spawned widespread epidemicta:; When a French expedition : f>jp led by Robert Cavalier de la *4j Salle set up camp near 111 Matagorda Bay in 1685, the * -1: Karankawas were far less hos-i': pitable. A series of conflicts t\\ escalated to ambushes then open' warfare, and by 1690 all the ? |= Frenchmen had been killed, if In the 1700s, Spanish priest! f tried to establish coastal mis- M, sions to convert the Karankawas" to Christianity, but the fierce])^' independent Indians resisted •'.'£$ their efforts. In a classic case pgj culture clash, the priests then '•-& decided the Karankawas were savage, lazy, bad tempered, -./;/-, indecent, ungrateful gluttons. c -,., They also called the ~U Karankawas cannibals, though most current scholars believe the tribe limited the practice to 3 ' 1 ' ritualistic ceremonies. In fact, 01 '' Karankawa warriors believed / >f they could gain an enemy's I' 1? courage by eating a bit of his ' ? - rt flesh. >rv/ In 1783, the Spanish gover- ri M nor of Texas formally declared" jl war on the Karankawas, but I: ' • extermination efforts failed "^'^ because of the warriors' great *' ;: ' strength and powerful arrows. ;1 '-; French pirates, including Jean 5 r Lafitte, enjoyed a fairly harmo- . T nious relationship with the tribe'"' 1 in the early 1800s, and two "'~ z " pirates even married Karahkaw'i' /v women. This unusual See KARANKAWAS, Page jt" s

Clipped from
  1. The Facts,
  2. 27 Jul 1997, Sun,
  3. Page 50

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