This archive will host all extant primary sources related to the Karankawa Indians. 

Karankawas are perhaps the most maligned Indians in Texas. By curating this archival space, by explaining the biases and ulterior motives of the individuals who wrote about the Karankawas, this collection serves to counteract demonized images of these Natives. Most importantly, this work of public history gives Karankawa Indians who are reclaiming and reasserting their identity greater access to their heritage.

Each source is accompanied by a description, a direct link to view the document, a biography of the author, a physical location, and a list of secondary readings. If you have sources of your own that you wish to contribute, please get in touch.

Kept busy by Southern Methodist University’s Ph.D. program, I work on this archive when time allows. My pace, at the moment, is about one new entry every other day. I have more than six-hundred entries to upload.

Special thanks to Andrés Vázquez Arreguín and Elmer Josue Villalobos in translating select documents.

Sources for Southwestern Historical Quarterly article “The Karankawa-Spanish War from 1778 to 1789: Attempted Genocide and Karankawa Power” : Documents (zip)


~10,000 BCE-6000 BCE: Paleo Indians on the Karankawas’ land.

6000 BCE-800: Archaic Indians on the Karankawas’ land.

800-1527: Pueblo and Mississippian cultural traditions.

1528-1684: Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and the Shipwreck of 1554.

1684-1719: French and Spanish Invasion: Sieur de La Salle, Alonso de León, Talon children, and Subsequent Expeditions.

1719-1753: Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo expedition and the establishment of Mission Nuestra Señora de la Bahía del Espíritu Santo de Zúñiga.

1754-1766: Mission Rosario, Marquis de Rubí’s inspection tour, and Fray Gaspar José de Solís’s tour.

1768: Documents

1769: Documents

1770: Documents

1772: Documents

1773: Documents

1774: Documents

1775: Documents

1776: Documents

1777: Documents

1778: Documents

1779: Documents

1780: Documents

1781: Documents

1782: Documents

1783: Documents

1784: Documents

1779-1786: Karankawa Spanish War. Joseph María, Domingo Cabello y Robles, Nicholas de La Mathe, and Teodoro de Croix.

1787-1792: Peace Building. Joseph María, Rafael Martínez Pacheco, Luis Cazorla, and Juan de Ugalde.

1793-1815: Mission Refugio. Chief Balthasar, Manuel Delagado, Capitan Grande.

1815-1820: Karankawas and Jean Laffite and Three Trees. 

1821-1836: Anglo-American Invasion: Stephen F. Austin and Old Three Hundred, Noah Smithwick, John J. Linn, Eduard Ludecus.

1837-1846: Juan Cortina and Genocide. John Holland Jenkins, Henderson K. Yoakum, and William Bollaert.

1847-1900: Forced assimilation or extermination. Albert Gatschet, 

1900-1970: Spanish and Anglo-American propaganda reinforced

1971-Present Day: Revitalization of the Karankawa Peoples.


Appearance (physical)







Family Structures





Karankawa Individuals*





Sign Language

Smoke Signals*





(This index will grow over time)


Submit Your Source

PDF historiography on the Karankawas

Committed to First Archivists Circle’s “Protocols for Native American Archival Materials”

General Disclaimer and Takedown


For an informative podcast on Texas, visit