What follows is a collection of sources that in some way describe the Karankawa Indians’ spirituality:

[1777-1783] Morfi’s Memorias para la Historia de Tejas and Historia de Texas: 1673-1779 and Morfi’s Historia

Author: Juan Agustín Morfi

Written in: 1777-1783

Description: Father Morfi wrote two histories of Texas: Memorias para la Historia de Texas and the Historia de Texas. Memorias, his first history, was a collection of documents that he planned to condense into a more concise history—Historia de Texas. He died before fully completing Historia but historian Carlos Castañeda published a rough draft in 1935. Of the two histories, Memorias has far more information on Texas’s Native Peoples.

Morfi wrote his history during the Karankawa-Spanish war. With that the case, Morfi found little issue depicting the Karankawas as demonic. But Father Morfi had never set foot in Karankawa territory. His only encounter with these coastal peoples likely occurred in San Antonio, with Copano mission Indians when he toured the northern borderlands with the new Commandant General of the Interior, Teodoro de Croix. Therefore, Morfi relied heavily on Father Gaspar de Solís’s 1767 journal for information on the Karankawas’ cultural practices (copying it word for word in instances). Nevertheless, Morfi does provide some unique information such as estimated population sizes.

Father Morfi’s histories have since become quite popular and set in stone the image of Karankawas as inherently hostile group. It mythologized the Karankawas as impossible to civilize—as a Peoples who “eat children.”


Juan Agustín Morfi, Excerpts from the Memorias for the history of the province of Texas: being a translation of those parts of the Memorias which particularly concern the various Indians of the province of Texas; their tribal divisions, characteristics, customs, traditions, superstitions, and all else of interest concerning them, trans. Carlos E. Castañeda and Frederick C Chabot (San Antonio: Naylor Publishing, 1932).

Juan Agustín Morfi, History of Texas, 1673-1779, v. 1, trans. Carlos Eduardo Castañeda (Albuquerque: The Quivira Society, 1935), 79-81, 93-94, 99-102, 121-139, 191-192.

Juan Agustín Morfi, History of Texas, 1673-1779, v. 2, trans. Carlos Eduardo Castañeda (Albuquerque: The Quivira Society, 1935), 243-244, 252-255, 300-301, 306-307, 338-340.

Further Reading: Juan Agustín Morfi, History of Texas, 1673-1779, trans. Carlos Eduardo Castañeda (Albuquerque: The Quivira Society, 1935), 15-43; Irving A. Leonard, review of History of Texas, 1673-1779 in The Hispanic American Historical Review 16, no. 2 (May, 1936): 229-232.

Tags: Cannibalism, Customs, Hunting, Migrations, Spirituality, Trade, War