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INDIANS. The Tonkawan Indians of Texas. The name Tonkawa is from the Waco term tonkaweya, meaning "they all stay together.". HOME.

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the tonkawan indians of texas
The Tonkawan Indians of Texas

The name Tonkawa is from the Waco

term tonkaweya, meaning "they all stay together."



  • The Tonkawa lived in central Texas near modern Austin. Their historical territory was along the Balcones Escarpment between Austin and San Antonio. Originally the Tonkawa had a larger territory that included the hill country around Llano and Mason Texas.


In their early history, the Tonkawa were nomadic, moving tepee villages according to their chiefs' lead. They were known among the Spanish and the later American traders for the large quantities of tallow, deerskins, buffalo robes and tongues they sold.



The Tonkawa were notable warriors who used bows, spears and firearms. The warriors wore protective leather jackets and caps decorated with horn and brilliant plumage. The Tonkawa are known to have worn breastplates, chokers and ear pendants made with hair pipes. Breechclout, leggings and moccasins completed their warm weather clothing. A buffalo robe would be added on top for cold weather. 

Tonkawa means, "the people of the Wolf". The Tonkawa claimed they were all descended from a mythical wolf. For this reason the Tonkawa would never kill a wolf.

Tonkawas believe they originated from the wolf. The Wolf Dance celebrates the creation of the Tonkawa people. For many years this dance was kept secret from outsiders. By the mid 1800's settlers had observed the dances. All the dancers are dressed in wolf skins. They dance low to the ground and periodically scratch at the dirt in the central area. Toward the end of the dance all dancers gather at the center and vigorously dig up the dirt. A man emerges from the earth. This is the Tonkawa legend in the form of a dance. 


comanches a texas indian tribe

Comanches A Texas Indian Tribe

“One who wants to fight me.”

Comanche Indian Flag

culture language

a Comanche camp

Painting of a Comanche village

  • lived on the High Plains (what is The Panhandle today)
  • had chiefs to make decisions in time of conflict and peace and had a council- a group of leaders to help make decisions
  • Comanches often had conflict with neighboring tribes and were known as fierce warriors.
  • Comanches soon took over lands from other neighboring tribes and soon spread across much of Central, TX.
  • They spoke a language called Uto-Aztecan, it is dying because children don’t get to speak their language but much efforts are being made for the language to still be spoken

Quannah Parker

young Comanche girls

  • Men wore breechcloths, moccasins, and leggings.
  • Women wore leggings, moccasins, and fringed dresses made of buffalo hide.
instruments tools shelter

travois used for carrying, in the picture a woman and small child are in the travois

fleshers made from stones used to scrape or clean buffalo hide

  • Comanches made bows and arrows to hunt animals for food
  • They made many tools from natural resources such as stones and bones of animals.
  • They made tepees from buffalo hide for shelter.

Comanches on horses

  • Comanches were definitely excellent hunters and gatherers
  • Men hunted buffalo, fish, deer, bears, and many more animals. In the late 1600s they learned how to ride Mustangs and this made them able to hunt more.
  • Women gathered nuts, berries, fruits, and water.
comanche children
Comanche Children

woman sewing

a painting of a Comanche mother and child

  • Children were the most precious gift and hardly ever punished, instead they were scared by the elders that a boogey man would come and get them if they didn’t behave.
  • Boys age 5 and 6 were given a small bow and arrow to begin practicing shooting.
  • Boys were often taught how to shoot and ride by their grandfather because their dads were often out hunting. Boys were also told legends and talked to about growing up by their grandfathers.
  • Girls gathered berries, nuts, and roots. They carried and collected water from rivers. At age 12 they learned how to cook meals, make tepees, sew clothes, and other tasks that would prepare them for becoming a wife and mother.