Hunters and Gatherers of the Rio Grande Plain and the Lower Coast of Texas




Hester, Thomas R.

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Center for Archaeological Research, The University of Texas at San Antonio


In this brief paper, I will attempt to summarize prehistoric cultural manifestations found on the Rio Grande Plain of Texas. A portion of this paper is devoted to a discussion of past and present environments, as I feel that a knowledge of these is essential to an understanding of prehistoric life in the area. The scanty data now available on the regional culture sequence are presented. However, my primary goal in this paper is to briefly outline the major prehistoric cultural traditions on the Rio Grande Plain. These traditions represent ecological adaptive responses made by the prehistoric inhabitants, and are reflected in the archaeology and ethnology of the area. At the time of European contact, the Rio Grande Plain was occupied by hunting and gathering peoples of the Coahuiltecan linguistic stock. All evidence suggests that it was their ancestors who lived in this region for most, if not all, of the prehistoric era. Archaeological work has been sporadic in the region, with most activity occurring within the past 10 years. Some small areas are now known in some detail, but vast portions remain to be studied. Syntheses of the area have been presented by Sayles (1935), Suhm, Krieger, and Jelks (1954), Kelley (1959), Campbell (1960), and Hester (1969a). I will reserve a discussion of the history of archaeological research in the region for a later version of this paper.


A prior version of this paper was presented at a symposium entitled "Archaeology in Texas," held on March 12, 1971, during the annual meeting of the Texas Academy of Science.


Texas History, Prehistoric peoples--Texas, Indians of North America--Texas--Antiquities, Texas--Antiquities