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Treaty and Abandonment

the signing of the Treaty of Cession in 1835
With the signing of the Treaty of Cession in 1835, the Caddo transferred nearly a million acres of their land to the United States. Photograph of painting at Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, Shreveport, courtesy of Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism.
1835 Treaty of Cession
The 1835 Treaty of Cession between the United States and the "Chiefs, Head Man, and Warriors of the Caddo Nation of Indians." Oddly, although interpreter Larkin Edwards signature is shown on page 6 of the treaty, he was not present during negotiations and did not translate for the Caddo. Document courtesy of National Archives. (Click to enlarge and see additional pages in PDF format. You will need Adobe Acrobat to view this file.)
Mary Inkanish
Caddo woman Mary Inkanish. She recalled that when she was a child "the whites raided the Indians, drove them from their villages and took a portion of their crops…." Photo courtesy Western History Collection, University of Oklahoma Library. (Click to see full image.)
Texas Cardinal
A Texas Cardinal, perhaps the inspiration for a Caddo song. Photo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife.


Hungry, dispirited, and recognizing the inevitable, the Caddos agreed to sell their Louisiana lands to the United States in the 1835 Treaty of Cession, three months after the Great Raft had been cleared. Tashar, who succeeded Dehahuit as head chief, said in support of the treaty:

My Children: For what do you mourn? Are you not starving in the midst of this land? And do you not travel far from it in quest of food? The game we live on is going farther off, and the white man is coming near to us; and is not our condition getting worse daily? Then why lament for the loss of that which yields us nothing but misery? Let us be wise then, and get all we can for it, and not wait till the white man steals it away, little by little, and then gives us nothing.

The Caddos got something for their land, but very little. They were handicapped by the absence of their regular interpreter, Larkin Edwards, during the negotiations. Further, their French Creole advisors were not allowed in the council. On July 1, 1835, the Caddos signed the treaty, which transferred about a million acres of land to the United States in exchange for $30,000 in goods and horses and $10,000 per year in cash for the next five years. The Caddos apparently believed Timber Hill was in Louisiana, though it was actually then part of Mexico (now Texas), and people gradually began to leave the village that year. By 1842, it seems to have been completely abandoned.

Ninety years after the agreement was signed, a very old Caddo woman named Mary Inkanish remembered that when she was a small child "the whites raided the Indians, drove them from their villages and took a portion of their crops. After the treaty, part of the money was paid, but a part never was paid."

Some Kadohadachos moved into Oklahoma, some to Mexico, and some to the Brazos River farther west in Texas, where a short-lived reservation was established for them in 1854. Hostile Texas neighbors finally forced the removal of the last Caddos to a reservation on the Washita River in Oklahoma that had already been established for the Wichitas.

Many years later, anthropologist Dayna Bowker Lee recorded Lowell "Wimpy" Edmonds, a member of the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma, singing some "riding songs." Mr. Edmonds is a descendent of a Caddo woman and Larkin Edwards, the Caddos' white interpreter during the time of Timber Hill. He said the riding songs were sung while traveling on horseback, and he thought two of them related to his people's removal to Oklahoma, when they rode at night to avoid antagonistic Texas soldiers. In this song, a redbird warns them that daylight approaches:

Redbird [Yawdawsh] (Listen to a clip of Edmonds performing Redbird)

Redbird, redbird
He got scared, he flew up out of the bush.
It must be getting close to daylight.

Another song is about a near encounter with a Comanche (Listen to a clip of the Comanche song):

The Comanche was waving his hand.
Go ahead, friend, go tell about this.
He thought he would, he wanted to,
He didn't see me, the Kadohadacho.


inset of signature page of the treaty
Inset of signature page of the Treaty of Cession, with names of Tashar and other Caddo leaders.

Click images to enlarge  

 

The Caddos got something for their land, but very little. They were handicapped by the absence of their regular interpreter during the negotiations.

sunset over Caddo Lake
Dusk at Caddo Lake, downstream from the site of Timber Hill. Photo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Lowell "Wimpy" Edmonds
The late Lowell "Wimpy" Edmonds, Caddo drummer and singer. Photo courtesy Dayna Bowker Lee.
drumming group
Caddo singer Lowell "Wimpy" Edmonds (left), performing with drumming group. Photo and audio recordings by Lowell "Wimpy" Edmonds and Dayna Bowker Lee.