Caddo Indian men wore breechcloths, sometimes with leather leggings to protect their legs. Caddo women wore wraparound skirts and poncho tops made of woven fiber and deerskin. Both genders wore earrings and moccasins. Caddo men did not usually wear shirts, but in cold weather, both men and women wore buffalo robes.
The Caddo were a part of a larger religious culture that is found all across the south and Midwest. This is the mound building religion /culture. They are called mound builders because that is what they did, built earth mounds – big ones. They put their temples and chief’s houses on top of these mounds.
The Caddo lived in tall cone shaped grass huts. To build a hut, they made a wood frame and covered it with cut cane and long grasses. These huts were nicely furnished inside with furniture and were quite comfortable.
Throughout the year, members of the tribe gather for festivals and celebrations on important occasions. The women and young girls wear bright costumes with colorful ribbons. Stepping in time to the rhythm of the Caddo drummers, they dance the traditional dances taught to them by their mothers, aunts, and grandmothers.
Today, the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma is a federally recognized tribe with its capital at Binger, Oklahoma. The several Caddo dialects have converged into a single language. Today, there are nearly 5,000 enrolled members of the nation.
The Caddo people had a diet based on cultivated crops, particularly maize (corn), but also sunflower, pumpkins, and squash. These foods held cultural significance, as did wild turkeys. They hunted and gathered wild plants, as well.
According to some sources, the Karankawa practiced ritual cannibalism, in common with other Gulf coastal tribes of present-day Texas and Louisiana. The Karankawa people were shocked at the Spanish cannibalism, which they found to be repugnant.
They lived in tall, grass-covered houses in large settlements with highly structured social, religious and political systems. The Caddos raised corn, beans, squash and other crops. They also hunted the bear and deer of East Texas and headed west for annual buffalo hunts.
The Louisiana Caddo moved southwest to join others of the tribe in Texas. There they lived peaceably for a time, but in 1859 threats of a massacre by a vigilante anti-Indian group forced them to flee to east-central Oklahoma, where they settled on a reservation on the banks of the Washita River.
For hundreds of years, the Caddo Indians built huge dome-shaped houses, temples, and other structures without using modern equipment or tools! They had no chainsaws or metal axes to cut down the tall pine trees from the forests. They had no metal hammers and nails to join the pieces of their houses together.
The weapons used by the Caddo included axes, war clubs, maces, knives, pikes and bows and arrows, commonly made of bois de arc wood.
Many of the Karankawa warriors were over 6 feet tall. People were shorter back then and 6 foot tall Indians were really big. They had bows almost as tall as they were and shot long arrows made from slender shoots of cane. It is said they would suddenly show up in their canoes, seemingly out of no where, to attack.
The large beehive-shaped grass houses of the Caddo and Wichita peoples were permanent dwellings found mainly in East Texas and adjoining areas of neighboring states. Grass houses were much larger than tipis, sometimes reaching 50 feet tall and housing two or more families!
The Caddo men were warriors and hunters, and the women farmed and cooked. The men wore breechcloths and cut their hair into a Mohawk style or a scalplock style. The women wore wraparound skirts and poncho tops made of deerskin. The Louisiana Caddoans lived in tall beehive shaped grass houses.
Settlement and use of lands had great permanence: the Caddo lived and sustained themselves in the same broad forested and well-watered landscape for over 1,000 years. Caddo tribe locations in East Texas, southwest Arkansas, and northwestern Louisiana, 1687.