Men wore simple breach cloths and women wore grass skirts. Often the men simply went naked. The kids always went naked in warm weather. Because their environment has lots and lots and lots of insects that bite, they would smear animal fat and grease all over their bodies.
The men and women of the Karankawa tribe wore different clothing. One thing in common was that both genders usually wore nothing to cover their top half. The men of the tribe would wear plain cloth or deer hide pieces tied around their waists. The women often wore long skirts made of large grass pieces tied together.
They adorned themselves with tattoos as well as the men and wore skins around their waist to their knees. The children of the tribes wore nothing. Married women painted the entire body; unmarried women wore simple stripe tattoos from forehead to chin. The Karankawa used bows and arrow points for hunting and fighting.
The Karankawa Indians were a group of tribes who lived along the Gulf of Mexico in what is today Texas. Archaeologists have traced the Karankawas back at least 2,000 years. By the 1860s, the Karankawas were thought to be extinct, although some probably still existed.
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.
Karankawas were known for their distinctive physical appearance. In the sixteenth and seventeenth century the men were described as tall and muscular, and during the summer wore deerskin breechcloths or nothing at all. Come winter, these Indians donned buffalo and deer robes for warmth.
The houses were small huts made of long sapling tree trunks or limbs bent over and tied together. They would stick one end of the tree limb or saplings into the ground in a big circle. Then they would bend them over towards the middle and tie them together making a framework.
Joseph María, the Most Prominent Karankawa Chief During the Karankawa-Spanish War (1778-1789) – Karankawas.
There is little known about the Karankawa Religious beliefs except for their festivals and Mitote, a ceremony performed after a great victory in battle. The festivals were performed during a full moon, after a successful hunting or fishing expedition in a large tent with a burning fire in the middle.
A party of colonists led by Aylett C. Buckner kill 40-50 Karankawas near the mouth of the Colorado River, three miles east of present day Matagorda, in retaliation for attack on Cavanaugh and Flowers’ families. Sometimes referred to as the “Dressing Point” Massacre.
He recommended that the mission of La Bahía should be moved because of native hostility and the unfavorable climate. A new mission, Mission Rosario, was established in 1754. It was in constant fear of revolt by the natives in the mission and often appealed to La Bahía for military aid.
“The Karankawa Native Americans, extinct since about 1860, were a nomadic tribal group in bands of 30 to 100 that fished and hunted the Texas Gulf Coast from Corpus Christi to Galveston, and inland up to 100 miles.
The Karankawa government was divided into two categories: civil chiefs and war chiefs. Civil chiefs were appointed by those in the tribe. These men were responsible for keeping everything in order and moving the tribe forward when it came time for the nomads to move onto a new area.
Rarely did the Karankawas venture away from the tidal plain into the territory of their enemies, the Tonkawas, and after the second half of the eighteenth century, the Lipan Apaches and the Comanches. Five bands or groups made up the tribe.
The Karankawas were nomads who lived off the sea. They migrated between the mainland and the barrier islands in the Gulf of Mexico, seldom remaining at a campsite more than a few weeks. The Karankawas were the first Indians in Texas to encounter Europeans.