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Caddo Archeology Journal

Abstract

A.D. 1450 was a watershed year in the native history of the Caddo Indian peoples of the Far Southeast (southwest Arkansas, northwest Louisiana, eastern Oklahoma, and eastern Texas). For the first time, recognizable and relatively geographically coherent socio-political polities in several areas can be identified that arose out of the distinctive archaeological traditions of the Caddo area that first are recognizable about A.D. 900. These new Caddo polities that came into existence at ca. A.D. 1450 apparently lasted until at least A.D. 1680, if not later, but did not survive sustained European contact with the same socio-political organization intact that they started with in those watershed times.

This dynamic development among Caddo peoples occurred in tandem with a more uniform intensification of maize agriculture in prime Far Southeast habitats after ca. A.D. 1300, extensive intra-areal movements of Caddo groups in combination with the abandonment of agriculturally marginal regions, possible new religious developments heralded by indirect archaeological evidence for the use of peyote and other psychotropic drugs among some East Texas Caddo peoples after ca. A.D. 1430, and widespread trade and exchange with indigenous Southern Plains and Southeastern cultures. The introduction of epidemic diseases by the early 1690s, along with slave raiding from tribes east of the Mississippi River (see Ethridge 2009), took a terrible toll on the Caddo peoples in the years to come, but the dissolution of several pre-contact Caddo sociopolitical polities, and the transformation of them into new Caddo cultural identities, did not occur until well into the 18th century, about 1730.

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