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Texas is known around the world as a land of cowboys and Indians. Yet the popular concept falls far short of the true extent of the cultures of the state’s indigenous populations. Texas’ native tribes built villages and pueblos, farmed the land, and joined extensive trade networks. They developed oral histories and left records of their culture through rock art.

Though different in many ways, these early Texans were united by an appreciation of the rhythms of the sky. The skies were woven into the cultural fabric of religion, politics, agriculture, and architecture. Native groups used the Sun and stars to align their houses and villages and to establish planting seasons. The Sun may have played a role in the political and religious life of some East Texas villages, where tribal leaders may have been seen as “Sun kings” And the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets may be depicted in the rock art of West Texas.

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Comanches Giving Arrows to the Medicine RockSeveral Texas Indian tribes, including the Osage, Wichita, and Comanche revered meteorites. One trader reported that the Comanche rubbed their bodies against one to cure illnesses. One iron-nickel meteorite known as the Wichita Meteorite may be depicted in Comanches Giving Arrows to the Medicine Rock, an 1834 painting by George Catlin that’s now part of the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.


Experts Forum

Eileen Thompson Eileen Thompson is an art teacher in the public schools in Fort Stockton, Texas. In the mid ’90s she began studying a site in the Davis Mountains known as the Cholla Site.

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Previous Experts: Sam Wilson, Solveig Turpin, Jeff Indeck

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