Adai Indians. A tribe of the Caddo confederacy, speaking a dialect closely related to that of the Kadohadacho, Hainai, and Anadarko. The tribe was first encountered in 1529 by Cabeza de Vaca, who speaks of them, under the name Atayos, as living inland from the Gulf of Mexico.
When Iberville ascended Red river of Louisiana in 1699 he heard of the people and called them Natao, stating that their village was on the river near that of the Yatasi. According to La Harpe (1719) the tribe was very useful to the French traders and explorers, particularly when making portages. At that time the villages of the Adai extended from Red River southward beyond the Sabine, in Texas, known in the 18th century as Rio de los Adiais. The trail which from ancient times had connected the Adai villages became the noted “contraband trail” over which traders and travelers journeyed between the French and Spanish provinces, and one of the villages was a station on the road between the French fort at Natchitoches and the Spanish fort at San Antonio.
As the villages of the tribe were scattered over a territory, one portion which was under the control of the French and the other under that of the Spaniards, the Indians were subjected to all of the adverse influences of the white race and suffered from their wars and from the new diseases and intoxicants which they introduced, so that by 1778 they were reported by Mezières 1 as almost exterminated. About 1792, 14 families of the tribe together with a number of Mexicans, emigrated to a region south of San Antonio de Bejar, but they soon melted away and were lost among other Indians. Those who remained numbered about 100. In 1805 Sibley reported a small settlement of these Indians on Lac Macdon, near an affluent of Red River; it contained only 20 men, but a larger number of women. This Adai remnant had never left their ancient locality, but they had not escaped the vicissitudes of their kindred. In 1715 Domingo Ramon, with a company of Franciscans, traversed the Adai territory and started settlements. In 1716 the mission of San Miguel de Linares was founded among them, and there were Adai also in the mission of San de los Tejas, established in 1690. About 1735 a military post called Nuestra Señora del Pilar was added, and 5 years later this garrison became the Presidio de los Adayes. Later, when the country was distracted from the jurisdiction of Indians, the Adai tribe was placed under the division having its official head quarters at Nacogdoches. In all essentials of living and ceremony they resembled the other Caddo, by whom the remnant was finally absorbed.
- Bancroft, No. Mex. States, I, 661, 1886