Nabedache Tribe

Nabedache (Nä-bai-dä-che, said to be a fruit resembling the blackberry. Gatschet says the archaic name of the tribe was Wawadishe, from witish, ‘salt’; Joutel 1 corroborates this by saying that Naoudiche means ‘salt’, and that the village bearing this name was so called because of the salt supply near by). One of the 12 or more tribe, of the Hasinai, or southern Caddo confederacy. They spoke the common language of the group. Their main village stood for a century or more 3 or 4 leagues west of Neches river and near Arroyo San Pedro, at a site close to the old San Antonio road, which became known as San Pedro. This name clung to the place throughout the 18th century, and seems still to cling to it, since San Pedro creek and the village of San Pedro, in Houston County, Texas, are in the same general vicinity as old San Pedro. In 1687 a well-beaten path led past this village to the Hasinai hunting grounds beyond the Brazos 2. It perhaps became apart of the later San Antonio road.

The Nouadiche mentioned by Bienville in 1700 3 and the Amediche mentioned by La Harpe in 1719 4 are clearly the Nabedache of San Pedro. Joutel 5 tells us that the Naodiche village, which he passed through some 15 leagues north east of San Pedro, was allied to the latter, and it seems probable that it belonged to the same tribe. The Naouydiche mentioned by La Harpe in 1719, however, are not so easily identified with the Nabedache, since he associates them with the Tonkawa, calls them a wandering tribe which until La Salle’s coining had been at war with the Kadohadacho, and on the same page mentions the Amediche apparently as a distinct tribe 6. Yet the facts that the “great chief” of the Naouydiches, of whom La Harpe writes, spoke the language of the Nassonites, i. e., Caddoan, and that the Nouadiche of Bienville’s account were the Nabedache male it probable that those of La Harpe’s account were the same people. Concerning the Nabedache of  San Pedro, always in historic times the chief village of the tribe, the information is relatively full and satisfactory. They are the first Texas tribe of which there is a definite account, and because of their location on the western frontier of the Hasinai group and on the, highway from Mexico to Louisiana they are frequently mentioned during the 18th century. La Salle passed through this village in 1686 on his way to the southern Nasoni, and by “the great Coenis village” of Douay’s account of this expedition is meant specifically the Nabedache village west of Neches river and the Neche village just on the other side 7. Joutel’s description of the Cenis (Hasinai) , as distinguished from the southern Nasoni and the Kadohadacho is based on his sojourn at the Nabedache and Neche villages 8; likewise Jesus Marfa’s invaluable account of the Hasinai was written at his mission near the Nabedache village 9.

The political, social, and economic organization, as well as the general exterior relations of this tribe, were much the same as those of the confederate tribes, and described under Neche. Joutel, in 1687, informs us that from the western edge of the Nubedache village to the chief’s house it was a “large league” 10. The houses on the way were grouped into “hamlet” of from 7 to 15, and surrounded by fields. Similar “hamlets” were scattered all the way to the Neches. In the middle of the settlement was a large assembly house, or town house. Father Damian Massanet 11 thus describes the caddi’s or chief’s house as he saw it in 1690: “We came to the governor’s house, where we found a number of Indians, men, women, and children.  The house is built of stakes thatched over with grass; it is about 20 varas high, is round, and has no windows, daylight entering through the door only; this door is like a room door such as we have here [in Mexico]. In the middle of the house is the fire, which is never extinguished by day or by night, and over the door on the inner side there is a little mound of pebbles very prettily arranged. Ranged around one-half of the house, inside, are 10 beds, which consist of a rug made of reeds, laid on 4 forked sticks. Over the rug they spread buffalo skins, on which they sleep. At the head and foot of the bed is attached another carpet, forming a sort of arch, which, lined with a very brilliantly colored piece of reed matting, makes what bears some resemblance to a very pretty alcove. In the other half of the house, where there are no beds, there are some shelves about 2 varas high, and on them are ranged large round baskets made of reeds (in which they keep their corn, nuts, acorns, beans, etc.), a row of very large earthen pots like our earthen jars,  and 6 wooden mortars for pounding corn in rainy weather (for when it is fair they grind it in the courtyard).” Besides what is learned of Hasinai foods in general we are told by Solís, who visited San Pedro in 1768, that the Nabedache used a root called tuqui, which was some what like the Cuban cassava. They ground it in mortars and ate it with bear’s fat, of which they were particularly fond. Solís also tells us that resident there at this time was an Indian woman of  great authority, named Sanate Adiva, meaning ‘great woman’, or ‘chief woman’: that she lived in a house of many rooms; that the other tribes brought her presents,–,and that she had 5 husbands bands and many servants 12

Though the Nabedache were a peaceable people, they had many enemies, and in war they were high-spirited and cruel. In 1687 they and the Neche, aided by some of  Joutel’s party, made a successful campaign against the “Canohatinno.” On the return one female captive was scalped alive and sent back to her people with a challenge 13, while another was tortured to death by the women. La Harpe reported that in 1714 the Nabedache (Amediches) and other Hasinai tribes were at war with the lower Natchitoch. In 1715 a party of Hasinai, including Nabedache, joined St. Denis in an expedition to Mexico. On the way a fierce battle was fought near San Marcos river (apparently the Colorado) with 200 coast Indians, “always their chief enemies” 14. Wars with the Apache were frequent. In 1719 Du Rivage met on Red river a party of Naouydiches and other tribes who lead just won a victory over this enemy 15. Shortly after this, La Harpe was joined near the Arkansas by the Naouydiche “great chief” and 40 warriors. We are told that the Nabedache, with other Hasinai, aided the French in 1730 in their war with the Natchez 16. Early in the l8th century the Nabedache seem generally to have been hostile to the Tonkawan tribes, but, later, hatred for the Apache made them  frequently allies, and we now hear of the Tonkawans selling Apache captives to the Nabedache. The possession at San Pedro in 1795 of some captive Apache women secured in this way threatened to cause war between the Spaniards and the Apache. The Spaniarrls, to avoid trouble, ransomed, the women and sent them home 17. In 1791, after fierce warfare between the Lipan and the combined northern Indians, the Wichita, Hasinai, and Tonkawa the Apache endeavored to secure the aid of the Hasinai against the Tonkawa but Gil Ybarbo, Spanish commander at Nacogdoches, prevented it 18. Common hostility toward the Apache frequently made the Nabedache and the Comanche friends, but this friendship was unstable. The military relations of the Nabedache in the 19th century have not bet been investigated, but it is known that hostility to the Apache continued well into that period.

In May, 1690, Maasanet and Capt. Domingo Ramón founded the first Texas mission (San Francisco de los Texas) at the Nabedache village and a few months later the second (Santísimaa Nombre de Maria) was planted nearby 19. On May 25, De León delivered to the Nabedache caddi a baston and a cross, and conferred on him the title of “governor of all his pueblos” (De León Derrotero, 1690). This was done, as Jesus Maria clearly shows, under the mistaken notion that the Nabedache was the head tribe of the confederacy, and its caddi the head chief. These distinctions belonged, however to the Hainai tribe and the great chenesi resident there. This mistake, it is believed, caused some political disturbance in the confederacy. In 1690-91 an epidemic visited the tribe in common with its neighbors 20. Trouble, fomented by medicine men and soldiers, soon arose between the missionaries and the Indians. In 1692 the chief, with most of his people, withdrew from the mission to the distant. “fields,” and refused to return 20. In 1693 the mission was abandoned 21, and when restored in 1716 it was placed at the Neche village on the other side of the river. In 1727 Rivera 22 reported that San Pedro was then occupied by, the Neche, though formerly by the Nabedache. That the Neche had moved to San Pedro is perhaps true; but it seems improbable that the. Nabedache had left, the place, for long afterward the inhabitants of it continued to be called Nabedache 23. When Solís visited the Nabedache in 1768 their customs were still about as first described, except that they had nearly discarded the bow for the firelock, and were very inebriate, due, Solís claimed, to French liquor. In the middle of the 18th century French influence over the Hasinai greatly increased, raid Spanish influence declined. In 1753 the Nabedache took part in a gathering of the tribes at the Nadote, village, in which, it was reported the. Indians proposed killing all the Spaniards in eastern Texas: but St. Denis, of Natchitoches, presented the attempt 24. This situation led to a plan, whichh failed, to have a garrison posted at San Pedro. In 1778 or 1779 an epidemic reduced the population, and Meziéres, writing from “San Pedro Nevadachos,” situated apparently just where Joutel had found it, reported the number of warriors at somewhat more than 160 25. In 1805 Sibley gave the number at 80 men; but about 1809 Davenport, who was at Nacogdoehes gave it as 100 26. Sibley’s and Davenport’s reports and Austin’s map of 1829 all indicate that the tribe had moved up Neches river after 1779 27. From a letter in the Bexar Archives it appears that this migration may have occurred before 1784. In the 19th century the Nabedache shared the fate of the other tribes of the Caddo and Hasinai confederacies and the survivors are now on the (allotted) Wichita reservation in Oklahoma, but are not separately enumerated.

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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  1. Margry, Déc., III, 390, 1878[]
  2. Joutel in Margry, Déc., iii, 325, 326, 332, 1878[]
  3. Margry, Déc., IV, 441, 1881[]
  4. Margry, Déc., IV, 262, 1886[]
  5. Margry, Déc., III, 388, 1878[]
  6. Margry, Déc., VI, 262, 277, 1886[]
  7. Douay in French, Hist. Coll. Louisiana, IV, 204-205,- 1552[]
  8. Margry, Déc., III, 339-356, 1878[]
  9. Francisco de Jesus Maria, MS. Relaciun Aug. 15, 1691[]
  10. Margry, Déc., III, 341, 1878[]
  11. Tex. Hist. Assn. Quar., II, 303, 1899[]
  12. Diario, Mem. de Nueva España, xxvii, 280, 281, MS.[]
  13. Joutel in Margry, Déc., III, 377, 1878[]
  14. San Denis, Declaración, 1715, Mern. de Nueva España, xxii, 124, MS.[]
  15. Margry, Déc., VI, 277, 1886[]
  16. Mezieres in Mem. de Nueva España, xxvii, 220[]
  17. Gov. Barrios y Juaregui to the Viceroy, Apr. 17, 1753, MS. Archivo General, Historia, 299[]
  18. Ybarbo to the Governor, Apr. 26, 1791, Béxar Archives, Nacogdoches, 1758-93, MS[]
  19. Jesus Maria, Relación, 1691.[]
  20. Jesus Maria, Relación, 1691[][]
  21. Clark in Tex. Hist. Assn. Quar., v, 200-201, 1902[]
  22. Diario, leg. 2093, 1736[]
  23. De Soto Bermudez docs., 1753, MS. Archivo General, Historia, 299: Meziéros, Cartas, 1779[]
  24. Fr. Calahorra Y Sanz, Feb. 23. 1753, MS. Archivo General, Historia, 299[]
  25. Carta, Aug. 26, 1779, Mem. de Nueva Españia, xxviii, 241[]
  26. Report to Manuel Salcedo, copy dated Apr. 24, 1809, in Archivo General, Provincias Internas, 201[]
  27. original Austin map, in Secretaria de Fomento, Mexico[]

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