Eyeish Indians. A tribe of the Caddo confederacy which spoke a dialect, now practically extinct, very different from the dialects of the other tribes; hence it is probable they were part of an older confederacy which was incorporated in the Caddo when the latter became dominant. The early home of the tribe was on Eyeish Creek between the Sabine and Neches rivers of Texas. Moscoso led the troops through their country in 1542, encountering herds of buffalo. From the statements of Joutel and Douay, the Eyeish were not on good terms with the tribes west of them on the Trinity, nor with those on Red river in the north at the time the French entered their country late in the 17th century; but, judging from the confusion of names by early writers, it is likely that only some of the subdivisions or villages were represented in the war parties. The mission of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores was established among them by the Franciscans who accompanied Don Domingo Ramon on his tour in 1716-17. They were, however, very little amenable to Spanish influence, for after 50 years of missionary effort, the mission register showed, according to Solis 1, only 11 baptisms, 7 interments, and 3 marriages performed at the mission, although the tribe had not been backward in receiving material aid from the missionaries. Solis reported in 1768 that this tribe was the worst in Texas: drunken, thievish, licentious, impervious to religious influence, and dangerous to the missionaries. Their villages were not far from the road between the French post at Natchitoches and the Spanish post at Nacogdoches, and the tribe was thus exposed to the contentions of the period and to the ravages of small-pox, measles, and other new diseases introduced by the white race. In the latter part of the 18th century the Eyeish were placed under the jurisdiction of the officials residing at Nacogdoches; in 1779 Mezières stated that there were 20 families of the “Ays” and that they were hated by both Indians and Spaniards 2. In 1785 there were reported to have been 300 “Ahijitos” on Atoyac river, opposite the Nacogdoches 3. In 1805 Sibley stated that only 20 members of the tribe were then living; but in 1828 4 they were said to number 160 families between Brazos and Colorado rivers. These differences in the estimates would seem to indicate that the Eyeish were considerably scattered during this period. Those who survived the vicissitudes which befell the Caddo in the 19th century are with their kindred on the Wichita Reservation in Oklahoma. Nothing definite is known of their customs and beliefs, which, however, were probably similar to those entertained and practiced by other tribes of the confederacy, and no definite knowledge of their divisions and totems has survived. While in New Mexico in 1540-41 Coronado learned from a Plains Indian known as The Turk, probably a Pawnee, of a province or settlement called Ayas, 6 or 7 days’ journey distant, at which the Spanish army could obtain provisions on its way to Copala and Quivira. This place may have been imaginary, or the Eyeish people may have been meant. It was The Turk’s intention to lead the Spaniards astray, hence locality plays but little part in the identification.
- Solis, MS., cited by H. E. Bolton, inf’n, 1906
- Bolton, op. cit.
- Bancroft, No. Mex. States, I, 666, 1886
- Soc. Geog. Mex., 1870