Coahuiltecan languages

Coahuiltecan languages

Coahuiltecan or Paikawa was a proposed language family in John Wesley Powell's 1891 classification of Native American languages that consisted of Coahuilteco and Cotoname. The proposal was expanded to include Comecrudo, Karankawa, and Tonkawa. It is now generally believed that all of these languages were unrelated, with all but Comecrudo in the Comecrudan family language isolates.

The term is also a general name for the speakers of these languages, a historic group of indigenous peoples who lived in the southern Texas region near the Rio Grande, and along the Gulf Coast and its islands.

The earliest Spanish explorers to make contact with the natives in this region described a prosperous and friendly people. But the people were most often described in their post-contact condition, which left them in a state similar to a society that has survived a terrible disaster. They reportedly ate anything they could; for example, they ate ant eggs, rotten wood, deer dung, spiders, rattlesnakes, lizards, worms, and dirt.

Scholars believe that as much as 90% of the population died due to infectious Eurasian diseases, which led to social dissolution and could account for how they lived after contact.

The Coahuiltecan language and culture are now extinct. Their descendants were absorbed into the Hispanic populations living in the south Texas region today. A group called the Quems were also recorded as having settled along both banks of the Rio Grande.


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