It has a colorful past and is a tale worth retelling. The earliest inhabitants of the Texas coast were members of the Karankawa Indian tribe. Made up of several bands, including the Cocos, and the Kopans, the Karankawas were a nomadic people, moving with the change in climate and the availability of food. They ranged all along the Gulf from near Galveston Bay to present day Corpus Christie.
Their name is generally believed to mean “dog raisers” due to the canine-like animals kept by the tribes for hunting game. Archeological evidence from skeletal remains indicates that the Karankawa were an unusually tall race, with strong limbs and broad facial features. They were excellent runners and swimmers capable of long endurance. First-hand accounts from the first Spanish explorers mention the practice of using rendered alligator grease for protection against mosquitoes and flying gnats. The smell must have been overpowering!
One of the most persistent stories regarding this tribe is the alleged practice of cannibalism. While there is actually some evidence to support these stories, most acts of cannibalism were performed on an enemy to gain their strengths, NOT out of pure hunger. Feared and hated by the settlers, the struggle to defeat them was ruthless. Despite coming to the aide of the Texans during the revolution, the tribes were forever treated as enemies. Numerous attempts at treaties would fail and by 1858, the few remaining members of the tribe were annihilated by Texan forces led by Juan N. Cortina.