Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Summer 1998


Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 18, No. 3, Summer 1998, pp. 279.


Copyright 1998 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


An introductory assertion that neither the Caddo nor the Wichita had to endure a particularly traumatic relocation experience will startle any reader who has an inkling of the history of those tribes. Ultimately, it must perplex anyone who perseveres through the ensuing chronicle of repeated dispossession and decimation under the aegis of the governments of Texas and the United States. The first chapter presents further dubious analysis, sometimes irrelevant to the sources cited, in a quixotic attempt to trace both tribes from the '1540s to 1846 in sixteen pages.

Happily, the author hits his stride in chapter two, thenceforth relying largely on documentary sources to construct a useful chronology of complex events that have been too long untold in readily accessible studies .. While the declared focus is Caddo and Wichita relations with the United States government, Smith pays proper attention to their 1859 ouster from their small Texas Reserve by murderous Anglo Texan gangs against whom the United States could not and the government of Texas would not protect them. Also well explained is their succeeding exodus to Kansas to escape the turmoil of the Civil War, only to suffer an even worse ordeal of disease and starvation.

Subsequently striving to rebuild their lives on their newly assigned Washita River reservation just west of the 98th meridian, in socalled Indian Terri tory, the Caddo and Wichita endured endless malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance by US authorities at whose mercy, necessarily, they existed. Here, and in the Texas episode, readers can see roots of two of the most intricate, and ultimately shocking, chapters in the history of Indian travail under the US legal system.