2015 Louisiana Studies Conference Presentation Abstract
“The Border Crossed Us, We Never Crossed It”
Presented by Dr. Hiram “Pete” Gregory, Northwestern State University
The Neutral Strip followed a long series of cross cultural contacts. The various Caddo tribal groups, the Hasinai in East Texas and the Kadhadacho and related tribes on the Red River came together at the Sabine River. Trait exchanges were common and a trade in bow wood, conch shells, flint and salt was well established before European contact. Horse burials suggest that horses were introduced to this region in very early times, likely by 1700.
The French, seeking trade connections with the Indians, but also with the Spanish in Mexico established themselves at the Natchitoches and Kadohadacho on Red River. The Spanish, threatened by the French activities, countered by establishing a full presidio, and the nearby mission San Miguel de Linares. All of these activities preceded the coming if the Texians and the Americanos. By the 1760's Spain controlled Louisiana and in order to protect Louisiana there was a standing military regiment in New Orleans but frontier posts like Natchitoches became more important, the Adaes population was removed to Texas, and then returned over the next few decades, as Texas underwent a series of struggles; Spanish Loyalists fighting Mexicans, Mexicans fighting Anglo Texians and then the Texas Republic purging itself of Indians and re- aligning itself with the United States.
La Frontera kept expanding and contracting, moving about. The cultural landscape shifted, re-integrated, and each cultural shift left some pocket of people who struggled to maintain their ethnicity. That ethnic diversity somehow remains three centuries later and this paper will attempt to introduce the material footprint on the land as one might find it now.