Embracing Caddo Culture

A group of visitors dance in a circle.

By Rachel Galan, Caddo Mounds educator/interpreter

This past spring brought the return of Caddo Culture Day to Caddo Mounds State Historic Site following a two-year hiatus due to museum renovation and remodeling. This year, I had the privilege of shifting from a long-time visitor to site staff and part of the team who facilitated the program.

Two boy scouts make pinch pots.

Caddo Culture Day is an excellent adventure that combines the efforts of site staff, volunteers, and the Caddo people to welcome the East Texas community to Caddo Mounds for a day of fun and (often new) experiences. This year, more than 450 visitors left their normal routines to join in Caddo dances and embrace the opportunities to learn about Caddo history and culture. Visitors attended talks about Caddo pottery, language, and grass houses. Thanks to site volunteers, visitors also made pinch pots, tried their hand at archery and the atlatl, flint knapped (stone tool making), and took an archeology hike.

Drum circle

To all of those who participated, including volunteers, visitors, and Caddo people, we say Hawwih (ho-wee), thank you.

“Many thanks to our dedicated students who do such great work in the community! Also, thank you for all the ways in which Caddo Mounds State Historic Site helps us develop the leaders of tomorrow,” said Sarah Fuller of Stephen F. Austin’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture.

One of the questions I'm asked most often in my job as educator/ interpreter is, "Are there still Caddo Indians?" Once believed to be hundreds of thousands strong, European contact brought diseases that decimated the Caddo population. Today, the Caddo Nation is headquartered in Binger, Oklahoma and has an enrollment of 5,301 people.

Flint knapping at Caddo Mounds.Caddo Mounds is a protected site and made available as a public space. We interpret the history of the George C. Davis Archeological Site, an early Caddo Ceremonial Center. We give tours and educate visitors about Caddo history and culture. But, the spirit of this place is tied in perpetuity to the descendants of this early Caddo community. We are truly fortunate to be able to invite and host the Caddo Nation back each year to breathe life into this ancient space.

“It was a wonderful day!” said visitor Patti Haskins. “I really enjoyed the programs and visiting with all of you, including your guest speakers. The museum gets an A+. Awesome exhibit. Hope everyone takes the opportunity to visit soon.”

Women in traditional Caddo dress perform a dance.If you enjoyed this year's Caddo Culture Day celebration, or had to miss the fun, we hope to see you for next year’s celebration on April 9, 2016!

Caddo Mounds State Historic Site is located near Alto, 26 miles west of Nacogdoches. The site is part of the lush Pineywoods landscape of the Texas Forest Trail Region.

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