Thomas N. Campbell

CHAPAMACO INDIANS. Attempts to establish an identity for the Chapamacos have resulted in much confusion, and even today the problem cannot be regarded as fully solved. In 1708, when first recorded under the name Chapamo, the Chapamacos were said to be one of twenty-nine remnant Indian groups then living in southern Texas, mainly south of present-day San Antonio. No document has been found that gives a more precise location for them. The registers of San Antonio de Valero Mission in San Antonio indicate that at least two Chapamaco individuals, both adult females, lived there between 1730 and 1748. That one of these women is identified in various entries by two names, Chapamaco and Secmoco, seems to indicate that both are variants of the same ethnic name. The second woman is identified by the ethnic name Sepunco, which on phonetic grounds appears to be a variant of the name Chapamaco. Some Chapamacos also entered Spanish missions near the Rio Grande in northeastern Coahuila. One male was recorded at San Bernardo in 1762 and two males at San Juan Bautista in 1772. Through error the name Chemoco has been equated with Secmoco. This resulted from confusing Mission San Francisco Solano of California with a mission of the same name in northeastern Coahuila. Other errors include the equation of Sencase with Sepunco, and Sinicu with Secmoco. No evidence supports either of these equations. J. R. Swanton listed Chapamaco, Chemoco, and Secmoco as three separate Texas Indian groups who probably spoke Coahuilteco. As Chapamaco and Secmoco seem to be variants of the same ethnic name, and Chemoco refers to an Indian group of California, the main residual problem is determining what language was spoken by the Chapamaco. They could have spoken Coahuilteco, but linguists today point out that languages other than Coahuilteco were also spoken in southern Texas. It therefore seems best to say that the language spoken by the Chapamaco remains undetermined.

F. D. Almaráz, Jr., Inventory of the Rio Grande Missions: 1772, San Juan Bautista and San Bernardo (Archaeology and History of the San Juan Bautista Mission Area, Coahuila and Texas, Report No. 2, Center for Archaeological Research, University of Texas at San Antonio, 1980). Thomas N. Campbell, Ethnohistoric Notes on Indian Groups Associated with Three Spanish Missions at Guerrero, Coahuila (Center for Archaeological Research, University of Texas at San Antonio, 1979). Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1907, 1910; rpt., New York: Pageant, 1959). P. Otto Maas, ed., Viajes de Misioneros Franciscanos a la conquista del Nuevo México (Seville: Imprenta de San Antonio, 1915). J. R. Swanton, Linguistic Material from the Tribes of Southern Texas and Northeastern Mexico (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1940).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Thomas N. Campbell, "CHAPAMACO INDIANS," accessed July 17, 2019,

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox