Thomas N. Campbell

EBAHAMO INDIANS. Most writers who have studied the documents of the La Salle expedition consider Bahamo, Bracamo, and Ebahamo (Hebahamo) as variants of the same name for a single Indian group. This is clearly supported by sound correspondences. However, close analysis of these documents leads to some doubt about this presumed synonymy. The journal of Henri Joutel contains no names for the Indians who lived in the immediate vicinity of La Salle’s Texas Settlement (Matagorda Bay) and who gave the French colonists so much trouble. He does refer to the Ebahamos, but only in connection with La Salle's last trip to the Hasinai country. The geographic features described by Joutel indicate that the Ebahamo Indians were an inland group who lived in northern Jackson County or somewhere in that general vicinity. He does not identify the Ebahamos with the Indians who harassed La Salle’s Texas Settlement. That they were not the same seems to be indicated by the fact that La Salle was curious about the Ebahamo language and is said to have recorded a few words. The Indians near the fort were called Bracamos by La Salle. Douay merely says that the neighboring Indian groups included the Quoaques (Cocos), Bahamos, and Quinets. A few years later, after the Spanish found La Salle’s Texas Settlement abandoned, Alonso de León reported that the Indians of the general vicinity were Bahamo and Quelanhubeche (Karankawa?). Thus the only Indians specifically linked with La Salle’s Texas Settlement are the Bracamos. It seems safe to assume that Bracamo and Bahamo are variants of the same name and refer to the same people, but doubt remains as to whether Bahamo and Ebahamo are the same. Unless new documents become available, this situation may never be clarified. After 1690 the Spanish used other names for the Indian groups in this section of the Texas coast. These groups (Coapite, Cujane, and Karankawa) are all identifiable as Karankawan. Although they may not be strictly synonymous, it seems reasonable to conclude that Bracamo, Bahamo, and Ebahamo were French-derived names for two or more bands or tribes of Karankawan affiliation. This is supported by one bit of linguistic evidence: the word for "father" in Karankawan is béhema.


Albert S. Gatschet, The Karankawa Indians, the Coast People of Texas (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, 1891). Charles W. Hackett, ed., Pichardo's Treatise on the Limits of Louisiana and Texas (4 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1931–46). Henri Joutel, Joutel's Journal of La Salle's Last Voyage (London: Lintot, 1714; rpt., New York: Franklin, 1968). John Gilmary Shea, Discovery and Exploration of the Mississippi Valley (New York: Redfield, 1852).

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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, "EBAHAMO INDIANS," accessed February 22, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/bme01.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on January 7, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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