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Thomas N. Campbell

MANOS PRIETAS INDIANS. The Spanish name Manos Prietas is probably best translated "black (or dark) hands." One recorded native name may refer to the Manos Prietas, but no document provides a link between it and the Spanish. Documents referring to the Manos Prietas suggest that they may have been native to Coahuila and were displaced northward by the advance of Spanish settlements from southern Coahuila. In 1675 they were living in northeastern Coahuila, as well as north of the Rio Grande in the general area of present-day Eagle Pass, Texas. One source notes that in 1675 there were 232 of them, but various documents show that they were declining in number because of epidemics of recently introduced European diseases. In 1688 some of the Manos Prietas participated in a poorly organized Indian rebellion against Spanish authority in central Coahuila. Remnants of the Manos Prietas entered at least four Spanish missions in various parts of Coahuila between the years 1675 and 1706, but no Manos Prietas seem to have gone to any missions of Texas. Herbert E. Bolton erred in stating that some Manos Prietas individuals were at San Antonio de Valero Mission of San Antonio. He confused the registers of Valero with those of San Francisco Solano Mission in northeastern Coahuila. The last important record of the Manos Prietas is a document of 1762 that refers to twenty-five individuals still living at San Miguel de Aguayo Mission of Monclova, Coahuila. They seem to have maintained their identity in Coahuila missions as late as 1793. Although some writers have confidently identified the Manos Prietas as speakers of the Coahuilteco language, no documents specify words used by them or are in any way informative about their language. It seems best to say that their linguistic affiliation remains unknown. A few details concerning Manos Prietas culture were recorded by Spaniards when these Indians were living in northeastern Coahuila and the adjacent part of Texas. It is said that they subsisted by gathering unspecified wild roots, fruits, and acorns, and hunting fish, deer, and bison; that they lived in round huts covered with tanned bison hides (apparently not conical tepees); and that when they were visited by another Indian group they performed a dance before the visitors and exchanged bows and arrows with them to symbolize future peaceful relations.

Vito Alessio Robles, Coahuila y Texas en la época colonial (Mexico City: Editorial Cultura, 1938; 2d ed., Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 1978). Herbert Eugene Bolton, ed., Spanish Exploration in the Southwest, 1542–1706 (New York: Scribner, 1908; rpt., New York: Barnes and Noble, 1959). 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). J. Jesús Figueroa Torres, Fr. Juan Larios, defensor de los Indios y fundador de Coahuila (Mexico City: Editorial Jus, 1963). William B. Griffen, Culture Change and Shifting Populations in Central Northern Mexico (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1969). Francis Borgia Steck, "Forerunners of Captain de León's Expedition to Texas, 1670–1675," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 36 (July 1932).

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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, "MANOS PRIETAS INDIANS," accessed June 24, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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