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Thomas N. Campbell

OCANA INDIANS. Prior to 1700 the Ocana Indians were reported as living between the Rio Grande and the Nueces River in the area now covered by Maverick County and the western parts of Dimmit and Zavala counties, and at times they were also seen south of the Rio Grande in northeastern Coahuila. They were first recorded in 1670 as one of many Indian groups from the north who raided outlying farm and ranch settlements of Coahuila and Nuevo León. The earliest missionaries who worked temporarily between the Río Sabinas and the Rio Grande in northeastern Coahuila encountered the Ocanas both north and south of the Rio Grande in the years 1674 and 1675. In 1684 Juan Domínguez de Mendoza either saw or heard of Acani (Ocana) Indians when he spent six weeks in the western part of the Edwards Plateau. Apparently remnants of the Ocanas entered various missions in Coahuila and Texas because of population decline and Apache pressure. Most of the Ocana Indians who entered missions seem to have gone to San Bernardo Mission near the Rio Grande at modern Guerrero, Coahuila, sometime between 1703 and 1708. A few Ocanas entered San Francisco Solano Mission in 1706, when it was at its second location at San Ildefonso near the site of present-day Zaragoza, Coahuila, and a few also entered San Felipe de Valladares Mission of eastern Coahuila. Only two Ocana individuals are recorded (1728) in the registers of San Antonio de Valero Mission of San Antonio. There is no record of their presence at other San Antonio missions. At San Bernardo in Coahuila the Ocanas declined in numbers; a census of 1772 recorded only six Ocana individuals. Damián Massanet's observations on Indian languages indicate that the Ocana Indians spoke the language now known as Coahuilteco. Little is known about Ocana culture. In 1675 Fernando del Bosque noted that the Ocanas were one of numerous hunting and gathering groups of their area, where bison was the prime game animal. Some groups, he said, were allied and fought other allied groups, but the reasons for this fighting are not stated. The Ocana Indians took children captive and ate the flesh of slain enemies.

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). 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). Lino Gómez Canedo, ed., Primeras exploraciones y poblamiento de Texas, 1686–1694 (Monterrey: Publicaciones del Instituto Technológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, 1968). Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1907, 1910; rpt., New York: Pageant, 1959).

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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, "OCANA INDIANS," accessed June 02, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/bmo03.

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