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Thomas N. Campbell

PACHAL INDIANS. Between the years 1690 and 1708 Pachal Indians were observed in native encampments, usually shared with other groups, on the Nueces and Frio rivers, apparently in the general vicinity of modern Dimmit and Frio counties. At times they also ranged south of the Rio Grande in northeastern Coahuila as far as the Río Sabinas. The Pachals seem to have been known to Spaniards by another name, Manos Blancos (white hands). The only cultural detail specifically recorded by Spaniards is that the Pachal ate fruit of the prickly pear. Damián Massanet's observations on Indian languages of southern Texas indicate that the Pachal Indians spoke the language now known as Coahuilteco. The Pachals, like many other hunting and gathering groups of their area, began to enter Spanish missions because of pressure from Apache groups to the north. In 1699 some Pachal Indians entered San Juan Bautista Mission when it was at its first location on the Río Sabinas of Coahuila, and a few years later a considerable number of Pachals entered San Bernardo Mission at the site of modern Guerrero, Coahuila. At the latter mission twenty-one Pachal Indians were recorded in a census of 1734 and twenty-four in a census of 1772. The Pachals do not seem to have entered any of the missions at San Antonio. After the close of the mission period in the late eighteenth century, Pachal survivors were probably absorbed by the Spanish-speaking population of Guerrero, Coahuila. It is now known that Pasteal, a name long thought to represent a separate Indian group, is an early copyist's misreading of one of the variants of the name Pachal. All references to Pasteal Indians thus refer to the Pachals.

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). 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). Robert S. Weddle, San Juan Bautista: Gateway to Spanish Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968).

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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, "PACHAL INDIANS," accessed June 24, 2019,

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

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