Thomas N. Campbell

PAPANAC INDIANS. The Papanac Indians are mentioned in many Spanish documents for nearly a century (1675–1772), and remnants of this group entered at least four Spanish missions of Coahuila and Texas. The Papanacs first became known to Europeans in 1675, when some of their leaders appeared at Monclova, Coahuila, to acknowledge Spanish authority and seek protection from enemies, particularly Apaches. In 1684 Juan Domínguez de Mendoza either met or heard of the Papanacs when he spent six weeks in the western part of the Edwards Plateau and had to leave the area because of Apache harassment. It would appear that the Papanacs originally lived somewhat farther to the west in Texas than where they were living when Damián Massanet, in 1690 and 1691, saw them encamped with other Indian groups on the Nueces and Frio rivers, mainly in the area now covered by Dimmit, Zavala, and Frio counties. Massanet noted that all of these Indians spoke the language now known as Coahuilteco. Nothing specific about the Papanac culture was ever recorded. Small numbers of Papanacs entered each of the three missions (San Francisco Solano, San Juan Bautista, and San Bernardo) that were established at the site of present-day Guerrero, Coahuila, between the years 1700 and 1703. In 1708, however, most of the Papanacs were still living along the Nueces and Frio rivers, and it was evidently from this area that the surviving Papanacs went to San Antonio de Valero Mission of San Antonio in 1727 or shortly afterward. The Valero registers identify twenty-six Papanac individuals between the years 1727 and 1772. Presumably the Papanac Indians lost their ethnic identity at Valero because of population decline and intermarriage with other Indian groups.

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, "PAPANAC INDIANS," accessed January 24, 2020,

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