Members Only Area
Bookmark and Share


PINTO INDIANS. In the middle of the eighteenth century the Pinto Indians, whose name is Spanish and probably refers to tattooing, ranged over northern Tamaulipas and the adjoining part of southern Texas. In 1749 one group was encountered near San Fernando, Tamaulipas; others lived on both sides of the Rio Grande, particularly in the area now the Reynosa-McAllen sector. In 1757 there was a Pinto settlement in what is now southern Hidalgo County. Some Pinto families entered the missions of San Fernando and Nuevo Santander in northern Tamaulipas. In later times the Pintos were one of several Coahuiltecan bands along the Rio Grande below Laredo who were called Carrizos by the Spaniards. A few descendants of the Pinto Indians were still living near Reynosa as late as 1900. Some confusion arises from the fact that the Spaniards sometimes referred to the Pakawas as Pintos (Pakawa is a Coahuiltecan word that means "tattooed"). However, it seems clear that the Indians most frequently referred to as Pinto lived nearer to the Gulf Coast than the Pakawas.


Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1907, 1910; rpt., New York: Pageant, 1959). Gabriel Saldivar, Los Indios de Tamaulipas (Mexico City: Pan American Institute of Geography and History, 1943). Rudolph C. Troike, "Notes on Coahuiltecan Ethnography," Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society 32 (1962).

Thomas N. Campbell


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Thomas N. Campbell, "PINTO INDIANS," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed March 26, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.