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TILIJAE INDIANS. When first known to Europeans in 1647–75, the Tilijae Indians were confined mainly to the lowlands south of the Rio Grande in northeastern Coahuila. From this area they apparently migrated northeastward across the Rio Grande to live in the valley of the Nueces River in southern Texas. In 1727 some 300 Tilijaes were reported in the area of present-day La Salle and McMullen counties. As remnants of the Tilijaes entered at least five Spanish missions, they are better recorded than many of their neighbors. Scholars have collected over forty name variants and can demonstrate by contextual analysis that they refer to the Tilijaes. The available evidence indicates that the Tilijae Indians spoke a dialect of the Coahuilteco language. In 1690 some of the Tilijae Indians entered San Bernardo (or Bernardino) de Candela Mission of eastern Coahuila. It was reported in 1708 that sixty Tilijaes had entered San Juan Bautista Mission near the Rio Grande at modern Guerrero, Coahuila, and in 1727 the Tilijaes were said to be one of the three most numerous groups in that mission, which then had a total Indian population of 240. In 1738 at least thirty-seven Tilijaes were still living at San Juan Bautista, but in 1754 only one Tilijae individual was recorded there. At San Antonio a few Tilijae Indians entered Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña Mission, but most of the Tilijaes in San Antonio went to San Juan Capistrano Mission when it was established in 1731. Some time after 1737 many of the Tilijaes of Capistrano ran away to their former home in southern Texas, and a few of these ended up at San Francisco Vizarrón Mission near the site of present-day Villa Unión, Coahuila. After 1754 the Tilijae Indians were not mentioned in Spanish documents.


Vito Alessio Robles, Coahuila y Texas en la época colonial (Mexico City: Editorial Cultura, 1938; 2d ed., Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 1978). 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). Lyle Campbell and Marianne Mithune, eds., The Languages of Native America: Historical and Comparative Assessment (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979). Marion A. Habig, The Alamo Chain of Missions (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1968; rev. ed. 1976). M. K. Schuetz, "An Historical Outline of Mission San Juan de Capistrano," La Tierra: Quarterly Journal of the Southern Texas Archaeological Association 7 (1980). Robert S. Weddle, San Juan Bautista: Gateway to Spanish Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968).

Thomas N. Campbell


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

Thomas N. Campbell, "TILIJAE INDIANS," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 29, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.