The Tonkawa Tribe


A small but notable delegation of 10 members was that of the Tonkawa, who call themselves Tichkan-watich, 'indigenous people'. Although the mere remnant of a people on the verge of extinction, the Tonkawa are of peculiar interest from the fact that, they are made of a distinct linguistic stock, and are the only existing cannibal tribe of the United States. Historically they are the sole representatives of the Indians of the old Alamo mission, where the massacre occurred that practically wiped out their tribe.


Living originally in southern Texas, the Tonkawa experienced all the problems that come to a vagrant and outcast people until they were finally gathered, in 1859, on what is now the Kiowa reservation. Their village is located on the south bank of the Washita, just above the present Anadarko. The other tribes hated them for their cannibal habit and also for the assistance which they had given the troops in various border campaigns. These tribes took advantage of the confusion resulting from the outbreak of the rebellion to settle old scores, and joining forces against the Tonkawa, surprised their camp by a night attack on October 23, 1862, and massacred nearly half the tribe. Since then their decline has been rapid, until there are now but 53 left alive, on lands allotted to them in eastern Oklahoma. Their chief, Sentele, alias Grant Richards, a former government scout, accompanied the party. (pictured right)


To see more images from the Indian Congress, visit the Indian Congress Photo Gallery. This collection includes over 500 photographs of Native Americans, including portraits of individuals, group photos of families and photographs of various activities.

The library also has the original "Secretary's Report" from the TransMississippi Exposition. This document includes a section on the The Indian Congress by Mr. W. V. Cox, Secretary of the Government Exhibit Board. It also contains the Report of Captain Mercer, manager of the Indian Congress.

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