The Caddos came to East Texas from the Mississippi Valley around 800 A.D. Their territory included parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and East Texas. At the height of their mound-building culture - around 1200 A.D. - the Caddos numbered 250,000 people.
The Caddos were the most advanced Native American culture in Texas. They lived in tall, grass-covered houses in large settlements with highly structured social, religious and political systems. The Caddos raised corn, beans, squash and other crops. They also hunted the bear and deer of East Texas and headed west for annual buffalo hunts.
The Hasinai were the largest confederation of Caddos in Deep East Texas. They lived along the Neches and Angelina rivers, with one of their most powerful settlements being in the present Caddo Mounds area west of Alto. The Nacogdoches tribe is included among these Hasinai Caddos.
The Caddos were travelers and traders and they greeted the Spaniards, when they met them in the seventeenth century, with the cry of "Taychas!" which meant "friend." The Spanish subsequently called the Caddos the "Tejas," and Spanish land east of the Trinity became known as the Province of Tejas, which later gave its name to all of Texas.
Nacogdoches remained a Caddo Indian settlement until 1716. At that timeDomingo Ramon established five religious missions and a military presidio in East Texas, including Nuestra Senoria de Guadalupe de los Nacogdoches del Pilar. That was the first European activity in the area, but a mission was not a town — it was a church. The mission struggled until strengthened by the Marques de Aguayo in 1721, but even then it endured more than prospered. The “town” of Nacogdoches was established after the Spaniards decided that the French were no longer a threat and that maintaining the mission was far too costly. After France ceded claims to lands west of the Mississippi River.
With the coming of the Europeans, the Caddos of East Texas were reduced in numbers and in territory. In the early 1840s, they were moved west to the Brazos River; they were moved again in 1855 to the Brazos Reservation near present-day Graham. Anglo pressures continued and, in 1859, all remaining Caddos - about 1,000 people - were moved to the Washita River in "Indian Territory."