Let us Know Texas – The State

Texas, the second most populous (after California) and the second -largest state (after Alaska) in the United States of America, has had a checkered history which all residents need to know. A state of immigrants, the state has made tremendous progress in the last few decades, and is growing. The Indian Panorama readers will get to know the state of Texas from a series of articles that will appear each week. – EDITOR

Texas is the second most populous (after California) and the secondlargest of the 50 states (after Alaska) in the United States of America, and the largest state in the 48 contiguous United States. Geographically located in the South Central part of the country, Texas shares an international border with the Mexican states of Chihunahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the south and borders the U.S. states of New Mexico to the west, Oklahoma to the north, Arkansas to the northeast, and Louisiana to the east. Texas has an area of 268,820 square miles (696,200 km2) and a growing population of 26.1 million residents. Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth-largest in the United States, while San Antonio is the second largest in the state and seventh largest in the United States. Dallas- Fort Worth and Greater Houston are the fourth and fifth largest United States metropolitan areas, respectively. Other major cities include El Paso and Austin-the state capital.

Texas is nicknamed the Lone Star State to signify Texas as a former independent republic and as a reminder of the state’s struggle for independence from Mexico. The “Lone Star” can be found on the Texas state flag and on the Texas state seal today. The origin of the state name, Texas, is from the word, “Tejas”, which means ‘friends’ in the Caddo language. Due to its size and geologic features such as the Balcones Fault, Texas contains diverse landscapes that resemble both the American South and Southwest. Although Texas is popularly associated with the Southwestern deserts, less than 10 percent of the land area is desert. Most of the population centers are located in areas of former prairies, grasslands, forests, and the coastline. Traveling from east to west, one can observe terrain that ranges from coastal swamps and piney woods, to rolling plains and rugged hills, and finally the desert and mountains of the Big Bend. The term “six flags over Texas”, as can be seen in the Grand Prairie-based large national and international amusement park operator Six Flags, came from the several nations that had ruled over the territory. Spain was the first European country to claim the area of Texas. France held a shortlived colony in Texas.

Mexico controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming an independent Republic. In 1845 it joined the United States as the 28th state. The state’s annexation set off a chain of events that caused the Mexican-American War in 1846. A slave state, Texas declared its secession from the United States in early 1861, joining the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. After the war and its restoration to the Union, Texas entered a long period of economic stagnation. One Texas industry that thrived after the Civil War was cattle. Due to its long history as a center of the industry, Texas is associated with the image of the cowboy. The state’s economic fortunes changed in the early 20th century, when oil discoveries initiated an economic boom in the state. With strong investments in universities, Texas developed a diversified economy and high tech industry in the mid-20th century. As of 2010 it shares the top of the list of the most Fortune 500 companies with California at 57. With a growing base of industry, the state leads in many industries, including agriculture, petrochemicals, energy, computers and electronics, aerospace, and biomedical sciences. Texas has led the nation in export revenue since 2002 and has the second-highest gross state product.

Texas lies between two major cultural spheres of Pre-Columbian North America: the Southwestern and the Plains areas. Archaeologists have found that three major indigenous cultures lived in this territory, and reached their developmental peak before the first European contact. These were: ● the Pueblo from the upper Rio Grande region, centered west of Texas; ● the Mississippian culture, also known as Mound Builder, which extended along the Mississippi River Valley east of Texas; and ● the civilizations of Mesoamerica, centered south of Texas. Influence of Teotihuacan in northern Mexico peaked around AD 500 and declined over the 8th to 10th centuries. No culture was dominant in the presentday Texas region, and many peoples inhabited the area. Native American tribes that lived inside the boundaries of presentday Texas include the Alabama, Apache, Atakapan, Bidai, Caddo, Coahuiltecan, Comanche, Choctaw, Coushatta,Hasinai, Jumano, Karankawa, Kickapoo, Kiowa, Tonkawa, and Wichita.

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The name Texas derives from táysha?, a word in the Caddoan language of the Hasinai, which means “friends” or “allies”. Whether a Native American tribe was friendly or warlike was critical to the fates of European explorers and settlers in that land. Friendly tribes taught newcomers how to grow indigenous crops, prepare foods, and hunt wild game. Warlike tribes made life difficult and dangerous for Europeans through their attacks and resistance to the newcomers.[ The first historical document related to Texas was a map of the Gulf Coast, created in 1519 by Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda. Nine years later, shipwrecked Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and his cohort became the first Europeans in what is now Texas. Cabeza de Vaca reported that in 1528, when the Spanish landed in the area, “half the natives died from a disease of the bowels and blamed us.” Francisco Vasquez de Coronado describes his 1541 encounter with “Two kinds of people travel around these plains with the cows; one is called Querechos and the others Teyas; they are very well built, and painted, and are enemies of each other. They have no other settlement or location than comes from traveling around with the cows.

They kill all of these they wish, and tan the hides, with which they clothe themselves and make their tents, and they eat the flesh, sometimes even raw, and they also even drink the blood when thirsty. The tents they make are like field tents, and they set them up over some poles they have made for this purpose, which come together and are tied at the top, and when they go from one place to another they carry them on some dogs they have, of which they have many, and they load them with the tents and poles and other things, for the country is so level, as I said, that they can make use of these, because they carry the poles dragging along on the ground. The sun is what they worship most.” European powers ignored the area until accidentally settling there in 1685. Miscalculations by René Robert Cavelier de La Salle resulted in his establishing the colony of Fort Saint Louis at Matagorda Bay rather than along the Mississippi River. The colony lasted only four years before succumbing to harsh conditions and hostile natives. In 1690 Spanish authorities, concerned that France posed competitive threat, constructed several missions in East Texas. After Native American resistance, the Spanish missionaries returned to Mexico. When France began settling Louisiana, mostly in the southern part of the state, in 1716 Spanish authorities responded by founding a new series of missions in East Texas.

Two years later, they created San Antonio as the first Spanish civilian settlement in the area. Hostile native tribes and distance from nearby Spanish colonies discouraged settlers from moving to the area. It was one of New Spain’s least populated provinces. In 1749, the Spanish peace treaty with the Lipan Apache angered many tribes, including the Comanche, Tonkawa, and Hasinai. The Comanche signed a treaty with Spain in 1785 and later helped to defeat the Lipan Apache and Karankawa tribes. With more numerous missions being established, priests led a peaceful conversion of most tribes. By the end of the 18th century only a few nomadic tribes had not converted to Christianity. When the United States purchased Louisiana from France in 1803, American authorities insisted that the agreement also included Texas. The boundary between New Spain and the United States was finally set at the Sabine River in 1819, at what is now the border between Texas and Louisiana. Eager for new land, many United States settlers refused to recognize the agreement. Several filibusters raised armies to invade the area west of the Sabine River.

In 1821, the Mexican War of Independence included the Texas territory, which became part of Mexico. Due to its low population, Mexico made the area part of the state of Coahuila y Tejas. Hoping that more settlers would reduce the near-constant Comanche raids, Mexican Texas liberalized its immigration policies to permit immigrants from outside Mexico and Spain. Under the Mexican immigration system, large swathes of land were allotted to empresarios, who recruited settlers from the United States, Europe, and the Mexican interior. The first grant, to Moses Austin, was passed to his son Stephen F. Austin after his death. Austin’s settlers, the Old Three Hundred, made places along the Brazos River in 1822. Twenty-three other empresarios brought settlers to the state, the majority of whom were from the United States. The population of Texas grew rapidly. In 1825, Texas had a population of approximately 3,500, with most

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Volume 4 Issue 41 | Dallas | Oct 21

Print Edition ~ Digitally   Issue 41 ~ Dallas ~ Oct 21  
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