Acknowledging our History: The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, Dallas, and the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, College Station Texas

This post is another in my ongoing blog series that acknowledges the ancestral lands on which the National Archives’ buildings are situated across the country. This series of acknowledgements is a simple way to offer our recognition and respect to the people  who once lived on these lands.

Google map, pins indicating the locations of the George Bush Library and Museum in College Station, and the George W. Bush Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas.

The George W. Bush Presidential Library, is located in Dallas, Texas, which is situated on the ancestral lands of several Native American tribes, including the Wichita, Caddo, Comanche, Cherokee, Kickapoo, and Tawakoni. The Caddo tribe comprised two dozen related peoples; one of which, the Anadarko, was the most notable group to call the region around Dallas home. Native to Texas, they lived along the Sabine River, but by the 1830s had settled along the Trinity River, which runs northwest to southeast through present-day Dallas County.

Bluebonnets in spring bloom in the Native Texas Park (Photo by Andrew Kaufmann, George W. Bush Presidential Center, Dallas, Texas)

The Dallas region has been described as a highway that various indigenous peoples used to get from one place to another. The story of the  Anadarko people is an example of the movement of Native American peoples from the time of contact with Europeans. The Anadarko people had been settled in the Dallas area for centuries by the time Texas declared independence in 1836. They were forced to move multiple times during the years of the Republic of Texas (1836 – 1846), and the period after Texas was granted statehood. Due to conflict with the Republic, they fled to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in 1838 – 1839. They returned to Texas several years later and settled along the Brazos River. Increasing white settlement led to their removal to the Brazos Indian Reservation in 1854, and then to Indian Territory in 1859. Many relocated to Kansas during the Civil War, but returned to Oklahoma in the years after the war’s conclusion. Since 1938, the Anadarkos have been part of the Caddo Indian Tribe of Oklahoma.

Photo of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, College Station, Texas

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, located in College Station, Texas, is within the Post Oak Savannah, a region that forms the southern boundary between North America’s Great Plains and Eastern Woodlands. 

Our staff at the George Bush Presidential Library contacted Professor Alston V. Thoms, Director, Archaeological-Ecology Laboratory, Texas A&M University for information about the indigenous history of the land.  Professor Thoms noted “Indigenous hunter-gatherers occupied this vicinity for millennia, including linguistically diverse groups known today as Bidai, Coahuiltecan, Tonkawa, and Wichita. Situated astride an ancient hemispheric travel corridor between agricultural chiefdoms in the Mississippi Valley and those in the Valley of Mexico, this area has long been multicultural. Through the last five centuries, many indigenous groups considered it part of their homeland or use-area, including ancestors of today’s Lipan Apache, Comanche, and Karankawa, as well as the Caddo, other farming groups, and federally non-recognized tribes.”

Enter your address in this interactive map of Traditional Native Lands to see who once lived where you are now.

My thanks to Paul Santa Cruz, Archivist, from the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, Robert Holzweiss, PhD., Deputy Director from the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and Professor Alston V. Thoms, Director, Archaeological-Ecology Laboratory, Texas A&M University, for the research, images, and information they provided for this post.

Additional Information:  

Carter, Cecile Elkins. Caddo Indians: Where We Come From. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995. 

Gregory, H.F. (ed.). The Southern Caddo: An Anthology. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1986. 

Hazel, Michael V. Dallas: A History of Big D. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1997. 

Smith, F. Todd. The Caddo Indians: Tribes at the Convergence of Empires, 1542-1854. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1995. 

Treaty between the United States and the Comanche, Aionai (Hainai), Anadarko, Caddo, et al., Signed at Council Springs, Robinson County, Texas, near the Brazos River, May 15, 1846. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/175516196 

Senate’s Advice and Consent to Treaty Ratification with Amendments, February 15, 1847. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/175516197 

Instrument of Ratification Signed by President James K. Polk and Secretary of State James Buchanan, March 8, 1847. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/175516195 

Native American Relations in Texas, From the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

One thought on “Acknowledging our History: The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, Dallas, and the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, College Station Texas

  1. Wowzers! I didn’t realize the Karankawa made it this far north and west to my home. They were cannibalistic so I guess they had to range pretty far from their normal area along the coast to find ‘food.’ 😮

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *