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Alice in Karankawa Land

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205.     GATSCHET, Albert S., Alice [Williams] Oliver, et al. The Karankawa Indians, the Coast People of Texas…. With Notes by Charles A. Hammond and Alice W. Oliver and Vocabulary Obtained from Alice Oliver. Cambridge: Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology (Peabody Museum Papers, Vol. I, No. 2), 1891. [i-v] vi-viii, [9] 10-103 [1, blank], map showing region inhabited by the Karankawa. 8vo (23.2 x 14.5 cm), lacking wraps. Stitching loose, otherwise fine in mailing envelope from Charles F. Heartman, with ink note: “This work is hard to obtain & first copy located over about 5 yr. search.”

     First edition. Rader 1552. Raines, p. 89. Tate, The Indians of Texas: An Annotated Research Bibliography 577: “Although dated, this remains the standard account of this neglected tribe. Gatschet drew information not only from early travel accounts but also from his interviews with Alice Oliver, who had observed the Karankawa at some length during the 1840s. A detailed list of Karankawa words as remembered by Mrs. Oliver is also provided.” Not in CBC.

     The tall, nomadic tribe first encountered by Cabeza de Vaca supposedly practiced ritualistic cannibalism and were considered formidable fighters. After decimations by disease and various confrontations with both Europeans and fellow Native Americans, the last of the tribe was wiped out in Texas in 1858 near Rio Grande City. Alice Williams Oliver’s family established a ranch in Matagorda Bay in 1838 when Alice was ten. As a teenager she formed a friendship with the now extinct tribe, recording their language and history. The family was friendly with the tribe, who often camped on their ranch when passing through. They never tried to kidnap or hurt her, and Alice’s record here is the only substantial surviving documentation on the tribe, completing lacking in bias. Alice’s account is considered the definitive record of Karankawa language, and historians still use it today.


Sold. Hammer: $100.00; Price Realized: $120.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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