|Indian Burial Ground (Dietz Archeological Site)|
|Texas Historical Marker|
Centuries old, this burial ground was once used by the primitive Karankawa Indians. A little-known group, this coastal tribe cared for Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca when he was shipwrecked in Texas in 1528. Although previously looted, the site produced over 20 skeletons when excavated by archeologists in 1927 and later. Also found were large quantities of burned human bones (suggesting ritual cannibalism), potsherds, arrowpoints, flint tools, fire implements, and shells.
European explorers found the Karankawas unusually tall and muscular, but were repelled by their habits of tattooing and painting their bodies and smearing themselves with alligator grease to keep off insects. Much ritual attended Karankawa death, especially that of boys and young men, who were mourned for an entire year. Three times a day the family wept for the departed youth. After a year, the mourners purified themselves with smoke in a special rite. Ordinary persons were buried in shallow graves with some tools and ornaments, but shamans (medicine men) were cremated during a ceremonial dance. Never very numerous, the Karankawas drifted into Mexico after the white man's diseases and enmity reduced them to a handful of survivors.
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