Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands / Edition 1

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Revising the standard narrative of European-Indian relations in America, Juliana Barr reconstructs a world in which Indians were the dominant power and Europeans were the ones forced to accommodate, resist, and persevere. She demonstrates that between the 1690s and 1780s, Indian peoples including Caddos, Apaches, Payayas, Karankawas, Wichitas, and Comanches formed relationships with Spaniards in Texas that refuted European claims of imperial control.

Barr argues that Indians not only retained control over their territories but also imposed control over Spaniards. Instead of being defined in racial terms, as was often the case with European constructions of power, diplomatic relations between the Indians and Spaniards in the region were dictated by Indian expressions of power, grounded in gendered terms of kinship. By examining six realms of encounter—first contact, settlement and intermarriage, mission life, warfare, diplomacy, and captivity—Barr shows that native categories of gender provided the political structure of Indian-Spanish relations by defining people's identity, status, and obligations vis-a-vis others. Because native systems of kin-based social and political order predominated, argues Barr, Indian concepts of gender cut across European perceptions of racial difference.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Juliana Barr . . . brings us a brilliant re-analysis of the interactions of the Native Americans and Spaniards across the frontier . . . . With remarkable insight and cultural perspicuity, Barr filters the early Texas history story through a new historical lens. . . . From the book's opening Introduction, the reader is stunned with the inversion of historical understanding.—East Texas Historical Journal

A highly valuable contribution to the indigenous historiography of the southwestern borderlands in the early period of European contact.—Journal of Southern History

A fine book in every respect, clearly written, persuasive, solidly documented, and useful for both student and scholar alike. . . . Encourages scholars to look anew at areas where Indians met Europeans.—Hispanic American Historical Review

An important analysis of Spanish-Indian relations in a borderlands region where Indian power stayed remarkably strong. Through her recovery of the stories of women, Barr shows that, at least until the nineteenth century, gender remained a stronger influence than race on those always volatile relationships.—Church History

Historiographically significant and beautifully written, Peace Came in the Form of a Woman will enjoy a wide readership among those interested in early American, Native American, and Borderlands history.—Journal of American Ethnic History

Deserves to be reckoned with by future scholarship on colonial Texas. . . . Provides . . . fundamental contributions to the historiography on colonial Texas.—Catholic Southwest

Rich, complex, and detailed. . . . A well-crafted and thoughtful work that does much to alter the landscape of American history.—Signs

Barr skillfully blends anthropology and Spanish sources to present a complicated picture that revises the standard narrative of Spanish colonial Texas. . . . A nuanced picture of the shifting ground upon which Spanish-Indian relations were built, and the importance of tapping into indigenous understandings of diplomacy in order to more completely comprehend these cultural encounters.—New Mexico Historical Review

A field-changing work. . . . The first to show how really essential gender is to contact studies.—William and Mary Quarterly

Contributes to a fundamental debate in North American history. . . . Well-written and insightful.—Arkansas Historical Review

From the Publisher
"Historiographically significant and beautifully written,Peace Came in the Form of a Woman will enjoy a wide readership among those interested in early American, Native American, and Borderlands history."
Journal of American Ethnic History

"[Barr's] conclusions are compelling . . . . Everyone who studies the Spanish borderlands, Native Americans, or women needs to read this book."

Peace Came in the Form of a Woman vastly deepens our knowledge of the colonial Texas borderlands and thus our understanding of early North American history.
—James F. Brooks, author of Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship and Community in the Southwest Borderlands

With a richly crafted narrative and lively prose, it is an amazing achievement.
—Kathleen M. Brown, University of Pennsylvania

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807857908
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/19/2007
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 922,128
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Juliana Barr is Research Foundation Professor of History at the University of Florida.

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Read an Excerpt

Peace Came in the Form of a Woman

Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands

The University of North Carolina Press

Copyright © 2007 The University of North Carolina Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8078-5790-8

Chapter One

Diplomatic Ritual in the "Land of the Tejas"

In the 1680s and the 1690s, multiple Caddo groups within the Natchitoches, Kadohadacho, and most notably the Hasinai confederacies began to give hearings to the various European aspirants who came to their lands, seeing in them the possibility of meeting ever-increasing political and economic needs for horses, guns, and military allies. Over time, Hasinai goals and Spanish and French ability and willingness to meet those goals determined the shape and form of eighteenth-century socioeconomic relations. Yet, in the last two decades of the seventeenth century, these Europeans and Indians struggled simply to establish contact with one another. The earliest meetings between Caddos and their French and Spanish visitors delineated what might be imagined as the outer rings of cross-cultural interaction. Their encounters skimmed the surface of Caddo and European societies by calling into action only the most public manifestations of male and female honor required by formal diplomatic ceremony.

Caddo, rather than European, custom dictated the ceremonies followed in the first meetings of these peoples, making clear theCaddos' power over their European visitors. Unable to communicate well with each other through speech, Europeans and Caddos searched for other means to convey and interpret meaning-making object, appearance, expression, and action critical. They brought together their respective traditions of ceremony and protocol in efforts to establish diplomatic exchange. The Caddos' advantages of home ground, superior numbers, and force offset any presumed military superiority afforded by European technology and arms. Frenchmen and Spaniards arrived in such small numbers relative to their Caddo hosts that aggression on their part would have been foolhardy and self-destructive. The European newcomers thus followed the Caddos' lead in protocol.

Caddo hospitality rituals conveyed and armed honor both domestically and diplomatically. Ceremonies of early contact included all members of Hasinai communities and reflected the civil and political dimensions of Hasinai identity, position, rank, and prestige. Welcoming rituals allotted to all persons a role commensurate with their position and contribution to the society and presented to observers the social value of each. Status position accorded by social order and hierarchies of age, lineage, and gender thereby determined individual and community roles in Caddo ritual performances. Caddo men and women of both elite and nonelite status had their parts to play. Europeans thus enjoyed a composite view of Caddo societies in their own villages, temples, and ceremonial centers-how adequately or poorly they interpreted what they saw was another matter entirely.

In contrast, Caddos gained only a faint glimpse into Spanish or French cultures, their view being limited to the few men who wandered into and out of their lands in the 1680s and 1690s. They saw nothing of the Europeans' own communities and socioeconomic systems, and among the groups with whom they did interact, Caddos could make judgments only of the divisions and ranks structuring relations among Spanish and French men because the parties were all-male. The Frenchmen and Spaniards that Caddos met also presented quite contrasting pictures to them. In 1689, for example, Alonso de León's expedition included a military leader, about ten officers, eighty-five soldiers, two missionaries, one guide, one interpreter, and twenty-five muleteers, craftsmen, and laborers in charge of supplies, food stores, and manual chores. Those stores included seven hundred horses, two hundred head of cattle, and pack mules carrying eighty loads of flour, five hundred pounds of chocolate, and three loads of tobacco. In contrast, the French survivors and deserters from La Salle's Fort Saint Louis came on foot, carrying their supplies and what goods they hoped to trade on their backs, and they arrived in much smaller numbers; twenty-four men made up La Salle's first party and seventeen the second. At the beginning, then, cross-cultural understanding, if even possible, was inevitably uneven.

In the early stages of contact, when both the Europeans' and the Caddos' goals remained simply ascertaining a starting point for friendly relations, the key exchanges were those between elite men, mostly because of Caddo custom. Rituals reflected the sociopolitical categories of Caddo society, in which patrilineal descent of political and religious leadership existed within a larger matrilineal kinship system. Caddos lived in dispersed settlements, each of which consisted of multiple family farmsteads of generally equivalent status. These local communities allied together to form larger confederacies. Caddís, men of civil and religious authority, headed each village and were advised by councils of elders called canahas, while a xinesí functioned as a head priest at the level of the confederacy. These positions were all hereditary offices, almost all male (Spanish and French records indicate two historical moments in which extraordinary circumstances put women into positions as caddís), and passed by descent through a male line but within the matrilineal kinship system-for example, from a man to his sister's son.

Meanwhile, households under the authority of the matrilineal clan functioned as the basic social and economic unit of production. Women, as heads of clans, held primary authority in Caddo cultivation, organized divisions of farming labor, and controlled the agricultural produce. Caddo cosmology established the interdependence of patrilineal leaders and matrilineal clans in the origin story of Ayo-Caddí-Aymay, the Supreme Being, which fray Isidro de Espinosa recorded in the 1720s. In the beginning of the world, only one woman and her two daughters (one of whom was pregnant) existed, and one terrible day a demon in the form of a giant horned snake attacked and killed the pregnant daughter. A miracle saved the son she carried in her womb, and under the remaining women's care, he grew to adulthood in two nights and immediately avenged his mother's death by killing the demon with a bow and arrows crafted by his grandmother. The young man, accompanied by his grandmother and aunt, then ascended into the sky, where he began governing the world as the Supreme Being. Thus, a founding matrilineage of three women restored "positive conditions in the world by empowering male descendants to act on their behalf." The women ensured the youth's success in the male realm of warfare (and ultimately political leadership). Male skills, and the power they garnered, depended upon female skills in women's realm of production and sustenance.

Reflecting those sociopolitical divisions, public ceremonial life in Caddo societies took place in gendered spaces to which Europeans-as men-did not have equal access. The ritual performances held at temples and ceremonial compounds, in which native and European foreigners were more likely to be included, highlighted the authority of male political and religious leaders-the caddís, xinesí, and canahas. Women took part in ceremonies at the compounds, but their authority was not the focus of that venue. Rituals performed in individual homes emphasized the matrilineal structuring of clan, kinship, and socioeconomic units of production. Planting, first fruits, and harvesting ceremonies held in the home were public rituals reinforcing the social basis of kinship and women's productive contributions to both family and community. Europeans, however, were far less likely to witness these seasonal ceremonies in their initial visits to Caddo lands. In turn, the potential gender biases of European men, whose own societies had no similar balance of public authority for women as well as men, did not initially have much bearing on diplomatic proceedings.

Thus, from the beginning, gender influenced what Europeans learned and did not learn about their hosts. Europeans did not have a chance to be surprised by Caddo women's power because they did not witness it, at first. The encounters recorded by Europeans between 1687 and 1693 make clear that Caddos welcomed Spaniards and Frenchmen only into the ceremonial compounds where male-defined rituals held sway. In these spaces, masculine power was the source of mutual understanding. As ethnohistorian George Sabo explains, "the ritual performances that were enacted in the context of encounters between Europeans and American Indians were staged ... to convey those beliefs, values, or principles that one or the other (or sometimes both) of the participating groups considered appropriate or necessary for the situation at hand." As symbolic communication, ritual performances "served, among other things, to define and categorize participants according to systems of social classification and to establish 'ground rules' for cross-cultural communication and interaction." Until Spanish and French male leaders had passed the tests set for them by their Caddo counterparts, only the male domain of Caddo polities would be open to them. Only later, after the rules had been laid out and accepted, might the locus of cross-cultural interaction expand to include the more female-influenced kinship rituals of alliance and settlement represented by the matrilineal household.

What protocols did Caddos enact when Europeans entered the outer limits of their lands? La Salle's story provides some hints, but a more detailed accounting can be elicited from Spanish expedition records. Hasinais customarily met European parties a few miles outside their villages for the first round of greetings. Once lookouts sent word of Europeans' arrival in the vicinity of their villages, the caddís rode out to greet them, accompanied by men, women, and children in groups numbering anywhere from ten to fifty. When within eyesight of one another, both the Europeans and the Caddos halted to salute each other and then advanced in "military formation" according to rank, with all cavalry, arms, and munitions on display. Caddos entered the meeting ground in three files, with the central one led by the head caddí, followed by other caddís and leading men, and with the remainder of the people making up the two side lines. Echoing the Caddo formation, Spaniards advanced with the military expedition leader carrying the royal standard painted with the images of Christ and the Virgin of Guadalupe, while missionaries and soldiers filed in on either side. The military captain then passed the standard to the head missionary, knelt before it in veneration, kissed the images, and embraced the missionary or kissed his hand or habit. Spaniards sang the Te Deum Laudamus as they processed, and in response, Caddo men gave another salute.

Upon exchanging initial courtesies and gifts, the caddís would escort visitors into their village. Europeans sometimes proffered gifts to the man they assumed to be "head chief," particularly gifts of clothes, so that he might carry or wear them into the village in symbolic recognition of the respect they had for him. As the Spaniards or Frenchmen entered settlements, entire bands of three to five hundred men, women, and children welcomed them. Entry to the village usually repeated the ranked processions for the benefit of the village audience, as all paraded to a public plaza where blanketed and adorned seats were set out. After more salutes (in early years, with hand gestures, but later with gunfire), Caddo men often took care to lay down their arms. Finally, before sitting, leading warriors and caddís embraced Spanish or French officers and missionaries, and the visitors then went through a purification ritual, often by having their faces washed or by smoking pipes.

During the formal meetings that followed, the leading men of both Caddo and European parties sat in a circle on special benches designated for them according to rank, and the people of the village ranged around the circle of dignitaries as audience. Caddo men brought out a pipe decorated with white feathers, and the caddís mixed their own tobacco with that given them by the visiting Spaniards or Frenchmen and blew smoke to the cardinal directions-east, west, north, south-and to the earth and the sky. Then they offered the pipe to their European counterparts and thereafter to all present, until it had passed through everyone's hands. Next, the European and Indian leaders addressed speeches to one another, using interpreters to translate as best they could. Caddo women then brought forward corn, watermelons, tamales, and beans for the feasts that followed. In exchange, Spaniards and Frenchmen usually offered gifts of clothes, flannel, blankets, hats, and tobacco to be distributed among all the village inhabitants. European officers designated special gifts for the caddís, their wives, leading warriors, and any others deemed to be in positions of authority. Frenchmen also gave guns and ammunition. After these formalities, more feasts, dancing, singing, drumming, blowing of bugles and horns, and firing of salutes created a festive atmosphere as celebrations continued through the night. Caddís then insisted that expedition leaders and missionaries stay with them in their own households. For several days, this pattern of festivities continued, with groups from neighboring Caddo villages often coming to meet the Europeans, or with Spaniards and Frenchmen going to their settlements to enact similar rituals.

Through these rituals, Caddos, Spaniards, and Frenchmen sought to introduce themselves, to convey friendship, and to evaluate one another as potential military allies and trading partners. Europeans were not singled out for special treatment; these were the same ceremonies Caddo leaders used when entertaining native foreign embassies. As fray Espinosa later attested from firsthand observations, caddís received native ambassadors "with much honor," meeting them leagues outside of villages with formal escorts, assigning them principal seats at meetings, and giving presents, dances, and festivals during their visits. Such foreign policy receptions were annual events among a number of different bands inside and outside the Caddo confederacies. Hasinais, for instance, welcomed diplomatic parties from the Gulf coast, "who are accustomed to come as allies of the Tejas in times of war ... [thus] they entertain them every year after harvest, which is the time when many families of men and women visit the Hasinais," Espinosa explained. It was also "the time when they trade with one another for those things lacking in their settlements."

Notably, native visiting parties included women and children to emphasize the diplomatic nature of the mission. Practical demonstrations of peace involved specific male and female behaviors. Europeans might focus on male actions, but for Caddos and other Indian peoples across Texas, the clearest signal of intent lay in the gendered makeup of visiting parties. For them, the inclusion of women and children in traveling and trading parties communicated a peaceful demeanor, because customarily, female noncombatants and families rarely accompanied raiding or warring parties. Thus, Caddo "welcome committees" sent out to greet visitors prominently advertised the presence of women and children. If women did not attend the first meeting, Indian leaders often insisted that Spanish and French expeditions return to their villages to greet their women and children there. French priest Anastase Douay, for example, recorded the "pressing" invitations of a caddí to visit his settlement and thus his people. In similar spirit, neighboring Yojuanes entreated the 1709 expedition of fray Isidro de Espinosa, fray Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares, and Captain Pedro de Aguirre to come with them to their settlement, arguing that their women and children would be "very sad and disconsolate" if they did not meet them. Caddo women's and children's involvement in visitor receptions served as marks of trust vested by Caddo hosts in their visitors. By presenting women and children, caddís acknowledged the visitors' peaceful intent and conferred honor on them by conveying the leaders' faith that the vulnerable or noncombatant members of their communities would be safe in the visitors' company.


Excerpted from Peace Came in the Form of a Woman by JULIANA BARR Copyright © 2007 by The University of North Carolina Press. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     1
Turn-of-the-Century Beginnings, 1680s-1720s     17
Diplomatic Ritual in the "Land of the Tejas"     27
Political Kinship through Settlement and Marriage     69
From Contact to Conversion: Bridging Religion and Politics, 1720s-1760s     109
Civil Alliance and "Civility" in Mission-Presidio Complexes     119
Negotiating Fear with Violence: Apaches and Spaniards at Midcentury     159
New Codes of War and Peace, 1760s-1780s     197
Contests and Alliances of Norteno Manhood: The Road to Truce and Treaty     207
Womanly "Captivation": Political Economies of Hostage Taking and Hospitality     247
Conclusion     287
Notes     293
Bibliography     347
Index     389
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