Ethnic Identities of Extinct Coahuiltecan Populations: Case of the Juanca Indians
MetadataShow full item record
The name Juanca is presented for future use as a modern standardized name for a Coahuilteco-speaking, hunting-and-gathering Indian group recorded in Spanish documents as living on the South Texas Plain in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. This name appears in at least 18 recognizable variants, six of which - Huacacasa, Juamaca, Juncata, Quanataguo, Tuanca, and Vanca - have at times been mistakenly identified by scholars as names of separate and distinct Coahuiltecan Indian populations. Documents associated with missions San Bernardo (northeastern Coahuila) and San Antonio de Valero (southern Texas) indicate a very high probability that orthographic distortion of the name Juanca by Spanish record keepers has led to an unwarranted increase in the number of names on the generally accepted list of formally named Coahuiltecan Indian populations of northeastern Mexico and southern Texas. Little was ever recorded about Juanca culture, but documents link them with northwestern Frio County in 1691, leading to the conclusion that their aboriginal territorial range, as determined by the natural food quest, must have covered a fairly large area on the South Texas Plain midway between San Antonio and Eagle Pass, Texas. Evidently already reduced in numbers when first recorded, possibly by European-introduced diseases and the effects of Apache expansion southeastward, a few Juanca individuals and families eventually entered missions San Bernardo and San Antonio de Valero where, after numerous recorded distortions of the group name, their ethnic identity was lost during the last two decades of the eighteenth century.