Reconnecting the Present to the Past:
The Caddo People Return to the
Lower Red River Valley

The Caddo people are reconnecting their present lives to the sacred places of their past. These places, the very earth that they walk upon, the trees, the mounds, the plants, and the archeological objects left behind, all have a special significance in the Caddo world. From the pottery vessels exquisitely crafted out of the clay in the ground to the lone cedar tree at the Battle Mound location, in the context of the Caddo world, all of these resources are uniquely and intimately tied to the beliefs, traditions, culture, and history of the Caddo people.

—Robert Cast, Historic Preservation Officer, Caddo Nation of Oklahoma

For over 1,000 years, Caddo people inhabited the areas we now know as northwest Louisiana, east Texas, southeast Oklahoma, and southwest Arkansas. The major conduit linking the region together was bah hatínu, Red River. The Southern Caddo participated in a vast trade and social network, and were highly esteemed by their Indian and European allies. It was the presence of the Caddo that first drew French and Spanish interests into the region in the 18th century. Caddo people were able to build relationships and live in relative harmony with their European neighbors.

Not until after 1803, the year in which the United Stated purchased the Louisiana territory from France, did the Caddo begin to understand the consequences of American expansionism. Recognizing that their dominion here was at an end, the Caddo reluctantly signed a land cession in 1835 that forced them to abandon the Red River and consolidate in Spanish Texas, finally coming to rest in Indian Territory in 1859. Since that time, Caddo Nation of Oklahoma has been centered in Caddo County, with the tribal complex near Binger, Oklahoma. Caddo people, however, never lost sight of their Red River homelands and have remained connected to those places that their ancestors were forced to leave behind.

The Caddo Nation Cultural Preservation Office has worked in recent years to build partnerships and garner support for tribal efforts to reconnect Caddo people with their ancestral past. Working in close consultation with the Caddo Repatriation Committee, an advisory group of six knowledgeable elders, Cultural Preservation officers have led efforts to visit ancestral sites, identify and document traditional cultural properties, address preservation and interpretation of sites and collections, and return that information to Caddo people.

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These places speak to us.

—Doyle Edge

Connecting the Present to the Past and the Caddo Oral History Project

Bowie County Levee Realignment Project

Caddo Connection to the Lower Mississippi Valley

Caddo Nation Repatriation Committee and Caddo Nation Cultural Preservation Office

Caddo Nation Cultural Preservation Office:

Caddo Repatriation Committee:

In memoriam:

Thurman “Sonny” Parton served as a member of the Caddo Repatriation Committee representing the Caddo Culture Club. Sonny had a lifelong commitment to preserving Caddo culture through tribal songs and dances and through his tenure as president of the Caddo Culture Club. He was a gifted singer who was generous with his time and talents, working closely with the Shuwi-ti-ti young men’s group of tribal singers to make sure that Caddo traditional culture remained strong. Sonny’s cultural knowledge, his warmth, and his humor are greatly missed by all who knew him.

The development of this site was supported in part by a grant from the Lower Mississippi Delta Region Initiative of the National Park Service.

Connecting the Present to the Past and the Caddo Oral History Project->

Region 2