What Is the History of the Jumano Tribe?

The tribe called the Jumano Indians broke down into three groups that formed around 1500 and continued living in the American Southwest through the year 1700, establishing hunting territories and interacting with other tribes and traders throughout their brief history. The Jumano Indian tribes lived in areas of modern-day Texas and New Mexico. The group included a large, interconnected network of nomadic and settled families who spoke multiple languages and had distinct lifestyles.

The Jumano Indians first encountered Spanish explorers in the early 1500s. Written records maintained by these explorers provide most insights into the Jumanos' lives. Spanish explorers identified a distinct style of dress as men wore capes or cloaks to ward off cold weather while women sometimes wore aprons and sleeveless tops. Men preferred short hairstyles while women wore their hair long. Jumanos gathered food primarily by hunting. Their signature tool was a Turkish bow, and they often brought heavy clubs to battle.

Jumano Indians retained some of their traditions and practices after contact with the Spaniards, but they incorporated some elements of Spanish lifestyle into their own culture too. Horses, introduced by Spaniards, enabled travel among the Jumano and helped them interact with nearby tribes. They traded with explorers and neighboring tribes as well, including groups in central and eastern Texas.