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The Bidai were a tribe of Atakapa Indians from eastern Texas. [1]

Atakapa Native Americans who lived along the Gulf of Mexico

The Atakapa are an indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands, who spoke the Atakapa language and historically lived along the Gulf of Mexico. Europeans adopted this name from the competing Choctaw people, whom they first encountered. The Atakapan people, made up of several bands, called themselves the Ishak, pronounced "ee-SHAK", which translates as "The People." Within the tribe, the Ishak identified as "The Sunrise People" or "The Sunset People", two moieties. Although the people were decimated by infectious disease after European contact and declined as a tribe, survivors joined other tribes. Their descendants still live in southern Louisiana and Texas. People identifying as Atakapa-Ishak had a gathering in 2006.

Native Americans in the United States Indigenous peoples of the United States (except Hawaii)

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii. There are over 500 federally recognized tribes within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaska Natives, while Native Americans are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. Native Hawaiians are not counted as Native Americans by the US Census, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.



Their oral history says that the Bidai were the original people in their region. [2] Their central settlements were along Bedias Creek, but their territory ranged from the Brazos River to the Neches River. [1] The first written record of the tribe was in 1691, by Spanish explorers who said they lived near the Hasinai. French explorer François Simars de Bellisle described them as agriculturalists in 1718 and 1720. [3]

Bedias Creek is a creek in Texas. The creek rises in Madison County and flows 47 miles (76 km) east into Houston County, where it empties into the Trinity River.

Brazos River river in Texas

The Brazos River, called the Rio de los Brazos de Dios by early Spanish explorers, is the 11th-longest river in the United States at 1,280 miles (2,060 km) from its headwater source at the head of Blackwater Draw, Curry County, New Mexico to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico with a 45,000-square-mile (116,000 km2) drainage basin. Being one of Texas' largest rivers, it is sometimes used to mark the boundary between East Texas and West Texas.

Neches River river in the United States of America

The Neches River begins in Van Zandt County west of Rhine Lake and flows for 416 miles (669 km) through east Texas to its mouth on Sabine Lake near the Rainbow Bridge. Two major reservoirs, Lake Palestine and B. A. Steinhagen Reservoir are located on the Neches. Several cities are located along the Neches River Basin, including Tyler, Lufkin, Silsbee, Evadale, Beaumont, Vidor, Port Neches, Nederland, Groves, and Port Arthur.

They had three distinct villages or bands in the 18th century. The Deadose were the northernmost band of Bidai, who broke off in the early 18th century. [1] The 18th century population of Bidai is estimated to be 600 with 200 additional Deadoses. [4]

In 1770, the band colluded with French settlers to sell guns to the Lipan Apaches, as all parties were enemies with the Spanish. [3]

Lipan Apache are Southern Athabaskan (Apachean) Native Americans whose traditional territory included present-day Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas prior to the 17th century.

The Bidai suffered several epidemics during 1776-77, reducing their population by at least half. The survivors joined neighboring tribes, such as the Akokisas and Koasati. Some settled on the Brazos Indian Reservation in present-day Young County, Texas and were removed with the Caddo to Indian Territory. [3] Those that remained formed a village twelve miles from Montgomery, Texas, growing corn and picking cotton for hire in the mid-19th century. [2]

Akokisa tribe

The Akokisa were the indigenous tribe that lived on Galveston Bay and the lower Trinity and San Jacinto rivers in Texas, primarily in the present-day Greater Houston area. They are regarded as a band of the Atakapa Indians, closely related to the Atakapa of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Young County, Texas County in the United States

Young County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 18,550. Its county seat is Graham. The county was created in 1856 and organized in 1874. It is named for William Cocke Young, an early Texas settler and soldier.

Caddo confederacy of several Southeastern Native American tribes

The Caddo Nation is a confederacy of several Southeastern Native American tribes. Their ancestors historically inhabited much of what is now East Texas, Louisiana, and portions of southern Arkansas and Oklahoma. They were descendants of the Caddoan Mississippian culture that constructed huge earthwork mounds at several sites in this territory. In the early 19th century, Caddo people were forced to a reservation in Texas; they were removed to Indian Territory in 1859.

Andre Sjoberg published an ethnohistory of the Bidai in 1951. [5]


The Bidai hunted, gathered, fished, grew maize, and bartered their surplus maize. They snared game and trapped them in cane pens. During the summer months, they lived along the coasts, but in winters they moved inland [6] in which they lived in bearskin tents. [4]

Before contact, the Bidai made their own ceramics, but quickly adopted metal utensils from European trade. They still made ceramic pots into the 19th century, and they also wove a variety of baskets. [4] In 1803, Henry Hopkins Sibley wrote that Bidai had "an excellent character for honesty and punctuality." [2]

The structure of their cradleboards altered the shape of their skulls. They also enhanced their appearance through body and facial tattooing. [4]

Bidai medicine men were herbalists and performed sweatbathing. Patients could be treated by being raised scaffolds over smudge fires. While other Atakapan bands are known for their ritual cannibalism, the practice was never recorded among the Bidai. [4]


Extinct 19th century?
unclassified (Atakapan?)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Glottolog bida1238 [7]

Bidai was a possible Atakapan language,[ citation needed ] which is now extinct. Below are some of the few Bidai words ever recorded.


Bidai has been spelled Biday, Bedies, Bidaises, Beadweyes, Bedies, Bedees, Bidias, Bedais, Midays, Vidais, Vidaes, Vidays. Their name could be Caddo, meaning "brushwood", and having reference to the Big Thicket near the lower Trinity River about which they lived. Their autonym was Quasmigdo. [5]


  1. 1 2 3 Sturtevant, 659
  2. 1 2 3 "Bidai Indian History." Access Genealogy. (retrieved 14 March 2010)
  3. 1 2 3 "Bidai Indians." Texas State Historical Association. (retrieved 14 March 2010)
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Sturtevant, 662
  5. 1 2 Sturtevant, 663
  6. Sturtevant, 661
  7. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Bidai". Glottolog 3.0 . Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  8. "Bidai Word Set." native Languages. (retrieved 14 March 2010)

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