is a story that has been told and retold in Texas
and Louisiana--one that almost every school child has learned in
Twin sons were born to an old Caddo Indian chief living on the banks
of the Sabine River. Natchitoches
was swarthy with black hair and flashing black eyes. Nacogdoches
was fair with yellow hair and blue eyes.
As their father neared the end of his days, he called his sons into
his presence to receive his final blessings.
He commanded that, upon his death, Natchitoches should gather his
wife and children, turn his face to the rising sun, and after traveling
three days he should build his home and rear a tribe.
Nacogdoches was instructed to face the setting sun, walk three days
with his family, and establish a new home where he, too, would rear
his children and his children’s children.
Thus, the twin tribes of Nacogdoches and Natchitoches were born
100 miles apart--one in what would become Texas
and one in the place we know today as Louisiana.
The two tribes were located a sufficient distance apart to prevent
friction over their hunting grounds, so they remained on friendly
terms as the decades passed.
The friendship and trade beat out a well-traveled path between the
two tribes, a route that eventually became a highway known as El
Camino Real by Spanish travelers.
story is such an engaging tale that it has been printed, reprinted,
told and retold in so many places that most of us have lost count.
But the trouble is, the story isn’t true.
It was apparently concocted in 1939 by historian R.B. Blake of Nacogdoches
as part of a booklet produced by the Nacogdoches Historical Society.
There were, however, Indian tribes known as Nacogdoches and Natchitoches.
And, yes, there are towns by the same name. And, of course, there
is an El Camino Real.
has adhered to Blake’s original story, Natchitoches uses a different
twist. In its version, as reported by the Chamber of Commerce, the
Indian chief banished his twin sons to the east and west.
The Chamber manager said the legend is so ingrained in Natchitoches’
history that “folks around here would run me out of town if I said
it wasn’t true.”
Regardless of the story’s veracity, it will remain a beloved part
of the fabric of East Texas.
Bowman July 10, 2006 Column, updated April
(Bob Bowman of Lufkin
is the author of more than 50 books about East Texas history and
folklore. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)
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