Published on December 13, 2012 by Amy
The Tula were a Native American tribe that lived in what is now western Arkansas.
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The Tula are known to history only from the chronicles of Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto’s exploits in the interior of North America.
The Tula were possibly a Caddoan people, but this is not certain. Based on the descriptions of the various chroniclers, “Tula Province”, or their homeland, may have been at the headwaters of the Ouachita, Caddo, Little Missouri, Saline, and Cossatot Rivers in Arkansas. They are also thought to have lived in the northern Ouachita Mountains in the Petit Jean and Fourche valleys.
De Soto violently clashed with the tribe in 1541. His secretary, Rodrigo Ranjel described the Tula as, “the best fighting people that the Christians met with.” A statue was erected in the late 20th century to commemorate the Tula, but de Soto scholars suspect that the location of the statue does not correspond with the Tula’s actual homeland. The Tula are thought to be the first Caddo band to encounter Europeans.
The 16th century Spanish chroniclers wrote that the Tula practiced cranial deformation and tattooed their faces. They fought with large spears.
An archaeological site, Bluffton Mound Site (3YE15), 35-40 southwest of the Arkansas River is associated with the Tula. The site is a Caddoan Mississippian culture mound center.
It was suggested by Swanton that the Tula assimilated into other Kadohadacho tribes, meaning their descendants would be enrolled in the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma today.
The word “Tula” is not a Caddo word. The tribe and province are also known as Tulia.