TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A collection of Native American artifacts is on display at Tyler Junior College ahead of the annual East Texas Archaeology and Caddo conferences in Tyler.
A private collector donated the Caddo artifacts to TJC in 2012, according to a TJC spokesperson. The school added that it was likely the first time some of the artifacts had been displayed to the public.
“Many of these artifacts were from probably the upper Nueces River, between Lufkin and Palestine,” said Keith Eppich, professor at TJC. “Of course, we don’t have any [specific location] for any of them; we don’t know exactly where they came from. But, [a historian] sort of figured it out based on the style and how intact they are.”
Eppich added that many of the pieces date back to between the 1400 and the 1600s. The collection ranges from tools and primitive cookware to serving dishes designed to first serve as a feast for the eyes.
“[The Caddo people] were the original Native Americans of East Texas,” Eppich explained. “In fact, they named Texas. They settled the area around A.D. 1000 and have been here ever since. They never really left.”
The exhibit will remain open for the remainder of the academic year.
The 62nd Caddo Conference and 27th East Texas Archeological Conference will be held on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28 and 29, on the UT Tyler campus.
More information about the exhibit released by Tyler Junior College:
Tyler Junior College is currently displaying a collection of Native American ceramic vases and bowls from its archives, in conjunction with the annual East Texas/Caddo Archaeology conference to be held this weekend in Tyler.
Eppich said the vessels were likely used in funeral ceremonies, and the material dates from the years 1400 to 1600.
“This is quite a unique collection and, as far as I know, it’s the first time it has ever been publicly displayed,” he said.
The Caddo Conference rotates annually among Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana to promote and to stimulate interest in the archeology, history, and ethnology of the Caddo archeological region. The East Texas Archeological Conference is hosted annually by UT Tyler to bring together people interested in the archeology and cultural heritage of East Texas.
This year’s conference will be in support of the Caddo Nation and rebuilding of facilities at Caddo Mounds State Historic Site in Alto, which sustained heavy damage from tornadoes in April 2019.
For more information on the conference, go to https://sites.google.com/view/easttexasarchaeologyconference/home.