Their social structure had the women preparing hides for clothing, cooking,
weaving, raising children and gardening, while the men hunted, celebrated
religious ceremonies and sometimes engaged in warfare. Other activities
were shared communally, such as preparing soil and building houses.
Tattooing was also common in both sexes. The leader of the community,
the caddi, greeted visitors and forged relationships with the smoking of
a calumet, or peace pipe (as did some other tribes in Arkansas).
Salt was of particular use and interest
for food preparation, preservation and
trade, and the saline water in marshes in
southern Arkansas where the Caddos resided
provided a plentiful supply, extracted by boiling
the water in clay pans. Caddoan pottery was often intricately
and beautifully decorated, and you can view many examples of it in the
holdings of the Arkansas Archeological Survey at the University of
Arkansas in Fayetteville.
As the Caddo population was reduced by encounters with Europeans
carrying smallpox and measles and by battles with the Osages and some
other tribes, they were forced out of Arkansas by the late 18th century and
officially ceded their Arkansas land under pressure in an 1835 treaty. They
moved first to Texas and then to Oklahoma near the town of Binger, where
the Caddo tribal rolls currently number about 5,000. The rotating site of the
annual Caddo Conference (caddoconference.org) is often held in Arkansas,
with many exhibits and sessions open to the public.