Celebrating the Caddo People

A glimpse of ancient Caddo culture.
Published: Jan. 12, 2024 at 10:48 AM EST
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Click here to watch our full-length interview!

Long before the exploration and colonization by Spain and later the United States of America, East Texas was home to many Native American tribes. A frontrunner group known as the Caddo, lived and flourished right here in your backyard. In Alto, the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site provides historical context and artifacts that tell the stories of the Caddo people. Visit the ancient burial mound, walk the El Camino Real Trail, participate in events and programs led by actual Caddo members. The Caddo Mounds has something for everyone!


“The Caddo, when they were living here, were doing the exact same thing that we do today.”

Tony Souther, site supervisor of the Caddo Mounds, explains the culture of the tribe. They were sedentary people. The area that the historic site resides in is estimated to have been their home for 400 to 500 years.

They did life here at the site. Farming, building homes, and enjoying their families. The Caddo cultivated their land to serve many purposes. They had areas for worship of their deities, as well as “mounds” to honor and lay to rest those loved ones that had passed away. The tribe was a large functioning community, with its own government and officials. Today, members of the Caddo still exist, displaying and supporting their rich heritage here at the museum.

Thank you to everyone who came out for natural wreath making today. It was bright and sunny and a little chilly, but everyone had fun. The wreaths are all really lovely. Happy holidays from Caddo Mounds!

Posted by Caddo Mounds State Historic Site on Saturday, December 16, 2023


“It’s still a sacred place. And we treat it that way.”

As Tony described, the Caddo Mounds Historic Site is an ancient and special destination, which deserves respect. This is especially true when you visit the three historic mounds on the property. The High Temple Mound can be viewed from across the highway. This mound was their political and spiritual center, which hosted buildings for worship and government activity. The Burial Mound is on the North side of the property. It served as the resting place for Caddo individuals. It is estimated that 90 bodies were tombed here. Lastly, there is the Low Platform Mound. It is presumed that this area was designed for ceremonial functions for the community.

Along with the mounds, there stands the impressive Caddo grass house. Visitors are encouraged to enter this functional structure to get a glimpse of what home life would have been like centuries ago. Back in 2019, a devastating tornado completely destroyed the grass house and much of the museum. However, with the help of the Friends of Caddo Mounds, the house is now completely restored and ready for visitors!

Though the majority of the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site is focused on the life of the Caddo people, there is a secondary narrative that the museum offers. Past the Burial Mounds exists an actual portion of the El Camino Real Highway. This was a “road” that Mexican travelers would trek going all the way from Mexico City to Natchitoches, Louisiana. Today, this road is broken up into many pieces due to the bloom of many cities built along its path. However, you can walk a tiny portion of the historic highway with nicely kept trails on the Caddo Mounds property.


“Some of the programs we do are stargazing, foraging, basketmaking programs…”

The Caddo Mounds offers many opportunities for visitors to engage in activities that were a part of everyday life for the Caddo people. Craft needle baskets with local Caddo artist Jackie Bullard. Learn about native plants and vegetables in the Snake Woman’s Garden. Enjoy daylong activities during their High-Flying Day, which focuses on predatory birds of the region. Stay up to date on all the events happening at the mounds HERE!

The Caddo Mounds State Historic Site is not only a window into the past, but an appreciation for the present and future Caddo people. Whether you’re making a pitstop through Alto for a short visit to the mounds or coming to learn the ways of the Caddo through one of the museum’s programs, we promise it will be an unforgettable experience.

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