Texas History Topics

El Camino Real de los Tejas


“The camino real, or more aptly the caminos reales, is more than a route, more than a series of parajes between two end points. It is a complex set of relationships between travelers and nature, buyers and sellers, governors and governed.” 


–Jesus F. de la Teja, 1991 


For thousands of years, this slice of East Texas has been a permanent residence and perpetual campground to the Tejas/Caddo, Spanish, French, Anglo, African American, and a variety of other people. During the time of European contact, Spanish travelers to the land of the Tejas journeyed along El Camino Real de los Tejas (the Royal Road—the oldest road in Texas) and faced a muddy and difficult crossing at the Neches River. The dry mound prairie, a welcome sight to weary travelers, served as a paraje, or perpetual campground. The Spanish named this place Paraje el Cerrito, the campground at the little mound or hill, and it offered a high, dry land with grass for grazing animals, edible plants for foraging, and the nearby Neches River and natural springs. 


“El Camino Real de los Tejas served as a political, economic, and cultural link between Mexico City and Los Adaes (and all points in between). Settlers, missionaries, soldiers, servants, and indigenous allies followed various roads and trails along the 2,500 miles of this route to populate the settlements, missions, and presidios of eastern Texas and northwestern Louisiana. Linking a variety of cultural and linguistic groups, the royal road served as an agent for cultural diffusion, biological exchange, and communication and as a conduit for exploration, trade, migration, settlement, and livestock drives. Spanish, Mexican, French, American, Black, and American Indian travelers along El Camino Real de los Tejas created a mix of traditions, laws, and cultures that is reflected in the people, landscapes, place names, languages, music, and arts of Texas and Louisiana today.”  


~National Parks Service, El Camino Real Del Los Tejas


Did you know that Texas comes from the Spanish transliteration of the Caddo word for friend or ally, taysha. Spanish spelled the word Taysha, Tejas, which became, Texas. 

What's in Caddo Voices

Each section of the Caddo Voices Virtual Experience places content into a play list of Contemporary Caddo, Practice, and Ethnohistory videos. 


  • In Contemporary Caddo you will learn about current Indigenous movements. 
  • In Practice you are invited to explore hands-on projects that incorporate traditional Caddo knowledge into modern projects. 
  • In Ethnohistory you will tap into a wide range of scholarship about Caddo history and culture from anthropologists, historians, and other researchers. 

Keep Exploring

In this extensive 2023 bibliography, you will find 380 pages of resources to learn more about Caddo history and culture.


Visit the THC’s Learning Resources page for home-related lesson plans and activities you can do at home or on a visit to Caddo Mounds SHS.


Read the Caddo stories written down in “Traditions of the Caddo” by George Dorsey in 1905. Dorsey’s stories were collected from Caddo informants including Tsa Bisuh “Wing” (who told 49 percent of the stories) and Dashkat Hakaayuʔ “Whitebread” (who told 19 percent of the stories). 


Explore more about the Caddo history and culture at Texas Beyond History. 


Learn more about El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail.