The Waco tribe of the Wichita people is a Native American Southern Plains tribe that inhabited northeastern Texas. Today, they are enrolled members of the federally recognized Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, headquartered in Anadarko, Oklahoma.
The Waco were a division of the Tawakoni people. The present day Waco, Texas is located on the site of their principal village, that stood at least until 1820. French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe travelled through the region in 1719, and the people he called the Honecha or Houecha could be the Waco. They are most likely the Quainco on Guillaume de L'Isle's 1718 map, Carte de la Louisiane et du Cours du Mississipi. They were also called Huacos or Huecos.
The Waco village on the Brazos River was flanked by two Tawakoni villages, El Quiscat and the Flechazos. In 1824, Stephen F. Austin wrote that the Waco village was 40 acres large with 33 grass houses and approximately 100 men. They grew 200 acres of corn, in fields enclosed by brush fences. As late as 1829 the village was protected by defensive earthworks. In 1837, the Texas Rangers planned to establish a fort at Waco village but abandoned the idea after several weeks. In 1844 a trading post was established eight miles south of the village. Jean-Louis Berlandier recorded 60 Waco houses in 1830.
In 1835, 1846, and 1872, the tribe signed treaties with the United States and the Wichita. The 1872 treaty established their reservation in Indian Territory, where they were removed. In 1902, under the Dawes Allotment Act, the reservation lands were broken into individual allotments and the Wacos became citizens of the United States. Today they are part of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes.
The tribe lived in beehive-shaped houses, with pole supports, typically covered with rushes, but sometimes buffalo hides. The houses stood 20 to 25 feet tall. Besides corn, Wacos also grew beans, melons, peach trees, and pumpkins.
The Waco people spoke a Caddoan language. There is a dialect called Waco which is a branch of Wichita. As there is only one speaker of Wichita left, the dialect is extinct.
- Sturtevant, William C., general editor and Raymond D. Fogelson, volume editor. Handbook of North American Indians: Southeast. Volume 14. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2004. ISBN 0-16-072300-0.