"Outside in the darkened lot groups of wretched Tonkawas stood in the mud"
John Williams, Tonkawa chief
Creative Commons AttributionJohn Williams, Tonkawa chief - Credit: Boston Public Library
Tonkawa chiefs (c. 1898)
Public DomainTonkawa chiefs (c. 1898) - Credit: Frank Rinehart

The Tonkawa (from Waco ‘They all stay together’) are a Native American people indigenous to Oklahoma and Texas.

Originally inhabitants of northeastern Oklahoma, Apache aggression and encroachment by American settlers throughout the 19th century pushed the tribe into south west Texas and northern Mexico. By the 1860s, Tonkawa Indians were a common sight in the town of Fort Griffin, given its proximity to their village on the Clear Fork of the Brazos.

The Tonkawa may have numbered around 5,000 in the 15th century, but disease and conflict with the Apache and other tribes had reduced their numbers to only thirty-four by 1921. The population did begin to recover towards the close of the 20th century, and presently the Tonkawa have 593 enrolled tribal members.