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The legend of the Karankawa gods, oysters and rain

By Jan Edwards/ The Bulletin

Fish and oysters are a part of the edible treasures of the coast and play dominant roles in coastal legends. I guess because they are so plentiful and are relatively easy to catch and eat – thus sustaining life or later making meals fit for kings – they are a part of several legends.

One oyster tale explains the ghostly fiddler’s strains on the San Bernard. Yet another legend tells us how oysters came into being – and why it rains so much along the coast. That tale also explains how the Karankawa Indians came to live in this area.

The following tale, passed down through local Indian lore, is a story of the origin of the Karankawas, also known as “Fish Eaters.” They were here when Stephen F. Austin brought the original 300 to this area and are a part of this area’s not-so-distant past.

The image of the Karankawas is colored by their description – they were tall, muscular, and naked, covered only in stinky bear grease and mud, cannibalistic, and unemotional. The Karankawas mysteriously vanished – became a lost tribe – after the battle at Jones Creek in 1824. (That battle started at the store of another local legend, Brit Bailey, and escalated – but that’s another story.) This is the story of their origin.

Suspend reality for a couple of minutes and take this flight of legendary fantasy.

According to the legend, the very first Karankawa was the child of the sun god and the moon goddess. They lived together in the sky in wedded bliss, resulting in the birth of the first Karankawa.

The clouds in the sky were the platform where his oyster shell cradle rocked him to sleep by the gentle rocking of the sea breezes. One day, the sun god and the moon goddess got into a family quarrel.

It must have gotten pretty heated because their baby’s cradle was knocked over, and he fell into the Gulf of Mexico. So, the legend says, the first Karankawa came to the shore from the sea, and he ate fish.

In his ocean voyage, he had been protected by the oyster shell, and, as a result, Karankawas revered the oyster.

And the rain along the coast? Well, that’s his mother still crying for the loss of her son. That kind of leads one to wonder if hurricanes, then, can be attributed to the sun god and the moon goddess up there having yet another humdinger of a family quarrel.

Maybe they should seek marriage counseling!

People of the Texas Gulf Coast and the seafood found here are the breeding grounds for legendary stories.

The Brazoria County coastline is rich in both and just waiting for new visitors and the local citizenry to discover the delights of both.

(Jan wants to hear from you. Write her in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)