Huntsville was a campground well before it became a park. Permanent flowing fresh water, walnut, hickory, persimmon, water fowl, fish, shellfish, and plenty of other plants and wildlife drew Native Americans here. For them, Huntsville was a land of plenty.
When Europeans first came to this area in the 1500s, this was Bidai territory. The Bidai are a mystery. Historians think they were related to the Akokisa, an Atakapa band. But they imitated the Caddo way of life in their villages. The Bidai were famers, hunters and gatherers. Occasionally, they would venture to the coast to trade.
The tribe lost half its members to an epidemic in 1776-77. Most of the remaining members joined Caddo and Atakapan tribes. The last remaining Bidai left the area for a reservation on the Brazos River in 1854. After a later move to a reservation in Oklahoma, they lost their identity as a distinct cultural group. The Bidai were no more.
Spaniards established the first European settlement in this area 34 miles north of the present-day park in 1774. Many more settlers followed.
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