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The Tonkawa lived in central Texas near modern Austin. Their historical territory was along the Balcones Escarpment between Austin and San Antonio. Originally the Tonkawa had a larger territory that included the hill country around Llano and Mason Texas. This is the Edwards Plateau region west of Austin and San Antonio. They would roam all the way over to the Brazos river. Later, around 1600, the Apache and even later, around 1750, the Comanche moved into the region and pushed the Tonkawa out and east of the Edwards Plateau. This is where they were in most of the Spanish period and all of the Texan/ American periods of history. They lived just to the east of, and along, the Edwards escarpment. They were friendly with the Karankawa and shared the lands between the Karankawa homelands and their homelands. The Spanish often found these two tribes camped out together in these shared lands. They also shared land with the Coahuiltecan tribes to the south of them. Bexar county (San Antonio) was a mix of Tonkawa in the north and Coahuiltecan tribes in the south. Travis and Williamson counties shared land with the Wichita tribes.

The Tonkawa also seem to have been hosts for many other tribes. At the springs in San Marcos and New Braunfels a dozen or more tribes from all over Texas were found by Spanish travelers. These were trade camps where the Caddo, Jumano and Coahuiltecan tribes would come to camp with the Tonkawa for several months in the summer. While there they would hunt buffalo on the blackland plains just to the east and trade goods and news. This region the Tonkawa lived in was a sort of crossroads between the tribes from north east south and west. All this means the Tonkawa were friendly and wanted to get along with other peoples. This can be seen in the way they seem to have been able to get along with the American settlers better than the other tribes.

Then on the other hand, here is one other example of Tonkawas "great" friendliness:

Accounts of Tonkawa cannibalism in graphic detail are abundent in historical sourses. Noah Smithwick lived among the Tonkawas and recalled a cannibal feast on Webber's Prairie:

After killing and scalping a Comanche, the Tonkawas were on the vengeance trail with a company of revently despoiled Texans, their allies refused to persue the cause, `further saying they must return home to celebrate the event,' which they accordingly did so by a feast and scalp dance. Having slashing-off the flesh of the dead Comanche meat, together with alot of corn and potatoes. When the stew was sufficiently cooked and cooled, to allow it to be ladled out with their hands, the whole tribe gathered around, dripping it up with their hands and eating it greedily. Having gorged themselves, they lay down and slept till night, when the entertainment was concluded with a Scalp Dance.