New Caddo Grass House Draws Visitors



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Teachers and presenters of the Caddo Mounds annual teachers’ workshop pose outside the newly constructed grass house.

Photo by Jeff Williams

A replica of ancient civilization rises up from East Texas with the tradition-based construction of a grass house near Alto, Texas.

Members of the Caddo tribe and a host of volunteers built the grass house which depicts life among the Native Americans who lived there 1,200 years ago. Now called the Caddo Mounds State Historical Site, the location was the most southwestern ceremonial center for the tribe known for building great earthen mounds, three of which are still visible there today.

The site was incomplete without a replica of the dwellings and so work began on a grass house earlier this year and completed in July, replacing a grass house that fell in disrepair years before. 

More than 70 volunteers assisted Caddo authority Phil Cross of Oklahoma in the construction that started with extensive bundling of tall grasses grown on the property. 

Rachel Galen, an interpreter for the site, says it’s the only Caddo grass house built on Caddo homeland in the U.S.

“We are currently working with Caddo artists and others to furnish the house. Our goal is for people to walk in and feel like they have entered a home — warm, welcoming, and completely liveable,” she said.

Tours of the 25-foot house are self-guided, but group tours are also available if scheduled in advance.

The historical park is located at 1649 State Highway 21 West, southwest of Alto. Learn more at thc.texas.gov/historic-sites/caddo-mounds-state-historic-site or call 936.858.3218.

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