Death of Koo-Hoot Kiwat: The Caddo Grass House
Jeffrey M. Williams
President, Friends of Caddo Mounds State Historic Site
A traditional Caddo grass house was built at Caddo Mounds State Historic Site near Alto, Texas during the summer of 2016. The fully functional grass house was constructed through a partnership with the Caddo Nation and the Friends of Caddo Mounds. The grass house was stocked with Caddo hand-made goods including pottery, split river cane baskets, bois-d-arc bows, arrows, hides, and feather goods illustrating the functionality of the home. A documentary recorded the construction of the Caddo house from the identification and collection of raw materials through the final thatching. The 30-minute documentary aired on PBS last November reaching 47 million households nationwide.
In April of 2019, during our annual Caddo Culture Day, the grass house took a direct hit from an F3 tornado completely destroying it. Five people were in the house but survived. The museum collapsed without warning from the tornado’s impact while the Caddo were dancing trapping more than 40 visitors. This is a story of survival and our new path forward to rebuild Koo-Hoot Kiwat. It is a story of renewal, rebirth, and the strength of the community that developed from Sha-Ho, the Caddo word for a shared tornado experience.