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Encounters on the Land

The first floor of exhibits explores the people of Texas beginning with the thousands of Native Peoples who lived here for at least 11,000 years before the arrival of Europeans. There were hundreds of different groups with a variety of languages, customs, and beliefs. Learn about the aboriginal inhabitants of Texas through a rotating showcase of artifacts including pottery, weapons, jewelry, and clothing dating back 4000 years.

When the Spaniards, and later the French and others, entered the story in the 1500s, they found what they thought was a New World. Check out hundreds of objects —including an ornate bronze cannon and the skeleton of a crew member— recovered from the 17th century shipwreck La Belle. Captained by the French explorer La Salle, the wreck of La Belle changed our understanding of how European powers wrestled over colonizing this New World.

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