Between 1500 and 1700 the name Jumanos was used to identify at least three distinct peoples of the Southwest and South Plains. They include the Tompiro-speaking Pueblo Indians in Salinas, a nomadic trading group based around the Rio Grande and Río Conchos, and the Caddoan-speaking Wichitas along the Arkansas River and Red River basins. Although they ranged over much of northern Mexico, New Mexico, and Texas, their most enduring territorial base was in central Texas between the lower Pecos River and the Colorado. The Jumanos were buffalo hunters and traders, and played an active role as middlemen between the Spanish colonies and various Indian tribes. The Jumanos hunted with bow and arrow. Spaniards remarked on the strength of their bows. The Jumanos obtained horses early, probably via their connections in Nueva Vizcaya, and may have been instrumental in introducing their use to the Caddo, Tonkawa, and other Texas tribes. In 1535 Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca visited the "People of the Cows," believed to have been a Jumano group, near La Junta, in Nueva Viscaya.

In the west, many Jumanos-like members of other defeated groups-were eventually incorporated into Apache bands. In central Texas, Jumanos were found among the detribalized Indians of the Ranchería Grande, and others may have taken refuge among their eastern allies. Finally, it is possible that a segment of the Jumanos-perhaps the horse-herding people of the Río Nueces-survived to become the nucleus of the Kiowa Indians, who appeared in the central plains toward the end of the eighteenth century.