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Snow Owl September 2004



Living on the upper Bayou Lafourche down to the coast, they were on the move constantly after the French arrival. They were lost to history in the 19th century. Washa means "Hunting Place," due to the abundance of game where they lived.

A small tribe, probably of Muskhogean stock, which, when first known to Europeans, inhabited the lower part of Bayou Lafourche, La., and hunted through the country between that river and the Mississippi. In 1699 Bienville made an unsuccessful attempt to open relations with them, but in 1718, after the close of the Chitimacha war, they were induced to settle on the Mississippi 3 leagues above New Orleans, and they appear to have remained near that place to the time of their extinction or their absorption by other tribes.

They were always closely associated with another small tribe called Chaouacha, with which, they finally became united. In 1805 Sibley stated that there were only four individuals of this tribe living scattered among various French families. The name Ouacha is perpetuated in that of a lake near the Louisiana coast, and it also appears as all alternative name for Lake Salvador.




Choctaw for "Raccoon Place," not much is known. It is believed that they were much like the Washa in geographic location and culture.

Chawasha. Meaning unknown, though possibly "raccoon place (people)."
Connections. A reference to this tribe and the Washa by Bienville places them in the Chitimacha division of the Tunican linguistic stock. I had erroneously concluded at an earlier period, on slender circumstantial evidence, that they were Muskhogeans.

Location. On Bayou La Fourche and eastward to the Gulf of Mexico and across the Mississippi.

History. After the relics of De Soto's army had escaped to the mouth of the Mississippi River and while their brigantines were riding at anchor there, they were attacked by Indians, some of whom had "staves, having very sharp heads of fish-bone." (See Bourne 1904, vol. 2, p. 202.) These may have belonged to the Chawasha and Washa tribes. The same two tribes are said, on doubtful authority, to have attempted to attack an English sea captain who ascended the Mississippi in 1699, but they were usually friendly to the French. In 1712 a they were moved to the Mississippi by Bienville and established themselves on the west side, just below the English Turn. In 1713 (or more probably 1715) they were attacked by a party of Chickasaw, Yazoo, and Natchez, who killed the head chief and many of his family, and carried off 11 persons as prisoners.

Before 1722 they had crossed to the east side of the river, half a league lower down. In 1730, in order to allay the panic in New Orleans following on the Natchez uprising of 1729 which resulted in the massacre of the Whites at Natchez, Governor Perrier allowed a band of Negro slaves to attack the Chawasha, and it is commonly reported that they were then destroyed. The French writer Dumont (1753) is probably right, however, when he states that only seven or eight adult males were killed.

At any rate they are mentioned as living with the Washa at Les Allemands on the west side of the Mississippi above New Orleans in 1739, and in 1758 they appear as constituting one village with the Washa. Except for one uncertain reference, this is the last we hear of them, but they may have continued for a considerable period longer before disappearing as a distinct body.




The Tunica were by far the best traders around. They were Natchez speakers made up of three tribes. The two Louisiana based tribes were the Taensa and the Avoyel. The Natchez were mainly in what is now Mississippi. The Avoyel faded away into history pretty fast. They made and traded stone projectiles and were known as "People of the Rocks."

Meaning "the people," or "those who are the people." Also called:
Yoron, their own name.

The Tunica Migration
Connections. They were the leading tribe of the Tunica group of the Tunican stock, the latter including also the Chitimacha and Atakapa.

Location. On the lower course of Yazoo River, on the south side about 4 French leagues from its mouth. (See also Arkansas.)

History. There is evidence that tribes belonging to the Tunica group were encountered by De Soto west of the Mississippi and very probably the name of the tribe is preserved in that of the town of Tanico mentioned by Elvas (in Robertson, 1933), where people made salt, for in later years we find the Tunica engaged in the making and selling of this commodity.

An early location for them on the eastern side of the Mississippi is indicated by the "Tunica Oldfields" near Friar Point, not many miles below Helena, Ark. The name appears on Marquette's map (1673) but there they are wrongly placed. In 1682 La Salle and his companions learned of this tribe, then located as given above, but neither he nor his lieutenant Tonti visited them on this or any subsequent expedition, though they learned of Tunica villages in the salt-making region of northeastern Louisiana.

The Yazoo town of the tribe was first seen, apparently, by three missionary priests from Canada, one of whom, Father Davion, established himself among them in 1699. In 1702 he fled from his charges, but two or three years later was induced by them to return, and he remained among them for about 15 years more. In 1706 this tribe left the Yazoo and were received into the Houma town nearly opposite the mouth of Red River, but later, according to La Harpe (1831), they rose upon their hosts and killed more than half of them, and for a long period they continued to live in the region they had thus appropriated.

They were firm friends of the French and rendered them invaluable service in all difficulties with the tribes higher up, and particularly against the Natchez, but in 1719 or 1720 Davion was so much discouraged at the Meager results of his efforts that he left them. The anger excited against them by their support of the French resulted in an attack by a large party of Natchez and their allies in 1731 in which both sides suffered severely and the head chief of the Tunica was killed.

The Tunica remained in the same region until some time between 1784 at 1803, when they moved up Red River and settled close to the present Marksville, La., on the land the Avoyel Indian village which they claimed to have bought from Avoyel tribe.

Before this event took place in company with the Ofo, Avoyel and some Choctaw, they attacked the pirogues of a British expedition ascending the Mississippi, killed six men, wounded seven, and compelled the rest to turn back. A few families descended from the Tunica are still settled on the site just mentioned, which forms a small reservation. Sibley (1832) says that in his time Tunica had settled among the Atakapa, and it was perhaps some of their descendants of whom Dr. Gatschet heard as living near Beaumont, Tex., about 1886. Mooney (1928) learned of some Tunica families in the southern part of the Choctaw Nation, Okla., but they had lost their old language.


The Apalachee are originally from what is now Florida. The Apalachee here in Louisiana are applying for recognition. They established themselves in Louisiana around 1835.

One of the principal native tribes of Florida, formerly holding the region north of the bay now called by the name, from about the neighborhood of Pensacola east to Ocilla River. The chief towns were about the present Tallahassee and St Marks. They were of Muskhogean stock, and linguistically more nearly related to the Choctaw than to the Creeks.
An early twentieth-century photograph records members of the Talimali Band of the Apalachee Indians living in Louisiana. Their current chief, Gilmer Bennett, is the son of Francis Vallery, standing far right. (Courtesy Talimali Band, The Apalachee Indians of Louisiana

The name is of uncertain etymology, but is believed by Gatschet to be from the
Choctaw Apalachi, signifying '(people) on the other side.'

The Apalachee were visited by the expeditions under Narvaez in 1528 and DeSoto in 1539, and the latter made their country his winter head quarters on account of its abundant resources for subsistence. The people were agricultural, industrious and prosperous, and noted above all the surrounding tribes for their fighting qualities, of which the Spanish adventurers had good proof.

They continued resistance to the Spanish occupancy until after the year 1600, but were finally subdued and Christianized, their country becoming the most important center of missionary effort in Florida next to the St Augustine (Timucua) district. In 1655 they had 8 considerable towns, each with a Franciscan mission, besides smaller settlements, and a total population of 6,000 to 8,000.

Their prosperity continued until about the year 1700, when they began to suffer front the raids by the wild Creek tribes to the north, instigated by the English government of Carolina, the Apalachee themselves being strongly in the Spanish interest.

These attacks culminated in the year 1703, when a powerful expedition under Gov. Moore of Carolina, consisting of a company of white troops with a thousand armed savage allies of various tribes, invaded the Apalachee country, destroyed the towns and missions, with their fields and orange groves, killed the Spanish garrison commander and more than 200 Apalachee warriors, and carried off 1,400 of the tribe into slavery.

Another expedition about a year later ravaged the neighboring territory and completed the destruction. The remnants of the Apalachee became fugitives among the friendly tribes or fled for protection to the French at Mobile, and although an effort was made by one of the Christian chiefs in 1718 to gather some of them into new mission villages (Soledad and San Luis) near Pensacola, the result was only temporarily successful.

A part of the deported Apalachee were colonized by the Carolina government on Savannah River, at a settlement known as Palachoocla (Palachi-okla), or Apalachicola, but were finally merged into the Creeks.

Those who settled under French protection near Mobile crossed the Mississippi into Louisiana after the cession of Florida to England in 1763, and continued to preserve their name and identity as late, at least, as 1804, when 14 families were still living on Bayou Rapide.


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