THE SEVEN MUSKOGEAN TRIBES
Houma means "Red." They may have
been an offshoot of the Chakchiuma, a Yazoo River Tribe. The Houma
lived from the Mississippi River to Angola. The tribal symbol was the
red crawfish. Iberville once noted observing 140 cabins arranged in a
circle with about 350 warriors in the village's population.
researchers universally accept the early history of the Houma
(1682-circa 1765). The tribe enters the historical record in the journal
of LaSalle in 1682 when the explorer notes that he passed their village
but does not visit them. They were visited by Tonti in 1686 and
D’Iberville in 1699 beginning a friendship with the French that
continues to this day.
In 1706 the Houma left their village, located at the site of the modern-day Angola Penitentiary, and began a southward migration that brought them to the area of the LaFourche Post in the mid-1700’s. Conflict arises when we attempt to connect these historic Houma with the United Houma Nation of today. Indeed the gist of the Bureau of Indian Affairs decision to not Federally Recognize the UHN is tied to this one point. In the opinion of this bureaucracy the tribe can not make this all-important historic tie-in. Presented here in this chapter is a simple presentation of facts that I feel were overlooked. They show a clear link between the United Houma Nation and the historic Houma Tribe.
In 1793, Judice ( 3 June 1793 PPC ) reports a Houma population that remained relatively stable over the preceding ten years;
“All the body of this ( Houma ) Nation forms no more than ninety persons.
15 in a village at Cantrelle’s
17 in a village at Verret’s
58 in a village at Judice’s
( 13 men, 22 women, 23 children )
whose places were all located near the confluence of Bayou LaFourche an the Mississippi River at Donaldsonville.”
Just downriver from the LaFourche at Cabahanoce ( St. James ), situated side by side, were the resident plantations of Judice, Cantrelle and Verret. In the forested backlands of these landholdings were the three Houma villages listed by Judice. These settlements had existed at least since 1783, corresponding with the end of Galvez’s campaigns against the British.
These types of settlements and their relationship to the colonial plantation system are well documented.
“By the nineteenth century….they moved to isolated areas-swamps and pinewoods-not in demand by the expanding plantation economy of the time. Planters used Indian hunters to augment their meat supplies, to track down runaway slaves and to provide entertainment. Stickball games and even traditional dances were held on the plantations to amuse the planter’s guest….The bands of Choctaw and other Indians were permitted to live in the back-swamps or in hill areas of plantations. Creole planters became patrons of these groups and frequently attempted to protect them from Anglo-American intruders.”( The Historic Indian Tribes of Louisiana, Kniffen, Gregory and Stokes 1987 )
By tracking the Houma references in the PPC and correlating the leaders most associated with the different planters ( Judice, Cantrelle and Verret ) I believe we get a clear picture of which tribal leader lead which band.
The 15 at Cantrelle’s were lead by Mico-Houma or Chac-Chouma, at Judice’s was the remnant of Calabe’s band, numbering 58, now lead by Mingo Oujo, while at Verret’s was the band of 17 lead by Natiabe. It is this band at Verret’s that would become the ancestors of the UHN.
With Nicolas Verret and the PPC reference to a Houma village on his plantation comes a firm historic link. Nicolas Verret had a liaison with a woman named Marianne ( parentage unknown ), a free woman of color. From this union two sons are born, Zenon and Paulin Verret. These two eventually marry into the UHN ancestral community and have extensive documented relationships with known UHN ancestors. It is not, therefore, unreasonable to assume that Marianne, her sons and the UHN ancestors were all part of the Houma settlement at Verret’s in 1793.
The Houma village on Bayou Cane, called Whiskey Point by the local settlers [ a corruption of Ouisky the Houma word for cane ] was initially established as a seasonal settlement, probably while they were still at Verrets.
“From all indications, Indians moved freely from plantation to plantation to hunt and possibly raise crops for themselves and their patrons.” ( Bill Starna 1996 )
It is important to note that Verret had a large land grant on Bayou Terrebonne that encompassed the Bayou Cane area. Bayou Terrebonne and the surrounding area at this time was a vast wilderness virtually uninhabited by any save the Indians.
“….Finally, few Acadians dared to explore, and only seven families actually occupied lands in the densely forested, natural levee along Bayou Terrebonne.” (The Founding of New Acadia, Carl Brassaux, 1987)
The early church records of the UHN ancestral community such as the 1808 marriage of Jacques Billiot and Rosalie Courteau and the 1809 marriage of Michel Dardar and Adelaide Billiot were witnessed by landowners from upper Bayou Terrebonne such as Thibodaux and Malbough. It is the Bayou Cane village and the Indians that lived there that became the namesake of the town founded in 1834.
“Court, in the early days of the Parish, was held in a little building on Bayou Cane. On May 10th, 1834, Richard H. Grange and Hubert M. Belanger donated to the Parish of Terrebonne the property on which the present Courthouse and other public buildings are situated. This land was valued at the time at $ 150. The land on each side of this was laid off into town lots and the town of Houma came into existence, bearing the name of the Indian tribe that lived and loved and worshipped among its groves, the ancient Houmas, which means the sun….” (Directory of the Parish of Terrebonne, E.C.Wurzlow, 1897)
Also of note are the oral histories of the tribe that tell of the Houma Courthouse being built on Rosalie Courteau’s land. The misunderstanding has been that it was not the modern courthouse but rather the original one on Bayou Cane. Sometime after the American takeover in 1803 the Houma tribe filed a claim to twelve sections of land, 7680 acres, on Bayou Black/Boeuf.
“The Houma tribe of Indians claims a tract of land lying on Bayou Boeuf or Bayou Black, containing twelve sections. We know of no law of the United States by which a tribe of Indians have a right to claim land as a donation.” ( ASP 1834 3:265, 1817 )
This appears to be an attempt by the Houma to secure a land base in the face of a growing White population. Likely, they hoped the American Government would honor the Louisiana Purchase Agreement in which they promised to continue the Louisiana Colonial land policies that respected, for the most part, tribal landclaims.
Unfortunately the claim was rejected but it stands as evidence of a Houma presence in the area during this period. At this time Bayou Black ( called Bayou Boeuf on its western end ) flowed from the swamplands northwest of the town of Houma. The bayou cut through the backlands of the tribes Bayou Cane settlement, hence it would be logical to assume that the tribe at Bayou Cane and the tribe that filed the landclaim where one in the same.
It is the contention of the BIA’s Branch of Acknowledgement and Research that the ancestors of the UHN were not a tribe at the beginning of the nineteenth century but rather a few Indian individuals who married into the surrounding population and eventually produced a separate community.
This theory is clearly contradicted by the following chart (1) of baptisms. The initial perception has been that they took place within a white community but a closer examination of the dates ( Monday July 7th, and Tuesday July 8th, 1817 and Wednesday Dec. 16th, and Thursday Dec. 17th, 1818 ) reveal these to be mid-week services taking place within the UHN community.
The White sponsors of the baptisms were, for the most part, a single extended family that lived near the Houma’s lower bayou settlement.It may have been in there house that the actual service was held, the nature of the service was describe a couple generations later.
“I went to visit all those families who cannot come to church. These visits took me two weeks…to see those who are in the islands neighboring Bayou Terrebonne. The people are not able to come to church. I go from time to time among them for baptisms and communions. These are practically all decent well-disposed Indians. I have already given communion to a good many of them. When I arrive among these people they gather ( from ) all the islands to attend Mass. I say in the house most suitable. One sees that the sight of a priest makes them happy and it is with sorrow that they see me leave them. The day of departure ( having ) come, they take great pleasure in taking me to the embarkation”. ( Fr. Dene’ce to Monsignor, 10 Dec., 1868 )
With these records we see a single Houma community in the early nineteenth century, with no distinction between Billiot, Courteau or Verdin. As the community continues we see it again in 1836 ( chart 2 ) as the tribe attempts to secure another land base, this time in the wilderness west of Pointe Coupee near the town of Fordoce. Perhaps it was the efforts of the American Government at the time to remove tribes to the Indian Territory that persuaded the Houma to abandon this area but it does serve to show the continuation of a Houma community.
Lastly, we consider the history of Abbe Rouquette and the St. Tammany Choctaw. Father Rouquette was a missionary to the Choctaw community centered around Bayou LaCombe in the mid to late 1800’s. Twice in the text is mention of the Indians of Barataria who are invited to the annual Feast of the Dead and are also invited to the funeral of Abbe Rouquette in 1887. At this time the ancestors of the UHN are known to inhabit the Barataria area.
By tying these scattered documents and references into a single narrative we see a single Houma community from 1783 on into the late nineteenth century. A community that links directly to the modern United Houma Nation.
This clearly contradicts the Branch’s assertion that the Houma of Bayou Terrebonne between 1809 and 1820 “….did not live in a distinct, identifiable Indian community-geographically, socially or politically.”
And it shows that their decision to not recognize
the UHN was based on bias and ignorance. (text by T. Mayheart Dardar)
means "Bayou People." They called themselves ISCHENOCE which means
"Ours." They lived on what is at present the Bayou Goula. The tribal
totem was the alligator.
(Choctaw: Báyuk-ókla 'bayou people')
A Muskhogean tribe which in 1700 lived with the Mugulasha in a village on the west bank of the Mississippi, about 64 leagues above the mouth and 30 leagues below the Human town. Lemoyne d'Iberbille (Margry, Dec., IV 170-172, 1880) gives a brief description of their village which he says contained 2 temples and 107 cabins; that a fire was kept constantly burning in the temples, and near the door were kept many figures of animals, as the bear, wolf, birds, and in particular the choucoüacha, or opossum, which appeared to be a chief deity or image to which offerings were made. At this time they numbered 200-250 men, probably including the Mugulasha. Not long after the Bayogoula almost exterminated the Mugulasha as the result of a dispute between the chiefs of the two tribes, but the former soon fell victim to a similar act of treachery, since having received the Tonica into their village in 1706, they were surprised and almost all massacred by their perfidious guests (La Harpe, Jour. Hist. La., 98, 1831) Smallpox destroyed most of the remainder, so that by 1721 not a family was known to exist.
Choctaw and Cherokee Indians were forcibly removed from Mississippi and
the Carolinas in the early 1800's. They brought with them some of their
Spanish livestock which included the versatile Spanish Colonial Horse.
Resettled into Eastern Oklahoma, the same Choctaw and Cherokee continued
to raise their horses.
In the 1970's as the old Indians began to die off, the ponies were sold and almost became extinct as a distinct breed strain. These Indian horses were saved largely due to the efforts of Gilbert Jones and Bryant and Darlene Rickman along with some others.
Today there are several small herds with most being bred by Bryant and Darlene Rickman of Soper, OK. Our small herd at Pelt Farm came from the Rickman's. For youth, women and many men, this (13-2h to 14-2h) pony is an ideal horse.
name means "Those who see and hear." They were a boarder tribe and
probably served as lookouts. Along with the Tangipahoa, they are
estimated at about 1500 in population. They lived along the Pearl River
to the mouth. After 1700 they moved to Lake Pontchartrain, on Bayou
Costine, to escape French slave hunters. Then disease in 1718 forced
them to move just above New Orleans on the Mississippi River. After
that, the Acolapissa faded away, mixing into the Houma tribe.
An indefinite group, of Choctaw lineage, formerly living on Lake Ponchartrain, about the coast lagoons, and on the Mississippi, in Louisiana. Early French writers derived the name from the Choctaw káklo pisa, 'those who listen and see.' Allen Wright, governor of the Choctaw nation, suggests okla pima, 'those who look out for people'; that is, watchmen, guardians, spies, which probably refers to their position, where they could observe entrance into or departure from the lake and river. The name appears to have been made by early author; to include several tribes,
Bayogoula, Mugniasha, and others. According to Iberville the Acolapissa
had 7 towns; but one of their villages was occupied by the Tangiboa, who
appear to have been a different tribe. The Acolapissa are said to have
suffered severely from an epidemic about 1700, and Iberville says they
united with the Mugulasha; if so, they must have been included in those
massacred by the Bayogoula, but this is rendered doubtful by the
statement of Penicaut (French Hist. Coll. La., n.s.i, 144, 1869) that in
1718 the Colapissa, who inhabited the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain,
removed to the Mississippi and settled 13 leagues above New Orleans.
people lived near present day Hahnville on the Mississippi River all the
way down to the mouth. Quinapisa means "Those who see," which is
believed to reflect an identical status as the Acolapissa. Almost
nothing is known about them.
The Quinipissa belonged to the southern division of the Muskhogean stock and probably were very closely related to the Choctaw.
There may have been a connection between this tribe, the Acolapissa.) and the Napissa or Napochi. They were met first by La Salle and his companions when the latter were on their way to the Gulf of Mexico in 1682. They treated the explorers in a hostile manner but made peace with Tonti in 1686. When Iberville ascended the river in 1699, no tribe of the name was to be found, but later it was learned that the chief of' the Mugulasha tribe, the then forming one village with the Bayogo was the same chief who had had dealings with La Salle and Tonti. According to some writers, the Mugulasha were identical with the Quinipissa; according to others, the Mugulasha had absorbed the remains of the Quinipissa.
In May 1700, the Bayogoula rose against the
Mugulasha and destroyed them as a tribe, though they probably adopted
many individuals. We hear nothing further regarding them.
Mugulash is a corruption of the Choctaw name
IMONGOLOSHA, meaning "People of the other side."
A former tribe, related to the Choctaw, living on the w. bank of the Mississippi, 64 leagues from the sea, in a village with the Bayogoula, whose language they spoke. They are said variously to have been the tribe called Quinipissa by La Salle and Tonti, and encountered by them some distance lower down the river, or to have received the remnants of that tribe reduced by disease. At all events their chief was chief over the Quinipissa when La Salle and Tonti encountered them. In January or February, 1700, the Bayogoula attacked the Mugulasha and killed nearly all of them. The name has a generic signification, 'opposite people' Imuklasha in Choctaw and was applied to other tribes, as Muklassa among the Creeks and West Imongolasha on Chickasawhay river, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the various bodies one from another. Among the Choctaw it usually refers to people of the opposite phratry from that to which the speaker belongs.
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