Map 16 Prehistoric Indians of Louisiana

Place names everywhere…including ‘bayou’ and “mississippi’

Paleo-Indians (15,000-6,000 BC)

All plotted by their archeological remains…especially spear points.

Paleo Indians are largely distinguished by their hunting and gathering economic system.

Mostly gathering early on.

Not much work required of hunters and gathers, but lots of land and occasionally migration.

Did they hunt to extinction the mammoth, mastadon, giant ground sloths? (12,000 on)

Evidence sketchy because of the geologic changes since. Most territory now under water or alluvium.

The combination of hunting and gathering…makes the Archaic designation, which really made life easier and populations larger.

Women were apparently on the verge of domesticating marsh elder, aramanth and chenopod

Meso-Indians (6,000-2,000 BC)

Replaces the nomadic existence of the H/G cultures.

Still hunt, but more settled and the domestication of plants begins.

Use of fire explains some of the forest cover.  Europeans and later tribes copied the practice.

Slash and burn agriculture…are present day burnings a hold-out?

Complex social structures and civilization begins.

Pottery, jewelry, religious ceremonies

Poverty Point

2000-200 bc

Bayou Macon in West Carroll parish

Bird effigy mound

Largest structure in the US before the 20th centry.

The semicircle mounds have a diameter of 3/4ths a mile…10 times larger than stonehenge.

Was the heart of a large regional culture that stretched from Missouri to Florida.

Wide trading network

5000 people

standard: hunter, herdsman, farmer, city dweller, civilized.

geographer: gatherer, farmer and then became civilized before he moved into a city.

Poverty pointers were not farmers

But how to produce such surpluses???

No ‘set-up’ culture with a precdent of this magnitude.

Manufacturing site for jewelry, beads etc.  not just a trading site.

Probably a diffusion of ideas, commericial, political and religious from another area, perhaps Mexico around 2000 bc.

Urban heirarchy existed within the poverty point culture.

Tchefuncte Culture-lake ponchartrain

Marksville culture-Avoyelles Parish-part of the Hopewell culture 100 bc

Troyville Culturae-Jonesville

Neo-Indians (2,000 BC – to present)

Maize beans, squash, melons, sunflowers and tobacco

Were still on hand when DeSoto arrived.

Intercropping: Hill tillage, corn in the middle, beans next to them, then squash and pumpkins, which provide erosion protection…self-sustaining, no weeding, but pollination sometimes had to be assisted.

Were in a down period socially, politically when Europeans arrived.

Map 17-22 Louisiana Indians 1700

When the French arrived there were six groups segregated by linguistic characteristics.

Mostly lived along rivers and lakes in small villages.

Nucleated town plan, centered around a square where the chief lived.

Agricultural and fishing, gathering and trade

Mobilian was the language of commerce, was apparently a Choctawan pidgin

Was not strictly a barter economy, shells and pearls also served as currency.

Long history of intertribal warfare

The arrival of Europeans complicated and aggravated the tribal tensions, brought disease and eventual elimination of many of the tribes and cultures.


Adai, Doustioni, Natchitoches, Oachita, Yatasi

Had connections to the plains tribes of the West and Texas.

Caddoans were allied with the French, eventually ceded their land to the US, were moved to Texas and eventually into Oklahoma.


Koroa, Tunica and Yazoo

Tunica-Biloxi tribe is federally recongized today.

Koroa, were allies of the Natchez against the French


Natchez, Taensa, Avoyel

Battled the French in the early 1700s on a number of occasions.


Houma, Bayougoula, Acolapissa, Quinaisa, Okelousa and Tangipahoa

The Houma still exist and are recognized by state authorities as a tribe.


Chitimacha, Washa and Chawasa

Bayou oriented and remote for sometime

Chitimacha are a federally recognnized tribe, living near Charenton


Atakapan and Opelousa?

Immigrant Indians

Some that had allied with the French were moved west across the Mississippi after 1763, when the Fr lost to the Br.

The Spanish got much of the territory west of the Miss. after 1763, and tried to employ the indians to their advantage against the Br.


Smallpox, mumps, yellow fever…concurrent.


Guns, warfare, reorganization of indian economy around european ideals



Really helped speed the process of Europeanization because the landscape was already humanized quite well.



Willingness of the British Southerners to accept indian farming techniques may have given them a substantial advantage over the Fr. And the Sp.


Kosati in Allen parish retain the most cultural identity

Several thousand of various other tribes are scattered throughout the state.

Only 593 indians in the 1900 census, but as many as 12,000 today.

There is a Louisiana inter-tribal council

American Indian Center in Baton Rouge

Biggest news of late is the introduction of gaming onto tribal lands


Bibliography (poverty point)

Broyles, Bettye J. and Clarence H. Webb (editors)

     1970 The Poverty Point Culture. Bulletin No. 12. Southeastern

     Archaeological Conference, Morgantown, West Virginia.


     Byrd, Kathleen M. (editor)

     1986 Recent Research at the Poverty Point Site. Louisiana Archaeology


     No. 13. Louisiana Archaeological Society, Lafayette.


     1991 The Poverty Point Culture, Local Manifestations, Subsistence

     Practices, and Trade Networks. Geoscience & Man Vol. 29. Louisiana

     State University, Baton Rouge.


     Ford, James A.

     1955 The Puzzle of Poverty Point. Natural History 64(9):466-472.


     Ford, James A. and Clarence H. Webb

     1956 Poverty Point, a Late Archaic Site in Louisiana. Anthropological

     Papers Vol. 46, Pt. 1. American Museum of Natural History, New



     Gibson, Jon L.

     1987 The Poverty Point Earthworks Reconsidered. Mississippi

     Archaeology 22(2):14-31.


     Gibson, Jon L. (editor)

     1980 Caddoan and Poverty Point Archaeology: Essays in Honor of

     Clarence Hungerford Webb. Louisiana Archaeology 6 for 1979.

     Louisiana Archaeological Society, Lafayette.


     1994 Exchange in the Lower Mississippi Valley and Contiguous Areas

     at 1100 B.C. Louisiana Archaeology No. 17 for 1990. Louisiana

     Archaeological Society, Lafayette.


     Jackson, H. Edwin

     1991 The Trade Fair in Hunter-Gatherer Interaction: The Role of

     Intersocietal Trade in the Evolution

     of Poverty Point Culture. In Between Bands and States, edited by Susan

     A. Gregg, pp. 265-286. Occasional Paper No. 9. Center for

     Archaeological Investigations. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.


     Webb, Clarence H.

     1968 The Extent and Content of Poverty Point Culture. American

     Antiquity 33:297-321.


     1977 The Poverty Point Culture. Geoscience & Man Vol. 17. Louisiana

     State University, Baton Rouge. (2nd edition, revised, published in 1982).