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The Acolapissa were a small tribe of Native Americans. Traditions have them living on the shores of the Pearl River, between Louisiana and Mississippi before 1702. This made them one of four tribes, along with the Bayogoula, Biloxi, and Pascagoula who inhabited the gulf coast of Mississippi at the time of the European arrival. After that time, they moved further west, into the area around the future New Orleans. Pressured by European settlement of the area and disease, the small tribe eventually merged into the Houma, which now live in and around Houma, Louisiana. Estimates put the current[update] population of the Houma tribe at around 11,000 persons. The U.S. government denied a petition for federal status for the Houma in 1994.
The Acolapissa had six villages. The Tangipahoa had constituted a seventh village but broke away some time before 1700 to form a separate tribe. In 1699 a band of 200 Chickasaw led by two English slave traders attacked them, intending to take them as slaves to South Carolina.
The name Acolapissa means "those who listen and see" in the Choctaw language. Other names for the tribe included: Aqueloupissa, Cenepisa, Colapissa, Coulapissa, Equinipicha, Kinipissa, Kolapissa, and Mouisa.
The Acolapissa adorned their bodies with tattoos, since they wore little clothing due to their location.
Some sources indicate that the Acolapissa may have been the same tribe as the Quinipissa or the Tangipahoa. According to several sources related to the Houma, tribes in the area of Lake Ponchartrain called them Mugulashai.
European sources classify the tribe as "extinct", even though most historic writings indicate the Acolapissa joined with the Houma in the era following European entrance into their lands.
- Gibson, Arrell M. "The Indians of Mississippi" in McLemore, Richard Audrey, ed. A History of Mississippi Vol. 1, p. 69
- Swanton, John R. The Indians of the Southeastern United States published as Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology bulletin 137 (United States Government Printing Office: Washington, 1946) p. 82
- Bushnell, David I., Jr. Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 48: The Choctaw of Bayou Lacomb, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1909.
- Swanton, John Reed. The Indian Tribes of North America. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1959.