Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas
Sign at the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation east of Livingston, Texas
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States ( Texas)|
|English, Alabama, Koasati|
|traditional tribal religion, Protestant Christianity|
|Related ethnic groups|
|other Alabama and Koasati people|
The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas is a Federally recognized tribe of Alabama and Koasati in Polk County, Texas. The tribe hosts an annual powwow in early June. These peoples are descended from members of the historic Muscogee or Creek Confederacy of numerous tribes in the southeast United States, particularly Georgia and Alabama.
They are one of six Federally recognized tribes whose members are descended from the Creek Confederacy of the Southeast. Four tribes are located in Oklahoma, where most of the Creek were removed in the 1830s under Indian Removal.
Under pressure from European-American settlement, the ancestors of this tribe were Alabama and Coushatta peoples who migrated from Alabama and the Southeast into Louisiana and finally east Texas when it was under Spanish rule in the late eighteenth century. They settled in an area known as Big Thicket and adapted their culture to the environment of forest and waters.
When the area began to be settled by European Americans from the United States, the tribes established friendly relations and traded with the new settlers. Sam Houston helped protect them during years of conflicts with other Native Americans in the area. After annexation of Texas by the United States, settlement increased and the tribes were under pressure again. They appealed to the state to have land set aside for their exclusive use.
The Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation was established in 1854, when the state bought "1,110.7 acres of land for the Alabama Indian reservation. About 500 tribe members settled on this land during the winter of 1854–55. In 1855 the Texas legislature appropriated funds to purchase 640 acres for the Coushattas" but never followed through. The Coushatta began to live with the Alabama on their reservation.
Both the peoples struggled after the Civil War, as few spoke English and they had difficulty finding jobs. They acquired more land and today their reservation is 4,593.7 acres large, located 17 miles east of Livingston, Texas. About half the tribe, or 500 people, live on the reservation.
The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas is headquartered in Livingston, Texas. The tribe is governed by a democratically elected seven-member council, as well as a principal chief and second chief who serve for life. The current administration is as follows:
- Principal Chief: Oscola Clayton Sylestine
- Second Chief: Colabe Clem Sylestine
- Chairman: Kyle Williams
- Vice-Chairman: Clint Poncho
- Treasurer: Pete Polite
- Secretary: Melanie Battise
- Council: Nita Battise
- Council: Ronnie Poncho
- Council: Roland Thomas.
- Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1
- Wray, Dianna. "The Alabama-Coushatta Still Exist and Are Doing What They Need to Do to Continue", Houston Press. 13 November 2013.
- Wray, Dianna. "Cover Story: Dreamcatchers", Houston Press, 13 November 2013.
- Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, official website