Coushatta boy planting
Christmas trees, Louisiana
Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States (Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma)|
|English, Koasati language|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Alabama, other Muscogee peoples|
When first encountered by Europeans, they lived in the territory of present-day Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. Under pressure from Anglo-American colonial settlement, after 1763 and the French defeat in the Seven Years War, they began to move west into Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, then under Spanish rule, where they were resettled by the early 19th century. Some of the Coushatta and the closely allied Alabama were removed west to Oklahoma in the 1830s under Indian Removal, together with other Muscogee (Creek) peoples.
Today, Coushatta people are enrolled in three federally recognized tribes:
- Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas
- Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town in Wetumka, Oklahoma
- Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana.
The Koasati language is part of the Apalachee-Alabama-Koasati branch of the Muskogean languages. An estimated 200 people spoke the language in 2000, which most of them living in Louisiana. The language is written in the Latin script.
The Coushatta were traditionally agriculturalists, growing a variety of maize beans and squash, and supplementing their diet by hunting game and fish. They are known for their skill at basketry. Nearly all the Spanish expeditions (including the 1539-1543 Hernando de Soto Expedition) into the interior of Spanish Florida recorded encountering the original town of the tribe. They referred to them as Coste, with their nearby neighbors being the Chiaha, Chiska, Yuchi, Tasquiqui, and Tali. Their town was most likely in the Tennessee River Valley. (Click here for a list of towns encountered by the Hernando de Soto Expedition.)
Under pressure from new European settlers in the 17th-18th centuries, the Coushatta made treaties and ceded land, and they migrated west into present-day Alabama. Along the way they established their town at Nickajack (Ani-Kusati-yi, or Koasati-place, in Cherokee) in the current Marion County, Tennessee. Later they founded a major settlement at the north end of Long-Island-on-the-Tennessee, which is bisected by the present-day Tennessee-Alabama stateline. By the time of the American Revolution, they had moved many miles down the Tennessee River where their town is recorded as Coosada. In the 18th centuries, some of the Coushatta (Koasati) joined the emerging Creek Confederacy, where they became known as part of the "Upper Creek". They were closely related to the Alabama Indians. Once part of the Creek Confederacy, the Coushatta tribe split and went to South Louisiana.
Notable chiefs among the Coushatta were the successive Long King and Colita, who led the people settled in present-day Polk County, Texas in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Colita's Village preceded the European-American development of Livingston, Texas.
20th century to present
In 1972, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana achieved state recognition as a tribe. A year later it gained federal recognition. The tribe has acquired 685 acres (2.77 km2) of reservation, which is held in trust by the United States Department of the Interior. In the twentieth century, the Coushatta people in Louisiana began cultivating rice and crawfish on tribally-owned farms, where most of the current population resides.
In the 1990s, the Coushatta of Louisiana hired the lobbyist Jack Abramoff to assist in the establishment of gambling on their reservation. They were victims of the Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal. The tribe has established gaming on its reservation, as well as tax-free sales of certain items. The initiatives have raised significant revenues, but the state filed suit to stop the specific class of gaming. Litigation is underway.
Retired United States District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana F. A. Little, Jr., of Alexandria, Louisiana, serves as chief judge for the tribe.
The Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town in Wetumka, Oklahoma achieved federal recognition in 1939, following passage of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act of 1936. In addition, its people have dual citizenship in the federally recognized Muscogee Creek Nation. It has an enrolled population of 380.
- "Koasati." Ethnologue. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
- Hudson, Charles M. (1997). Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun. University of Georgia Press.
- "Alabama-Coushatta Indians", Texas Handbook Online
- Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, accessed 25 Apr 2010
- "F. A. Little, Jr. (Ret.)". fedarb.com. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
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