Taensa

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Taensa
Total population
(Extinct as a tribe)
Regions with significant populations
United States (Louisiana, Alabama)
Languages
Taensa
Religion
Native tribal religion
Related ethnic groups
Natchez people

The Taensa (also Tensas, Tensaw, and grands Taensas in French[citation needed]) were a Native American people whose early settlements, approximately 1,200 people in several villages, had their former locations in present-day Tensas Parish, Louisiana.[1] The Taensa ultimately migrated as a result of Chickasaw and Yazoo hostilities, first lower down the river, but ultimately, protected by the French, to lands near the current eponymous Tensas river near Mobile, Alabama ca. 1740.[1] The meaning of the name, which has the further variants Taënsa,[citation needed] Taenso,[2] Tinsas,[citation needed] Tenza or Tinza, Tahensa or Takensa, and Tenisaw,[2] is unknown, although it is believed[weasel words] to be an autonym.[according to whom?][citation needed]

When Mobile, Alabama was ceded by the French to the English in 1763, the Taena and other small tribes returned to Louisiana, settling near the Red River; they numbered about 100 persons in 1805. They later moved south to Bayou Boeuf and later still to Grand Lake, "after which the remnant disappear[ed] from history."[1]

The Taensa are not to be confused with the Avoyel, also known in French as petits Taensas (English: Little Taensa) who were mentioned by Iberville in 1699, and who are more closely related to the Tunica people, living in present-day Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana.[citation needed]

History[edit]

With regard to its prehistory, the Taensa and Natchez peoples have been described in one local archaeological work as having descended from the Plaquemine culture which in turn is described as having descended from the "Troyville-Coles Creek Indians".[3][better source needed]

The Taensa were visited by French Catholic missionaries around the year 1700, who settled among the Taensa, Tunica people, and Natchez.[citation needed] In 1699, the Taensa had seven villages, living along the Mississippi River south of the Tunica, near the Yazoo River.[citation needed] In 1700, the French missionary priest François de Montigny[4][verification needed] recorded that many Taensa died of illness, probably an epidemic of smallpox.[citation needed]

Along with other Indians of the lower Mississippi River, the Taensa subjected to slave raids by the Chickasaw, for sale in the British slave trade via South Carolina.[citation needed] The Natchez and Yazoo often allied with the Chickasaw in attacking smaller tribes such as the Taensa and Tunica.[citation needed] In 1706, the Taensa were forced southward by such Chickasaw-Yazoo slave raids, to live among the Bayogoula;[citation needed] conflicts developed, with the Taensa attacking and burning down a Bayogoula village—an act described as "treacherous... upon a tribe which had given them shelter"[1]—soon after.[citation needed] Conflict with the Houma also ensued.[citation needed] During the Natchez War of 1729, the Taensa and Tunica were forced to migrate south into present day Louisiana.[citation needed]

Their initial relations with the French were friendly, but the rivalry of European powers strained Indians throughout the region.[citation needed] The Taensa ultimately migrated under the protection of the French, to lands near a river that would take their name, the Tensas (now Tensaw) river—on an eastern branch of the Mobile River north of Mobile Bay[citation needed]—near Mobile, Alabama ca. 1740[1] (some report 1715[citation needed]). In 1764, the Taensa/Tensaw again relocated, with the Apalachee and Pakana, west of the Mississippi.[citation needed] Ultimately they merged with the Chitimacha, Atakapa, and Alabama, with settlements on the Red River and Bayou Boeuf.[citation needed]

When Mobile, Alabama was ceded by the French to the English in 1763, the Taena and other small tribes returned to Louisiana, settling near the Red River; they numbered about 100 persons in 1805.[1] Early in the nineteenth century, the Taensa petitioned the Spanish for land on which to settle, in southeastern Texas; they were given permission to settle land lying between the Trinity and the Sabine rivers, but ultimately did not migrate.[2] This was the last appearance of the tribe in historical records.They later moved south to Bayou Boeuf and later still to Grand Lake, "after which the remnant disappear[ed] from history."[1]

Culture[edit]

As Mooney wrote in his 1912 article, "Taensa Indians" in The Catholic Encyclopedia,

The Taensa were sedentary and agricultural and expert canoe men, living in large houses described as having walls of earth, but more probably of logs plastered with clay, and roofed with mats of woven cane splits. Their chiefs exercised despotic power and were treated with great respect, in marked contrast to the custom among the northern tribes. On one occasion of a ceremonial visit to La Salle [explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle[verification needed]] the chief was accompanied by attendants who, with their hands, swept the road in front of him as he advanced.[1]

Mooney compares their "language, religion, and custom[s]" to those of the Natchez people, in particular, noting that their religion, "like that of the Natchez, was notable for its bloody rites."[1] In describing a visit by the explorers La Salle and Henri de Tonti, and the priest Zenobius Membré,[verification needed] Mooney highlights some Taensa religious and death rituals:

Their chief deities seem to have been the sun and the serpent. Their dome-shaped temple was surmounted by the figures of three eagles facing the rising sun, the outer walls and the roof being of cane mats painted entirely red, and the whole was surrounded with a palisade of stakes, on each of which was set a human skull, the remains of a former sacrifice. Inside was an altar, with a rope of human scalp locks, and a perpetual fire guarded day and night by two old priests. When a chief died his wives and personal attendants were killed that their spirits might accompany him to the other world. At one chief's funeral thirteen victims were thus slaughtered.[1]

Mooney goes on to note that on another occasion, the priest François de Montigny[4][verification needed], stopped one such later ceremony and sacrifice, but,

Shortly afterwards, during a thunder storm, the temple was struck by lightning and entirely consumed. The high priest interpreted this as a sign of the anger of the god at the neglect of the ancient custom, and... called upon the women to throw their children into the fire. In response five mothers rushed forward and cast their infants into the flames...[1]

The sacrifice of greater numbers was prevented by the presence of "Iberville" (Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville[verification needed]), who is referred to as a governor of the Louisiana, and whose soldier put a stop to further sacrifice, although "[t]he five mothers who had thus given their children to death were afterwards led in procession,"[1] that is, were honoured by the Taensa for their choice.[citation needed]

Language and hoax[edit]

The meaning of the Taensa name is unknown, although it is believed[weasel words] to be an autonym.[according to whom?][citation needed] The Chitimacha referred to the Taensa as the Chō´sha.[relevant? ][citation needed]

As noted, Mooney describes the Taensa language as being "nearly identical with the celebrated Natchez".[1] French missionary priests de Montigny[4] and Jean-François Buisson de Saint-Cosme[5][verification needed] stated that the Taensa spoke Natchez, a language that both missionaries were learning.[citation needed]

In 1880-1882, a young clerical student named Parisot published what was purported to be "material of the Taensa language, including papers, songs, a grammar and vocabulary" in Paris, which led to considerable interest on the part of philologists. The work proved to be a "fraudulent invention," either of Parisot "or of some one else from whom the manuscripts had originally come." John R. Swanton exposed the work as a hoax in 1908-1910.[1][needs update]

The widespread use of Mobilian jargon as a lingua franca throughout the area[when?] has led to the unsupported assumption (e.g. by Gatschet[full citation needed]) that the Taensa and many other peoples of the lower Mississippi and Gulf Coast spoke a Muskogean language.[according to whom?][dubious ][citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Mooney, J. (1912). "Taensa Indians". In Knight, K. The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Robert Appleton Co. Retrieved March 7, 2017.  Via NewAdvent.org.[needs update][better source needed]
  2. ^ a b c Campbell, Thomas N. (15 June 2010). "Taensa Indians". Handbook of Texas Online. Austin, TX: Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved March 7, 2017 – via tshaonline.org. [better source needed]
  3. ^ Neuman, Robert W. & Hawkins, Nancy W. (1993). "[Neo-Indian:] Plaquemine-Mississippian". Louisiana Prehistory (2nd ed.). Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana Archaeological Survey and Antiquities Commission, Louisiana Dept. Culture, Recreation and Tourism. Retrieved March 7, 2017. [better source needed] See this link for the whole of the Neuman and Hawkins work.
  4. ^ a b c Baillargeon, Noël (1974). "Montigny, François de". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. 3. Toronto, CAN: University of Toronto/Université Laval. Retrieved March 7, 2017.  Via Biographi.ca.
  5. ^ Provost, Honorius (1982) [1969]. "Buisson de Saint-Cosme, Jean-François (d. 1712)". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. 2. Toronto, CAN: University of Toronto/Université Laval. Retrieved March 7, 2017.  Via Biographi.ca.

Further reading[edit]

  • Goddard, Ives (2005). "The Indigenous Languages of the Southeast". Anthropological Linguistics. 47 (1): 1–60. Retrieved March 7, 2017. 
  • Galloway, Patricia & Jackson, Jason Baird (2004). "Natchez and neighboring groups". In Fogelson, R.D. (vol. ed.) & Sturtevant, W.C. (ser. ed.). Handbook of North American Indians: Southeast. Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 14. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution. pp. 598–615. ISBN 0160723000. Retrieved March 7, 2017. 
  • Jackson, Jason Baird; Fogelson, Raymond D & Sturtevant, William C. (2004). "History of Ethnological and Linguistic Research". In Fogelson, R.D. (vol. ed.) & Sturtevant, W.C. (ser. ed.). Handbook of North American Indians: Southeast. Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 14. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution. pp. 31–47. ISBN 0160723000. Retrieved March 7, 2017. 
  • Gallay, Alan. (2002). The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South 1670-1717. New York: Yale University Press.[full citation needed]
  • Johnson, M.; & Hook, R. (1992). The Native Tribes of North America. Compendium Publishing. ISBN 1872004032.[full citation needed]
  • Williams, Stephen (1967). "On the Location of the Historic Taensa Villages". Conference on the Historic Site Archaeology Papers. Vol. 1. [full citation needed]
  • Swanton (1911). "Indian Tribes of the Lower Mississippi", in Bulletin 43 of Bur. Am. Ethnology (Washington).
  • Shea, John Gilmary (1890) [1852]. Discovery and Exploration of the Mississippi Valley. New York, NY: Effingham Maynard & Co.  [page needed]
  • Hamilton (1897). Colonial Mobile (Boston and New York, 1897)
  • Brinton (1890). Essays of an Americanist (Philadelphia).
  • Shea, John Gilmary (1854). History of the Catholic Missions among the Indian Tribes of the United States, 1529-1854. New York, NY: T. W. Strong/Edward Dunigan & Brother. Retrieved March 7, 2017. [page needed]
  • French, Hist. Colls. of Louisiana, I (New York, 1846)
  • Margry (1886) [1879]. Découvertes et établissements des Francais (6 vols., Paris).
  • Le Page Du Pratz (1758). Histoire de la Louisane (3 vols., Paris; transl. London, 1763, 1774)

External links[edit]