Chitimacha

From Academic Kids

The Chitimacha are a Native American group that lives in the U.S. state of Louisiana, mainly in St. Mary Parish. They currently number about 720 people.

History

The Chitimacha's historic home is the southern Louisiana coast, where they had lived for about 2,500 years, migrating there from the area surrounding modern Natchez, Louisiana, and before that, from eastern Texas. In the late 1600s, they came into contact with the French, who raided their territory in search of slaves. By the time peace was reached in 1718, the population had declined drastically, through warfare and disease, and the survivors were forced to move north.

One hundred years later, the arrival of Acadian refugees in their area, brought a further decline in the Chitimacha population, as a result of intermarriage and acculturation, particularly the introduction of Catholicism, as well as land-grabbing by the new settlers. In 1917, the tribal leadership sold what was left of the Chitimacha land to the United States government.

By 1930, the Chitimacha population had dropped to just 51 people, though it has since climbed steadily, and there are now 720 registered Chitimacha. Just over 200 still live in the Chitimacha Reservation in St. Mary Parish, where there is a Bureau of Indian Affairs school. The governing Council is involved in ongoing negotiations with the United States to obtain compensation for the land expropriations of the past.

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