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What Is the Coushatta Tribe?

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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2014
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The Coushatta, also known as the Koasati or Quassarte, is a Native American group with its largest population in Louisiana. There are three Coushatta tribes officially recognized by the federal government: The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, and the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town in Oklahoma. Collectively, these tribes have just over 1500 enrolled members.

Historically, the Coushatta lived in what is now Alabama and Georgia, where they led an agricultural lifestyle supplemented with hunting. Under pressure from European settlers beginning in the 16th century, the Coushatta gradually moved west out of their original settlements. In the 17th century, the Coushatta formed an alliance with the closely related Alabama tribe, and the two joined the Creek Confederacy, a group of Muskogean tribes with villages in present day Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Around the turn of the 19th century, many Coushatta moved further west, into Texas and Louisiana. The Coushatta that remained in Alabama were forcibly removed to Oklahoma following the Indian Removal Act of 1830, along with the Alabama and other Muskogean-speaking people. The Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town was formed shortly after this migration, and it became the first federally recognized Coushatta tribe in 1939. Members of the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town may have dual citizenship with the Muskogee Creek Nation due to the historical relationship between the two tribes.

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The Coushatta that moved into Louisiana and Texas are the ancestors of the present-day Coushatta tribes in those states. The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana gained state recognition in 1972, followed by federal recognition a year later. With 650 enrolled members, it is the largest Coushatta tribe. The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas became a federally recognized tribe in 1987.

The Coushatta language, closely related to Alabama and Mikasuki, two other Muskogean languages, has about 400 speakers today, though few children learn the language. Revitalization efforts funded by the National Science Foundation are in progress for the Coushatta language. The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana owns farms on which the tribal members cultivate rice, as their ancestors did, and crawfish. The tribe also operates a casino.

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