The petition for Federal acknowledgment as an Indian tribe submitted by the United Houma Nation, Inc. (hereafter referred to as UHN) maintains that the petitioner descends from the historical Houma tribe, which was mentioned in eighteenth-century French, Spanish, and English colonial documents. The UHN membership undoubtedly has both Indian ancestry, which can be traced to the early nineteenth century, and non-Indian ancestry, which is traceable to the same period. Since the mid-nineteenth century, residents of UHN settlements have been intermittently identified as Indian, or as of Indian ancestry, Indian appearance, and/or of Indian lifestyle. Since the early twentieth century, they have regularly been reported in anthropological literature as a mixed-blood Indian group.

Some individual ancestors of the UHN group were unambiguously identified as Indian in local documentation between 1808 and 1830. Most, but not all, of the UHN ancestral population was enumerated as Indian in the 1860 Federal census. The sole firm tribal identification for any of these Indian ancestors, however, both in deed records and by oral tradition preserved in ethnologist John R. Swanton's 1907 anthropological interviews, is Biloxi rather than Houma. "Houma" was used as a family name by this Biloxi man, which may have contributed to confusion on the part of outsiders. Oral tradition also recalled one Indian ancestress as born in Mobile, and one as either Atakapa or Acolapissa. Three other women in the founding generation of the UHN ancestral group were just described as "Indian."

In addition to these individual Indian ancestors, the first two generations of UHN progenitors in the Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, area included persons of European ancestry and persons of mixed European and African ancestry. Since settlement in its current location, which took place by the first decade of the nineteenth century, the UHN population has increased significantly. In addition to large families in the founding group, considerable interaction with the surrounding population, from the first generation onward, contributed to this population expansion.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, the culture and language of the UHN were primarily Cajun French, though two elderly people recalled some vocabulary of the Indian language, which was described by Swanton at the time as being "almost pure Choctaw," although more recent scholarship indicates that it was from the Mobilian Trade Jargon. In spite of extensive marriage outside the group and a high level of participation in the surrounding society's institutions (as indicated by membership in the Catholic church, private landholding in fee simple with conveyances recorded at the courthouse, etc.), evidence indicates that the UHN continued to regard itself, and to be regarded by its neighbors, as distinct from the French and Acadian cultural groups around it.

The petitioner's ancestors resisted attempts by government authorities in the second half of the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth century to pressure it into amalgamation with those free families of color descended from the antebellum slave population, particularly evidenced in efforts by the Terrebonne Parish school authorities to require the attendance of UHN children at "colored" segregated schools. In this matter, the UHN's ancestral population continued to maintain internally and assert externally that its Indian ancestry distinguished it from other free persons of color in the region.

However, it is not manifest from the evidence that the distinct nature of the community, although based upon pride in Indian ancestry, was tribal. Because of population growth, the UHN precursor group expanded during the nineteenth century from its original location into the six settlements found in 1907 by Swanton, who described them as having few ties to one another and only informal family-based internal leadership.

Reports compiled during the 1930's by researchers sent by the Bureau of Indian Affairs accepted the community as mixed-blood Indian, but no Federal assistance was provided. Most efforts during this period were aimed at the improvement of educational facilities.

The modern UHN organization did not formally incorporate until the late 1970's. Since that time, efforts of the leadership have been directed toward strengthening the group's perceived Indian cultural identity and improving the community's economic base.


Since the UHN petition identifies the historical tribe from which the group descends as the Houma, it is necessary to discuss the history of the historical Houma trive in more detail than that of the other small tribes of the coastal area.

Colonial Context. The situation in which the historical Houma tribe and other neighboring Louisiana Indian tribes lived during the second half of the eighteenth century was that of the competitive struggle among the French, Spanish, English, and Americans for control of the Mississippi River. The colonial regimes all generated extensive records, many of which were researched in the early twentieth century by John Reed Swanton, an ethnologist who studied the Indians of the Louisiana and Lower Mississippi River Basin in considerable detail (see Swanton 1911, 2-3; Beers 1989). Only recently has historical scholarship attempted to delve into the multi-faceted relationships which evolved, in part, from the day-to-day situations confronting the participants rather than from policy enunciated by formal governmental authorities.

There were numerous players in the drama. Not only the European powers were involved through the French, Spanish, and English colonists whom they sent directly to the Gulf Coast. There were the coastal Indian tribes themselves. There were French emigres from Canada and the Caribbean Islands; English who came by way of the North American Colonies; and Spanish immigrants who came by way of the Canary Islands. Also, in increasing numbers during the eighteenth century, African slaves of a wide variety of geographical origins were brought into Louisiana. These immigrants contributed to the development, along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Louisiana, of one of the first societies in the Western Hemisphere composed of various ethnic groups and languages.

While the political and administrative network established by the French within the Mississippi Valley was primarily designed to link their own settlements from the Great Lakes to the Lower Mississippi Valley, both Marcel Giraud, A History of French Louisiana, Vol. One, The Reign of Louis XIV, 1698-1715 (Giraud 1974) and Daniel H. Usner, Jr., Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy (Usner 1992), demonstrate that this system did extend to include the Native American and African populations.

The prodigious bibliographical and archival materials researched and analyzed by Giraud and Usner demonstrate considerable political, economic, and social interaction between European administrators and settlers and the resident Indian tribes under the French and Spanish colonial systems. Indian groups were involved in local affairs. They interacted with French and Spanish authorities, especially in connection with land grants made by, or land purchases made from, the tribes. The internal Indian perception of these events is less well understood than are the assumptions the Europeans made.

Economic change and cultural mixing did not proceed without conflict and difficulty. At various points in the eighteenth century, the Indian tribes were thrust into situations where they had to determine whom or whether they would fight, be the enemy Indian or European. Internal factions within tribes and splits between factions considerably affected the tribal social and political makeup.

One of the effects of the Seven Years War, 1756-63, was the readjustment of the political fortunes of the French, Spanish, and English in North America (Lyon 1974, Chap. II; Moore 1976, Chap. II). By the last third of the eighteenth century, the Spanish took over the administrative authority of Louisiana, beginning in 1762, with the process effectively complete by 1769.

The Historical Houma Tribe, Colonial Period. The Houma tribe is believed to have been resident on the Tombigbee River in modern Alabama in pre-colonial times. By the time of first European contact by LaSalle in 1682, however, they were in Louisiana near the Mississippi border. Evicted from this village site north of Baton Rouge by the Tunica in 1706, they lived for a short time on Bayou St. Jean near present-day New Orleans, but by 1718 settled around Houmas Point, on both banks of the Mississippi, near the headwaters of Bayou Lafourche (Donaldsonville area). There are scattered mentions of them in this same location during the next 50 years. The 1758 comment by De Kerlerec, quoted by Swanton (Swanton 1911, 290), that the Houma were reduced by the consumption of alcohol, is found in an extensive 25-page report on the Indians of the Colony of Louisiana. It indicated that the Houma had been numerous, but now only numbered about "sixty men bearing arms." The group was then located half-way between New Orleans and Point Coupee. The Governor noted the strategic position they occupied and indicated "great consideration is shown them" (Mississippi Provincial Archives[hereafter MPA] 5:212, Doc. 56; MPA 5:226, note 41).

For the Spanish period, numerous political descriptions and analyses have been used by historians to try to determine where various tribes were actually located at particular dates in the eighteenth and the early nineteenth century (for sources see Kinnaird 1979, 39-48; Sanchez et al.1991). The political background contributes, as does Usner's description of the eighteenth century economic system, to reinforcing awareness of the possibilities for intercultural mixing among the riverain tribes of the lower Mississippi. Anthropologists have made the assumption that the historical Houma tribe incorporated remnants of several other small coastal tribes during this period (Kniffen, Gregory, and Stokes 1987, 78).

Using the documentary record to trace the historical Houma tribe in particular is a somewhat sketchy, though not altogether impossible process. There are numerous references to tribes such as the Bayogoula, Houma, Taensa, Tunica, and other tribes (e.g., Giraud 1974, 73; Usner 1992, 62-63, 85), often in the context of a multi-level and interactive set of circumstances, rather than mentions of one tribe in isolation.

Eighteenth-Century Maps. Two maps printed in the 1770's included the Mississippi River Valley and adjacent portions of the southeastern area of what came to be the United States. Both were based on scientific and historical documentation available at the time and each contained information locating the Houma and other Indian tribes in the general area indicated by other documentation.

The earlier map was completed in 1765 by a Lieutenant Ross. It traced the "Course of the River Mississipi [sic] from the Balise to Fort Chartres; taken on an Expedition to the Illinois, in the latter end of the Year 1765 . . . .," including references to a number of southeastern Indian tribes within the Mississippi River Valley drainage system. Houma, Acolapissa, Alibamons, villages, forts, and French settlements were all depicted, as was "Chackhumas" on the Yazous River. The Houma, Alibamons, Bayagoulas, and Acolapissas are all shown along the Mississippi above New Orleans, yet below Point Iberville/Manchac (Report of the Secretary of War, 1892).

The third quarter of the eighteenth century saw the publication of Adair's History of the American Indians, published in London in 1775. James Adair was described on the title page as "a trader with the Indians, and resident in their country for forty years" (Adair 1775). Adair's map, while somewhat indefinite regarding Indian tribes in the Mississippi Valley and Louisiana, noted a "Chakchooma" location on the Yazous River, in an area ostensibly claimed at the time by South Carolina.

Linguistic Evidence. Scholars have used linguistic information to hypothesize a link connecting the historical Houma to other tribes, specifically Choctaw. One scholar noted that the Adair map (Adair 1775) indicated that the "Chakchiuma originated from the vicinity of the Yazoo and Yalobusha Rivers in Mississippi" (Albrecht 1946, 49), and then asserted that the "Houma were once a part of the Chakchiuma" (Albrecht 1946, 48). His theory was based on the similarity and use of the red crawfish by both groups and on a linguistic analysis that the Houma were essentially "a Choctaw-speaking remnant group" (Albrecht 1946, 48). It should be noted that Swanton did not make this identification (Swanton 1911, 292-293). "Houma" was not a term which pertained exclusively to one tribal group along the Mississippi River. Humma or hommafor "red" was "widely used" in Choctaw (Albrecht 1946, 46-47) and related Muskogean languages.(1) Linguistic evidence is not conclusive in tying the petitioner to a historical tribe.

Historical Houma Locations and UHN Tradition. The standard description of the locations of the historical Houma tribe --that LaSalle located them on the banks of the Mississippi in 1682, and Iberville visited them there in 1699 (Swanton 1911, 285); that they were near New Orleans in 1706, and by 1718 some distance upriver from New Orleans on the Mississippi--does not square well with the UHN tradition of a Courteau grandmother who was born in Mobile (Swanton 1911, 292).(2)

A background report prepared by the BAR historian surveyed the movements and linguistic affiliations of all the later eighteenth-century Louisiana tribal groupings in an attempt to ascertain if any one of them more closely matched than did the historical Houma to the information which Swanton's informants provided to him in 1907 (Background History Paper, BAR Files). Although several of the other tribal groupings which came into Louisiana from Alabama after 1763 followed paths more consistent with Felicite Billiot's descriptions of her ancestors' movements than did the historical Houma, no conclusive determination was reached. BAR research could not tie the petitioner to the historical Houma tribe, but was unable to determine which of several other possibilities might be the correct one.

De la Houssaye. The UHN's oral tradition frequently cites a supposed eighteenth century ancestor of the petitioner referred to as "de la Houssaye." Speck reported that this "Dalahousie Courteau" was the last chief and died about 1800 (Speck 1943, 213). He cited to Swanton 1911, but Swanton's field notes and published papers did not include the Delahoussay/Dalahousie reference: only one to Courteau.

Records of the Mississippi Provincial Archives name two officers named La Houssaye who served in Louisiana. Jean Richard P. de la Houssaye was in Louisiana by 1731 and had been a lieutenant at Point Coupee in 1741, but was removed from that command, probably for "maintaining an Indian concubine" (MPA 4:97, note 14, Doc. 16). He later antagonized a chief in 1749 while in command at Tombecbe--he had promised a cow to the chief in order to secure the favors of the chief's daughter, but the chief complained he did not receive the cow (MPA5:15, 21-22, Doc. 2; MPA 4:97, note 14, Doc. 16). He was forced to leave the colony in 1749, when Governor Vaudreuil requested his transfer due to his "excessive familiarity . . . with most of our Indian nations" (MPA 4:97, Doc. 16).

The second de la Houssaye arrived in Louisiana in 1750. Paul Augustin le Pelletier de la Houssaye, after service in the Arkansas and Mobile posts went to New Orleans as a major in 1762. (MPA 5:97, 99, and note 5, Doc. 24; see also Arthur 1971, 204-210). Paul Augustin de Pelletier died November 23, 1777, having served in the western area of Louisiana in the Attakapas country (later the parishes of St. Martin, St. Mary, Iberia, Lafayette, and Vermilion). He settled in Attakapas District by 1771 (American State Papers (hereafter cited as ASP) 1834c, 3:129-30, No. 50). His eldest son, Louis le Pelletier de la Houssaye, followed in his father's footsteps and served in the military in the late eighteenth century (House Rept. No. 28, 19th Cong., 1st Sess., Jan. 26, 1826; Smith 1991, 177-204). Both this son (Louis) and another son, in the Attakapas District, had extensive land claims (ASP 1859, 4:455-457, 803-804), business ties to the Attakapas Indians (ASP 1834c, 3:111, No. 81), and documentable economic connections with the Prevost family (Conrad 1992, 359), which BAR research has proven to have married into the UHN's ancestors.

Genealogical certainty as to whether Paul Augustin de Pelletier may have been the progenitor, or whether the more senior Jean Richard was the connection (if, indeed, either one was), may be difficult to ascertain. As no documentary evidence of the de la Houssaye or "Dalahousie Courteau" cited by Speck's informants has been located, it is possible that it was the early nineteenth-century connection with the Prevosts that the oral history was recalling (for a recollection of Louis de la Houssaye's connection with New Iberia in Attakapas District, see UHN Pet., Ex. 7:#209/10, p. 1).

The Historical Houma among Other Historical Tribes: Acadian Coast and "La Fourche des Chetimachas," 1769-1803. There were many conflicts between Indians and colonists in Louisiana during and after the French and Indian War. The introduction of Spanish and English administration in the lower Mississippi Valley, east and west of the River, as a result of the European realignment, caused considerable turmoil (Moore 1976, 64 ff.).

Cabonocey, The History, Customs and Folklore of St. James Parish by Lillian C. Bourgeois (Bourgeois 1987), states that the central location of St. James Parish made it a natural center for Indian groups such as the Houma, Chitimacha, Mugulasha, Bayogoula, Washa, and Acolapissa(3)(Bourgeois 1987, 1). No extensive, permanent European settlement of this part of the coasts of the Mississippi River took place until the arrival of the Acadians in the 1760's. At that time, modern St. James Parish was referred to as the First Acadian Coast, and modern Ascension Parish as the Second Acadian Coast. Although the Acadians were more numerous, government administration remained in the hands of older French colonial settlers of Louisiana who moved to the Acadian Coast from New Orleans.

During the 1760's and 1770's, the intermarried Cantrelle [also Canterelle], Judice, and Verret families obtained land grants in the area of what is today St. James Parish, on the western shore of the Mississippi River (Campbell 1981, 4-5; Harrell 1992). Louis Judice, Sr., a son-in-law of Jacques Cantrelle, Sr., was commandant at St. James from 1765-1770, and then moved to Lafourche (La Fourche des Chetimachas) to become Commandant there. At St. James, he was succeeded by Nicholas Verret, Sr. (d. 1775), another son-in-law of Jacques Cantrelle, Sr. (Campbell 1981, 36-37, 47-48). Verret was succeeded at St. James in 1775 by Michel Bernard Cantrelle, Sr. (a son of Jacques Cantrelle, Sr. and brother-in-law to his two predecessors in office as commandant and judge of the First Acadian Coast). Verret descendants settled in Ascension and Lafourche Parishes as well. The personal background and connections of the government officials in the area are prerequisites for understanding settlement patterns, as these men were also the largest landowners and it is primarily the records they created, rather than accounts by occasional travellers, upon which systematic research must depend.

Census Records. The number of Indians residing along the Mississippi River's banks in Louisiana in the last third of the eighteenth century was not large. Local officials knew in considerable detail who and where they were.(4) Because of the mixing-bowl effect that the close residential proximity of a number of small tribal groupings had, it is effectively impossible to discuss the historical Houma tribe during the last third of the eighteenth century independently from the other "small nations" living in the same neighborhoods. The questions to be answered are, essentially: (1) what became of each of these Indian groups; and (2) can any of these groups be documented as having been the community of origin for the UHN?

In his Journal, Notes on the Country along the Mississippi from Kaskaskia to New Orleans, Captain Harry Gordon wrote on October 14, 1766, that the colony of New Orleans was inhabited on both sides of the Mississippi for 20 leagues (approximately 60 miles) above the town. The population included not only "poor Acadians," but also "about 150 Houma and like number of Alibamu" (Bourgeois 1987, 13-14).

The 1766 Spanish census of Indian villages and tribes taken in 1766 in the colony of Louisiana has been published (Voorhies 1973, 164-166). At Cabannocey, on the right (west) bank, some 20 leagues upriver from New Orleans, were a Taensa village (pop. 21) and a Houma village (pop. 14); at "Humas Coast" on the left (east) bank, about 22 leagues upriver from New Orleans, were an Allibamont [sic] village (pop. 27) and a Houma village (pop. 58). The census of 1769 specified quite precisely that this "Land occupied by Alibamu Indians" and "Land Occupied by Houma Indians" was located between the concession of Pierre Blanchard and the concession of Jean Sonne on the Acadian Coast (Bourgeois 1987, 178). The 1769 census also placed a Taensa Indian village in St. James Parish (on the site of an earlier Bayogoula village).(5)

Louis Judice's 1768 "Resencement des Sauvages Dependants de la Coste" [Census of the Dependant Indians of the Coast] at Cabbanocey went into somewhat more detail (Papeles Procedentes de Cuba (hereafter cited as PPC), 1772-1797):

Taensa(6) little nation, left bank, Mingo Mastabe, chief

men 12

women 12

boys 11

girls 10 TOTAL: 45

[S/C(?)uana or] Alabamon(7) nation, right bank, Mingos Canebe, chief

men 27

women 28

boys 17

girls 15 TOTAL: 87

Cocteau [Hoctahenja] or Alibamon village, Mingo Titabe, chief

men 23

women 31

boys 32

girls 31 TOTAL: 117

Houma(8) nation, right bank, Mingos Atthanabe, chief; Calabe also chief

men 40

women 40

boys 60

girls 90 TOTAL: 230

These basic numbers serve as a starting point for analysis.

Interaction with European Settlers. In his study of Acadian settlement, Brasseaux located the historical Houma tribe on the west side of the river, in present-day Assumption Parish, in the 1770's and 1780's (Brasseaux 1987, 182-183). However, they also had a more general presence in the region--they were also on the east bank and in St. James and elsewhere in Ascension Parishes as well. All of these locations were along the banks of the Mississippi River north of New Orleans, near the confluence of the Mississippi with Bayou Lafourche. Although no mention of Indian presence is found in the published local records, which deal exclusively with land conveyances, marriage contracts, and other legal matters pertaining to European settlers (Behrman 1981; Behrman 1985), the correspondence of Judice, the Spanish commandant at St. James and Lafourche, preserved in the Papeles Procedentes de Cuba, from the 1770's and 1780's, contains frequent reference to Indian residents--some of whom were Houma, but by no means all of whom were Houma: when Judice confronted local Houma with allegations of cattle stealing in 1772, their reply was that the Taensa and Alibamu had done it (Corbin 1981, [1]).

The same year, in discussing a palisade that the Houma had built to defend their village against the Talapouche, Judice indicated that Taensa, Chitimacha, Tunica, "Hoctchianya", and Pacana were also in the area, though the Tunica had abandoned their village and gone to Pointe Coupee (Corbin 1981, [2]). The Houma were going to take over the site of an abandoned Chitimacha village near Lafourche, about three-fourths of a league from the river on the left (east) bank of the bayou (Corbin 1981, [3]).

Throughout the 1770's, the correspondence of the commandants indicated that these "small tribes" moved back and forth extensively. They went across the river to talk to the English Indian agent at Manchac. They went as far west as Opelousas and returned, while Atakapa and Opelousa also came into the Lafourche area. There were repeated conflicts among the various groups (Corbin 1981, [5-7, 13]), but there were also other types of interaction. Judice mentioned one Houma-Chickasaw marriage that had taken place in the previous generation (Corbin 1981, [7]). The daughter of this marriage "ran off" to the Alibamon village with a Chickasaw (Corbin 1981, [9]).(9) Pascagoulas (possibly from the Red River area in Pointe Coupee Parish) had come to town and "gone after" some Houma women (Corbin 1981, [8, 16]). Essentially, the continuing interaction among the small tribes was so close that it became more and more difficult and artificial for European administrators to distinguish them from one another.

In 1775, some Biloxi were in Pointe Coupee near the Tunica and both groups were associating with the Choctaw (Corbin 1981, [10-11]), while some Choctaw raiders had taken refuge with the Houma (Corbin 1981, [8]). In 1779, one Arkansas killed another in the Chitimacha village, and Judice was of the opinion that the whole affair had been "fomented by the malice of the Houmas" (Corbin 1981, [20]).

Calabee was noted as a Houma chief in records relating to a land sale. Judice's October 1, 1775, to the Governor of Louisiana, Unzaga, stated that the "Houma chief" (probably Matiabee(10)) was descending the Mississippi with several tribesmen to visit the Governor (UHN Pet., Ex. 1:#16). Judice voiced the Houma chief's concern that Calabee would receive a present without passing it along to the other members of the group, added that he had attempted to restrain the others from going to Unzaga, and proposed Unzaga send the present to him for distribution to the five or six tribesmen who would receive the annual present (UHN Pet. Ex. 1:#16; see also: PPC, Roll 189B, p. 277, Feb. 4, 1776; Mar. 18, 1776; UHN Pet. Ex. 1:#23, p. 9).

There was a split within the Houma tribe at the time. Referring to the sale of October 1774, made by Calabee, of "its village site" (UHN Pet., Ex. 1:#16; see also: Senate Doc. 45, 28th Cong., 2d Sess., January 13, 1845, for documents) Judice indicated (1775) that the Houma actually had divided into "three villages." Calabee, with about 20 men, remained on the site on the left bank of the Mississippi River sold to Mr. (William) Conway; "the chief [Matiabee?]" with an almost equal number, had retired to another "site two and one-half leagues above [that of Calabee's village]" and established a village 20 arpents from the river.(11) In addition, "one Tiefayo, with eight families, has withdrawn to the LaFourche" (UHN Pet., Ex. 1:#16). This location was near Donaldsonville, at the far north of Bayou Lafourche where it met the Mississippi River, and was not indicative of a migration of the historical Houma tribe at this time into lower Bayou Lafourche or lower Bayou Terrebonne.

On the basis of Judice's description of their size, the two contingents of approximately 20 men, with their families, and the third under Tiefayo, may well have totaled less than 100 persons. At the time of this letter Judice was attempting to have "these tribes" which he indicated were the cause of complaints and disorder among themselves, move to Lafourche. This may shed light on the movement of Tiefayo to Bayou Lafourche, though the correspondence indicates that Judice was referring to the former Chitimacha village site near the confluence of the bayou and the Mississippi--not to the lower Lafourche area as asserted in the petition. Therefore, the late colonial movements of the historical Houma tribe as described and the names of its leaders as given in the PPC do not provide a link between it and the ancestors of the petitioner.

In summary, by the 1770's the historical Houma are clearly documented as having been settled in the parishes of St. James and Ascension, on the Mississippi River above New Orleans, but they were not living in isolation. The 1770's witnessed considerable, if not perpetual, conflict among the Houma and their neighbors, including other Indians, the Talapouches and the Chitimacha, the Attakapa and Opelousa, as well as European settlers and African slaves (PPC, #23, Nos. 2, 3, 5, 6, 16, 17, 18, 31, 32, 33). The documents provide no indication that any of the ancestors of the UHN petitioner were, during the 1770's and 1780's, living among the historical Houma tribe.

Descriptions by Observers. The most concise generally available picture of the status of the Indian "petites nations" in Louisiana during the early 1770's (Rea 1970, 13-14) is Robert Rea's article on the career of John Thomas, the English representative who had been involved in the establishment of Fort Bute on the east bank of the Iberville River at Manchac since 1764 (Rea 1970, 6-7). When Thomas returned to Manchac as Deputy to the Indian Superintendent of the Province of West Florida in 1771, his instructions included that he was to travel the Mississippi from New Orleans as far north as Natchez, "noting the various Indian tribes and traders, and then to return to Manchac and reside there while cultivating the good will of the surrounding tribes and the neighboring Spaniards" (Rea 1970, 12).

The Indians who came under John Thomas' purview and were usually referred to as the Small Tribes consisted of remnants and survivors of numerous groups once established on the Gulf Coast west of Mobile and along the rivers between the Tombeckby and the Mississippi. They had been driven inland and westward by the more powerful Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creeks, and in 1771 they eked out an existence on either side of the Mississippi, hunting and planting wherever they could find safety, dreaming of returning to the coastal plain. The Houmas were the first tribe north of New Orleans and were located about twenty-five leagues above the town. They numbered between thirty and forty-six men and were firmly attached to the masters of the Isle of Orleans. A league below Manchac, Plaquemines creek entered the Mississippi from the west, and there were found some thirty families of Tensa, Pacanna, and Mobilien Indians; farther up the bayou lived fifty to fifty-eight Chittamachas, Attacappas and Opelousas. The Alabamas lived a half-league below Manchac, on the Spanish side, and numbered thirty-five or forty warriors. Near Point Coupee was located a band of fifteen Chittamachas, and a league above the Spanish post, the Tonicas, some thirty-five families strong, occupied the English shore. Across the river from there were ten or a dozen Choctoes [probably Chatot; possibly Choctaw], so few in number that their chief Illetaska described himself as the sole survivor of the tribe and depended upon the Biloxies for safety. Two leagues further north were nearly one hundred Biloxies, refugees driven from the Pascagoula River to the banks of the Amite and thence to the Mississippi. As recently as 1771, they had fled to the Spanish side in fear of Choctaw raids, as had fifteen or so Pascagoula warriors. Several smaller groups had separated from these tribes and were settled on the Red River where security had bred civilization and it was reported that they had built themselves a church (Rea 1970, 13; 14 n. 10, citing "Charles Stuart's List of the Several Indian Tribes, c. November 1772"; Thomas to J. Stuart, December 12, 1771, in Haldimand Papers).

All these tribes were declining, the number of their warriors being estimated at somewhere between 200 and 250, but their very weakness enabled them to move back and forth across the Mississippi as they pleased. The Biloxies and Pascagoulas, for example, planted corn on the English side of the river but resided on the Spanish side. All of the tribes were eager to trade with any white men (Rea 1970, 14).

In 1784, Thomas Hutchins, a British officer reported that there were about 25 Houma warriors at a village 60 miles from New Orleans, also an Alabama village with 30 warriors, and three miles further on, a Chitimacha village with 27 warriors (Hutchins 1969, 39).

Judice's references to Houma at Lafourche (living on the site of the former Chitimacha village near Donaldsonville) continued in 1784, 1785, and 1787 (Corbin 1981, [26-27, 29]). In 1790, 1793, 1796, and 1797, Verret wrote mentioning Naquiabee, chief of the Houma of Lafourche, to the governor (Corbin 1981, [30-31, 34-35]), but aside from those occasions, mentions of Indians gradually dropped out of the correspondence from the Lafourche commandant. During this period, most of the "petites nations" migrated from the Mississippi to the Red River and Bayou Boeuf areas in central Louisiana (see Background History Paper, BAR Files). Indian concerns continued to be prominent in the correspondence of commandants further to the north and west, and continued to indicate extensive interaction among the various small tribes (Corbin 1981, [30-38]). The disappearance of such mentions from the correspondence of the administrators in the Mississippi River parishes probably indicates that none of the small tribes were still living there.

The Historical Houma, Early U.S. Administration. Several items printed in the American State Papers and The Territorial Papers of the United States, Vol. IX, The Territory of Orleans, 1803-1812 indicate the interest of observers in the Indian groups at the time of U.S. assumption of sovereignty over Louisiana. President Jefferson's letter to Congress, November 14, 1803, entitled "Description of Louisiana," states that the Houma did not exceed 60 persons (ASP1834a, 1:349, Report No. 164). Jefferson had taken the information from a letter, dated September 29, 1803, to Secretary of State James Madison from Daniel Clark detailing the Louisiana Indian tribes along the Mississippi and other important rivers and bayous. Jefferson utilized Clark's letter to Madison on the Indian population in its entirety, making no substantive changes.

Two years later, John Sibley indicated that the Lower Mississippi Valley tribes were experiencing constant movement and interaction among groups or remnants of various tribes. Sibley noted that some Tunicas and Humas [sic] were "married in" to the Atakapas, in a village near Quelqueshoe [Calcasieu, later Opelousas District], about 20 miles west of the Attakapas Church (ASP 1832 [Indian Affairs], 4:724). The addition of the Houma and Tunica had increased the number of men at this settlement, which was a considerable distance (50 to 80 miles) west of the UHN ancestral settlement along the bayous in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes (Swanton 1911, 291-292). For a land claim based on an 1801 purchase from an Indian of the Calcasieu settlement, see the American State Papers (ASP 1834c, 3:113, No. 96).(12)

Sibley in the same report (ASP 1832, 4:721-725, No. 113; Annals of Congress, 9th Cong., 2d Sess., 1076-1088) indicated that "a few of the Humas [were] still living on the east side of the Mississippi, in Insussees [bad mis-spelling of Ascension?] parish, below Manchac, but scarcely existed as a nation" (ASP 1832, 4:725). By way of contrast, the only Indians reported in Lafourche Parish by Sibley in 1805 were not Houma, but five Washas, scattered in French families (ASP 1832, 4:725). This reaffirmed what Clark's letter had indicated in 1803. It was land in this area, sold by Calabee in 1774, which subsequently was referred to as the "Houmas Claim" (Sen. Doc. 144, 25th Cong., 2d Sess., Jan. 29, 1838; S. Report 45, 28th Cong., 2d Sess., Jan. 13, 1845). Daniel Clark, who purchased the Houma's property in the area, sold it to General Wade Hampton in 1812. In the 1850's the property passed to John Burnside, after which time the area came to be called Burnside (Prichard, Kniffen, and Brown 1945, p. 757, note 76; p. 843, note 504).

A diary kept by James Leander Cathcart also referred to the Houma settlement in the early nineteenth century as being located near the modern boundary of Ascension and St. James Parish, on the east side of the Mississippi. Some Houma (four families, two of whom he saw) were certainly on Cantrelle lands in St. James Parish when seen by de Laussat in 1805/06. At that time, he reported, they spoke Choctaw and French (Laussat 1978, 67-68). They were still in St. James, under Cantrelle patronage, when "Chakchuma" and an unnamed chief were sent to New Orleans to see Governor William Claiborne in 1806 and 1811 (Rowland 1917, 3:347 and 5:275). Houma were possibly reported around Manchac as late as 1836 (Gallatin 1973, 115), if Gallatin was not at that date just repeating information that Sibley had gathered over 30 years earlier. Anthropological literature seems to have assumed that they migrated away from St. James Parish shortly after that date, but a local historian indicates that a settlement remained to the rear of Bon Secours Plantation until at least 1915 (Campbell 1981, 28).

Writing on behalf of the petitioner and seeking to deal specifically with the historical Houma from the late eighteenth century into the nineteenth, Janel Curry traced movements of the historical Houma, both known and supposed, from a variety of sources (Curry 1979). As an explanation for the fact that neither Clark nor Sibley referred to a UHN ancestral settlement on Bayou Terrebonne, Curry contended that the authors of the early Federal period sources, particularly Daniel Clark, might have had some ulterior motive(s) in describing only certain locations of the historical Houma tribe (Curry 1979, 9-10, 17).

More probably, the sources did not describe any Indian settlement along Bayou Terrebonne during the first decade of the nineteenth century because there was none. The situation depicted in these sources showed a high level of movement by numerous Indian groups (not only the historical Houma tribe) in the Lower Mississippi Valley at this time. The relocation and amalgamation of various Indian tribes, bands, and groups prior to and subsequent to U.S. acquisition of Louisiana from France were part of their response to the pressure of United States, French, and Spanish interests and the uncertainties which resulted from the rapid administrative changes. There is no indication that the government officials' reports deliberately omitted information.

Correlation with the Petitioner's Traditions. The Indian groups which appeared in Judice's correspondence during the 1770's are very similar to those recalled by UHN ancestress Felicite Billiot in her conversations with Swanton in 1907:

The family history of the writer's oldest informant, Felicite Billiout, will serve to illustrate this tribal complexity. Her(13) grandmother, whose Indian name was Nuyu'n, but who was baptized "Marion" after her removal to Louisiana, was born in or near Mobile; her grandfather, Shulu-shumon, or, in French, Joseph Abbe,(14)and more often called "Couteaux," was a Biloxi medal chief; and her mother "an Atakapa from Texas." In addition, she said that Cherokee ("Tsalaki"), Choctaw, and Alibamu had all married with her people. Among other tribes she had heard of the Chickasaw ("Shikasha"), Tallapoosa ("Talapush"),(15) and Tunica. Her grandmother, whom, she said, had moved successively to the Mississippi, "Tuckapaw Canal," Bayou La Fourche, Houma, and the coast of Terre Bonne, was evidently among the Indians who migrated from the neighborhood of Mobile after 1764, in order not to remain under English rule (Swanton 1911, 292).

Were the Historical Houma the Tribal Antecedent of the UHN? In accordance with the acknowledgment criteria, the focus of this section of the report is whether or not the historical Houma, or any of the other Indian tribes along the Mississippi in the later eighteenth century, can be identified as a tribal antecedent of the UHN. Various authors have attempted to make such an interpretation. Kniffen, Gregory, and Stokes, publishing in 1987 and apparently extrapolating from Swanton (Swanton 1911), stated that even after 1803, "three Houma families, or bands" remained (emphasis added) in the "marshland bayous" (Kniffen, Gregory, and Stokes 1987, 78). At the same time, these authors indicated that while lands were sold by the Houma in 1776, "as late as 1836" English(16) [sic] maps showed them hunting on the Amite River (Kniffen, Gregory, and Stokes 1987, 78).

Elsewhere, referring to the "pantribal Houma agglomerate," Kniffen, Gregory, and Stokes suggest the historical Houma absorbed "some Washa and Chawasha, the Yakene Chitto, and refugees from Gulf Coast tribes such as the Biloxi" (Kniffen, Gregory, and Stokes 1987, 78), as well as the Okelousa, whose "identity, location, and fate . . . remain in doubt" (Kniffen, Gregory, and Stokes 1987, 79; Swanton 1911, 300-301). In addition, these same authors suggest at another point that the "Acolapissa, Houma, and quite likely, the Washa fused into one group, seeking refuge from the encroachment of the Europeans" and moved into Terrebonne Parish to become the UHN (Kniffen, Gregory, and Stokes 1987, 65; Swanton 1911, 44). The authors cite no primary documents supporting these presumed admixtures with the historical Houma tribe or for its presumed migration into the lower bayous.


The situation of the Indian groups in Louisiana in the eighteenth century cannot be analyzed without considering the impact of African as well as European settlers. A number of studies treat the issue of slavery in colonial Louisiana, but a discussion of race is not synonymous with a discussion of slavery.

Indians were enslaved with some frequency during the French colonial period. However, the issue of Indian slavery in Louisiana is not relevant to analysis of the petition, as there is no indication that any of the documented Indian ancestors of the UHN had ever been enslaved.

In fact, neither Indian nor African slavery was as significant in the development of the UHN ancestral group as was the existence in Louisiana of free persons of African, or mixed European and African, ancestry. While this study is not primarily focused on investigating black-Indian relationships during the French and Spanish administrations in Louisiana, in the total picture of the heterogeneous society which was evolving, the presence of Africans was nearly as important for the Indians as the presence of Europeans. Their existence is of major significance to understanding the social, linguistic, ethnic, and economic groups which developed and met in Louisiana, as a whole, and in specific localities within the State.

The importance of the "free people of color" portion of the Louisiana population in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century in Louisiana is well documented in governmental, archival, and secondary source material. Ingersoll (1991), Sterkx (1972), Everett (1966) and Berlin (1974), have dealt with free blacks and free negroes in the New Orleans area prior to 1803. They and others have presented various aspects of a century and a half of the history (1720-1860) of African and West Indian immigrant society, though primarily from the perspective of outside observers rather than using the documents generated by the group itself, as Mills did for the Metoyers (Mills 1977).

The free Negro population in Louisiana appeared shortly after the founding of the colony. Church records indicate that marriages of free Africans took place in New Orleans as early as the 1720's (Sterkx 1972, 15, 22). The heterogeneity of the society created a social situation that permitted widespread interaction among all ethnic groups (Sterkx 1972, 31). In addition to the "mixed offspring" of white and Indian (known in French as "metis" and in Spanish as "mestizos"), and white and African (mulattos, quadroons, etc.), there were also offspring of Indians and blacks or mulattoes (known in French as "griffes" or in Spanish as "zambos") (Webre 1984, 120). All of these groups intermarried with one another as well as marrying back into the source populations.

The Spanish treatment of, and attitude towards, both Indians and Africans was potentially, if not always in reality, more humane than the French, British, or American (Moore 1976, Chap. V; Sterkx 1972, Chap. 2). The new Spanish Governor, Alejandro O'Reilly issued a decree in December, 1769, which prohibited the future enslavement of Indians (Webre 1984, 122). In 1794, Governor Carondelet freed all Louisiana Indian slaves except the Natchez (Kniffen, Gregory, and Stokes 1987, 94).

Webre stated in a phone conversation that the court records for the slave cases cited at footnotes on pages 124-126 of his article(17) indicated that the suits for freedom were brought by Indians who were "fairly fully assimilated into white and black culture" (August 25, 1992, phone conversation with BAR historian Terry Lamb). If, however, a slave who claimed to be Indian were found to be African in appearance, the legal ground for determining free status was based on whether or not the individual "could prove to the satisfaction of the court that he was descended from Indians in the maternal line" (Webre 1984, 127).

While adopting a more positive or pragmatic attitude toward the Indian population, the Spanish also "removed all impediments to manumission" for all slaves, though this did not, of course, outlaw or restrict slavery itself (Ingersoll 1991, 180). After 1780, African slaves were guaranteed a right of self-purchase, which was quite frequently exercised (Ingersoll 1991, 183-89, 192; Conrad 1974).

The Spanish kept population figures on the numbers of free persons of color. Sterkx concluded that of the 165 free Negroes in Louisiana in 1769, 73 were "free Blacks" and 92 were "free Mulattoes" (Sterkx 1972, 33), but this appears to have been only a count of males eligible for militia service (Voorhies 1973). In 1785, the Louisiana Colony had a population of 9,766 whites, 15,010 slaves, and 1,175 free Negroes, of whom 563 were in New Orleans (Sterkx 1972, 85).

A 1900 publication, cited by Sterkx, indicates that the Spanish period witnessed "clear lines" of classes based on law and custom, which placed the Europeans by birth (the "chapetones") as first in rank and power; the Creoles, in the sense of persons of European ancestry born in the colonies, were second; the free mulattoes and free Negroes formed the third class; and the slaves and Indians [emphasis added] the fourth (Sterkx 1972, 87). There is no indication of why Indians were classified with with slaves rather than with other free persons of color.

The law of Louisiana under American jurisdiction after 1803 did not make legal distinctions among the various categories of free persons of color, whatever an individual or group's specific ancestry may have been. The status of free people of color within Louisiana in the early nineteenth century was defined in a First District, Louisiana, court decision of 1810 (Adelle v. Beauregard) in which the Court held that "persons of color may have descended from Indians on both sides, from a white parent, or mulatto parents in possession of their freedom" (1 Mart. [O.S.] 183, 184).

As of 1806, the Black Code (a compendium of laws pertaining primarily to slaves but also referring to free persons of color) stated that the testimony of "all free Indians" would be admitted into evidence in trials involving slaves (Digest 1806, 8-9).(18)

The "free person of color" notation on official civil records, devised after the purchase of Louisiana by the United States, was the result of official government policy (Sterkx 1972, Chap. 3 and 4, esp. 160-161). The slave revolts in the 1790's in Haiti and Santo Domingo had caused a fear of similar potential upheavals in Louisiana (Berlin 1974, 112-119; Sterkx 1972, 79-97).

The social and political situation faced by the Spanish, French, Americans, and Creoles in Louisiana was new and anomalous for the American government (Sterkx 1972, 79-97). Once the United States began to establish an administrative network, free blacks who had begun to exert some degree of independence through the black militia challenged the social and economic patterns which were being introduced, in large degree as a response to the immigration from Haiti and the resulting larger free Negro population developing in Louisiana. By 1810, with the influx of free Negroes from Santo Domingo and Cuba, the free people of color in Louisiana numbered approximately 8,000: most were from the West Indies.

How the petitioning group relates to the free Negro or to free people of color who were partly of African ancestry is incompletely documented from the traditional historical perspective. Genealogical sheets forwarded with the petition include notations that a number of founding group ancestors were designated as free people of color. It is sometimes, but not always, clear whether a specific "free person of color" was of Indian or African background--or a combination. From the perspective of acknowledgment criteria, the question to be analyzed is whether or not the group was distinct from the society surrounding it because of the element of Indian ancestry, the element of African ancestry, or both. If it was held distinct from French Creole society because of non-European ancestry (whether Indian or African), did it hold itself distinct from the general population of free people of color because it identified itself as Indian in nature rather than African in nature?


Origins of UHN Ancestral Settlement in Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes, 1800-1850. Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, the ancestors of the UHN were never distinguished in Federal or State government records as an Indian group discussed by Indian agents or in specialized record groups. Therefore, to locate documents that permit an understanding of the chronology of the appearance of the group's ancestors in its current area of residence, and the development of the community in what is now Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, it is necessary to look, not at any special set of "Indian" records, but at the ordinary administrative records of the civil and ecclesiastical jurisdictions of southern Louisiana, as they pertained to all residents.

The records pertaining to the petitioning group have been kept in various civil and ecclesiastical parishes over time. This does not reflect a continuing geographical migration on the part of the UHN ancestors during the period 1800-1850. By the end of the Spanish administration in the 1790's, they had already received land grants on Bayou Terrebonne and were living there. Rather, the location of the records reflects the subsequent subdivision of civil and ecclesiastical parishes which occurred as the population increased and the level of governmental and church services was extended over the course of time.

Development of Southern Louisiana Record-Keeping Agencies.

The founding ancestors of the UHN appear to have been already settled in what is now Terrebonne Parish along Bayou Terrebonne by the late 1790's. They continued to live there from the 1820's through the 1850's. The successive appearance of records pertaining to the UHN in Ascension, Assumption, Lafourche, and Terrebonne Parishes does not reflect a process of continuing or ongoing southward migration, but rather one of changing administrative boundaries through subdivision.

Civil Jurisdictions. For the purpose of tracking the origins of the petitioning group in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, it is not necessary to consider the development of Louisiana's civil jurisdictions prior to their reorganization by the Spanish administration in 1769. The new rulers divided the Province of Louisiana into 20 districts, with sometimes rather ill-defined boundaries. In each district, the governor appointed a commandant who was entrusted with various military, judicial, and civil powers (Robichaux 1974, vii). These districts survived until the beginnings of American administration after the Louisiana Purchase, in 1803.

One of these districts was the "Distrito de La Fourche de los Chetimachas." From a study of adjacent districts and of the subsequent separations from the original area, this District is believed to have been composed essentially of the areas of today's civil parishes of Lafourche, Terrebonne, Assumption and that part of Ascension on the "west" side of the Mississippi River. The District included land on both sides of, and along, the entire length of Bayou Lafourche (formerly called by the French, "La Riviere des Chetimachas")--from the junction with the Mississippi (the "fork," in French, "La Fourche") to the Gulf of Mexico. Its shoreline on the Gulf was that of the present parishes of Lafourche and Terrebonne combined (Robichaux 1974, p. vii).

On the north, it was bounded by the Iberville Coast and Cabanocey or the First Acadian Coast (modern St. James Parish); on the east by the German Coasts, the District of New Orleans, and the Lower Coast below New Orleans; on the west, by the Attakapas District (Robichaux 1974, p. vii). The Spanish military post of Valenzuela was established on Bayou Lafourche in 1778 (Robichaux 1974, p. viii).

After the Louisiana Purchase, the first session of the Territory of Orleans Legislative Council (1805) abolished the Spanish administrative system and replaced the 20 districts with 12 counties. The ecclesiastical parish of Ascension (also known as the Second Acadian Coast) was subtracted from the old Lafourche District and placed into Acadia County together with St. James Parish, while the new Lafourche County was the old district less Ascension Parish (Robichaux 1974, p. ix).

This system did not last long. In 1807, the second session of the legislature redivided Orleans Territory into 19 civil parishes. Those of interest for the history of the UHN were Ascension Parish (the Second Acadian Coast, including the old post and village of "La Fourche des Chetimachas"), Assumption Parish, and Lafourche Interior Parish. The civil Assumption Parish was the northern part of this area along Bayou Lafourche, closest to the Misssisippi River. Lafourche Interior Parish contained the southern part of old Lafourche District (Robichaux 1974, pp. ix-x).

In 1822, the legislature divided Lafourche Interior Parish into Lafourche Parish and Terrebonne Parish. These civil parishes attained, at that time, essentially their modern boundaries (Robichaux 1974, p. x). Sketches of both of these civil parishes (No. 29, Lafourche and No. 55, Terrebonne) and their records were produced by the Works Projects Administration and published in 1942 by Louisiana State University. They were conveniently reprinted in the first volume of Hebert's South Louisiana Records (Hebert 1978a, pp. xiii-xxxviii).

Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions. While Catholic churches existed in Louisiana from the foundation of the settlement, New Orleans was not established as a diocese until 1793. Prior to that date, the ecclesiastical administrative authority was first Quebec, then Santiago de Cuba, and then Havana (Beers 1989, 154). In 1793, the Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas (episcopal seat at New Orleans) included the entire area of the modern state. In 1853, the northern section of Louisiana was transferred to the newly established Diocese of Natchitoches (the name of which has since been changed to the Diocese of Alexandria). Southwest Louisiana was made into a separate diocese in 1918, with Lafayette as the seat. The Diocese of Baton Rouge was created in 1961 (Hebert 1975, 2). Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes, with a small amount of adjacent territory, were separated from the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 1977 under the title of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux (Hebert 1979a, p. vi).

Ascension Parish, at the Post of Lafourche (modern Donaldsonville), was founded August 15, 1772 (Robichaux 1974, viii). Assumption Parish, a few miles below the Post of Valenzuela, at modern Plattenville, was founded 1793 (Robichaux 1974, p. ix). Abstracts of these parish records have been published (Catholic Church. Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana).

St. Joseph Church, Thibodaux, Louisiana (Lafourche Parish), was established in 1817; registers begin in 1820 (Hebert 1975, 32). St. Francis de Sales Church, Houma, Louisiana (Terrebonne Parish), was established in 1848 (Hebert 1975, 59). Sacred Heart Church, Montegut, Louisiana (Terrebonne Parish), was established in 1865 (Hebert 1975, 59). While its date of founding might seem to place its records beyond consideration in a section on the first half of the nineteenth century, the efforts of Sacred Heart's first priest to baptise a number of adults, some of them of advanced age, make its early records relevant to the period 1800-1850.

Using Civil and Church Records to Identify Early Ancestors of the Petitioner. Use of the records generated by the late colonial and early Federal era civil and ecclesiastical jurisdictions of Louisiana to identify members of the petitioning community is not always a straightforward procedure. After 1808, keepers of civil records were instructed to use the term "free person of color" (abbreviated "f.p.o.c."), or some variant of it, for non-whites. Indians and mixed blood Indians, as well as African/Caucasian mulattos and negroes, were included in this generic category (see Adelle v. Beauregard, First District Louisiana, Fall Term, 1810). Of necessity, under the Adelle v. Beauregard standard, Indians in Louisiana had to accept the "f.p.o.c." designation for legal purposes in relationships with outside society. This was not congruent with the self-identity of those who perceived themselves, or whose parents chose to identify them, as Indian.

Upon occasion a civil record keeper might be more specific than "f.p.o.c.," as in referring to Joseph Billiot's wife Jeanet as "an Indian woman" (Lafourche Parish Records, Marriage Bk. 1808-1829, Doc. 3) or Courteau as "Indian of the Biloxi nation" (Terrebonne Parish Records, Acts of Conveyance, Bk. 3, 1828-1830, Doc. 526)--but a civil record keeper was not required to be this specific. Several of the references of use to researchers working on this petition exist not because the record keeper specified the ethnic designation, but because the originator of the record did so, as when Jean Billiot declared that his deceased wife Marguerite Courteau was "an Indian woman" (Shannon 1986, 65) or when Alexandre Verdun, in his will, specified that Marie Gregoire was a "femme sauvage" (Terrebonne Parish Records, Acts of Conveyance, Bk. 3, 1828-1830, Doc. 521 and 521A).

In presenting abstracts of early sacramental records (baptisms, marriages, and funerals), the Catholic dioceses of Louisiana have made a deliberate effort both to provide essential information to genealogists and to prevent the use of the abstracts for purposes of racial identification. As an example of this procedure, in the Diocese of Baton Rouge Catholic Church Records, Volume 3 (1804-1819), most of the records pertaining to ancestors of the UHN from Assumption Parish are coded ASM-4 (Catholic Church. Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana 1982, Vol. 3, throughout). It is necessary to refer to another book, not in the same series, to discover that the ASM-4 code for Assumption Parish refers to "Libro de bautizados de neg.s y mulatos para esta parroqu.a de la Fource de Valenzuela (nombrada la Assumpcio