University of Massachusetts Amherst

Heritage & Society

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The Sovereign Nation of the Chitimacha are indigenous to the land around the bayous of what is now Southern Louisiana. After years of successive intrusions by the French, Spanish and English, their traditional territory was drastically reduced. Today, the Chitimacha are the only tribe in Louisiana that still retains some of their original tribal lands, and were the first in Louisiana to achieve federal tribal recognition. Many of the Chitimacha’s still live on the ancestral lands of the Chitimacha Reservation in what is now known as Charenton, Louisiana. Despite severe decimation, slavery and spatial suppression, the rich traditions of the Chitimacha are retained in their stories, recipes, music and dance, and in their arts and crafts.

The Chitimacha tribe displayed the greatest skill through the art of weaving baskets from wild cane gathered from the swamps. The wild cane was split by the teeth of the basket makers, dyed in vivid yellows, reds and blacks, and woven into layers producing beautifully intricate baskets of unique designs that were capable of floating. This traditional art form continues to thrive today and is highly symbolic of their continued survival and the importance of cultural tradition.

 

 
Center for Heritage and Society, 215 Machmer Hall, University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA 01003 phone: 413.545.2221  fax: 413.545.9494