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Atakapa Tribe Revisited

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posted on Jul, 1 2011 @ 01:58 AM

As a child, I remember my grandmother telling me many stories of tribes that once dwelled, long ago, in the very place we lived, played, fished and hunted. Sadly, I cannot remember any of the tales save one, about a lonely tribesman who's people were decimated back in the 1800s. The story goes, that once a year, you could hear him singing across the wind, songs of sadness as he was the only one left of his tribe that lived, watching his wife and children fall by the sword of blood thirsty conquerors. Of course, it was a ghost story, and probably untrue, but the same story was told to them as a child.

First, a little history about my family. I am a Cajun, born and raised in the swamplands of south west louisiana. My grandparents, living through the old days and old traditions of the Cajun people, lived deep in the woods and swamps that make up most of south louisiana. My grandmother was raised on a houseboat on the Mermentau river. Their home was litteraly on the water, docking in one place along the river to keep wildlife and plant food to survive. They took much from the water and mingled with the people that also lived along that same river if not also upon it. In her day, the 1930s, which doesnt seem like so long to us, was very primative for the Cajun people. We lived on what the good lord provided us and barely much else. From this time and place, many stories sprung up about buried treasures, ghosts, and headhunting native americans. One such native people were called the Atakapa.

The Atakapa were a tribe of natives that also dwelled along these dame rivers and swamps of Louisiana and parts of south Texas as well. Many people today in my homeland consider them to be blood thirsty savages, but those people do not know much truth about the past in which they now dwell. It was the spanards that labled them such, mostly because when they (the spaniards) were captured, for crimes in which they killed and murdered the native peoples of Mexico, and roasted on a spit... But these prisoners were never eaten. They were just captured and burned on a spit for their crimes, and nothing more. Yet, through the ages, they were considered savages. It is known and documented, that any travelers that happen upon them were treated with kindness and were always given supplies and food to carry with them on their journies. They were not killed, eaten or the like. My grandmother knew this and would tell me stories about them and how they lived. She also told me that they one day just dissapeared. Vanished without a trace. In reality, they had not vanished in mystery, but were killed off over the centuries by land grabbers and the obvious.

If you would like to know more, Wiki offers a decent amount of information about the people called the Atakapa. Some still survive today, but few, and very much mixed with other races, so there are none truely left today. My family also have bloodlines traced back to these natives as well as Cherokee, but that's besides the topic

Now... To the rest of the story.

When I can, I like to enjoy some of my heratige which usually takes me back to the woods, lakes, swamps and rivers of my birth. Much of my family still live there and enjoy these surroundings on a daily basis, yet much of it has become modern. Who knows... Maybe there are still buried treasures out there waiting to be stubled upon by the next generation of children. Most of the old stories and ghost tales are lost with the old, some still within the minds and imaginiations of us grandchildren, but sadly, when we go, no one else would know those wonderful tales that would keep us up thinking all night long around campfires, or tucked away in our beds. If I ever have my own children, I will surely share what remember. It made one want to be the explorer. Now in my adult life, I can explore these places with a limitless purpose just for the fun and sake of the explorer in me.

This last weekend past, I took some time to spend with my little brothers and we headed out for a fun filled day, fishing on Grand Lake. We braved the river then traveled across the big lake to Grand Lake, on the farthest side, to coast along the beach and catch red after red after red... among the other native fish such as Cat Fish and Gar Fish. We watched the shrimp hop across the water, often scuttling away from shrimp boats in mass numbers. Every now and then, we'd toss a cast net in the water and pull up plenty enough bait for a full day of fishing... Plenty still for a full night's meal.

At some point, we coasted along a well known (well known to us, as this was our grandparents livelyhood when we were children) beach. This beach was once a trashpile to the Atakapa people. The water from the beach is very, very shallow. 1-3 feet in the deepest places untill it dropped off somewhere far out towards the middle of the lake. The shallows would extend for no less than 100 yards. Along these shallows, you could pick up clams for days. That's just what the Atakapa did. They picked clams and fed upon them for so long that they eventually made a part of the beach a "Shell Beach", which we call it today. There is another well known beach near my home that is exactly like this. The tribes would eat these clams and toss the shells in piles, eventually making up the beach itself. As well, old pottery, arrowheads, tools and whatever else the Atakapa no longer had a use for would end up on these beaches as well.... Including skulls and bones from some poor sod that probably tried harm against them in some way or another. Further away was the burial mounds. One could find all sorts of neat things there. Though, my grandparents were very superstitious and we were never alowed near the mounds. Till this day, they are left alone. Not to mention, there, mother nature takes care of the mounds quite well... Unless you're a snake and gator lover. Much of it is slowly but surely being overtaken by the rising waters.

On the shell beach, one can walk out for quite a long distance and simply pick up pottery all day from the clay covered shallows, as well as old relics that many have thrown (littered) in the lake over the many years of fishing it of it's bountiful crop of fish, oysters and shrimp... and of course, gators.

Since there was so much pottery laying around, I picked only the coolest I could find and kept them to show you fine folx on ATS. I did not pick up any tools or arrowheads, as those are too plentiful where I'm from and usually pretty boring in my opinion. Once you've seen and had the first 100, the next 1000 or so just isnt worth holding on to. I guess the same could be said about the pottery, but before then, I didnt have any in my collection.

I am open to all questions and stories if you wish. There are a lifetime's worth

Thanks for reading. Now for the pictures!

Showing the vastness of the lake itself. (Grand Lake) This is only a small portion of it. We had to travel across the lake to get to....:

The water isnt deep here at all. It "might" come up to your knees on a bad day.

Thanks again for your interest! Enjoy!

posted on Jul, 1 2011 @ 03:43 AM
I have enjoyed reading your post Thank you for sharing.
You seem to have the beginings of a good book there, it would be very interesting to read of all the old stories told to you as a child, not to mention saved for future generations.

posted on Jul, 1 2011 @ 03:54 AM
reply to post by nanny

Thank you nanny. Perhaps one day I'll put some together for ya to read here. Strange stuff indeed. Though, I would like to add, the history there is thick with piracy and buried treasure. We had a officer in a nearby city do a little scuba diving in one of the rivers near with a metal detector and actually found some gold and treasure. Jean Lafitte is a well known pirate who traveled the waters and rivers here durring the late 1700s early 1800s.

Ive had my own weird ghostly experiances, but the ones told to me by my great grandmother still have me wondering today. They swear by them. Dunno if I would really want to live those same experiances

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