The Houma (/ˈhoʊmə/) are a historic Native American people of Louisiana on the east side of the Red River of the South. Their descendants, the Houma people or organization “The United Houma Nation”, have been recognized by the state as a tribe since 1972, but are not recognized by the federal government.
Centuries of intermarriage thoroughly integrated Catholicism and the French language into Houma identity. Religion Temples were fronted with carved wooden figures. There may also have been earthen images of deities inside. The people probably worshiped a number of gods, in particular the sun, thunder, and fire.
Most Houma people speak French as their first language. Many also speak English. In the past, Houma Indians spoke their own Houma language, which most linguists consider to be a dialect of Choctaw.
Houma was named after the Native American tribe who settled here, the Houmas Indians. The word houma or ouma means ” red” in the tribe’s language, which referred to the sun or possibly to their war emblem, the crawfish.
The Houma Nation in French Louisiana As a result of these frequent raids, the Tunica Indians —historically located to the north of the Houma—moved south and settled in Houma territory. In 1706, tensions between the two tribes flared, and the Tunica massacred their hosts.
Federal recognition. The Houma were granted land by the 1790s on Bayou Terrebonne under the Spanish colonial administration, which had prohibited Indian slavery in 1764.
Houma women harvested crops of corn, beans, and squash. Houma men hunted for wild turkeys and small game and went fishing and shrimping in their canoes. The Houmas also enjoyed sassafrass tea.
The Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana is the only Louisiana tribe to still live on a section of their original homeland, with a reservation located near the town of Charenton, approximately two hours from New Orleans.
Choctaw, North American Indian tribe of Muskogean linguistic stock that traditionally lived in what is now southeastern Mississippi.
The word ” bayou,” almost a synonym for Louisiana in the public mind, is itself derived from the Choctaw (or Mobilian) word, bayuk. The rivers and bayous abound in Indian names, even some of the French toponomy is of Indian origin—Bayou Nez Pique is named after a chief, while Lacassine refers to a medicinal drink.
Today, remaining Biloxi descendants have merged with the Tunica and other remnant peoples. Together they were federally recognized in 1981; today they are called the Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe and share a small reservation in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. Descendants of several other small tribes are enrolled with them.