Florida Parish Chronicles to focus on Native American legacy

Monday, February 3, 2014 Native Americans
by: Rene Abadie

NATIVE AMERICAN SETTLEMENTS – A map shows the early settlement locations of the Choctaw and Houma tribes in south Louisiana separated to the east by Lake Pontchartrain. The settlement, migration patterns and demise of Native American tribes is the topic of the latest episode of the Southeastern Channel's "Florida Parish Chronicles." The episode debuts on the Southeastern Channel on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m.

HAMMOND - Ever wonder about the origin of the name "Tchefuncte or other seemingly strange names for places in Louisiana?"

Find out this and other historical facts regarding the Native American history of the region via a new episode of "The Florida Parish Chronicles" airing on the Southeastern Channel, Southeastern Louisiana University's educational access station on Charter Cable.

Titled "Forgotten Louisianians: the Rise and Demise of Native Culture in Southeast Louisiana," the program will debut at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, on the Channel.

Channel General Manager Rick Settoon said the program, which is underwritten by First Guaranty Bank of Hammond, will air at various times over the next two months.

The show traces the origins of Native culture in the area, exploring migration patterns and factors that led to the demise or removal of each tribe. Cooking methods, village construction, methods of warfare and Native American political structures are all detailed in the episode. The Acollapisa, Tangipahoa, Quinipisas, Mugalasha, Bayougoula, Chickasaw, Houma, Natchez and Choctaw are among the local tribes covered.

"This episode reveals previously overlooked or forgotten details about Native American life in the Florida Parishes, along with detailing the various phases of Indian culture in our region and what led to the demise of each," said show host and writer Samuel C. Hyde, Southeastern's Leon Ford Endowed Chair of History and Director of the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies.

Segments were shot in Livingston, Tangipahoa and St. Tammany parishes, and they include never-before-televised images of Indian mounds, burial sites, and Native American artifacts. Hyde delivers one report from an Indian mound near Roseland that's 2,000 years old where he points out the disappearance of its twin mound due to natural erosion and human excavation.

"In addition to providing a look at the curious aspects of regional Native American culture, the program also offers some sharp reminders of the fragility of historical sites and their preservation," Hyde said.  "This episode is certain to both entertain and educate."

Among those interviewed in the program are Rebecca Saunders, curator of anthropology at the LSU Museum of Natural Science in Baton Rouge, about Indian mounds and early settlement patterns; and independent Native American researcher Jason Thompson, who has collected artifacts from Florida Parish tribes dating back 5,000 years.  Thompson, who has researched 10 different Indian mounds in the Florida Parishes, displays a variety of arrowheads, spear points and stones that were used as tools in drilling, cutting and cooking.

"I believe that few area residents know the actual history and magnitude of Native American activity in their own backyard," said Settoon, executive producer of the series. "The movement and settlement of Native Americans over centuries has had a significant impact on our way of life and folk tradition in the Florida Parishes."

The program was taped and edited by Steve Zaffuto, Southeastern Channel operations manager.  Zaffuto also created animated graphics of Native American farming, cooking and hut-building practices, and tribal migration patterns throughout the Florida Parishes and southeast Louisiana.

The Southeastern Channel can be seen on Charter Cable Channel 18 in Tangipahoa, Livingston and St. Tammany parishes and on Channel 17 in Washington Parish.  The live 24-7 simulcast can be seen on the channel's website at www.southeastern.edu/tv.

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