New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Thursday, July 27, 2017
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Pre-History

Native Americans were the first settlers along Bayou St. John & the Lakefront. They later showed the French the route from the Lake, down Bayou St. John, to the river.


Native Americans were the first residents along the lake

Native American tribes (Bayougoula, Mougoulacha, Chitimacha, Oumas, Tangipahoa, Colapissa, and Quinipissalive) lived in the area we now know as the Lake Pontchartrain Basin. Today evidence of their villages exist in the form of piles of discarded clam shells or 'middens'. Source: Save Our Lake Foundation The photograph shows workers duting the 1940's finding evidence of Tchefuncta period Native Americans near the lake, two miles from the Lakefront Airport (then called 'Shushan Airport)' Okwa-ta, which means 'Wide Water,' is the name the Choctaws used for the lake.

Native Americans were the first residents along the lake

Native Americans first named and used Bayou St. John

Centuries ago, when Native Americans first entered Southern Louisiana, they saw vast marshes and swamps. While looking for places to settle, they found a body of water which they named Bayouk Choupic after the mudfish. They started building their villages there. On Bayouk Choupic palmetto leaves and tree branches were use to build houses. Others built their homes on top of mounds or hills of dirt and clamshells. The natives used the bayou for transportation and food. Using the bayou, along with a path now called Bayou Road, they were able to travel to the Mississippi River. A trading community developed on the convergence of Bayouk Choupic and Bayou Road. One such tribe was the Tangipahoa, which means ?Corn Gatherers? or ?Corn Cob People?. They are thought to be a part of the Acolapissa from Pearl River. They moved closer to Lake Pontchartrain and stopped on the north and south shores. One day, the Houma, from the Choctaw Tribe, and their allies entered a Tangipahoa village and destroyed it. After returning to Pearl River, they moved to another river. That river now bears their name. It is called the Tangipahoa River. Some Acolapissa lived here. The Houma and the Bayougoula lived on Bayou St. John also. All three are related, says Grayhawk of the Cannes Brulee Native American Center. He also tells us that the Houma see the crawfish as a sign of bravery. Later, the French came looking to control the Mighty Mississippi. They wanted control over trade to their Canadian colonies. What they needed was a shorter route to the river from the gulf. That is when French explorers met natives from Biloxi. They showed the French their route to the bayou. They traveled from Biloxi, on the Gulf of Mexico, to Lake Borgne. Then into Lake Catherine and into Rigolets Pass. From there they went into Lake Pontchartrain to Bayouk Choupic and stopped at the bend. They walked down Bayou Road to the Mississippi. The French decided to build a city there. They built the city of New Orleans on the crescent of the river - their New Orleans, the part of the city we call the French Quarter. The city was surrounded by a wall, which is now Rampart, St. Peter, Esplanade, and Canal Streets. They renamed Bayouk Choupic, calling it Bayou St. Jean, and used it for importing and exporting goods with New Orleans as their port city. Other people, including the Spanish, wanted New Orleans because they wanted to control trade. To protect the city, the French built a fort at the mouth of the bayou called Fort St. Jean. When the Spanish owned Louisiana, they called the fort Spanish Fort. Research by Emily Antoine and Erin Leiva :Source: http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:56zbtuL-mss:pubweb.northwestern.edu/~baa328/project/bayou.html+%22bayou+st.+john%22+port&hl=en

Native Americans first named and used Bayou St. John