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The Acolapissa were a small tribe of native Americans, said to originate from the shores of the Pearl River, between Louisiana and Mississippi before 1702. This made them one of four tribes, along with the Bayogoula, Biloxi, and Pascagoula who inhabited the gulf coast of Mississippi at the time of the European intrusion.[1] After that time, they moved further west, into what is now the area around New Orleans. Pressured by European settlement of the area and disease, the small tribe eventually was absorbed into the Houma, which now live in and around Houma, Louisiana. Current population of the Houma tribe is said to be around 11,000 persons. A petition for federal status for the Houma was denied by the U.S. government in 1994.[2]

Early history

The Acolapissa had six villages. The Tangipahoa had constituted a seventh village but broke away some time before 1700 to form a separate tribe. In 1699 they were attacked by a band of 200 Chickasaw lead by two English slave traders, who intended to take them as slaves to South Carolina.[3]


The name Acolapissa means "those who listen and see" in Choctaw.

Other names for the tribe were: Aqueloupissa, Cenepisa, Colapissa, Coulapissa, Equinipicha, Kinipissa, Kolapissa, and Mouisa.

The Acolapissa are of Muskogean stock and closely related to Choctaw and Chickasaw.

The Acolapissa adorned their bodies with tattoos, since they wore little clothing due to their location.

Some sources indicate that the Acolapissa may have been the same tribe as the Quinipissa or the Tangipahoa. According to several sources related to the Houma, tribes in the area of Lake Ponchartrain called them Mugulashai.

The tribe is considered "extinct" by European sources, even though most historic writings indicate the Acolapissa joined with the Houma in the era following European entrance into their lands.


  1. ^ Gibson, Arrell M. "The Indians of Mississippi" in McLemore, Richard Audrey, ed. A History of Mississippi Vol. 1, p. 69
  2. ^ Acolapissa
  3. ^ Swanton, John R. The Indians of the Southeaster United States published as Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology bulletin 137 (United States Government Printing Office: Washington, 1946) p. 82

Bushnell, David I., Jr. Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 48: The Choctaw of Bayou Lacomb, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1909.

Shovel, Dick. Acolaphissa History.

Swanton, John Reed. The Indian Tribes of North America. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1959.

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