The Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana is the only tribe in Louisiana to still occupy a portion of their aboriginal homeland.  The Chitimacha, according to oral history, “have always been here.” Unfortunately, over thousands of years the Chitimacha land base has significantly decreased. The Tribe’s lands once encompassed the entire Atchafalaya Basin, lands westward toward Lafayette, Louisiana, southward to the Gulf of Mexico and eastward to the New Orleans area. The Chitimacha Tribe currently maintains a reservation adjacent to the town of Charenton, in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana.

Based upon documentary evidence and upon information from tribal informants, a brief sketch of the Chitimacha Tribe prior to contact with Europeans can be constructed.  The Chitimacha were arranged in a class system. This system was more rigid than the famous Natchez system, employing different forms of address, both polite and common. Clans also existed; the wolf, bear, dog, and lion clan were documented in the early 1900s. Clan membership was based on matrilineal descent.