Date: Wed, 20 Apr 1994 16:26:00 CDT


Subject: Re: Cajun query

Yes, as Mary Ojibway indicated, there is a sizable group of Houma

in Louisiana, many of whom speak Cajun French. The group is about 11,000

strong, by far the largest Native American group in Louisiana. They reside

mainly in Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes. I don't

know what percentage speak Cajun. Perhaps because of greater group

cohesion and/or isolation, this group is one of the very few where

children are still found speaking Cajun French. As far as I know the Houma

language was entirely superseded by French and is now extinct.

A few aged Coushatta (Koasati) speak Cajun French as well. I had the unique

opportunity of meeting and recording one of them in the summer of '92. His

French was identical to that of other Prairie Cajuns in St. Landry Parish and

west. There are only about 350 Coushatta on the tribal lands in Allen Parish.

The Coushatta tongue is still spoken there, but I would guess that its

situation is precarious.

There are also about 500 Chitimacha in St. Mary Parish. Although I know that

the language is extinct, I don't know how many are French speakers today.

Ditto for the Tunica-Biloxi in Avoyelles Parish (about 250). There are some

Choctaw groups in Anglophone Louisiana, only one of which, the Jena group,

still retains use of Choctaw to any degree.

Mike Picone

University of Alabama