Avoyel Tribe: The name signifies probably “people of the rocks,” referring to flint and very likely applied because they were middlemen in supplying the Gulf coast tribes with flint. Also called:
- Little Taensa, so-called from their relationship to the Taensa.
- Tassenocogoula, name in the Mobilian trade language, meaning “flint people.”
Avoyel Connections. The testimony of early writers and circumstantial evidence render it almost certain that the Avoyel spoke a dialect of the Natchez group of the Muskhogean linguistic family.
Avoyel Location. In the neighborhood of the present Marksville, La.
Avoyel History. The Avoyel are mentioned first by Iberville in the account of his first expedition to Louisiana in 1699, where they appear under the Mobilian form of their name, Tassenocogoula. He did not meet any of the people, however, until the year following when he calls them “Little Taensas.” They were encountered by La Harpe in 1714, and Le Page du Pratz (1758) gives a short notice of them from which it appears that they acted as middlemen in disposing to the French of horses and cattle plundered from Spanish settlements. In 1764 they took part in an attack upon a British regiment ascending the Mississippi (see Ofo Indians), and they are mentioned by some later writers, but Sibley (1832) says they were extinct in 1805 except for two or three women “who did live among the French inhabitants of Washita.” In 1930 one of the Tunica Indians still claimed descent from this tribe.
Avoyel Population. I have estimated an Avoyel population of about 280 in 1698. Iberville and Bienville state that they had about 40 warriors shortly after this period. (See Taensa Indians)
Connection in which they have become noted. The name of the Avoyel is perpetuated in that of Avoyelles Parish, La.