The Avoyel Indians were a small tribe of eastern Louisiana, relatives of the
The Avoyels have not existed as a tribe since the late 1700's, but there are some people of Avoyel
descent still living in Louisiana today, particularly among the Tunica-Biloxi Indians (whose reservation
is located in present-day Avoyelles Parish) and in neighboring Louisiana Cajun communities.
There are no remaining records of the Avoyel language, but French missionaries considered it
equivalent to Natchez, so probably it was either a Natchez dialect or a closely related Gulf language.
Names: The meaning of the name "Avoyel" is uncertain. It definitely came from a French name for the tribe, Avoyelles, but
the origin of that name is unknown (it definitely does not mean "flint" in French, as it is sometimes claimed to.) It may have been a
French corruption of one of their own tribal names. Other
historical spellings included Avogel, Avoyelle, and Avoy. The Avoyelles were also known as the Tassenogoula or Tamoucougoula,
which were names for their tribes in the languages of their Muskogean neighbors. ("Tassenogoula" does mean "flint people" in
Choctaw, which was probably the source of the mistaken claim about French.) The Avoyelles were sometimes also called the
"Petit Taensas" (little Taensas) by the French, referring to the Taensa
tribe living further to the north; however, the Avoyelles and Taensas were actually distinct from each other.
Avoyel Language Tree:
Theories about Avoyel's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Our online resources for Natchez, which was probably the same or similar to the Avoyel language.