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Avoyel Indian Language (Avogel, Avoyelles, Avoy)

The Avoyel Indians were a small tribe of eastern Louisiana, relatives of the Natchez Indians. 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.

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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 Links

Avoyel Language Tree:
    Theories about Avoyel's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Natchez Language:
    Our online resources for Natchez, which was probably the same or similar to the Avoyel language.

Books for sale on the Avoyel Indians

The Avogel Tribe of Louisiana:
    Book on Avoyel history by a tribal descendant.
Indian Tribes of the Lower Mississippi Valley:
    Book on the history of the Gulf and Mississippian tribes, including a chapter on the Avoyel.

Avoyel History and Culture

Avoyel Indian Tribe History:
    Article on the Avoyel tribe from the Handbook of American Indians.
    Wikipedia article on the Avoyel Indians.
Avogel Tribe:
    Website with historical information about the Avogel Indian tribe of Louisiana.
Avoyel-Taensa Nation:
    History of the Avoyel-Taensas.
Four Directions: Avoyel:
    Timeline and links about Avoyelles history.

Links, References, and Additional Information

Los Avoyel:
Information about the Avoyelles and their language in Spanish.
Avoyel Tribe:
Avoyel links.

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