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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 unified political entity since the late 1700's, but there are Avoyel families 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. Some Avoyel descendants today have begun trying to reconstruct their ancient language again.

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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 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, or of a name given to them by the neighboring Biloxi tribe. Other historical spellings included Avogel, Avoyelle, and Avoy. The Avoyelles were also known as the Tassenogoula, Tasanuk, 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
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The Avogel Tribe of Louisiana:
    Book on Avoyel history written by tribal descendant and historian John Mayeux.
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-Taensa Tribe of Louisiana:
    Homepage of one of the tribal communities of Avoyel descendants in Louisiana today.
Avoyelles Tribe: * Avoyel Indians:
    Early 20th-century articles about the Avoyel tribe.
Avogel Tribe:
    Website with historical information about the Avogel Indian tribe of Louisiana.
Four Directions: Avoyel:
    Timeline and links about Avoyelles history.
Avoyelles Today: Who Are The Avoyel?:
    News article on Avoyel descendants seeking to be recognized by the US government.
Calls for action to save Marksville State Historic Park:
    Efforts by the Tunica-Biloxi and Avogel tribes to preserve the ancestral Indian mounds of Louisiana.
Tribes of the Southeast:
    Map of Southeastern tribes including the Avoyel.
Avogel Nation of Louisiana:
    Picture of the Avogel tribal seal.

Links, References, and Additional Information

  Wikipedia: Avoyelles:
  Wikipedia article on the Avoyel Indians.
  Louisiana Tribes:
  Information and links about indigenous culture and history in Louisiana.
  Los Avoyel:
  Information about the Avoyelles and their language in Spanish.

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