The Catholic Church baptismal records have been used as a resource for determining if a person was Atakapa or Savauge or Free Person of Color. TheLafayette, LA Parish Public Library has a series of reference books prepared by Father Hebert who compiled & published a lot of LA area’s churches records… I suggest you try that if your ancestors were Catholic. A lot of Atakapas were baptized Catholic due to missionary work in this area and educated as Catholics because of the work done by the now Saint Katharine Drexel and many catholic nuns and priests.
Your skin color is a non-issue… Atakapa, other Native Americans & Creoles’ beautiful hues ranged from dark brown to “red bone” bronze to fair complexions. I for one have Atakapa-Ishak blood along with a mixture of West Indian & Acadian French & African American! My spirit is Native!
One of the problems with being categorized as “black” or “colored” in parish & state records is a common one because the court birth records in 1800’s and early 1900’s often said just “colored” for both African migrants and their descendants and Native Americans and their descendants. This was the biggest mis-service done to our people and began the distortion of who we really are. So culturally & colloquially speaking, in the early and mid 1900’s when ‘colored’ people began to be referred to as negro and negros were assumed to be African American and African American became referred to as Black, our identity was further obscured and would have been lost if not for Native Pride & strong oral history. So speak to every elder in your family… record their stories on paper or dictaphones if you can… they are the key to who we are. Also try to find every historical birth certificate, death certificate and marriage certificates… any legal records… and one name might lead you to another and then another!
Much of this resurgence or rebirth can be attributed to a man named Hugh Singleton (Hubert D. Singleton) who has published many works on Atakapas. He grew up in Lake Charles area but became a priest and lived on the West Coast for years. He left the priesthood late in life, married and resided in Hammond for many years… later prolonged illness & finally his death. His writings are a bit academic & some find it is not easy reading, but worth it because he was a true linguist, researcher & historian.
Information provided by Rachel Mouton
The message below is an old exchange exchange between Dr. Andrew Jolivette, scholar & professor in SF bay area of CA to a local Atakapa who was looking for more on his heritage. I am including it because the links below may still be useful links. Researching & discovering your heritage and ancestry is a lot of work so hang in there, be diligent and patient. Hope to see you at one of the upcoming Native American events… For example:Bayou Vermilionville hosts a Native American Culture Day each year, this year it is in September (2013)
the tribe(s) in that area originally would have been the Attakapa (also spelled
Atakapa or Atakapa-Ishak, meaning the people). Atakapa is actually a Choctaw
word. The other tribes in the area would have been Opelousa (or Blackleg),
Choctaw, and the Alabama Coushatta who are now in nearby Kinder, Louisiana. The
records for the Atakapa stop around 1908 with the last speakers near Lake
Charles because anthropologists were looking for pristine “pure Indians”not
mixed-bloods so much of this history is lost or confused in the records. I would
suggest looking at old church records in Scott & Lafayette Louisiana using the
surnames you mentioned if you want to do more of the search, but these would be
the tribes in the area. You may already know that I’ve written a book on this
subject, Louisiana Creoles: Cultural Recovery and Mixed-Race Native American
Identity (Lexington Books, which is coming out with a less expensive paperback
version of the book $18.00 if ordered before October). Are you related to the
Jolivette family? My relatives come from the Sunset, Opelousas, Eunice, Kaplan,
Lawtell, Mallet, Lafayette, and Lake Charles areas of Louisiana. Perhaps we’re
related. If you are not already familiar check out the Louisiana Creole Heritage
Center at http://www.nsula.edu/creole. You may want to contact Hiriam “Pete”
Gregory at Northwestern State University in Natchitcohes, Louisiana Indians
expert and Hubert Singleton an expert on the Atakapa tribe. He has written on
this subject. Further links are listed below. Take Good Care, Andrew
Information provided by Rachel Mouton
Click the link below to learn about the AKOKISAS ART AND HISTORY PROGRAM
Atakapa Dragons served in battle of New Orleans
The Atakapas were the native american tribe that served in the battle of New Orleans under Andrew Jackson.