The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana: Making History Accessible

The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana: Making History Accessible

The purpose of this project is to create a digital resource utilizing best practices in the digital humanities, educational technologies, and indigenous information sharing platforms to make Coushatta history accessible to tribal citizens and to provide t

The outcome of this digital resource will hold many benefits. In addition to serving as an important source for current tribal leaders to easily access legal and historical knowledge when making tough decisions or when representing their community to the public, it will also serve as a valuable tool in training and educating future leaders. As older generations of Coushatta leaders retire, the ongoing fear of whether the younger generation have the necessary historical knowledge to step into leadership positions is a major concern. It is a concern that carries consequences for the sustainability of the tribe and its existing relationships with other governing bodies, which can have lasting implications for funding, economic development, political positioning, racial justice and public opinion. A digital resource that holds the tribe’s historical and cultural knowledge will complement existing mentorship practices already in place.

A digital resource will also contribute to the Coushatta tribe’s larger public education programing efforts by providing a vehicle to share their history and culture with a broader audience. Presently, public access to information about the Coushattas is limited to a brief overview of their history on the tribal website. Since the 1960s, the tribe has worked with local newspapers to tell their story, but the circulation was limited and no longer easily accessible. Academic publications about the Coushattas primarily focus on their language and traditional tales, with only a handful of historical accounts published. This project will give the tribe an opportunity to promote a deeper understanding among the public about the meaning and implications of sovereignty within a Coushatta historical, contemporary, and forward looking context, with particular emphasis given to the protection of rights and traditions of the Coushatta people.

Finally, this project will benefit the broader public history community by contributing to the growing list of successful collaborations between tribes and academic institutions to offer educational opportunities in a culturally respectful and ethical way. By bridging the gap between skill and need, universities like ASU have the potential to inspire other tribal communities to engage their citizens, as well as the broader public, in a similar manner.