Portraits of the
has a Rich and Colorful History
The Primitive Age of the Ouachita
The major Indian tribes that lived along the OUACHITA were the Washita, Caddo, Osage, Tensas, Chickasaw and Choctaw. Time brought about a great change to their primitive world as the white settlers moved into the Ouachita Valley. The word "Washita", today known as OUACHITA, is an Indian word meaning..."River of good hunting grounds...and sparkling silver water"...
Many Indian tribes, including the mysterious "mound builders", existed in the Ouachita valley ages before the appearance of the European explorers.
The Spanish explorer DeSoto recorded in 1540 the existence of an enormous mound built on the banks of the OUACHITA. This site was named "Anilco", and was located at the present site of Jonesville, Louisiana. This mound was tragically destroyed when a bridge was built over the site in the 1930's.
This mound was one of the largest ever recorded in North America. The base of the mound was 400 foot square and 20 feet high; and within the mound was a center mound that rose another 80 feet. A continuous"religious fire" was maintained by the Indians in a wooden temple built on top of the huge center mound.
The temple was struck by lightning and burned to the ground in 1700. The Indians saw this as a bad omen and attempted to appease the gods by making human sacrafices; however, this temple was never rebuilt. In 1730 the entire tribe mysteriously abandoned the site.
The life and culture of the Indians that originally built the "mysterious mounds" found in so many places along the banks of the OUACHITA , also continues to remain a mystery; however, these mounds are valid evidence that a great unique Indian culture did exist long before the arrival of the European explorers.
Certain Ouachita Valley Indian tribes began to disappear in the 1600s. Most disappearances were the result of tribal warfare. The"Washita" tribe was almost totally destroyed in 1690 by the "Tensas" tribe. The remaining remnant of the "Washita" tribe was driven out of the Ouachita valley by the "Chickasaw" tribe in 1734.