Tribal History

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas is one of only three federally recognized Tribes in the State of Texas. The other two are the Traditional Tribe of Kickapoo and Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo. The Tribe has remained intact for years residing on a beautiful, forested 10,200 acre reservation in Polk County, Texas. The reservation is 17 miles east of the city of Livingston on U.S. Highway 190 in Southeast Texas adjacent to the Big Thicket National Preserve.

Origins

Descendants of today’s Alabama-Coushatta Tribe have been in Texas for more than 225 years. The Tribes lived in adjacent areas in what is now the state of Alabama prior to their westward migration that began around 1763. Although they were two separate tribes, the Alabamas (Alibamus) and Coushattas (Koasatis) have been closely associated throughout history. By 1780, the Tribes had migrated into what is now east Texas.

Although the two Tribes have slight differences in language and customs, their long-term alliance has resulted in a very similar culture. Both languages are derived from the Muskhogean dialect and are mutually understandable.

The Tribe’s Triumph in Texas History

During the Mexican War of Independence from Spain, the Tribes fought with the revolutionaries. Their many combined contributions included a battalion of 300 warriors who were instrumental to the capture of San Antonio in the April 1, 1813 battle. The newly formed Mexican government recognized both tribes independently and offered them tracts of land for permanent settlement. Those lands are attributed to the Tribes in early maps of the region, including Stephen F. Austin’s 1829 map of Texas.

In 1836, Sam Houston brokered a treaty with the tribes prior to the Texas War of Independence from Mexico. The treaty provided title of land between the Neches and Sabine rivers for one community with both tribes in return for assurance the tribes would not side with Mexico. The Alabama agreed to be neutral and moved to Louisiana until the revolution was over. The Coushatta remained in Texas and served as guides for Houston’s army and provided provisions to feed Texas refugees fleeing from Santa Anna’s army.

In 1839, the President of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau Lamar, issued an order to the Cherokee and their associated tribes to leave Texas. That same year, in an address to the Fourth Congress of the Republic of Texas, President Lamar spoke of the hand of friendship being extended to the Alabama and Coushatta Tribes and declared that they had “equitable claims for protection of property and persons” in the new country.

The Tribe Today

Currently there are 1,200 members of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, less than half remain within the Reservation boundaries due to insufficient housing. Those who remain are a close knit community. The reservation has a health clinic, three churches, a day care center, a solid waste facility, retail shops, and an original Head Start program. The Tribal Government provides over 250 jobs that support the community ranging from teachers and doctors to law enforcement.

The reservation is home to one of the state’s most beautiful recreational areas. Close to 200,000 people a year visit the picnic areas, campsites and nature trails around Lake Tombigbee which are maintained by the Tribe. The Tribe also hosts an annual Pow-wow, an annual Musicfest, and other special events throughout the year for the community.

The Tribe is governed by a Tribal Council consisting of seven elected members, and advised by a Principal Chief and Second Chief both of whom serve lifetime terms. The goal of the Tribal Government is to provide Tribal Members a better future while preserving the traditions and customs for generations to come.

Learn More about the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.

Learn More about the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Tribe Timeline

1780s

The Alabama and Coushatta tribes migrate across the Sabine River into Spanish Texas.

1813

Both the Alabama and Coushatta tribes distinguish themselves in the Mexican War of Independence.

1836

The tribes assist Sam Houston’s army during the Texas War of Independence.

1839-1840

The Republic of Texas recognize the tribes’ equitable claim to lands in the new country and purchases "two "leagues of land" for each tribe. The tribes never settle on the land.

1845 — Texas Becomes a U.S. State

1854

The Texas Legislature responded favorably to the Tribe’s petition and authorizes the state to purchase land to form a reservation. This time the tribes settle on the land.

1928

Primary Chief Charles Martin and his interpreter McConnico Battise travel to Washington DC and successfully lobby the federal government for financial assistance. A grant of $40,000 was used to purchase additional acreage and livestock.

1929

Congress recognizes the tribes as Federal Indian Tribes

1954

U.S. Congress passed the Termination Act. This legislation terminated the legal trust between the federal government and the Tribe, transferring that trust to the state of Texas.

1981

A Texas Attorney General opinion ruled that the state of Texas can have no fiduciary trust relationship over the Tribe and that the state could seize assets of the Tribe.

1987

August 18 President Ronald Reagan signs Public Law 100-89 (Restoration Act) which restores the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe as a federally recognized Tribe.

2014

The Tribe’s Constitution is amended to permit the Tribal Council to establish and enforce ordinances to permit legal gaming on the reservation.

2015

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe petitioned the Department of the Interior and the National Indian Gaming Commission to allow the tribe to offer Class II Gaming on tribal lands held in trust prior to 1988. On October 9th, 2015 the National Indian Gaming Commission approves the tribe’s Class II Gaming Ordinance, thereby authorizing the tribe to offer Class II Gaming under the supervision and regulation of the federal government.

2016

The Alabama Coushatta Tribe opens Naskila Entertainment in May. The facility features 365 Class II electronic gaming machines, a full-service restaurant called Timbers Grille, gift shop and Seven Feathers Circle Players Club.