The alligator was so grateful that he asked to be part of the tribe’s culture. This allowed the tribesmen to name themselves after the alligator, creating a new Coushatta clan, said Eli Langley, 23, a tribe storyteller and activist familiar with the tribe’s history.
The Chitimacha tribe of Louisiana usually roasted alligators whole over a fire or deep-fry them in bear oil, said Kimberly Walden, 51, the tribal history conservation officer. “As big as they were, they were a very convenient food source,” she said.
When French government officials tried to form alliances with Native Americans in the area before Louisiana was a colony, Chitimachas provided them with an alligator feast, Ms. Walden said.
Cajuns, Acadian people from France who had been expelled from Canada, arrived in the late 18th century. “We always had this friendship and community aspect with Cajuns,” said Mr. Langley of the Coushatta tribe. “It was almost an oppressive relationship or something. We had both been expelled from our country. We shared traditions and our knowledge of the country.”
When the Chitimacha people were enslaved in the 18th century, a female tribesman struck an approaching alligator in the nose with a stick to make it retreat, and the settler who enslaved her taught that it was not necessary. was to shoot the animal, Mrs. Walden. said.
Teaching outsiders how to hunt and eat alligators probably came naturally when someone asked how the country’s Chitimacha thrived, Ms. Walden said. “We knew how to take care of ourselves,” she said. “We’re not trying to spin our own horn, but logically you get into an area you don’t know, you need someone to help you survive.”
The swamp became a pantry for Cajuns and Creoles, Mr. Folse said. “If we kill it, we eat it,” he said, placing his seasoned alligator on a wire cage and strapping it down to roast and smoke during the Tigers-Gators game.