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.