Place Names In St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana

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As before shown, certain names still in use were known and applied to the streams at the time of the earliest French exploration of the region. Therefore it is not unreasonable to suppose that many, if not all, of the names now employed by the Choctaw to designate the rivers and bayous were used in precolonial days.

The names are given here as they appear on the maps of the United States General Laud Office, together with the English trans­lations.

The name of a spring, and also of a river which is one of the principal tributaries of the Chefuncte river. The meaning of this word is not known to the Choctaw. They say that an old man who called himself Abeta’ came from far away and made his home near the spring. But this happened many years ago, and no Indian now living ever saw him. They insist that abita is not a Choctaw word. The name at once suggests the Abixka of the Upper Creeks, and may have been derived from that source. The man who took up his abode near the spring may have been a Creek.

Bayou Castine
The Creoles claim the name was derived from Castagne, the name of an early French settler. But the Choctaw say it was taken from their name of the bayou, Caste (“fleas”), so named on account of the large number of fleas found there. Now, as the name has been shown to have been in use when the French first entered the region, we should accept the Choctaw explanation as probably correct.

Chinchuba Creek
Given the same name by the Choctaw. Chin­chuba in the Choctaw language means “alligator.”

Chefuncte River
Known by’ the same name by the Choctaw, the word meaning “chinchapin” (Castanea pumila).

Ponchitoawa Creek
The same in Choctaw. The word is trans­lated “singing hair.”

Bogue Falaya
From the Choctaw bogu, “river,” and falaya, ‘long.’’

Cane Bayou
Known to the Choctaw as chela’ha, “noisy;” said by them to be so named on account of the noise caused by the wind blowing through the canes.

Bayou Lacomb
Called by the Choctaw butchu’wa, “squeezing.” Their settlement is also known by the same name.

Pearl River
Known to the Choctaw at the present time as Hatcha. The same name is applied to the settlement.

Lake Pontchartrain
The Choctaw name for the lake, as well as for any wide expanse of water, is Okwa’ta (olcwa-water, the suffix ta meaning “large” or “wide”). The name of the Gulf of Mexico, as given on the Lamhatty map of 1707,1 is Ouquödky.


  1. American Anthropologist, n. S., X, no. 4, 570, 1908. 

MLA Source Citation:

Bushnell, David I., Jr. The Choctaw of Bayou Lacomb, St Tammay Parish Louisiana. Washington Government Printing Office. 1909. Web. 21 January 2015. - Last updated on Oct 13th, 2014

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