Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation in Eastern Texas

One of only three Indian reservations in Texas, the Alabama-Coushatta reservation represents the distinctive heritage of this small yet proud group. At one time the tribe offered tours, a museum, and cultural events for tourists; unfortunately, they are no longer operating. Regardless, visitors are encouraged to spend time at the reservation’s campground or fishing on Lake Tombigbee.

Longleaf pine trees growing on Alabama-Coushatta Tribe’s lands. Photo by the USDA licensed Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivatives.

Located on 4,600 acres of dense woodland close to the center of the Big Thicket National Preserve, the Alabama-Coushatta reservation was established in 1854 by Sam Houston as a reward to the tribes for their courage in remaining neutral during the Texas War for Independence from Mexico. Both groups had been living in the Big Thicket area since circa 1800, when they migrated westward to hunt and build homes out of the abundant East Texas timber.

White settlers displaced countless tribe members, prompting many Coushattas to relocate near Kinder, Louisiana, where a majority still resides today. Malnutrition and disease took their toll on the Alabama-Coushatta, resulting in a disturbingly low population of 200 members in the late 1800s.

By the 1920s, the state and federal government recognized their poor living conditions and appropriated funds to purchase additional land, construct frame houses to replace meager log cabins, dig wells to help eliminate long water treks to natural springs, and provide medical and educational resources.

Despite the recent closing of the tribe’s cultural facilities, the reservation still operates the popular Lake Tombigbee Campground, offering primitive sites, full-capacity RV stations, restrooms with bathhouses, swimming areas, and hiking and nature trails.

Call 936/563-1221 or 800/926-9038 for camping information and to obtain a map of the facilities. For additional information about the tribe, call 936/563-1100 or visit their well-organized and regularly updated website.

Andy Rhodes

About the Author

Andy Rhodes has been living and traveling in Texas since 1994. He calls Austin home, but regularly explores the Texas Hill Country, East Texas pine forests, and Gulf Coast beaches. His favorite destination is the Big Bend region of far West Texas, where the enormous sky and rugged mountains beckon with solace, serenity, and low humidity.

Since 2002, Andy has served as editor of the Texas Historical Commission’s magazine, The Medallion, offering him an opportunity to experience the Lone Star State’s compelling heritage in colossal cities and tiny towns.

Andy is also the author of Moon Houston & the Texas Gulf Coast. His freelance articles have been published in Home & Away, American Cowboy, and Austin Monthly magazines. He has also served as a travel expert for The Guardian. In 2009, Andy was named a featured author at the prestigious Texas Book Festival.

Andy earned a journalism degree from Miami University in 1993. He lives in Austin with his wife, Paula, and sons, Max and Daniel.

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