Juan St. Malo & Cimarrons – Corrections & Additions to New Orleans Advocate article

The New Orleans Advocate newspaper on August 7th, 2016 carried an article about Juan St. Malo, runaway slave in Spanish Colonial Louisiana. The article in the Historically Speaking section referred to him a Jean Saint Malo. In the Spanish judicial records he was known as Juan St. Malo in 1780’s. He had run away from the D’Arensbourg Plantation upriver from New Orleans on the “German Coast” near today’s Hahnville LA. He made his way to Lake Borgne (see map) and rose to be the leader of two villages of runaways, known as “cimarrons”. The villages, Chef Menteur and Ville Gaillarde, numbered together about one hundred villagers. They traded with the slaves behind plantations, sold cypress trees from the swamps to a British sawmill operator, grew crops and gathered the bounty of south Louisiana wetlands.

After a few years Spanish authorities closed in on the cimarrons. Those captured were interrogated and their testimonies are in the Spanish archives (translated into English in the Journals of the Louisiana Historical Society in the 1930’s). They were not plotting an insurrection, merely seeking their own freedom.

Read more of the story of Juan St. Malo, the village and events that led to their capture and punishment on pages 27-28 in my book DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS: True Stories of a Fabled City.

Native American Projectiles of LA

Louisiana Projectile Points Listed by Shape


Corner notched           Basal notched             Contracting stem         Lanceolate

Leaf                             Side notched               Notched expanded head

Stemmed                     Articulate                    Triangle

Native Americans in Louisiana by Richard Anderson

Pre-historic Native American Cultures: There are not any written records for the Prehistoric era. The major difference between the Prehistoric era and the Historic era of the Native Americans is the introduction of writing by the Europeans. “The first Louisiana man was estimated to be in the lithic stage or culture.” He was not the most primitive because he was able to hunt large animals that were abundant for those days. The primitive cultures that lived in the coastal marshes had an abundance of animal and agricultural supplies. On the negative point, the insects and weather did not help. North of the marshes were the grasslands that consisted of woods and rivers. These prairies did not have a lot to offer to the primitive Indians. The floodplains of the major streams were almost as good as the marshes. The floodplains had an abundance of animal life, fish, and berries. Last were the pine flatlands and hills, these areas were not as attractive the Indians as the others; game was not as abundant and neither were the plants that could be gathered. Plus the soils were the poorest of the regions. “Three generalized chronological eras have been devised: Paleo-Indian (from Greek palai, “ancient”; 15,000-6,000 B.C.), Meso-Indian (from Greek mesos, “middle”; 6,000-2,000 B.C.) and Neo-Indian (from Greek neos, “new”; 2,000 B.C. to the present). (Going & Caldwell ’95). The Paleo-Indians were hunters and gatherers in an ecosystem of broad grasslands and large mammals, which included the bison, mammaths, and sloths. When meat was not available, wild plants were consumed. Tribes migrated during this period. After time passed, the Meso-Indian tribes had risen. These tribes slowly but surely started moving toward a more settled sequence. Food sources included the mammoth, deer, bear, water foul, and fish. This era included the development of pottery, which lead to better tools. This era also learned how to conserve their vegetation and game. During the Neo-Indian, pottery development took on a more specialized and decorated form and became more abundant as well. “Domesticated maize, beans, squash, melons, sunflower’s tobacco, and gourds dominated the food supply, supplemented still by hunting, fishing, and gathering.”(Going, Caldwell, 95) Salt and other raw materials were used for trade.

“At the time of French exploration and settlement of present-day Louisiana, six Indian linguistic groups – The Caddoan, Tunican, Natchezan, Muskogean, Chitimachan, and Atakapan – were scattered throughout the territory.” Caddoan tribes occupied the northwest region of Louisiana. The Caddoan tribes included the Adai, Doustioni, Natchitoches, Ouachita, and Yatasi. The Koroa, Tunica, and Yazoo occupied both sides of the Mississippi River, which covered the northeast. “Downriver from them lay the Natchezan linguistic group, the Natchez, Taensa, and Avoyel tribes.” The Florida parishes produced tribes of the Muskogean group. This group included the Houma, Bayougoula, Acolapissa, Quinapisa (Mugulasha), Okelousa, and Tangipahoa tribes. Located by the Atchafalaya River were the Chitimacha, Washa, and Chawasha tribes.

The size of these villages or tribes ranged to a dozen or more. A chief or temple was the center point of these settlements. Most of these villages were located along banks, streams, or lakes due to the abundance of food and means of transportation for trade and communication between tribes. Indian religion viewed humans as only one part of the whole natural world. They were considered one with animal or plant, both living and dead.