Although they are both of the same Muskhogean language stock, the Alabama and Coushatta were originally separately organized Tribes that inhabited adjacent areas near present-day Montgomery, Alabama. As European settlers began to encroach on their lands, in 1763 the Tribes began to migrate westward, first to Louisiana and, then, to the Big Thicket area of Southeast Texas. The Coushatta Tribe arrived first, settling on the Trinity River in 1807. Soon thereafter, the Alabama Tribe made the move from Louisiana to Texas, settling on the Neches River. At the time of the Tribes’ settlements in Texas, the area was known as the Spanish Province of Texas.
Both the Alabama and Coushatta Tribes participated in the Mexican War of Independence from Spain. By 1831, the Government of Mexico offered both the Alabama and Coushatta Tribes the opportunity to settle on fixed tracts of lands in East Texas. Before the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836, the General Council of the Provisional Government of Texas asked Sam Houston to meet with Texas Indian Tribes to provide for lands for the Tribes and to ensure the Tribes did not side with Mexico in the ensuing struggle for Texas Independence. The treaty provided that the Alabama and Coushatta Tribes, as well as other associated tribes, were to form one community in East Texas with title and possession of a large area between the Neches and Sabine rivers. The Alabama Tribe agreed to remain neutral during the war and temporarily moved to Louisiana until the revolution was over. The Coushatta Tribe remained in Texas, and its members rendered valuable service to Houston and the people of Texas during the Runaway Scrape.
On February 3, 1854, the Texas Legislature passed the “Act for relief of the Alabama Indians.” The Act authorized the state to either grant or purchase “1280 acres of unappropriated land, situated in either Polk or Tyler Counties, or both” to be set apart “for the sole use and benefit of, and as a home for the said tribe of Indians.”
August 30, 1856, the Texas Legislature passed the “Act for relief of the Coushatta Indians. The Act authorized Texas to purchase land for the Alabama Indians, however, land was never located, and in 1859 the Alabama Tribe agreed to allow members of the Coushatta Tribe to live on the 1,289 acres purchased and awarded to the Alabama Tribe under the 1854 Act.
Read more about the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.