3289 Chitimacha Trail (PO Box 661)
Charenton, LA 70523
(337) 923-4830 | General Information
(337) 923-4830 | Reservations
(337) 923-6848 | Fax
General Public Hours and Admission Rates: Tuesday – Saturday, 9:00am – 4:30pm; Free
School Tour Hours and Admission Rates: Tuesday – Saturday, 9:00am -4:30pm; Free
- Student to Chaperone Ratio Requested: 10:1
- Advance Time Needed to Make Reservations: One month
- Number of Students per Visit: No limit. Groups of 25 admitted at one time.
- Suggested Length of Time for Visit: 45 minutes per group of 25
- Handicapped Accessible: Yes
- Grade Level Appropriate: 1st – 12th
- Lunch Facilities: There is a covered pavilion for picnic lunches. There is a grocery store across the street for drinks and additional food purchases.
- Gift Shop: Yes
- Bus parking available
Tell Us About It!
The Sovereign Nation of the Chitimacha’s history is presented at the Chitimacha Tribal Museum and Cultural Center in Charenton, about 45 minutes from Lafayette and 20 minutes from Franklin. In the early 1700s, the Chitimacha were among the most powerful tribes of the northern gulf coast west of Florida. This tribe attained prominence in early Louisiana history due to the long war with the French and the number of enslaved Chitimacha people held by colonial families as a result of that war period. Tribal membership was drastically reduced through centuries of war, slavery, poverty, and prejudice. Today, the tribe includes 1,000 members, all of whom are working together to hold onto their traditional values and ways of life to preserve their spirit. The museum is entirely curated by tribe members.
What Can We See and Do There?
Exhibits at the Chitimacha Tribal Museum and Cultural Center include four major topics: traditional arts, history, education, and government. Guided tours begin in the video room where students watch a 15-minute orientation video about the history and traditions of the Chitimacha Tribe. Then students are led into the museum gallery and hear personal accounts from Tribal members about the Tribe’s successful efforts to preserve their heritage despite centuries of oppressive obstacles such as their exclusion from public education. On view is the Chitimacha Constitution that was ratified in 1971 and is recognized by the United States government. Historical artifacts displayed include clothing, blowguns, a detailed hut model, pottery, arrowheads, and of course, baskets. Chitimacha baskets were extremely valuable even as early as the 17th century. These intricate baskets are still prized today. The Chitimacha are known as the best basket makers in the entire Gulf region. With advance planning, students may watch basket weaving demonstrations and view exhibits of baskets and their makers.
How Do We Get There?
From I-10, take Hwy. 90 east to the Baldwin Exit. Turn left onto Hwy. 83. At the stop sign turn right on Hwy. 182. At the traffic light turn left on Chitimacha Trail. Travel about four miles to the museum.
Bad Weather! Now What Do We Do?
The museum provides an indoor experience in a climate-controlled building for up to 25. Others may use the outdoor pavilion.
Louisiana State Educational Benchmarks and Standards
- K-4th grades: G-1A-E1-3; G-1B-E1-4; G-1C-E2-6; G-1D-E1-4; C-1A-E1-3; H-1A-E1-3; H-1B-E1-2; H-1C-E1-4; H-1D-E1-3
- 5th-8th grades: G-1A-M1-2; G-1B-M1-4; G-1C-M1-7; G-1D-M1-4; C-1A-M1-3, 5-8; H-1A-M1-6; H-1B-M3, 9; H-1D-M1-6
- 9th-12th grades: G-1B-H1-6; G-1D-H3-5; C-1A-H1-6; H-1B-H17-18
What Can We Do In Class Before Our Field Trip?
Visit the Chitimacha Tribal website. There are many historical photographs and historical background notes worth viewing. Teachers can call for a copy of the museum brochure. Teachers may request a museum staff member to visit their classrooms to make presentations about the tribe. This must be requested two months in advance. Travel expenses and fees will apply.
S-T-R-E-T-C-H Out Your Field Trip Benefits
Engage students in a basket weaving lesson in class. Students can also collect natural materials like grasses to weave mats or baskets. Can students mark off this region on a class map? Locate Charenton and/or the Chitimacha Reservation on a map. Locate the Bayou Teche. Learn about the Atchafalaya Basin. Learn about coastal Louisiana. Read and discuss Nations Within: The Four Sovereign Tribes of Louisiana.
Louisiana history, Chitimacha history, Native American culture, oral history, hand crafts, government, sovereignty