The “Sabines”: A Study of Racial Hybrids in a Louisiana Coastal Parish

Posted in Articles, Louisiana, Media Archive, Social Science, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2010-11-28 02:35Z by Steven

The “Sabines”: A Study of Racial Hybrids in a Louisiana Coastal Parish

Social Forces
Volume 29, Number 2 (December, 1950)
pages 148-154

Vernon J. Parenton

Roland J. Pellegrin

Read before the thirteenth annual meeting of the Southern Sociological Society, Biloxi, Mississippi, April 15, 1950.

Historically, the position of the racial and  cultural  hybrid in rural American society has received but little attention from sociologists. Beginning with the twentieth century, however, and especially since 1930, a number of social scientists have centered their investigations on such marginal groups. The acculturative processes associated with the formation of hybrid groups are as difficult to analyze as they are sociologically interesting. Nevertheless the complexity of these processes may be viewed as a challenge rather than as a barrier to social investigations.

Among those areas of the United States where hybrid groups arc found, Louisiana constitutes an interesting socio-cultural laboratory for such research. Partly because of the heterogeneous racial and ethnic character of the state’s population, with its concomitant diversity of cultures, and partly because of its geographical position, Louisiana contains a number of racial and cultural “islands,” the inhabitants oi which range in color from brown to near white. This paper is a preliminary report on a tri-racial group, derisively called the “Sabines,” who inhabit the marshy fringe of a Louisiana parish bordering the Gulf of Mexico. These persons, of mixed white, Indian, and Negro ancestry, have a unique history.

Historical Background

The first white men to explore the Gulf Coast found several Indian tribes inhabiting the area. These tribes may be classified into five linguistic groups: the Muskhogean, Natchez, Tunican, Chitimachan, and Atakapan. In Louisiana the most important group was the Muskhogean, which was, composed of a variety of tribes, including the Houma, Washa, Chawasha, Bayogoula, Chakchiuma, and several others.  The Indian element present in the Sabines of today is derived from a variety of these Muskhogean tribes, but principally from the Houmas…

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