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Biloxi Indian Fact Sheet

Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Biloxis for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students and teachers to visit our main Biloxi website for more in-depth information about the tribe, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with Biloxi pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages.

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    Biloxi Tribe

How do you pronounce the word "Biloxi"? What does it mean?
Biloxi is pronounced "bill-uck-see." This was the name of their tribe in the languages of their Muskogean neighbors.

Where do the Biloxis live?
The Biloxis are original people of the American southeast, inhabiting the southern parts of Mississippi and Alabama. After a smallpox epidemic killed many of the Biloxi people, the survivors moved west and joined their allies the Tunicas in Louisiana. That is where most Biloxi people live today, though there are still some Biloxi descendants in Mississippi and Alabama as well.

How is the Biloxi Indian nation organized?
Today, the Biloxi tribe lives together with the Tunica tribe. These two groups live together on a reservation in Louisiana, which is land that belongs to the tribe and is under their control. The Tunica-Biloxi tribe has its own government, laws, police, and services, just like a small country. However, the Biloxis are also US citizens and must obey American law.

In the past, the Biloxis were led by a chief chosen by a tribal council. Today, they are governed by a tribal council whose members are elected by the Tunica and Biloxi people.

What language do the Biloxis speak?
Most Biloxi people speak English today. Some people, especially elders, speak a particular dialect of French. In the past, the Biloxis spoke their own Biloxi language, which is a Siouan language related to languages like Lakota and Crow. The Biloxi language is no longer spoken today, although some young people are interested in reviving it. If you'd like to know an easy Biloxi word, "he" (pronounced "hay") is a friendly greeting. You can read a Biloxi picture glossary here.

What was Biloxi culture like in the past? What is it like now?
Here is a link to the Tunica-Biloxi tribe of Louisiana, where you can learn about the Biloxi people past and present.

How do Biloxi Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?
They do the same things all children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Biloxi children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play, just like colonial children. But they did have dolls and toys to play with. Biloxi kids enjoyed swimming and footraces, and older boys liked to play a lacrosse-like stickball game. Biloxi mothers, like many Native Americans, carried their babies in cradleboards on their backs. Here are some photos of Native American cradleboards.

What were men and women's roles in the Biloxi tribe?
Biloxi men were hunters and sometimes went to war to protect their families. Biloxi women made pottery and also did most of the child care and cooking. Both genders took part in farming, storytelling, music, and traditional medicine. In the past, the chief was always a man, but today both men and women participate in Biloxi tribal government.

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What were Biloxi houses like in the past?
The Biloxi people lived in villages of thatched houses. Biloxi homes were made of plaster and rivercane walls, and the roofs were made of reeds. Here are some pictures of American Indian housing like the homes Biloxi Indians used.

No one uses these old-fashioned thatched houses for shelter anymore. Today, Biloxis live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.

What was Biloxi clothing like? Did they wear feather headdresses and face paint?
Biloxi men wore breechcloths. Biloxi women wore wraparound skirts made of deerskin or woven fiber. Shirts were not necessary in Biloxi culture, but men and women both wore poncho-style capes in cool weather. The Biloxis also wore moccasins on their feet. Later, the Biloxis adapted European costume like cloth jackets and full skirts. Here are some pictures of traditional Biloxi dress, and here are some photographs and links about Indian clothes in general.

The Biloxis didn't wear long head dresses like the Sioux. Biloxi men and women both wore their hair long, but some men cut their hair in the Mohawk style, decorating the fringe with feathers. Here is a website with pictures of these Native hair styles. Biloxis often painted their faces and bodies bright colors during battles, lacrosse games, and festivals. Some Biloxi men also wore tribal tattoos on their arms and legs.

Today, some Biloxi people still wear moccasins or a ribbon shirt, but they wear modern clothes like jeans instead of a breechcloth... and they only wear roaches in their hair on special occasions like a dance.

What was Biloxi transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?
Sometimes--the Biloxi Indians knew how to make dug-out canoes from hollowed-out logs, but they usually only used them for fishing trips. To travel, Biloxi people usually walked overland. There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe, so the Biloxis used dogs to help them carry their belongings. Today, of course, Biloxi people also use cars... and non-native people also use canoes.

What was Biloxi food like in the days before supermarkets?
The Biloxi were farming people. Biloxi women did most of the farming, harvesting crops of corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers. Biloxi men did most of the hunting, shooting deer, wild turkeys, and small game. Men also caught fish in the rivers, lakes, and sea coasts. Biloxi recipes included cornbread, soups, and stews cooked on stone hearths. Here is a website with more information about American Indian food.

What were Biloxi weapons and tools like in the past?
Biloxi hunters primarily used bows and arrows. Fishermen generally used fishing spears and nets. In war, Biloxi men fired their bows or fought with tomahawks and clubs. Here is a website with pictures and information about Native American weapons.

What are Biloxi arts and crafts like?
The Biloxis were famous for their rivercane baskets, woodcarvings, and pottery. When they were forced to move to Oklahoma, the Biloxis couldn't get the materials they used to use for some of their traditional artifacts, so they concentrated more on other crafts such as American Indian beadwork. Here is a photo gallery of Biloxi beaded artwork.

What other Native Americans did the Biloxi tribe interact with?
The Biloxis traded regularly with all the other Southeast Native Americans. These tribes communicated using a simplified trade language called Mobilian Jargon. The most important Biloxi neighbors were the Choctaws. Choctaw and Biloxi people used to get together for religious festivals and sometimes would intermarry.

What kinds of stories do the Biloxis tell?
There are lots of traditional Biloxi legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the Biloxi Indian culture. Here is a story about how Rabbit snared the sun. Here's a website where you can read more about Biloxi mythology.

What about Biloxi religion?
Religions are too complicated and culturally sensitive to describe appropriately in only a few simple sentences, and we strongly want to avoid misleading anybody. You can visit this site to learn more about Biloxi rituals or this site about Native American religions in general.

Can you recommend a good book for me to read?
You may enjoy There are not too many books specifically about the Biloxi tribe. Nations Within is a good book about the Native American tribes of Louisiana, which contains a lot of information about the Tunica-Biloxi tribe. Native American Legends of the Southeast is a good collection of Southeastern Indian mythology, including several Biloxi stories. You can also browse through our reading list of recommended American Indian books in general.

How do I cite your website in my bibliography?
You will need to ask your teacher for the format he or she wants you to use. The authors' names are Laura Redish and Orrin Lewis and the title of our site is Native Languages of the Americas. We are a nonprofit educational organization working to preserve and protect Native American languages and culture. You can learn more about our organization here. Our website was first created in 1998 and last updated in 2015.

Thanks for your interest in the Biloxi Indian people and their language!

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Learn More About The Biloxis

Biloxi Indian Tribe
An overview of the Biloxi people, their language and history.

Biloxi Language Resources
Biloxi language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Biloxi Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Biloxi people past and present.

Biloxi Indian Words
Biloxi Indian vocabulary lists.



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