Sassafras – A Key Resource of the Avoyel-Taensa Tribe

Avoyel-Taensa Tribe pic
Avoyel-Taensa Tribe
Image: avoyel-taensa.org

As a regional vice president with Primerica in Alexandria, Louisiana, Andre Dobison offers families pathways to debt-free living. Active in his community, Andre Dobison believes in and follows the Constitution of the Avoyel-Taensa Tribe/Nation of Louisiana.

When they migrated to Louisiana more than 10,000 years ago, the Avoyel-Taensa tribe of Native Americans settled in the rolling pine hills of Avoyelles Parish. As documented by a contemporary Avoyel-Taensa tribe member, one of the tribe’s most valuable traditional natural resources was the sassafras tree. A light, hardwood tree that grows as tall as 60 feet, sassafras has a variety of uses as a medicine, for cooking, and in creating fragrant household items.

The sassafras root was particularly prized, with young men of the tribe digging it up in the spring. After a thorough washing, the root was steeped in hot water and taken as a tonic for general health. The root could also be fermented as a form of wine or brewed with honey to make syrup. The leaves had an aromatic flavor that added seasoning to the traditional stew now known as gumbo. In addition, sassafras was a common aromatic used in candles and potpourris.

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Laws and Economics of the Avoyel-Taensa Tribe

Andre Dobison, regional vice president of Primerica Insurance, dedicates his professional time to helping families achieve financial independence. On a personal level, Andre Dobison lives by and believes in the Constitution of the Avoyel-Taensa Tribe, also known as the Nation of Louisiana.

Said to have arisen from the earth in modern-day Louisiana, in a location where a lake now rests, the Avoyel-Taensa tribe traditionally lived as creators and traders of stone knife blades and arrowheads, though their trade did not expand beyond their own home territory until the coming of the Europeans. The tribe’s trade capacities also expanded as they obtained horses and other livestock, which they sold to French communities.

Traditionally, the tribe consisted of a number of clans each with its own chief. A single leader, known as the tribal chief, had overall authority over the clans and their individual leadership. Today, each clan sends a leader to the Tribal Council, which enacts and enforces tribal law among the clans. The council has also facilitated the development of a tribal constitution and by-laws, which all tribal members must obey. Individuals who diverge from the constitution must brought before the council for punishment.