Le Bâton Rouge

The Story of the “Red Stick”

In October 1699, Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, a Canadian soldier and explorer, found two native tribes, the Houma and Bayougoula, in a boundary dispute on the bluffs of the east bank of the Mississippi River. According to an early description recorded by Iberville's party, these two Native American groups had placed a wooden pole to mark the boundary between their respective hunting lands. This pole was located about 17 miles north of Bayou Manchac, and was stained with a red substance and adorned with fish and bear parts. The Houma natives lived about 104 miles upstream and hunted north of the red pole, while the Bayougoula remained south of the marker. The totem was called “le Bâton Rouge” (“Red Stick”) by the French and “Istrouma” by the Native Americans.