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Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana
Map of Louisiana highlighting Avoyelles Parish
Location in the state of Louisiana
Map of the USA highlighting Louisiana
Louisiana's location in the U.S.
Founded March 31, 1807
Seat Marksville
Largest City Marksville
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

866 sq mi (2,243 km²)
832 sq mi (2,155 km²)
33 sq mi (85 km²), 3.8%
 - (2015)
 - Density

51/sq mi (20/km²)
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Named for: Avoyel Native Americans

Avoyelles (French: Paroisse des Avoyelles) is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2010 census, the population was 42,073. The parish seat is Marksville. The parish was created in 1807, with the name deriving from the French name for the historic Avoyel people, one of the local Indian tribes at the time of European encounter.

Today the parish is the base of the federally recognized Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe, who have a reservation there. The tribe also has a land-based gambling casino; it is located in Marksville, the parish seat, which is partly within reservation land.


Avoyelles Parish is known for its French-speaking history, with Creole traditions in both music and food, which reflect European, African and Native American influences. While having a distinctive history of immigrants directly from Europe, it is considered the most northern of the 22 "Acadiana"/Creole parishes,(with the parishes to the south settled by exiles from Acadia). They contributed strongly to the development of culture in this area, as did Africans and Native Americans. The parish is noted for its brand of Cajun/Creole Style music and its gumbo, a popular soup in this area with roots in the three major ethnicities noted above.

The area was first settled by Native Americans around 300 BC. Varying indigenous cultures flourished there in the following centuries. Today on the banks of the old Mississippi River channel in Marksville, three large burial mounds have been preserved from the Mississippian culture. A museum and a National Park commemorate this early culture. The Tunica people, with bands extending into the central Mississippi Valley at one time, absorbed the remnant Avoyels nearly two centuries ago. They intermarried with the more numerous Biloxi people. Together, they were federally recognized in 1981 and are known as the Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe. They are the largest Native American group in Avoyelles Parish. Descendants of other smaller tribes are also enrolled in this tribe.

Records from the Catholic Churches in both Mansura and Marksville document the establishment of a Trading Post and a Catholic School by the French to bring Christianity to the Tunica Tribe. This trading post was located until the mid-1960s near the Tunica Reservation (next to a Native American run Casino). The settlement was called Hydropolis, meaning water city. There is a historic road side markers on LA 1 showing where the Catholic School was located. The central part of Avoyelles Parish sits on a large plateau, which prior to the Great Flood of 1927 and the construction of levees by the Army Corps of Engineers was frequently surrounded by water. The placement of the trading post was to allow French settlers an opportunity to hunt and trade for furs and animal skins with the Tunica Indians. The major mode of transportation was by Indian canoes and pirogues (French dug out canoe). Detailed church records show settlers arriving in Avoyelles with a list of their family members, possessions and even in some cases names of slaves. Church records and documentation go from being recorded in French during the first French period, to Spanish during the Spanish Period, and then back to French when France reacquired Louisiana. Sometime after Louisiana was sold to Thomas Jefferson and the United States, the documents began to be recorded in English.

When Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States, The United States sent expeditions to survey the Louisiana Territory. These French soldiers, surveyors and doctors eventually settled in the area.

The French people that settled Avoyelles immigrated from France via New Orleans, which is evidenced by the fact that many of the French words commonly used today date back to terms used during the Napoleon period in France, i.e. they are no longer used in modern French. The Spanish influence in Louisiana was much more dominant in New Iberia — this was named after the Iberian Peninsula, commonly known as Spain and Portugal. There are no Spanish surnames in Avoyelles. A few families from French Canada (Quebec) arrived in Avoyelles. They were from a different geographic area of Canada than the Acadians of present-day Nova Scotia who were expelled by the British from their homeland (Acadie) beginning in 1755. Many deported Acadians eventually made it to Louisiana from 1764 - 1788 after several years of living in exile along the eastern Atlantic seaboard, Canada, St. Pierre and France.

Immigrants from Scotland, Belgium, Italy, and Germany in the nineteenth century also settled here, following the French Creoles and together established today's towns and villages. Their direct ties to Europe set them apart from the Acadians (Cajuns) of southern Louisiana. At the turn of the 19th century, free people of color of African-French descent settled in Avoyelles. They included refugees from Haiti and the French West Indies, and others. The blending of these three cultures: Native American, European and African, created a distinct Louisiana Creole culture noted in the local language, food, Catholic religion, and family ties. Most French families of the parish today are pure French Creoles.

Today, the Avoyelles Parish culture is classified as "Cajun" because of the perceived similarities in speech, food, and various folk traditions with southern parishes. But, few families in Avoyelles are of Acadian descent. In the 1800s until the mid 1900s, local Confederate units and local newspaper reports in The Villager always referred to the Avoyelles French families as Creoles, the term then for native-born people of French descent.

In 1906, V.L. Roy served as education superintendent in both Avoyelles and Lafayette parishes. In 1908, he helped with the founding of the Corn Club, later known as the Louisiana 4-H Club.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the parish has a total area of 866 square miles (2,240 km2), of which 832 square miles (2,150 km2) is land and 33 square miles (85 km2) (3.8%) is water.

Major highways

  • I-49.svg Interstate 49
  • US 71.svg U.S. Highway 71
  • Louisiana 1.svg Louisiana Highway 1
  • Louisiana 29.svg Louisiana Highway 29
  • Louisiana 107.svg Louisiana Highway 107
  • Louisiana 2.svg Louisiana Highway 2

Adjacent parishes

National protected areas

  • Grand Cote National Wildlife Refuge (part)
  • Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 1,209
1820 2,245 85.7%
1830 3,484 55.2%
1840 6,616 89.9%
1850 9,326 41.0%
1860 13,167 41.2%
1870 12,926 −1.8%
1880 16,747 29.6%
1890 25,112 49.9%
1900 29,701 18.3%
1910 34,102 14.8%
1920 35,300 3.5%
1930 34,926 −1.1%
1940 39,256 12.4%
1950 38,031 −3.1%
1960 37,606 −1.1%
1970 37,751 0.4%
1980 41,393 9.6%
1990 39,159 −5.4%
2000 41,481 5.9%
2010 42,073 1.4%
Est. 2015 41,103 −2.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2013

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 42,073 people residing in the parish. 67.0% were White, 29.5% Black or African American, 1.2% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.4% of some other race and 1.6% of two or more races. 1.4% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). 34.6% were of French, French Canadian or Cajun and 11.3% American ancestry.

As of the census of 2000, there were 41,481 people, 14,736 households, and 10,580 families residing in the parish. The population density was 50 people per square mile (19/km²). There were 16,576 housing units at an average density of 20 per square mile (8/km²). The racial makeup of the parish was 68.47% White, 29.49% Black or African American, 1.01% Native American, 0.17% Asian, 0.19% from other races, and 0.66% from two or more races. 0.97% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 17.64% reported speaking French or Cajun French at home, while 2.12% speak Spanish.

There were 14,736 households out of which 36.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.70% were married couples living together, 15.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.20% were non-families. 25.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.11.

In the parish the population was spread out with 26.80% under the age of 18, 9.20% from 18 to 24, 29.00% from 25 to 44, 21.30% from 45 to 64, and 13.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 96.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.90 males.

The median income for a household in the parish was $23,851, and the median income for a family was $29,389. Males had a median income of $27,122 versus $18,250 for females. The per capita income for the parish was $12,146. About 21.70% of families and 25.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.50% of those under age 18 and 25.00% of those age 65 or over.

National Guard

The 1020th Engineer Company (Vertical) of the 527th Engineer Battalion of the 225th Engineer Brigade is located in Marksville, Louisiana. The 1086TH Transportation Company of the 165TH CSS (Combat Service Support) Battalion of the 139TH RSG (Regional Support Group) resides in Bunkie, Louisiana.


Map of Avoyelles Parish Louisiana With Municipal Labels
Map of Avoyelles Parish with municipal labels




Census-designated places

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