The History of Baton Rouge

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The history of Baton Rouge dates from 1699, when French explorer Sieur d'Iberville leading an exploration party up the Mississippi River saw a reddish cypress pole festooned with bloody animals that marked the boundary between Houma and Bayou Goula tribal hunting grounds. They called the pole and its location "le bâton rouge", or the red stick. The local Native American name for the site had been "Istrouma". From evidence found along the Mississippi, Comite, and Amite rivers, and in three Native American mounds remaining in the city, archaeologists have been able to date habitation of the Baton Rouge area to 8000 BC.[4]

The term "red stick' generally referred to "warlike" Indian settlements during the Creek Nation period in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. These "red stick" communities were hostile toward white European settlers encroaching on Indian hunting grounds along the East Coast and into the Mississippi River region. Peaceful settlements were known as "white stick" communities and no aggression was allowed in the limits of these communities. Only the most rogue "red stick" settlements launched hostile actions against "white stick" settlements, but these actions did occur during tribal wars.

Old Louisiana State CapitolSince European settlement, Baton Rouge has been governed by France, Britain, Spain, Louisiana, the Florida Republic, the Confederate States, and the United States. In 1755, when French-speaking settlers of Acadia in Canada's Maritime were driven into exile by British forces, many took up residence in rural Louisiana. Popularly known as Cajuns, the descendants of the Acadians maintained a separate culture that immeasurably enriched the Baton Rouge area. Incorporated in 1817, Baton Rouge became Louisiana's state capital in 1849. Architect James Dakin was hired to design the new Capital building in Baton Rouge, and rather than mimic the federal Capitol Building in Washington, as many other states had done, he conceived a...
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