Top Site FAQs

(Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What tribe(s) built the Tchefuncte site?


Archaeologists do not know what tribes may have lived in the Tchefuncte area more than 2,000 years ago. There is no way to connect any living tribes directly to the site based on the materials found there. Modern archaeologists gave these people the name "Tchefuncte," because they first learned about them from the excavations at the Tchefuncte site. "Tchefuncte" also is the name of a river on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.


Q2. What does Tchefuncte mean?


According to Clare D'Artois Leepers in Louisiana Place Names: Popular, Unusual, and Forgotten Stories of Towns  . . . , it is from the Choctaw name for the chinquapin, which is a type of chestnut.


Q3. How do you pronounce Tchefuncte?


Tchefuncte is usually pronounced Cheh-funk´ tuh.


Q4. How do archaeologists know how old the site is?


Archaeologists used a technique called radiocarbon dating to find out the site’s age. Radiocarbon dating is a reliable way for archaeologists to tell the age of old organic remains like bone or wood. All living things absorb carbon, including radioactive carbon-14, from the atmosphere. When something dies, it stops absorbing carbon. The carbon-14 in its system decreases at a known rate through radioactive decay, but the other stable carbon atoms remain. Comparing the number of carbon-14 and stable carbon atoms reveals the age of the organic material.


Q5. What kind of religion did the people of Tchefuncte practice?


Archaeologists are not sure what kind of religion the people of Tchefuncte practiced. Many historic tribes have clans, often named after an animal (bear clan, deer clan, etc.). Each clan has its own animal and its own sacred duties (performing rituals, healing, hunting, etc.). Membership in these clans may have been based on someone's gender, ancestry or something else. Perhaps the people of Tchefuncte had similar beliefs.


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