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Choctaw students live out history at site of Battle of New Orleans

Choctaw students live out history at site of Battle of New Orleans

Choctaw students from three states have spent a semester discovering their ancestral role in the Battle of New Orleans and have begun to share the story with others. Led by park rangers from Chalmette Battlefield, site of the Battle of New Orleans on Jan. 8, 1815, the students participated in this fall's "Recognizing Our Roots" program and will serve as living history experts in period dress during the battle anniversary Jan. 11-12, 2013.

More information about the battlefield and the January event is available at

"Recognizing Our Roots" works with high school students who learn Battle of New Orleans history and skills such as drilling, musket firing and cooking over a campfire. The park outfits the students in period dress, provides hands-on history lessons, and helps them research the men and women they will portray at the anniversary event. This year's students are:

   • Choctaw youth from Louisiana's Jena Band
of Choctaw Indians, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and the Choctaw
Nation of Oklahoma representing Jugeat's Choctaw volunteers,

   • Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps
(JROTC) cadets from Joseph S. Clark Prepatory High School in New Orleans representing
members of the New Orleans battalions of free men of color,

   • JROTC cadets from Chalmette High School in
Chalmette representing Tennessee militia volunteers.

About 60 Choctaw men made up the company of Choctaw volunteers who joined Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson's American troops at the Battle of New Orleans. Jackson's hastily assembled army of 4,000 regular troops and volunteers defeated 7,000 experienced British soldiers in what is now seen as both the last major battle of the War of 1812 and a turning point in world history. The Choctaw troops were among those who defended the American lines in an area the British targeted for their main attack, assuming that the volunteers there would be easily overcome.

Web conferences technology funded by a grant from the National Park Foundation's America's Best Idea Program ( allowed the Choctaw youth to join "Recognizing Our Roots" this year.

Park Ranger Patricia Corral explained, "Distance learning lets us take the students on real and virtual field trips, share our research and have classroom time no matter where we or the students were. Including the Choctaw students would have been impossible without it. It's been a real plus for all of us to add representatives of this important group of 1815 troops to the program."

Chalmette Battlefield is managed by the National Park Service as one of six sites of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in Louisiana.

The battlefield, adjoining national cemetery, and visitor center are open daily 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Admission to the site and to most programs is free.


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