The Chitimacha oral tradition tells of an epic battle between a monstrous snake and its tribe’s warriors. The snake, whose head would be located at present day Morgan City, and whose body stretched all the way to Port Barre had been terrorizing the tribe. After an epic, several years battle the warriors finally slayed the snake. In its death throes, the snake convulsed, wiggled and twisted. As snake’s carcass decomposed, it carved out the Bayou Teche.
Teche is the Chitimacha word for snake.
The Bayou Teche stretches for 125 miles and is a waterway of great cultural significance to Acadiana. Since the time of the Acadian migration to the Attakapas region, the Teche has been an essential means of transportation and food. Before railroad tracks and highways dissected South Louisiana, bateaus and pirogues were used to move goods and people up and down this waterway. Thus some of Acadiana’s oldest communities are on the Teche, towns like Arnaudville, Breaux Bridge, St. Martinville, New Iberia, Franklin and Berwick.
When the Army Corps of Engineers built levees on the Atachafalaya River in the 1930’s, The Teche suffered a killing reduction of fresh water. The bayou became little more than a cesspool and a trash dump. The Corps has since completed a pumping station at Krotz Springs that feeds fresh water towards the Teche. With cleanup efforts from local citizens, civic organizations and Parish governments, descendents of those earliest Acadians can once again be proud of their ancestral waterway.