The Lost Treasure of the Tunica Tribe

The Tunica Treasure contained thousands of artifacts the tribe made themselves or traded for.

The Tunica Treasure is a once lost treasure from the Tunica-Biloxi tribe. The treasure moved across Louisiana over many years and was lost after the chief who owned it died. The treasure includes musket parts, iron tools, jewelry, French and tribal pottery, and over 200,000 European trade beads. The beads are more than half of all the beads ever found in the southeastern United States.

When Tunica Chief Cahura-Joligo was killed in 1731 in a raid by the Natchez Indians, he was buried alongside hundreds of other Tunica and their prized possessions. The site remained a mystery until 1968, when an Angola Prison guard, Leonard Charrier, went out with a metal detector at the Old Trudeau Plantation in West Feliciana parish. He discovered the grave site and treasure, then decided to dig the graves and keep all of the treasure to himself, destroying the sacred burial site. Charrier stored all of the treasures in his home and eventually attempted to sell the collection but could never provide proof of ownership, therefore a sale was never finalized. When Charrier filed a suit to claim ownership, the Tunica-Biloxi had become federally recognized due to the treasures link to the tribe and filed a countersuit. The Tunica-Biloxi would win the case and take possession of the treasure. The tribe rushed for donations and was able to raise enough money to restore them then put the artifacts into a museum in Marksville in 2011, where the treasure sits today.