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He had an extensive knowledge of natural history and knew the names of hundreds of plants and their uses.In addition, he was extremely well-schooled in the Koasati stories that he had listened to all his life. Abbey had a great interest in preserving traditional crafts and was skilled in making blowguns, darts, bows, arrows, whistles, Spanish moss spinners, and other items.As a young girl, Marie Adams learned songs by listening to her one-hundred-four-year-old great-grandmother, grandparents, and parents.She says, that back then "people took such songs for granted and singing ballads was not seen as anything special, but was just part of everyday life." She recalls living in the country as a child, when almost every Saturday night there was a singing party at someone's house.He preserved many baskets made by his mother, a master of traditional basket weaving. Abbey grew up speaking Koasati, a language related to Creek, Alibamu, and Seminole. Later in life, he learned to speak Alibamu, Choctaw, Mobilian, and Cajun French.His amazing linguistics and teaching skills were what attracted ethnologists and linguists to his personal. He sang in the choir and worked with the pastor on projects to benefit the community.In 1991, his hard work contributed to the publication of the Koasati Grammar.
Her great-grandmother, Marie Demais Trahan, came to South Louisiana from Nova Scotia at the age of 12 or 13.Bel Abbey was born April 10, 1916, in a Koasati settlement five miles north of Elton, Louisiana. Abbey was in the last generation to be raised in the traditional Koasati social and economic system.He was taught in the traditional manner by his grandmother, mother, and his maternal uncles. Abbey had only three years of formal education and learned to read and write during World War II. Bel Abbey was a skilled hunter and had an astute knowledge of animal behavior.Bel Abbey would soon become an invaluable resource for anthropologists and historians and as an interpreter for his mother, who only spoke Koasati. His later life was spent working to preserve and share the language, skills, and traditions of Koasati culture.He helped translate the Bible into Koasati and recorded the Koasati language and traditional stories.
Lanterns were hung in the trees and people sat on the porch eating and drinking homemade wine and beer and singing songs of love stories and telling humorous tales.