The beginning of Hunt: Showdown's Light the Shadow event celebrates two exciting milestones for the game: the debut of the hunting bow, and the addition of four Legendary Indigenous Hunters – both long-standing community requests. Today we want to take a closer look at some of the historical context surrounding the creation of those new Legendary characters.
You won't find Stillwater Bayou, Lawson Delta, or DeSalle on any map, but in the world of Hunt, they are located in Louisiana. The Chitimacha were the original inhabitants of that area, and the Atakapa, Caddo, Houma, Natchez, Choctaw, and Tunica are just a few of the peoples who inhabited other parts of what is now called Louisiana. What is there now and what was there in 1895 – the year in which Hunt: Showdown is set – would not exist if it weren't for the violent murder and displacement of those people.
Local History and Supernatural Fiction
Though Hunt: Showdown is a work of supernatural fiction, those fictions are embedded in real-world history. We have chosen not to recreate the horrible discrimination, violence, or oppression visited upon Native people, Black people, and Asian people (and many others) during that time period in the United States in the Hunt in the name of entertainment. We want all players to enjoy our game without asking them to relive any of these traumas. But we are committed to acknowledging them.
At the time of the arrival of the first European colonizers on the continent in 1492, there were between 5 and 15 million people already living there. By the end of the American-Indian Wars in the late 19 th century, there were fewer than 238,000 of those people remaining.
The Chitimacha originally settled the Bayou region of Louisiana around 500 AD. In the early 1700s, war and conflict with French and Spanish colonizers nearly annihilated the entire Chitimacha population, with many of the survivors forced into slavery. During the twelve years of conflict at the beginning of the 1700s, the Chitimacha were the most enslaved population in Louisiana, according to the tribal history recounted on the Chitmacha's website. Though Chitimacha land rights were recognized and provided protection through the U.S.C. Title 25, those protections and claims were violated again and again by the U.S. government in the following centuries. It was not until 1916 that the tribe was officially recognized by the U.S. government.
During the 1800s, officially sanctioned displacement programs continued this destruction across the country. The so-called Indian Removal Act, which was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson in 1830, is a particularly nasty example. This law demanded that Native populations leave their land and move west to make room for colonists. Those who refused were forced into what became a death march – later known as the Trail of Tears – during which thousands were displaced and thousands more died.
So it was with the aim to acknowledge this historical context – even if only peripherally – that we approached the creation of the four Native American Hunters that have joined the Hunter cast this month.
Behind the Narrative Scenes: Creating Legendary Characters
In creating any new Legendary character for Hunt, we always need to balance several concerns. Every new character should both plausibly fit our concept of a person alive in 1895, as well as our concept of a Legendary Hunter. We also have to take into account various gameplay, visual, and technical requirements – things that shape every creative decision we make developing Hunt. Sometimes you end up with a pretty weird framework you have to work within. That is part of the fun of the job, but it can pose a big challenge, particularly when historical nuance is important. The point? There is a delicate balance between historical accuracy and game requirements to be considered with every narrative decision.
So, while we aim to ground our characters in history – both narratively and visually – any attempt at historical accuracy is shaped both by the framework of game design and by the inaccuracies and biases of the historical record. We could theoretically argue about the verisimilitude of a character's boots or face paint or hairstyle. What is inarguable is the devastating effect of colonial violence on Indigenous populations – effects that continue to have far-reaching consequences to this day.
When it came to the creation of Hunt's Native American characters, we decided that we would prioritize acknowledging that bigger historical picture. Every Indigenous person alive in 1895 would have been shaped by the displacement, the violence, and the discrimination visited upon them by colonists for generations. So, you will find that the Teche Wraith's family fled to the margins to avoid forced relocation, developing their own strategies to survive. The Exile's story is shaped by a cross-generational rage and sorrow at the same systematic displacement.
Are our characters historically accurate? That's a tricky question, and a philosophical rabbit hole that brings up arguments about the accuracy of the historical record itself. Yes and no. We have used history as a springboard from which to plunge into a fictional world, where monsters roam the Bayou, and anybody with a weapon and a death wish can make a few bucks hunting them. Hunt's characters are grounded in history, but they live in fiction.
Your Hunt Story
Within Hunt's fictional framework, Indigenous people most certainly would have been Hunters, with their own culturally based interpretations of the situation at hand, and their own methodology for handling it. One of the main features of Hunt's story is that Hunters come from every walk of life – from every religion, from every culture, from every part of the world. Any you don't see in the game, well, we just haven't gotten to them yet. Every Hunter interprets the Louisiana situation through the lens of their own cultural and religious beliefs, and the same would be the case for any Indigenous Hunter.
The details of many of those cultural interpretations we have left up to our player's imaginations. They are your stories to live and to tell, as you fight your way through the Bayou every match. One thing, however, unifies them – a desire, whatever the reason, to rid the Bayou of those monstrous interlopers, to drive the horrors that infest the area out of the shadows where they thrive, and into the light.
We'd like to encourage you to read more about the real-life history of Louisiana's original inhabitants, and what they have to say about it in their own words. There is only so much nuance that can be fit into a 40-word character description and a blog post, and we are talking about a history spanning centuries. Here are a few places to start:
Chitimacha History – chitimacha.gov
Coushatta History – koasatiheritage.org
Jena Band of Choctaw Website – www.jenachoctaw.org
Tunica-Biloxi History – www.tunicabiloxi.org
~The Hunt Team