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 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.
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.
In 1991, his hard work contributed to the publication of the Koasati Grammar.