Ouachita Parish and the Ouachita Valley were home to many Native American groups in the thousands of years before European settlements began.
Most historians agree that the pre-history of Ouachita Parish is intertwined with the Poverty Point Native Americans in nearby Epps, Louisiana. The Poverty Point people had a highly developed civilianization. By 1,350 B.C., the Poverty Point Indian site was the epicenter for trade in North America.
Tradition says that the Hernando DeSoto expedition reached the Ouachita Valley in the 1540's. Ouachita Parish and the Ouachita Valley have a long and impressive history dating back several centuries.
The Ouachita Indians inhabited the area for generations. The first non-Indian settlers to Ouachita Parish were likely remnants of LaSalle's expedition to Louisiana in 1680. By the time they arrived in the 17th century, little was left of the Ouachita Indians who had inhabited the area for generations.
By the late 18th century, the governor of New Orleans saw the need to establish outposts along the upper portions of the Mississippi. In 1782, he sent Don Juan (Jean) Filhiol to establish a post along the Ouachita River, which was called Ft. Miro. Ft. Miro stood in downtown Monroe where the parish courthouse is located today. By 1790, the trading post had evolved into a community with forty-nine families.
In May, 1803, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France and for the first time, Ft. Miro was under U.S. authority. Ouachita Parish was established March 31, 1807 with Ft. Miro as the parish seat. It is one of the 19 parishes, which were created by dividing the Territory of New Orleans. The original Ouachita Parish was subsequently divided into the parishes of Morehouse, Union, Caldwell, Franklin, Tensas, Madison, East Carroll and West Carroll with the present Ouachita Parish remaining. The parish is named after the Ouachita Indians. There is disagreement as to the exact meaning of the word "Ouachita". It is frequently translated as "silver water" referring to the Ouachita River.
Ouachita Parish is home to the University of Louisiana at Monroe and CenturyLink, the third largest telecommunications company in the United States and the largest company headquartered in Louisiana. Ouachita Parish was the birthplace of Delta Airlines and also serves as North East Louisiana's retail, banking and employment hub and was home to Joseph A. Biedenharn, the first person in the world to bottle Coca Cola.