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Indianola is a city in Sunflower Countymarker, Mississippimarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 12,066 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Sunflower Countymarker .


Indianola was originally named Indian Bayou, for the stream on which it was built. Between 1882 and 1884, the town's name was changed from Indian Bayou to Eureka, then to Belengate, and finally Indianola. As with most Mississippi Delta towns, Indianola was built on the site of ancient Indian camps. A story has been circulated about the town being named after an Indian princess named "Ola." A search by this author in the papers of Mr. W. R. French, a local historian, in the early 1970s revealed that many other Indianolas in the United States claimed the same origin for their name. The story about the origin of the town coming from an Indian princess named "Ola" is folk etymology. The last Choctaw Indians had been forcibly removed from the area through the Treaty of Doak's Stand in 1820, and the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830. Indianola was not incorporated under its current name until 1886. (Brieger, Hometown Mississippi 1980). Mr. French speculated that name was selected by the Board of Supervisors in memory of Indianola, Texasmarker, which had been totally destroyed by a hurricane in 1875.

In his Delta Discovery series, Terry Graham stated that the name did indeed come from an Indian princess named "Ola". The majority of historians agree with Graham's findings.


Indianola is located at (33.447999, -90.647414) at the junction of MS Highways 82 and 49W.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.7 square miles (22.5 km²), of which, 8.6 square miles (22.3 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (1.03%) is water. including Indian Bayou, which runs the length of the city and beyond.

The topography of Indianola is flat. The only significant elevation changes are along waterways such as Indian Bayou.


As of the census of 2000, there were 12,066 people, 3,899 households, and 2,982 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,400.3 people per square mile (540.5/km²). There were 4,118 housing units at an average density of 477.9/sq mi (184.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 25.73% White, 73.38% African American, 0.01% Native American, 0.46% Asian American, 0.16% from other races, and 0.27% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.71% of the population.

There were 3,899 households out of which 39.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.8% were married couples living together, 31.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.5% were non-families. 20.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.05 and the average family size was 3.5.In the city the population was spread out with 32.9% under the age of 18, 11.5% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 18.4% from 45 to 64, and 10.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 83.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.3 males.


The median income for a household in the city was $26,308, and the median income for a family was $31,186. Males had a median income of $27,310 versus $17,622 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,082. About 22.5% of families and 27.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 35.8% of those under age 18 and 21.5% of those age 65 or over.

The Blues

It is the birthplace of famous blues musician Albert King. Henry Sloan lived in Indianola, and Charley Patton died near the city.

B.B. King grew up in Indianola as a child and comes to the blues festival named for him every year. King referenced the city with the title of his 1970 album Indianola Mississippi Seeds. The B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, a $14 million facility dedicated to King and the blues, opened in September 2008. Many street names are named after King and his music, including B.B. King Road, Lucille St. (named after his guitar), and Delta Blues St.

The Mississippi Delta Blues Society was established on December 10, 2003 in Indianola to exchange information about Blues related events, and will support community events and activities in the Delta. The Society's mission is to promote the Blues in the Mississippi Delta, and to support its musicians and area Blues clubs.


All but one public school have student populations that are at least 97% African American, (Lockard Elementary School, 62%) (National Center for Education Statistics). Indianola Academy, a private school, has a student population that is 99% white.


Indianola has several thriving business entities, including several unique restaurants: The Lost Dog Pizza Co,an award winning pizza pub, Pea Soups, a family owned cafe that has been in Indianola for over 41 years, and the Crown, an award winning food distributor and restaurant. Other local businesses include Abraham's fine clothier, a clothing store of renown across several generations, the the Pecan House, a candy store and distributor, Dollar General, a convenience store whose warehouse is located near the city limits, and two blues venues, the historic Club Ebony,and the innovative 308 Blues Club and Cafe,which hosts blues, rock, country, and hip-hop acts. Indianola has several The community is served by a weekly newspaper, The Enterprise-Tocsin. A Wal-Martmarker Supercenter opened in January 2006.


Indianola is the hometown of the legendary B.B. King, and the late David Lee Durham. Actress Mary Alice is also from Indianola.

In the media

  • From 1932 until 1934, Hortense Powdermaker conducted an anthropological study of the African-American community in Indianola, which served as the basis for her book, After Freedom: A Cultural Study In the Deep South and mentioned in her book "Stranger and Friend. The Way of an Anthropologist".

  • John Dollard spent five months in Indianola conducting research for his 1937 book, Caste and Class in a Southern Town, which examined how those factors affected race relations in the rural South.[18901] While Indianola was not named in the book, the eponymous "Southern Town" was based on the data he collected there.


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