Hitchiti

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Hitchiti
Total population
Extinct as a tribe
Regions with significant populations
Georgia, United States
Languages
Hitchiti
Religion
Traditional tribal religion
Related ethnic groups
Creek, Mikasuki, Seminole

The Hitchiti were an indigenous tribe formerly residing chiefly in a town of the same name on the east bank of the Chattahoochee River, 4 miles below Chiaha, in western present-day Georgia.

They spoke the Hitchiti language, which was part of the Muskogean language family; it is considered a dialect of the Mikasuki language, with which it was mutually intelligible.[1] The Hitchiti and the Mikasuki tribes were both part of the loose Creek confederacy. The Mikasuki language was historically one of the major languages of the Seminole people and is still spoken by many Florida Seminoles and Miccosukees, though it is extinct among the Oklahoma Seminole.

History[edit]

When the US Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins visited the Hitchiti in 1799, he recorded that they had spread out into two branch settlements. The Hitchitudshi, or Little Hitchiti, lived on both sides of Flint River below the junction of Kinchafoonee Creek, which passes through a county once named after it. The Tutalosi lived on a branch of Kinchafoonee Creek, 20 miles west of Hitchitudshi.

The tribe is not often mentioned in historical records. It was first recorded in 1733, when two of its delegates were noted as accompanying the Lower Creek chiefs to meet Governor James Oglethorpe at Savannah.

The language appears to have been used beyond the territorial limits of the tribe: it was spoken in the towns on the Chattahoochee River, such as Chiaha, Chiahudshi, Hitchiti, Oconee, Sawokli, Sawokliudshi, and Apalachicola, and in those on Flint River, and also by the Miccosukee tribe of Florida. Traceable by local names in Hitchiti, the language was used by peoples over considerable portions of Georgia and Florida. Like Creek, this language has an archaic form called "woman's talk," or female language.

Scholars believe that the Yamasee also spoke Hitchiti, but the evidence is not conclusive. Other evidence pointed toward their speaking a different language, perhaps one related to Guale.

The Hitchiti were absorbed into and became an integral part of the Creek Nation, though preserving to a large extent their own language and customs. Similarly, those Mikasuki-speakers who joined the Lower Creek migrations to Florida maintained their culture.

For years they were considered to be part of the Seminole, which formed from remnant peoples in Florida. In the 20th century, they gained independent state recognition in 1957 and federal recognition in 1962 as the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.

Some sources list Hitchiti as an extant language in the 1990s.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hardy, Heather & Janine Scancarelli. (2005). Native Languages of the Southeastern United States, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, pp. 69-70
  2. ^ Moseley, Christopher and R.E. Asher, ed. Atlas of the Worlds Languages, New York: Routledge, 1994, p. 6