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The Chakchiuma were a Native American tribe of the upper Yazoo River region of what is today the state of Mississippi.[1] The identification of the Chakchiuma by the French of the late 17th century as "a Chicacha nation" indicates that they were related to the Chickasaw and of similar Muskogean stock,[2] as does the etymology of their name. The Chakchiuma have also been claimed to be the ancestors of the Houma tribe, who have a red crawfish as their war totem, though their existence as distinct groups at least from first contact with Europeans is confirmed by French encounters.


According to Swanton, the name was originally Sa'ktcihuma "red crawfish," referring to the tribal totem. This name is cognate with the Choctaw shakchi humma "red crawfish".[3] It has appeared in European language sources in a variety of ways, including as Sacchuma and Saquechuma in records of de Soto's travels, and as Choquichoumans by d'Iberville.[2][4] Some also believe the name Houma is derived from Chakchiuma.[5]


The first historical reference to the Chakchiuma is found when Hernando de Soto sent a contingent of troops against them while he was staying with the Chickasaw.[6] In 1700 the Quapaw were convinced by English traders to try to take some of the Chakchiuma as captives to sell to these traders so they could ship them to the English colonies to be used as slaves. The Quapaw failed in this endeavor.[2][7] Alan Gallay suggests the English turned to the Quapaw because their usual slave trading partners, the Chickasaw, may have resisted attacking their own people.[8]

The Chakchiuma participated on the French side in the Yazoo War.[9] In about 1739 the Chakchiuma were involved in hostilities, primarily with the Chickasaw, that led to their destruction as an independent tribe and their being incorporated into the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes.[7] The Chickasaw and Choctaw had become so incensed that they not only killed all the Chakchiuma warriors, but also every animal found in their villages.[10]

Historical populations[edit]

Based on Bienville's claim that there were 400 families of the Chakchiuma in 1702, this would place their numbers at that date around or above 2000. By 1704 their numbers had fallen to only 80 families, which almost certainly was below 500 people.[11] At the time of their destruction, put by some sources as late as 1770, their three principal villages were at Lyon's Bluff (about 7 miles northeast of present-day Starkville, Mississippi), another near Bellefontaine, and a third along the Yalobusha River near Grenada, MS. The latter site became known as Chocchuma Village and housed the land office charged with selling off Indian lands until it was moved to Grenada in 1842.


  1. ^ Gibson, Arrell M. "The Indians of Mississippi" in McLemore, Richard Audrey, ed. A History of Mississippi (Hattiesburg: University and College Press of Mississippi, 1973) p. 69
  2. ^ a b c McWilliams, Richebourg; Iberville, Pierre (1991-02-28). Iberville's Gulf Journals. University of Alabama Press. p. 175. ISBN 9780817305390. 
  3. ^ Byington, Cyrus (1915-01-01). A Dictionary of the Choctaw Language. U.S. Government Printing Office. 
  4. ^ Swanton. Indians of the Southeastern U. S. p. 105
  5. ^ Pritzker, Barry M. Native Americans: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture and Peoples (Denver: ABC-CLIO, 1998) Vol. 2, p. 550
  6. ^ Swanton, John R. Indians of the Southeastern United States as Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 137 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1946) p. 105
  7. ^ a b Swanton. Indians of the Southeastern US p. 106
  8. ^ Gallay, Alan (2002-01-01). The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670-1717. Yale University Press. ISBN 0300101937. 
  9. ^ Swanton, John R. Indians of the Southeastern United States as Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 137 (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1946) p. 106
  10. ^
  11. ^ Swanton. Indians of the Southeastern US p. 107