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The Hitchiti were an historic indigenous tribe in the Southeast United States. They formerly resided chiefly in a town of the same name on the east bank of the Chattahoochee River, four miles below Chiaha, in western present-day Georgia. The natives possessed a narrow strip of good land bordering on the river. The Hitchiti had a reputation of being honest and industrious.[1]

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

Their autonym was possibly Atcik-hata, while the Coushatta knew them as the At-pasha-shliha, "mean people".[2] Under pressure from white Americans, the Hitchiti moved into Florida. While some survived there, others signed a treaty for their land in exchange for lands in Indian Territory, and were forced west.

Contents

LanguageEdit

Hitchiti
Regions with significant populations

Hitchiti was one of the many Muskogee languages spoken by tribes of the loose Creek Confederacy; it was spoken in Georgia and Florida during the Colonial period by such tribes as the Hitchiti, Chiaha, Oconee, Sawokli, Apalochicola, and Miccosukee. Based on the number of place names that have been derived from the language, scholars believe it could have spread over a much larger area than Georgia and Florida during colonial times.[3]

It was part of the Muskogean language family; it is considered a dialect of the Mikasuki language with which it was mutually intelligible.[4] The Hitchiti and the Mikasuki tribes were both part of the Creek confederacy. The Mikasuki language was historically one of the major languages of the Seminole people. It is still spoken by many Seminole and Miccosukee in Florida, but it has become extinct among the Oklahoma Seminole.

Like the Creek, the Hitchiti had an ancient "female" dialect. The dialect was still remembered and sometimes spoken by the older people, and it used to be the language of the males as well. Their language with the "female" dialect was also known as the 'ancient language'.[5]

SoundsEdit

The tables below are the sounds of the Hitchiti language:

Vowels
 Short/Nasal  Long 
 Front   Central   Back   Front   Central   Back 
 Close  i ĩ u ũ
Mid  o
 Open a ã
Consonants
Labial Lateral Alveolar Palatal Glottal
Stop plain p t k
aspirated
voiced b
Affricate
Fricative f ɬ s h
Nasal m n
Approximant w l j

LocationEdit

The Hitchiti are often associated with an area in present-day Chattahoochee County. But at an earlier period, they occupied land on the lower course of the Ocmulgee River. Early English maps show their town on the site of present-day Macon.

After 1715 they moved to Henry County, Alabama, en route to their most well-known location of Chattahoochee County. By 1839, nearly all Hitchit had been relocated to Native American reservations in Oklahoma, where they gradually merged with Creek and other tribes of the Creek Confederacy.[6]

Some of their villages were located at Hihnje, location unknown; Hitchitoochee, on the Flint River below its junction with Kinchafoonee Creek; and Tuttallosee, on a creek of the same name, 20 miles west from Hitchitoochee.

PopulationEdit

The population of the Hitchiti is not known with precision because it was usually recorded with those of the other confederate tribes. Only the number of males was usually recorded. In 1738 there were 60 males in the tribe; in 1750 only 15; 50 in 1760; 40 in 1761; and 90 in 1772. Sixty years later in 1832 the entire population, males and females, was estimated at about 381.[7]

HistoryEdit

Hitchiti lived in the region that became Georgia for hundreds of years prior to the arrival of Europeans. They were not nomadic and occupied most of southern Georgia. The Hitchiti were part of the Creek Confederacy, which occupied almost two-thirds of the current state of Georgia.

Many Native American relics have been found in Jones County. The western boundary of the county is the Ocmulgee River, one of the favored places of the Hitchiti tribe. Arrowheads may still be found there, and numerous Indian trails are visible (and usable) in the area.[8]

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.

When U.S. 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 the Hitchitudshi.[9]

The language appears to have been used beyond the territorial limits of the tribe: it was spoken in Native Americans villages on the Chattahoochee River, such as Chiaha, Chiahudshi, Hitchiti, Oconee, Sawokli, Sawokliudshi, and Apalachicola, and in those on the 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 "women's talk," or female language.

Scholars believe that the Yamasee also spoke Hitchiti, but the evidence is not conclusive. Other evidence points 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 the Miccosukee were considered to be part of the Seminole, which formed a new society 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.[10]

The Native Americans of Georgia were all officially removed from the state and forcibly resettled in Oklahoma by 1839. Few remained in the state of Georgia.[11]

Remnants of the Hitchiti culture have been found all over the state of Georgia. A collection of Hitchiti artifacts was found in one location at one of their former villages. The collection includes a large copper disc which center is surrounded by Guntersville points, a variety of trade beads that indicate a deep involvement in fur trade with the English, two ear plugs, five worked silver circles typical of the silver work of the Seminole, a stone pendant, and a highly polished flaking tool.[12]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Gatschet, Albert (1884). A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians.
  2. ^ Swanton, John R. Indian Tribes of North America. (Washington: U.S. Govt. Printing Off., 1953).
  3. ^ Daniels, Gary. "Mayan Words in Hitchiti-Creek Language Suggest Ancient Connection". Lost Worlds.
  4. ^ Hardy, Heather & Janine Scancarelli. (2005). Native Languages of the Southeastern United States, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, pp. 69-70
  5. ^ Gatschet, Albert (1884). A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians.
  6. ^ Sarrett Jr, Paul. "Georgia Tribes Index".
  7. ^ Sarrett Jr, Paul. Freepages, Geneaology at Rootsweb "Georgia Tribes Index" Check |url= value (help).
  8. ^ Williams, Carrie. "Jones County History". Jones County, GA.
  9. ^ Schorder, Lloyd. "Hitchiti". Peach State Archaeology Site.
  10. ^ Moseley, Christopher and R.E. Asher, ed. Atlas of the Worlds Languages, New York: Routledge, 1994, p. 6
  11. ^ Williams, Mark (1992). Hitchiti: An Early Georgia Language. Lamar Institute.
  12. ^ Schorder, Lloyd. "Hitchiti". Peach State Archaeology Site.

External linksEdit