Sesostrie Youchigant, also known as Sam Young (born c. 1870;[2] died December 6, 1948),[3] was a chief of the Tunica-Biloxi tribe and the last known native speaker of the Tunica language.[2][4]

Sesostrie Youchigant
Bornc. 1870
Died(1948-12-06)December 6, 1948
Other namesSam Young
Occupationtribal leader
Known forlast speaker of Tunica language
SuccessorErnest Pierite[1]

Political leadership


Youchigant was elected chief by the Tunica in 1911.[1] The tribe kept records of its elections in the parish courthouse.[1] He served until 1921, when he resigned. Ernest Pierite succeeded him as chief, with Youchigant's half-brother, Eli Barbry, was elected as subchief.[1]

Language advocacy


He worked with linguist Mary Haas in 1933 (and during four subsequent visits between 1933 and 1938) to describe what he remembered of the language, which he had learned as a child.[2] He also recounted oral history of his tribe's migrations and their diplomatic relationships with other tribes.[5]

When Haas contacted him, he had not had anyone to talk to in Tunica for nearly 20 years, and was the only individual left who spoke it "with any degree of fluency". Youchigant also spoke Louisiana French as his first language, in addition to English.[6] Haas's 1935 doctoral dissertation, A Grammar of the Tunica Language, was a result of this collaboration.[7] Haas's Tunica Texts (1950) and much of Tunica Dictionary (1953) are also based on her work with Youchigant.[2][8]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e "Tunica Language Project". Tulane University. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2024.
  2. ^ a b c d Haas, Mary R. (1950). Tunica Texts. University of California Press.
  3. ^ Pierite, Joseph. 1964. Letter to Mary Haas. Mary R. Haas Papers. Mss.Ms.Coll.94. American Philosophical Society Library. Philadelphia.
  4. ^ United States Department of the Interior (1980). "Recommendation and summary of evidence for proposed finding for Federal acknowledgment of the Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe of Louisiana pursuant to 25 CFR 54". Office of Federal Acknowledgement.
  5. ^ Ellis, Elizabeth N. (2022). The Great Power of Small Nations: Indigenous Diplomacy in the Gulf South. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, Incorporated. p. 240. ISBN 9781512823189.
  6. ^ Dajko, Nathalie; Walton, Shana (August 2019). Language in Louisiana : community and culture. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. p. 50. ISBN 9781496823908.
  7. ^ Haas, Mary R. (1935). A Grammar of the Tunica Language (Ph.D. thesis). Yale University.
  8. ^ Haas, Mary R. (1953). Tunica Dictionary. University of California Press.