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Allophylic Languages Among Southern Tribes

Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Native American | No Comments

The southern tribes which I suspect of speaking or having spoken allophylic languages, are the Bidai, the Koroa, the Westo and Stono Indians.

Bidai Indians

Rev. Morse, in his Report to the Government (1822), states that their home is on the western or right side of Trinity river, Texas, sixty-five miles above its mouth, and that they count one hundred and twenty people. In 1850 a small settlement of five or six Bidai families existed on Lower Sabine River.

The Opelousas of Louisiana and the Cances of Texas spoke languages differing from all others around them.[1]

Koroa Indians

The earliest home of this tribe, which figures extensively in French colonial history, is a mountainous tract on the western shore of Mississippi River, eight leagues above the Natchez landing. They were visited there, early in 1682, by the explorer, C. de la Salle, who noticed the compression of their skulls (Margry I, 558, 566). They were a warlike and determined people of hunters. In 1705 a party of them, hired by the French priest Foucault to convey him by water to the Yazoos, murderously dispatched him with two other Frenchmen (Pénicaut, in Margry V, 458). A companion of C. de la Salle (in 1682) noticed that the “language of the Coroa differed from that of the Tinsa and Natche,” but that in his opinion their manners and customs were the same (Margry I, 558).

Koroas afterward figure as one of the tribes settled on Yazoo River, formerly called also River of the Chicasa, and are mentioned there by D. Coxe, Carolana (1742), p. 10, as Kourouas. They were then the allies of the Chicasa, but afterward merged in the Cha’hta people, who call them Kólwa, Kúlua. Allen Wright descended from a grandfather of this tribe, states that the term is neither Cha’hta nor Chicasa, and that the Koroa spoke a language differing entirely from Cha’hta.[2] A place Kolua is now in Coahoma county, probably far distant from the ancient home of this tribe. The origin of the name is unknown; the Cha’hta word: ka n lo strong, powerful, presents some analogy in sound.

The Westo Indians And Stono Indians

Lived in the vicinity of the English colony at Charleston, South Carolina. Their predatory habits made them particularly troublesome in 1669-1671 and in 1674, when they had to be repulsed by an army of volunteers. The Stonos must have lived north of the colony, or on the upper course of some river, for, in 1674, they are described as “coming down” (Hewat, Histor. Account of S. C. and Ga., London 1779; I, 51. 77) Stono Inlet is the name of a cove near Charleston. Both tribes also met with disastrous reverses at the hands of the Savannah Indians, probably the Yamassi (Archdale). They are both mentioned as having belonged to the Kataba confederacy, but this does not by any means prove that they spoke Kataba or a dialect of it. As to the name, the Westo Indians may be identified with the Oustacs of Lederer (who are reported as being at war with the Usherees), and with the Hostaqua of Rene de Laudonniere, who mentions them as forming a confederacy under a paracusi in the northern parts of the “Floridian” territory. Possibly the Creek word ō’sta four, in the sense of “four allied tribes,” has given origin to this tribal name (ostáka in Alibamu).

The affinity of the extinct Congaree Indians, on Congaree River, is doubtful also; Lawson relates that they did not understand the speech of the Waterees and Chicarees. Cf. Kataba. Owing to the inactivity of the local historians, our ethnographic information on the North and South Carolina Indians is extremely meager and unsatisfactory.

Footnotes

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  1. American State Papers, I, pp. 722-24.
  2. This is corroborated by the fact that the sound R did exist in the Koroa language: Jefferys (1761), I, 163.

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