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Hitchiti Indian Tribe

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The Hitchiti tribe, of whose language we present an extensive specimen in this volume, also belongs to the southeastern group, which I have called Apalachian.

Hitchiti town was, in Hawkins time, established on the eastern bank of Chatahuchi River, four miles below Chiaha. The natives possessed a narrow strip of good land bordering on the river, and had the reputation of being honest and industrious. They obtained their name from Hitchiti creek, so called at its junction with Chatahuchi river, [and in its upper course Ahíki (Ouhe-gee); cf. List] from Creek: ahí-tchita “to look up (the stream).” They had spread out into two branch settlements: Hitchitúdshi or Little Hitchiti, on both sides of Flint River, below the junction of Kitchofuni Creek, which passes through a county named after it; and Tutalósi on Tutalosi creek, a branch of Kitchofuni creek, twenty miles west of Hitchitúdshi (Hawkins, p. 60. 65). The existence of several Hitchiti towns is mentioned by C. Swan in 1791; and Wm. Bartram states that they “speak the Stincard language.” There is a popular saying among the Creeks, that the ancient name of the tribe was Atchík’hade, a Hitchiti word which signifies white heap (of ashes).

Some Hitchiti Indians trace their mythic origin to a fall from the sky, but my informants, Chicote and G. W. Stidham, gave me the following tale: “Their ancestors first appeared in the country by coming out of a canebrake or reed thicket (útski in Hitchiti) near the sea coast. They sunned and dried their children during four days, then set out, arrived at a lake and stopped there. Some thought it was the sea, but it was a lake; they set out again, traveled up a stream and settled there for a permanency. Another tradition says that this people was the first to settle at the site of Okmulgi town, an ancient capital of the confederacy.

The tribe was a member of the Creek confederacy and does not figure prominently in history. The first mention I can find of it, is of the year 1733, when Gov. Oglethorpe met the Lower Creek chiefs at Savannah, Ga., to conciliate their tribes in his favor. The “Echetas” had sent their war-chiefs, Chutabeeche and Robin with four attendants (Ch. C. Jones, Tomochichi, p. 28). The Yutchitálgi of our legend, who were represented at the Savannah council of 1735 by “Tomehuichi, dog king of the Euchitaws,” are probably the Hitchiti, not the Yuchi. Wm. Bartram calls them (1773) “Echetas” also.

The dialect spoken by the Hitchiti and Mikasuki once spread over an extensive area, for local names are worded in it from the Chatahuchi River in an eastern direction up to the Atlantic coast. To these belong those mentioned under “the name Maskoki.”

According to Wm. Bartram, Travels, pp. 462-464, the following towns on Chatahuchi River spoke the “Stincard” language, that is a language differing from Creek or Muscogulge: Chíaha (Chehaw), Hitchiti (Echeta), Okoni (Occone), the two Sáwokli (Swaglaw, Great and Little). From this it becomes probable, though not certain, that the dialect known to us as Hitchiti was common to them all. The Sáwokli tribe, settled in the Indian Territory, have united there with the Hitchiti, a circumstance which seems to point to ancient relationship.

Like the Creeks, the Hitchiti have an ancient female dialect, still remembered and perhaps spoken by the older people, which was formerly the language of the males also. The woman language existing among the Creek Indians is called by them also the ancient language. A thorough study of these archaic remnants would certainly throw light on the early local distribution of the tribes and dialects of the Maskoki in the Gulf States.

Hitchiti Hunter’s Song

The following ancient hunting song may serve as a specimen of the female dialect of Hitchiti; the ending -i of the verbs, standing instead of -is of the male dialect, proves it to be worded in that archaic form of speech. Obtained from Judge G. W. Stidham:

Hántun talánkawati a′klig; éyali.
Sutá! kayá! Kayap’hú!
aluktchabakliwáti ä′klig; éyali.
Sutá! kayá! kayap’hú!
aluktigonknawati ā′klig; áyali.
Sutá! kayá! kayap’hú!
aluk hadshá-aliwati ā′klig; éyali.
Sutá! kayá! kayap’hú!
hántun ayawáti ā′klig; áyali.
Sutá! kayá! kayap’hú!

Somewhere (the deer) lies on the ground, I think; I walk about.
Awake, arise, stand up!
It is raising up its head, I believe; I walk about.
Awake, arise, stand up!
It attempts to rise, I believe; I walk about.
Awake, arise, stand up!
Slowly it raises its body, I think; I walk about.
Awake, arise, stand up!
It has now risen on its feet, I presume; I walk about.
Awake, arise, stand up!

At every second line of this song the singer kicks at a log, feigning to start up the deer by the noise from its recesses in the woods. The song-lines are repeated thrice, in a slow and plaintive tune, except the refrain, which is sung or rather spoken in a quicker measure, and once only.


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