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The Paskagula, Moctobi, and Chozetta Indians

Posted By Dennis On In Louisiana,Mississippi,Native American,Texas | No Comments

The Paskagula (Pascagoula) and Moctobi tribes are mentioned by Iberville1 in 1699 as living on Pascagoula river near the coast of Mississippi, associated with the Biloxi, each of the three tribes, although but few in numbers, having its own village. As the French settlement on Biloxi bay was made in that year, this date probably marks the beginning of their displacement and removal westward. We know nothing of their language, but from their intimate connection then and afterward with the Biloxi, it is very possible that they were cognate. The name of the Moctobi seems to have disappeared from the earth, as repeated personal inquiry among the Choctaw and Caddo has failed to elicit any knowledge of such a tribe. It is quite probable that the form given in Margry is a misprint or other corruption, as we find the misprint form, Pascoboula, in the same reference.

The Paskagula are better remembered. The name is not their own, but was given to them by the Choctaw, and signifies “bread people,” from parka “bread” and okla “people.” It has been retained as the name of the river in Mississippi on which they formerly had their village. I found the name of this tribe still familiar to the Choctaw and Caddo, the latter of whom, having no l in their language, pronounce the word “Paskaguna.” There are none now among either of these tribes, but the Caddo have a distinct recollection of them as neighbors when they lived lower down on Red river in Texas and Louisiana. In 1784, eighty-five years after their mention by Iberville, we find them in Louisiana, still living with the Biloxi2 . In 1829 they were mentioned as living in connection with the Biloxi and Caddo on Red river, about on the eastern border of Texas. They were then reported to number 111, while the Biloxi were reported at only 65, which, if correct, would show that sixty years ago the Paskagula were the more important of the two3 . They can hardly have become extinct within so short a period, and it is probable that they, as well as the Biloxi, still exist among the Alabama and other small tribes already referred to as now living in eastern Texas, where enough of their language may yet be obtained to settle their linguistic affinity.

The Chozetta, mentioned in 1699 as living on Pascagoula river in connection with the Paskagula, Biloxi, and Moctobi4 , may also have been of Siouan stock.

Synonymy

Pascagoula.- Common geographic form.
Pascoboula.- Iberville (1699) in Margry, Déscouvertes, vol. iv, p. 195 (misprint).
Paskagula.- “Bread people;” correct Choctaw form.
Paskaguna.- Moosey, Caddo form.
Moctoby.- Iberville (1699) in Margry, op. cit., p. 195.
Chozettas.- Iberville (1699) in Margry, op. cit., p. 154.

Footnotes

  1. Margry, Pierre. Découvertes et établissements des Français dans l’ouest et dans le sud de l’Amérique septentrionale (1614-1754). Mémoires et documents originaux; D’Iberville (1699), vol. iv, 1880, p. 195. Recueillis et publiés par Pierre Margry. 6 vols. Paris, 1875-’86. 

  2. Imlay, Gilbert. A topographical description of the western territory of North America, etc.; Hutchins, 1784, p. 420. London, 1797. 

  3. Schoolcraft, H. R. Historical and statistical information respecting the history, condition, and prospects of the Indian tribes of the United States, etc., Porter (1829) vol. iii, p. 596. Philadelphia, 1851-7. 6 volumes. 

  4. Margry, Pierre. op. cit., vol. iv, 1880, p. 154. 


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