Family Organization of Timucuan People

The Social Organization of Timucua Indians

Not much can be gathered from our French informants regarding the social organization of those people, but there is enough to show that they had a class of chiefs to whom great respect was paid, indicating resemblances to the oligarchic system of the Creeks. Ribault says:

It is their manner to talk and bargain sitting; and the chief or king to be separated from the common people; with a show of great obedience to their kings, elders, and superiors. 1

This impression is confirmed by Pareja, the Franciscan missionary, and in addition ho gives us some information regarding both the caste and the clan systems, the only information of this nature accessible to us. Naturally this account leaves much to be desired, but we should rather rejoice at its completeness under the circumstances than complain on account of its omissions. This part of Pareja’s catechism has been published and most of it translated by Gatschet, 2 but there are some unfortunate errors and omissions which have made it necessary to go back to the original work. A careful study of this has made the general outlines of the Timucua organization sufficiently plain.

Pareja gives the following terms of relationship and their significance along with certain grammatical forms based on them. I have arranged them for convenience under the appropriate stem words.

chirico: chirico viro, chirico nia, used by father and mother in speaking to their son and daughter, respectively.

ahono: ahono viro, ahono nia, used precisely like the above. Among terms used by males we find this given farther on again as a mode of expression “more used in the interior.’* The following additional examples occur: Ahono viro misoma, my elder son; ahono nia misoma, my elder daughter; ahono viro pacanoqua, my inter-mediate son; ahono nia pacanoqua, my intermediate daughter; ahono viro quianima, my yoimger son; ahono viro iubuacoli, ahono viro quianicocoma, my yoimgest or last son; ahono nia iubuacoli, ahono nia quianicocoma, my youngest or last daughter; ahono viro ysicora, ahono chirico, ahono ysinahoma, my very last son.

iti: itina, my father; itaye, thy fother; oqe itimima, the fother of that one; itinica, itinicale, itinicano, ytimilei our fother; itayaqu^, your father; oqecare itimitilama, ytimilemala, their father; ytele, paternal uncle; yteleye, thy paternal uncle; itilemima, his uncle; itelemile, ytelenica, ytelenicano, our paternal uncle; yteleyaqe, your paternal uncle; ytilemitilama, their paternal uncle; ytemiso, name given to an imcle older than the father; ytequiany, name given to an uncle yoimger than the fother; ytimale, father and son; ytelemele, uncle and nephew; ytemisomale, elder uncle and nephew; ytequianimale, younger uncle and nephew.

itora (probably from the preceding stem), grandfather, father-in-law, or godfather; ytorina, ytorana, my grandfather, etc.; ytoraye, thy grandfcither; ytorimima, his grand-father; ytorimile, ytorinica, ytorinicale, ytorinicano, our grandfather; ytorayaqe, your grandfather; ytori mitilama, their grandfather; ytora naribua, coesa ytora, great-grandfather; ytora naribuana, my great-grandfather; ytora naribuaye, thy great-grandfather; ytora naribuamima, his grandfather; ytora naribuamile, our great-grand-father; ytora naribuaiaqe, your great-grandfather; ytora naribuamitilama, their great-grandfather; ytora mulu, great-great-grandfather; ytora muluna, my great-great-grandfather; ytora muleye, thy great-great-grandfather; ytora mulumima, his great-great-grandfather; ytora mulumile, ytora mulunica, ytora mulunicano, our great-great-grandfather; ytora muluyaqe, ytora muluyaqeno, your great-great-grandfather; ytora mulumitilama, ytora muliunitilale, their great-great-grandfather; ytora is the name given by children to their father, his brothers, and their mother’s brothers after the death of their piother; ytorapatami, ytorapatamima, paternal uncle’s wife; ytora, term given by a woman to the husband of her aunt; ytora naribua mulumale, the great-great-grandfather and great-great-grandson; ytorimale, grandfather and grandson; ytorimalema, uncle and nephew or godfather and godchild.

siqinona, nisiqisama, the one who begot me (name given to the father after his death); siqinomale, son and father.

naribuana, “my old man,” name given to father’s brother after his death; naribua-pacano, name given to a man deprived of his children by death.

hue sipire, hue asire, the second stepfather.

isa, mother: ysona, my mother; ysaya, ysayente, is it thy mother? ysayesa, did thy mother do that or this? ysayeste, did thy mother say this or that? ysaye, iste, thy mother does not wish; ysomima, his mother; heca ysomile, heca ysonica, our mother; ysayaqe, your mother; ysomitilama, their mother; ysale, maternal aimt; ysalena, my maternal aunt; ysaleye, thy maternal aunt; ysalemima, his maternal aunt; isalenica, Isalemile, ysalenicano, our maternal aunt; ysaleyaqe, your maternal aunt; ysalemiti-iama, their maternal aunt; ysamiso, maternal aunt older than mother; ysa quianima, maternal aunt younger than mother; ysomale, ysomalema, mother and daughter; ysalemale, nephew and imcle or niece and aunt.

ule, child (name given by woman) : ulena, my child; ulaya, is it thy child? ulemile, it is her child; ulemima, is it the child of that woman? Maria ulemima (or ulemila), the child of this Maria, or the child of Maria; ulenica, ulemile, it is our child; uleyaqe, your child; ulemitilama, the child of that one; Ana ulemicare, the children of Ana; ulena miso, my elder child; ulena pacanoquana, my second child; ulena quianima, the younger child; ulena quianicocoma, the fourth child; ulena yubacoli, ulena usicora, my very last child; ano-ulemama, the mother of living children; ulena, my sister’s child; ulena, my child (name given by stepmother to stepchild).

yacha: yache pacano, name given to a mother without children or kindred; yacha quianima, name by which the elder brother calls his younger brother and yoimger sister; yacha miso, name by which the elder brother calls his elder sister, applying also to the children of the father’s brother and the mother’s sister; yachimale, male and female children of brothers when spoken of collectively; yachemulecoco, great-grandmother on father’s side and on mother’s; yachimalema, sister and brother; yachema, mother of a girl just having reached maturity (?).

yquine: yquinena, she who gave me milk (name given to mother after her death);-yquyneye, the mother who gave thee milk; yquinemima, the mother who gave him milk; yquinemile, the mother who gave us milk; yquineyaqe, the mother who gave you milk; yquinemitilama, the mother who gave them milk.

nibira, grandmother, stepmother, godmother, aimt on father’s and mother’s side after father’s death; mother after father’s death; nibirina, honihe nibira, my grand-mother, etc.; nibiraye, thy grandmother; nibirimima, his grandmother; nibirimile, nibirinica, our grandmother; nibirayaqe, your grandmother; nibirimitilama, their grandmother; nibirayache, ysa yache, great-grandmother; nibirayachena, ysayachena, my great-grandmother; nibira yacheye, isaiache, thy great-grandmother; nibira yachemima, ysayachemima, his great-grandmother; nibira yachemile, nibira yachenica, ysayachemile, ysayachenica, yachenicano; nibira yacheyaqe, ysaya-cheyaqe, your great-grandmother; nibira yachemitilama, isayachemitilama, their great-grandmother; nibirayachemulu, great-great-grandmother; nibira yachemuluna, my great-great-grandmother; nibira yachemuluye, thy great-great-grandmother; nibira yachemuliunima, his great-great-grandmother; nibira yachemulunica, nibira yachemulunicano, our great-great-grandmother; nibira yaohemuluyaqe, your great-great-grandmother; nibira yachemulumitilama, their great-great-grandmother; nybira yachemulimiale, nibira yachemale, great-grandmother and great-grandchild; nibirimalema, godmother and godchild.

neba, uncle on mother’s side; nebena, my uncle; nebaye, thy uncle; nebemima, his uncle; nebemile, nebenica, nebenicano, our uncle; nebayaqe, your imcle; nebe-mitilama, their uncle; nebua naribama, nebua nebemima, uncle of my uncle; nebapatani, uncle’s \’ife; nebemale, uncle and nephew.

nibe, paternal aunt; nibina, my paternal aunt; nibaye, thy aunt; nibimima, his aunt; nibinica, nibinile, nibinicano, our aunt; nibeyaqe, your aunt; nibimitilama, their aunt; nibirimalema, aunt and nephew or niece.

nasi, son-in-law, also name given to husband of niece, probably the husband of a man’s brother’s daughter and the husband of a woman’s sister’s daughter; ano nasi-mitama, father-in-law, mother-in-law; ano nasimitachiqe, those with fathers- or mothers-in-law; nasimitana, my father-in-law, or mother-in-law; nasimitaye, thy father- or mother-in-law; nasimitamima, his father- or mother-in-law; nasimitanica; nasimitamile, nasimitamileno, our father- or mother-in-law; nasimitayaqe, your father- or mother-in-law; nasimita mitilama, their father- or mother-in-law; nasi, nasimileno, son-in-law; nasina, my son-in-law; nasiye, thy son-in-law; nasimima, his son-in-law; nasinica, nasimile, our son-in-law; nasimile carema, our sons-in-law; nasaye, your son-in-law; nasiyaqe, your sons-in-law; nasimitilama, their son-in-law; nasimitamale, father-in-law, and son-in-law and daughter-in-law.

nubo, nubuo, daughter-in-law, also wife of nephew, probably the wife of a man’s brother’s son, and a woman’s sister’s son: nubona, nubuona, my daughter-in-law; nuboye, thy daughter-in-law; nubomima, his daughter-in-law; nubonica, nubuomile, our daughter-in-law; nuboyaqe, your daughter-in-law; nubuomitilama, their daugh-ter-in-law; nub uomi tana, nynubemitama, ninubuomitama, my father-in-law or my mother-in-law; nubuomitamalema, daughter-in-law and father- or mother-in-law.

piliqua, name given by one parent to his or her children after the death of the other; also given by the children to each other under those circumstances; it is also given by the mother’s sister and father’s brother to the children when a parent has died; also used in general for a child without father or mother, or without a relative.

hiosa, elder brother of man, elder boy of father’s brother and mother’s sister, name which children give each other after death of one parent: name given to two chiefs of equal rank; women of the Timuqua tribe use this for the elder brother.

qui: quiena, qiena, my child (used by men only); qiena miso, my older child; quyanima, my younger child; quiani cocoma, yubuacoli, my last or latest child; quiena, name a man gives his mother’s brother’s child.

quisotimi, name given to third cousins, also to father’s sister’s child, also to a step-son or stepdaughter; quisotina (another form); niquisa, my (w. sp.) brother’s wife; niquisimitana, my (w. sp.) husband’s sister; qisitomale, the grandson and the grand-father, the great-grandson and great-grandfather.

ama, children of father’s sister; amamale, male cousins of brother and sister.

eqeta, equeta, children of father’s sister; eqetamaJe, male cousins of brother and sister.

aruqui, children of father’s sister.

pacanoqua, the intermediate child, child born between others.

yubuacoli, last child (of man or woman); yubuaribana, name by which a man calls his younger brother after the latter ‘s death.

isicora, isinahoma, the very last child (of man or woman).

anta, antina, name used by a man to his brother and a woman to her sister in the Timuqua dialect.

yame, a man’s, and probably also a woman’s, sister’s husband; yamancha, yamenchu, the same in the Timuqua dialect; yamemitana, the name a man calls his wife’s sister.

tafi seems to be the name applied to a man’s brother’s wife; tafimitana was the name given by a woman to her husband’s brother.

niha, elder brother of man, in Timuqua dialect elder brother of woman also, also son of father’s brother and mother’s siBter older than self; nihona, elder sister of woman; ano nihanibama, my sister’s son (said by a woman after his death); ano nihanema, child of sister’s son (said by a woman after its death).

amita, amitina, younger brother and sister of man, also the father’s brother’s son and daughter and mother’s sisters younger than self; amitina, amita oroco, younger sister of woman; in Potano and Icafi dialects amita chirima, amita chirico.

ano ecoyana, name a man gives to his elder brother after his death.

coni, name which a man gives to his sister’s children: conina, my nephew or niece; conaye, thy nephew; conimima, his nephew; coninica, conimile, our nephew; conayaqe, your nephew; conimitilama, their nephew.

ebo, evo, a woman’s brothers’ and sisters’ children, also her mother’s brothers’ children; ebona, ebuona, evona, my nephew or niece; eboya, ebuoia, thy nephew; ebuomina, her nephew.

iquilnona, name by which a man calla his wife’s sister.

poy, woman’s elder brother; poyna misoma, my elder brother; poyna quianima, my younger brother; poymale, brother and sister.

anetana, ano etana, my brother’s son (said by a woman after his death).

inihi: inihimale, husband and wife, wife and husband, male and female. This is usually employed for wife.

inifa, the usual term for husband.

taca: tacamale, husband and wife, wife and husband, male and female of human beings only.

aymantanica, sister’s son (used by a woman after his death); aymantana, name given to the deceased son of the preceding, also a deceased near relative dearly loved; aymanino neletema, a dearly loved deceased chief (so called by both men and women).

ano quelana, or anona, “my relative,” covers those of the same house, lineage, or parent by the female side.

The following terms and sentences given by Pareja also have a bearing on the social organization of the Timucua:

üti nocoromale, those who are natives or of one country.

hica nocoromale, those who are of one town.

paha nocoromale, those who are of one house.

hica niahobale, hica nicorobale, we are of one town.

paba niocoralebale, we are all of one house.

ano quela niyahobale, we are of one lineage, caste, or generation; ano quela chiyahobale, thou art of one lineage, caste, or generation; ano quela yahomale, they are of one lineage, caste, or generation.

ano quela chichaquene?, of what lineage are you?

ano chichaquene chitacochianomi (or chitaco anoya)?, who are your kindred?

ano virona, elapachana, names by which relatives and brothers and sisters call each other.

anonia male, elapacha male, brothers and sisters, and male and female kinsmen so speak-to each other.

elapacha, anomalema, ano oquomi, ano oquo malema, indicate common relationship.

ubua, name given to a widow or widower by all of the relatives of the deceased.

ocorotasiqino, name given to all of those descended from two lineages.

siquita pahana, all of those descended from one lineage or parentage, if it is in the male line.

ucucanimi, distant relationship.

anocomalema, master and vassal, slave, male or female, and master, and master and male or female servant.

ano quelamalema, ano pequatamale, master and servant and master and vassal.

atemalema, lord and slave, male or female (when master is placed first the word for master is used, and when servant is placed first the term for servant is used). 3

While the relationships expressed by the terms given above seem at first sight very complicated the majority are reducible into a few comparatively simple categories which are expressed in the following tables. Terms applied to individuals belonging to the same clan as self are italicized.

Family Organization of Timucuan People
Family Organization of Timucuan People

Some points are obscure but the outlines of the organization are perfectly clear. There was one term for both father’s father and mother’s father, and from what we know of Indian tribes elsewhere it is probable that this term was extended generally to designate the old men of the tribe. A complementary term was used for grandmother, employed in precisely the same ways. There was one term for father and one for mother, but, with the addition of a syllable, these were made to apply to the father’s brothers and the mother’s sisters, respectively. From experience with other types of organization we may feel sure that they were used for the men and women of the father’s and mother’s clans of their generation also. There was a term for mother’s brother and a term for father’s sister, each of which probably had similar clan extensions. While pronounced differently these two, neba and nibi, have a most suggestive similarity. There were terms for elder brother, younger brother, elder sister, and younger sister. The sister, however, made less distinction between the elder and the younger brother than did the brother between his elder and younger sister. These terms likewise included elder and younger brothers and sisters of the father’s brothers and the mother’s sisters. There was one term for the child of self whether male or female, and by the man this term was used for the brothers’ children and for the mother’s brothers’ children as well. The name used for her children by a woman, however, was applied only to them and to the children of her sisters. On the other hand, she called by one term, which we may compare to our nephew or niece, the children of her brothers and of her mother’s brothers, while the man’s corresponding term applied only to his sisters’ children. There was one term for grandchild of wide application and a term for father’s sister’s child. From the nature of the terms used I will hazard a guess that it was from this last group that husbands and wives were selected. Regarding in-law relationships this much is certain, that there was one distinct term for son-in-law and another for daughter-in-law. The terms for father-in-law and mother-in-law are based upon these. The terms used for brother-in-law and sister-in-law seem to have been as follows: one for the individual of the opposite sex on either side (tafi), one for the husband of a man’s sister and probably for the brother of his wife, and one for the wife of a woman’s brother and the sister of her husband. Most of the other terms are descriptive.

The influence of the clan system on the extension of these terms would probably be evident if Pareja had taken the trouble to give more extended information, but it is by no means necessary that it should belong to a tribe having exogamous groups. The terms for grandfather, grandmother, and grandchild probably have no connection with clans. The terms for father’s brother and mother’s sister, which are modifications of those for father and mother, might equally well be used by tribes with clans or without clans, and when we get to the next generation we find the children of the father’s brothers and those of the mother’s sisters called alike by the same terms as the own brothers and sisters. They might all belong to the same clan, it is true, but only in case there were but two exogamous groups in the tribe or in case Pareja has merely recorded the terms used in such cases. Distinction of descent as between father and mother is carefully preserved also in the generation succeeding, a man calling his brothers’ children by the same terms as his own children, and a woman her sisters’ children by the same names as her own children, while the sisters’ children and brothers’ children, respectively, receive still other terms. Of course this might indicate exogamous groups, as it is probable there would be a feeling against intermarriage between persons calling themselves brothers and sisters, but unless we suppose, as already stated, only two exogamous groups there is no reason why the children of brothers should belong to the same clan. The mother’s brother’s child is called by the same name as his own child by a man and by the same name as her brother’s child by a woman. These two terms suggest a clan organization more strongly than any others, but do not establish it. The individuals of these classes might have been categorized together without any further extension of the terms. If we assume but two exogamous groups among the Timucua the above termswill fall in with it harmoniO1isly, but there is every reason to suppose that there were more; and, such being the case, we find that many groups of persons receive one name not because they are of one clan but because they bear a certain blood relation to self or because their parents had received a certain name. With more than two clans the children of brothers are not necessarily of one clan. If they then call each other brothers and sisters it is evidently on account of the relationship between their fathers. I call my brothers’ children by the same name as mine, although they may belong to several clans, simply because their fathers are my brothers. Precisely this classification is found among the Creeks, except that with them a term is used which distinguishes my actual children from the children of my clan brothers. Both, however, convey the significance of “my son” or “my boy,” and the distinction introduced does not follow clan lines.

One includes my actual children; the other children of my clansmen, whether they are of the same clan as my children or not. We have several documentary statements regarding the existence of matrilineal descent and the inheritance of the sister’s son. All beyond this that we know of the clan system of the Timucua is contained in the following paragraphs of Pareja, which I quote from Gatschet’s translation with one or two small corrections. It occurs in the original immediately after the terms of relationship.

There are many other terms for degrees of kinship too prolix to be given here, and I therefore mention only the most important. In the following lines I will mention some of the principal lineagee found in every part and province of the country, though sometimes occurring in a different shape, and I begin with the pedigrees of the upper chiefs and their progeny.

The upper chiefs (caciquee), to whom other chiefs are subject, are called ano parucusi holata ico (or olato aco; or utinama). From this class come a councillor, who leads the chief by the hand, and whose title is inihama. From him comes another class, that of the anacotima; the cacique seeks the advice of these second councillors, when he doee not require that of the inihama. Another caste deecends from the anacotima; it is that of the second anacotima, and from these the afetama derive themselves. Another class (of councillors) Usually accompanies the iniha, who forms the first degree after the head-chief; this class is the ibitano class. From the ibitano a line proceeds, that affords councillors; this line is called toponole, and from them spring the ibichara.

From the last named proceed the amalachini, and the last lineage that tracee its origin to the head chief is itorimitono, to which little respect is paid. But all the other classes, mentioned before this last, are held in high consideration; they do not intermarry, and although they are now Christians, they remain observers of these caste distinctions and family pedigrees.

Of a further line derived from the upper chief all members call and consider each other as “nephews.” This is the line of the White Deer, honoso nayo. In the provinces of the “Fresh Water” and Potano, all these lineages emanating from the chief are termed people of the Great Deer, quibiro ano. Families sprung from former chiefs are: oyorano fiyo chuluquita oconi, (or simply) oyolano.

The lower pedigrees of the common people are the “Dirt (or Earth) pedigree,” utihasomi enatiqi; the Fish pedigree, cuyuhasomi, and its progeny, called cuyuhasomi aroqui, cuyuhasomiele, while its progenitors are termed tucunubala, irihibano, apichi.

Another strange lineage is that of the Buzzard, apohola; from it deecend those of the nuculaha, nuculahaquo, nucula-haruqui, chorofa, usinaca, ayahanisino, napoya, amacahuri, ha-uenayo, amusaya. These lineages all derive themselves from the apohola and do not intermarry.

Still another pedigree is that of the chulufichi; from it is derived the arahasomi or Bear pedigree, the habachaca and others, proceeding from this last.

From the acheha derives itself the Lion family or hiyaraba, the Partridge line or cayahasomi, and others, as the efaca, hobatine, quasi, chehelu. In some districts these lineages are of low degree, while in others they rank among the first, and since it would be mere loss of time to give more, the above may suffice. 4

Two different classifications soom to be represented here, of which the second is plainly along the line of clans, and the groups probably were in fact clans similar to those of the Creeks. The first, however, indicates a kind of aristocratic system which appears to have been based on male descent and recalls somewhat the special privileges accorded to children and grandchildren of “Suns” among the Natchez. Perhaps these “lineages” were actually associated with clans, just as the henihas among the Creeks were drawn from a certain clan, and among some towns the tåstentågis and imalas were largely from definite clans. Since the ending -ma of inihama is probably the plural, it is quite possible or even probable that the inihama were the Timucua equivalents of the Creek henihålgi. We find that linked clans or phratries existed among the Timucua. The word for clan appears to have been hasomi. Pareja mentions six phratries-that of the White Deer, or Great Deer, which seems to have been that to which the chief usually belonged in the provinces best known to him; the Dirt or Earth phratry; the Fish phratry; the Buzzard (or Vulture, aura) phratry; the Chulufichi phratry; and the Acheha phratry. Some of their subdivisions are also given by Pareja.Citations:

  1. French, Hist. Colls. La., 1875, p. 171.[]
  2. Proc. Amer. Philos. Soc., XVII, pp. 491-497.[]
  3. Pareja, Cathecismo, en lengua Castellana y Timuquaua, pp. 107-128.[]
  4. Pareja, Cathecismo, en lengua Castellana y Timuquaua, pp. 130-138; Gatschet in Proc. Philos. Soc., XVII, pp. 492-498.[]


Swanton, John Reed. Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors. US Government Printing Office. 1902.

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