Caddo Government

Between the northern and southern divisions of the tribe the prime distinction is in the chieftaincy. Each division has its own chief (kadhi’). 1 In missions to Washington both chiefs are expected to participate. One division would not be properly represented by the chief of the other division.  Since 1896 Enoch Hoag (Gen. 1, 7) has been chief at Sugar Creek. The Fort Cobb chieftaincy is for the moment unfilled, Francis Longhat,14 the chief, having lately died. Harry Age (chuitsi) 2 (Gen. III, 17), the interpreter, is being talked of for chief. (In 1922 he became chief.)

To Francis Longhat, 3 the deceased chief, Harry Age is unrelated in blood; but Francis was his stepfather. The office of chief, as far as the evidence goes, is non-hereditary, strictly speaking at least. Naturally enough a kinsman or family connection might be chosen for apprentice, but the criterion for selection to office is successful assistantship or apprenticeship. When Francis himself was talked of as chief, some one had objected, saying, “He does not know how to be a chief.” But Stephen Martin (Gen. II, 17) for one, had disagreed, referring to the fact that as a boy Francis had been sent to attend council meetings. “He is like a bag you have filled up, tied, and hung to a tree”-at hand when you want it. Clarence, the oldest son of Enoch Hoag, in time he is under forty (1927) will be considered seriously for chief. “He always goes to council meetings.”

Enoch Hoag had been apprenticed to White-bread (R. DacGathaGaiyu’, bread, white) who in his turn had been apprenticed to Once-in-white-house (R. haGaiyu’kinuiseya’: hoagie’, white, kinuiseya’, he used to live in) or Caddo Jake (Gen. 1, 22) who died a very old man (“130 years old”) in 1914. 4 Between none of these men was there any blood relationship.” But the wife of chief Once-in-white-house was called sister (parallel cousin) by Enoch Hoag, and lived with her husband in the same settlement. Enoch Hoag had taken the place of Moonlight (Gen. II, 46) who was White-bread’s nephew and apprentice, but who died before White-bread. According to Pardon, Moonlight was related to White-bread through White-bread’s wife. He was his interpreter. 5

There is the office of treasurer (R. sunaneida’nnacaha, money, some one who keeps). This office had been held by Mr. Blue (Gen. 1, 10), younger brother of Enoch Hoag.

Council meetings (Gambakeisaawa’, there is going to be a council) are called several days in advance by the chief, called at any time, but more particularly during the Ghost dance, since then all the people have assembled. To call a meeting the chief may also send out his son or son-in-law. Formerly there was an office of Chief’s messenger called t’uma (tama’, crier, Pardon). The t’uma rode each dawn through the villages, to wake the people and issue orders. “He talked as he rode.” He carried a whip of buffalo hide and executed orders. 6 He served also as a guard for ceremonies. 7 Caddo Dick, a very old man, living alone on Spring Creek, 8 formerly served as t’uma and he still goes by that title used as a personal name. He rounded up the people for the Ghost dance. There was also an office of war messenger or runner (R. neiteyu’’niaca’, some one who carries messages) which no longer exists.

To promote attendance at the council a dance may also be announced.

At the council held in the chief’s house, everybody sits around, on his or her blanket, in a circle, with the chief in the middle to make addresses. Anybody may stand up to talk.Citations:

  1. See Harrington, 149; Joutel, 353, 379.[]
  2. White Moon translates cry-baby, coward, sissy, more-like-a-woman. Pardon would not translate chowitsi, as he called Harry Age. The term is obviously opprobrious.[]
  3. Brother of Gen. I, 23 and of Gen. II, 24.[]
  4. His son was considered too young to take office. He was twenty-five.[]
  5. Once-in-white-house belonged to the Natchitoches band from Louisiana, and Whitebread to one of the Texas bands (Swanton 4: 205).[]
  6. See pp. 61, 62, 68 and Hatcher, XXXI, 155.[]
  7. Cp. Hatcher, XXX, 216; also Pawnee, Murie, 625, 630.[]
  8. Now, 1927, deceased.[]


Parsons, Elsie Clews. Notes on the Caddo, Memories of the American Anthropological Association. Supplement to American Anthropologist, Volume 43, No. 3, Part 2. 1921.

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