Chitimacha Tribe

Chitimacha Indians (Choctaw: chúti’cooking pot’ másha ‘they possess’: `they have cooking vessels’). A tribe, forming the Chitimachan linguistic family, whose earliest known habitat was the shores of Grand Lake, formerly Lake of the Shetimasha, and the banks of Grand River, Louisiana. Some 16 or 18 of the tribe were living on Grand river in 1881, but the majority, about 35, lived at Charenton, on the south side of Bayou Tèche, in St Mary’s parish, about 10 miles from the gulf. The remnant resides in the same district, but the present population is not known. The name of these Indians for themselves is Pántch-pinunkansh, ‘men altogether red,’ a designation apparently applied after the advent of the whites. The Chitimacha came into notice soon after the French settled Louisiana, through the murder by one of their men of the missionary St Cosme on the Mississippi in 1706. This was followed by protracted war with the French, who compelled them to sue for peace, which was granted by Bienville on condition that the head of the murderer be brought to him; this one, peace was concluded. The tribe then must have been reduced to a small umber of warriors, though Le Page du Pratz, who was present at the final ceremony, says they arrived at the meeting place in many pirogues. Little is known in regard to their customs. Fish and the roots of native plants constituted their food, but later they planted maize and sweet potatoes. They were strict monogamists, and though the women appear to the had considerable authority in their government, there were no indications of totems or the gentile system among them. The men wore their hair long, with a piece of lead at the end of the queue, and tattooed their arms, legs, and faces. The noonday sun is said to have been their principal deity. The dead were buried in graves, and after the flesh had decayed, the bones were taken up and re-interred.

Their villages or former settlements so far as known were:

  • Amatpan
  • Grosse Tete Tehetin
  • Hipinimtch
  • Kamenakshtchat
  • Kushuh
  • Namukatsup
  • Nekunsisnis
  • Netpinunsh
  • Shoktangihanehetchinsh
  • Tchatikutingi
  • Tchatkasitunshki
  • Tsakhtsinshup

Chitimacha villages were situated also on the site of Donaldsonville, Ascension parish, on the west bank of the Mississippi (here St Cosine was murdered in 1706), and at the mouth of Bayou Lafourche.


Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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