Wednesday, October 5, 2016
White Self-Existing Dog/ White Galactic Wind - Electric Deer Moon of Service, Day 16
"Two Chitimacha Indians", painting by François Bernard, 1870.
The Chitimacha (/ˈtʃɪtᵻməˌʃɑː/, chid-im-uh-shah;or /tʃɪtᵻˈmɑːʃə/, chid-im-ah-shuh),also known as Chetimachan or the Sitimacha, are a Federally recognized tribe of Native Americans who live in the U.S. state of Louisiana, mainly on their reservation in St. Mary Parish near Charenton on Bayou Teche. They are the only indigenous people in the state who still control some of their original land, where they have long occupied areas of the Atchafalaya Basin, "one of the richest inland estuaries on the continent."In 2011 they numbered about 1100 people.
The people historically spoke the Chitimacha language, a language isolate. The last two native speakers died in the 1930s. But the tribe has been working since the 1990s to revitalize the language, based on notes and recordings made by linguist Morris Swadesh about 1930. They have started immersion classes for children and adults. In 2008 they partnered with Rosetta Stone in a two-year effort to develop software to support learning the language. Each tribal household was given a copy, to support use of the language at home. The Chitmacha have used revenues from gaming to promote education and cultural preservation, founding a tribal museum, historic preservation office, and restoration of their language.
The Chitimacha are one of four federally recognized tribes in the state. In addition, Louisiana recognizes several other tribes who do not have federal recognition. In the late 20th century, Louisiana had the "third-largest Native American population in the eastern United States."
The Chitimacha Indians and their ancestors inhabited the Mississippi River Delta area of south central Louisiana for thousands of years before European encounter. Tradition asserts that the boundary of the territory of the Chitmacha was marked by four prominent trees. Archaeological finds suggest that the Chitimacha and their indigenous ancestors have been living in Louisiana for perhaps 6,000 years. Prior to that they migrated into the area from west of the Mississippi River. According to the Chitimacha, their name comes from the term Pantch Pinankanc, meaning ‘men altogether red,’ also meaning warrior.
The Chitimacha were divided into four sub tribes: the Chawasha, Chitimacha, Washa, and Yagenachito; these terms were what the Choctaw people called sub tribes based on the character of their geographic territories. The name Chawasha is a Choctaw term for ‘Raccoon Place.’ Washa is also Choctaw and means ‘Hunting Place.’ Yaganechito means ‘Big country.’
The Chitimacha established their villages in the midst of the numerous swamps, bayous, and rivers of the Atchafalaya Basin, "one of the richest inland estuaries on the continent." They knew this area intimately. The site conditions provided them with a natural defense to enemy attack and made these villages almost impregnable. They did not fortify them. The villages were rather large, with an average of about 500 inhabitants. Dwellings were constructed from available resources. Typically the people built walls from a framework of poles and plastered them with mud or palmetto leaves. The roofs were thatched.
The Chitimacha raised a variety of crops, and agricultural produce provided the mainstay of their diet. The women tended cultivation and the crops. They were skilled horticulturalists, raising numerous, distinct varieties of corn, beans and squash. Corn was the main crop, supplemented by beans, squash and melons. The women also gathered wild foods and nuts. The men hunted for such game as deer, turkey and alligator. They also caught fish. The people stored grain crops in an elevated winter granary to supplement hunting and fishing.
Living by the waters, the Chitimacha made dugout canoes for transport. These vessels were constructed by carving out cypress logs. The largest could hold as many as forty people. To gain the stones they needed for fashioning arrowheads and tools, the people traded crops for stone with tribes to the north. They also developed such weapons as the blow gun and cane dart. They adapted fish bones to use as arrowheads.
The Chitimacha were distinctive in their custom of flattening the foreheads of their male babies. They would bind them as infants to shape their skulls. Adult men would typically wear their hair long and loose. They were skilled practitioners of the art of tattooing, often covering their face, body, arms and legs with tattooed designs. Because of the hot and humid climate, the men generally wore only a breechcloth, and the women a short skirt.
Like many Native American peoples, the Chitimacha had a matrilineal kinship system, in which property and descent passed through the female lines. The hereditary male chiefs, who governed until early in the 20th century, came from the maternal lines and were approved by female elders. Children were considered to belong to their mother's family and clan and took their status from her. Like other Native American tribes, the Chitimacha at times absorbed and acculturated other peoples. In addition, as Chitimacha women had relationships with European traders in the decades of more interaction, their mixed-race children were considered to belong to the mother's family and were acculturated as Chitimacha.
The Chitimacha were divided into a strict class system of nobles and commoners. They had such a distinction that the two classes spoke different dialects. Intermarriage between the classes was forbidden.
At the time of Columbus’ arrival in America, historians estimate the combined strength of the four Chitimacha groups was about 20,000. Although the Chitimacha had virtually no direct contact with Europeans for two more centuries, they suffered Eurasian infectious diseases contracted from other natives who had traded with them, such as measles, smallpox, and typhoid fever. Like other Native Americans, the Chitimacha had no immunity to these new diseases and suffered high fatalities in epidemics.
By 1700, when the French began to colonize the Mississippi River Valley, the number of Chitimacha had been dramatically reduced. Estimates for that time are: the Chawasha had about 700 people, the Washa about 1,400; the Chitimacha some 4,000; and the Yagenichito about 3,000. (Kniffen et al. said 4,000 people in total in 1700; they may have known only about those classified only as Chitimacha.)
Between the years 1706–18, the Chitimacha engaged in a long, bitter war with the French. With their superior firepower, the French nearly destroyed the eastern Chitimacha. Those who survived were resettled by the French authorities, away from the Gulf of Mexico and farther north along the Mississippi River, to the area where they live today. Disease caused more deaths than did warfare and ultimately resulted in dramatic social disruption and defeat of the people. The use of alcohol also took its toll, as they were highly vulnerable to it. By 1784, the combined numbers of the tribes had fallen to 180. In the early 1800s, a small group was absorbed by the Houma of Louisiana.
The Chitimacha were the first tribe of indigenous people still living in Louisiana to gain federal recognition. Most Native Americans of the Southeast had been forcibly removed to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River during the 1830s. The tribe received some annuities and financial benefits as a result of formal recognition. But the population continued its decline and by 1930, the Chitimacha had a recorded total of 51 people.
The Chitimacha re-established their government under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, considered President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Native American New Deal. The tribe successfully resisted efforts in the 1950s to terminate them as a tribe under federal policy of the time, which would have ended their relationship with the federal government.
In 1971 they adopted a new written constitution. They have an elected representative government, with two-year terms for the five members of the Tribal Council. Three are elected from single-member districts and two members are elected at-large.*
Kin 30: White Self-Existing Dog
I define in order to love
I seal the process of heart
With the self-existing tone of form
I am guided by the power of death
I am a polar kin.
I convert the white galactic spectrum.
It is important to learn how to think by stepping outside of the box of theoretical constructs and allowing yourself to look at things from all directions without attachment.*
*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Muladhara Chakra (Seli Plasma)