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Apalachee Indian Fact Sheet

Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people in search of Apalachee information for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students and teachers to visit our Apalachee language and culture pages for more in-depth information about the tribe, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with Apalachee pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages.

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    Apalachee Tribe

How do you pronounce the word "Apalachee"? What does it mean?
Apalachee is pronounced "APP-uh-LATCH-ee." It means "people on the other side" in Hitchiti, the language of a neighboring tribe. Sometimes you will see this name spelled Apalachi, Appalachi, Appalachee, or Apalache instead.

Where do the Apalachees live?
The Apalachees are original residents of northwestern Florida. But their descendants do not live in that location anymore. The Apalachees were nearly destroyed by war in the early 1700's, and most of the survivors fled to Alabama and Louisiana, where the remaining Apalachee people are living today.

How is the Apalachee Indian nation organized?
In the past, the Apalachee tribe was led by a chief, called the holahta in the Apalachee language. This chief was chosen by a tribal council made up of all the important men in the tribe. Although he was the leader of the tribe, the Apalachee chief still needed to listen to the opinions of the tribal council-- otherwise they might choose a new chief!

The Apalachee tribe is not federally recognized in the United States. That means Apalachee people today do not have a reservation or their own government. But the Apalachees do have a community in Louisiana where they continue to practice their culture.

What language do the Apalachees speak?
The Apalachee people speak English today. In the past, they spoke their native Apalachee language. If you'd like to know a few easy Apalachee words, here is a vocabulary list.

What was Apalachee culture like in the past? What is it like now?
Here is the homepage of the Mission San Luis museum and cultural center in Tallahassee, Florida. On their site you can find information about the Apalachee people from ancient times until today.

How do Apalachee Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?
They do the same things all children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Apalachee children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play, just like colonial children. But they did have dolls, toys and games to play with. Ballgames were popular sports among teenage boys as they were among adult men. Apalachee mothers, like many Native Americans, traditionally carried their babies in cradle boards on their backs--a custom which many American parents have adopted now.

What were men and women's jobs in the Apalachee tribe?
Apalachee men were hunters and sometimes went to war to protect their families. Apalachee women were farmers and also did most of the child care and cooking. Only men became Apalachee chiefs, but both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine.

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What were Apalachee homes like in the past?
The Apalachee Indians lived in rivercane huts thatched with palmetto or bark. Each family had its own small house. The Apalachees also built larger council houses in the same style. Here are some pictures of a reconstructed Apalachee council house, showing how it was built, and here is a website comparing different types of Indian housing. Some Apalachee villages also had a special ball-playing field with high benches for spectators. Today, these old-fashioned buildings are only used for educational purposes, not as shelter. Apalachee people live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.

What was Apalachee clothing like? Did they wear feather headdresses and face paint?
Apalachee men wore breechcloths. Apalachee women wore wraparound skirts made of woven fiber. Shirts were not necessary in the Apalachee culture, but both genders wore cloaks in cooler weather. The Apalachees also wore moccasins on their feet. Here is a webpage with pictures of traditional Southeastern Native American dress, and here are some photographs and links about Indian clothes in general.

The Apalachees didn't wear long headdresses like the Sioux. Apalachee men usually shaved their heads in the Mohawk style and tied feathers on top.. Apalachee women usually wore their long hair wound into buns on top of their heads. Here is a website with pictures of these Indian hairstyles. Apalachee men, especially warriors, often decorated their bodies with tribal tattoos and painted themselves bright red before battles or dances. Apalachee women didn't tattoo or paint themselves, but they liked to wear long strings of shell jewelry.

Today, some Apalachee people still wear moccasins, but they wear modern clothes like jeans instead of breechcloths... and they only wear feathers in their hair on special occasions like a dance.

What was Apalachee transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?
Yes--the Apalachee Indians made dugout canoes from hollowed-out cypress logs. Here is an article with dugout canoe pictures. Over land, the Apalachees used dogs as pack animals. (There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe.) Today, of course, Apalachee people also use cars... and non-native people also use canoes.

What was Apalachee food like in the days before supermarkets?
The Apalachees were farming people. Apalachee women did most of the farming, harvesting crops of corn, beans, and squash. Apalachee men hunted deer, wild turkeys, and small game, and they fished in the rivers and along the coast. Apalachee dishes included cornbread, soups, and stews. They also ate berries, nuts and fruit. Here is a website with more information about Native Indian food.

What were Apalachee weapons and tools like in the past?
Apalachee hunters used bows and arrows. Fishermen usually used fishing spears. In war, Apalachee men fired their bows or fought with spears or wooden clubs. Here is a website with pictures and more information about Native American weapons.

What are Apalachee arts and crafts like?
The Apalachees were known for their American Indian baskets and pottery. Here is a website showing photos of ancient Apalachee and other southeastern Indian pottery.

What other Native Americans did the Apalachee tribe interact with?
The Apalachees traded regularly with other Muskogean tribes of Florida and Georgia, such as the Creek and Miccosukee tribes. But when the Creeks became allies of the British, they fought with the Apalachees and helped drive them out of Florida.

What kinds of stories did the Apalachees tell?
There were many traditional Apalachee legends and fairy tales. Storytelling was very important to the Apalachee Indian culture. Here is a story about the origin of fire. This is a Hitchiti legend, but the Apalachees told the same story.

What about Apalachee religion?
Religions are too complicated and culturally sensitive to describe appropriately in only a few simple sentences, and we strongly want to avoid misleading anybody. You can visit this site to learn more about the beliefs of Southeastern Native Americans or this site about Native American spirituality in general.

Can you recommend a good book for me to read?
The Apalachee Indians and Mission San Luis is a good book with history and pictures of the Apalachee tribe. A more complex book on Apalachee history is Here They Once Stood. For younger readers, Journeys with Florida's Indians is a great kids' book about Florida tribes in general, with a good section on the Apalachees. You can also browse through our reading list of recommended American Indian books in general.

How do I cite your website in my bibliography?
You will need to ask your teacher for the format he or she wants you to use. The authors' names are Laura Redish and Orrin Lewis and the title of our site is Native Languages of the Americas. We are a nonprofit educational organization working to preserve and protect Native American languages and culture. You can learn more about our organization here. Our website was first created in 1998 and last updated in 2015.

Thanks for your interest in the Apalachee Indian people and their language!

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Learn More About The Apalachees

Apalachee Indian Tribe
An overview of the Apalachee people, their language and society.

Apalachee Language Resources
Apalachee language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Apalachee Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Apalachee people past and present.

Apalachee Indian Words
Apalachee Indian vocabulary lists.

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