Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Chitimachas for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students
and teachers to visit our Chitimacha Indian
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
Chitimacha pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages.
How do you pronounce "Chitimacha"? What does it mean?
In English, Chitimacha is pronounced "chih-tih-mah-chuh." In French, it was pronounced "shee-tee-mah-shah."
Nobody knows for sure where this name came from. It may have been an English or French corruption of the
a Choctaw word for "cooking pots" or a Chitimacha word referring to Grand River. The Chitimachas called themselves
Pántch Pinunkansh which meant "thoroughly red people."
Where do the Chitimacha Indians live?
The Chitimachas are original people of Louisiana,
particurly the southern coast. Most Chitimacha people still live there today.
How is the Chitimacha Indian nation organized?
The Chitimachas have their own reservation, which is
land that belongs to them and is under their control. The Chitimacha tribe has its own government, laws, police, and other services,
like a small country. However, the Chitimachas are also US citizens and must obey American law.
In the past, each Chitimacha village was led by a hereditary chief.
Today, the Chitimachas are governed by a tribal council elected by the people.
What language do the Chitimachas speak?
Most Chitimacha people speak English today. Some Chitimachas, especially older people, speak a Cajun French dialect.
In the past, Chitimacha Indians spoke their own Chitimacha language. The Chitimacha Indian language
has not been spoken by the community since the early 1900's, but today
some Chitimacha people are working to learn their ancestral language again.
If you'd like to know an easy Chitimacha word, "waxtuygi" (pronounced similar to wash-too-gee) is a friendly greeting.
You can read a Chitimacha picture glossary here.
What was Chitimacha culture like in the past? What is it like now?
Here is a link to the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana,
where you can learn about the Chitimacha people past and present.
How do Chitimacha 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 Chitimacha 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
toys and games to play with.
Chunkey and stickball were popular sports among teenage boys as they were among adult men. Chitimacha mothers, like many
Native Americans, traditionally carried their babies in
cradleboards on their backs. Here are some pictures of Native American cradleboards.
What were men and women's roles in the Chitimacha tribe?
Chitimacha Indian men were hunters and sometimes went to war to protect their families. Chitimacha women were farmers and also did most of the child care and cooking.
Both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine. Most Chitimacha chiefs and religious leaders were men, but there were some women
who held those positions too.
What were Chitimacha homes like in the past?
The Chitimacha people lived in villages of single-family houses arranged around a town square. Chitimacha houses were made of
wood and plaster walls with thatched roofs.
Here is a website about Indian building types.
Some Chitimacha villages had palisades (reinforced walls) around them, to guard against
attack. Today, the Chitimachas live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.
What was Chitimacha clothing like? Did they wear feather headdresses and face paint?
Chitimacha men wore breechcloths and leather leggings.
Chitimacha women wore wraparound skirts made of deerskin or woven fiber.
Shirts were not necessary in Chitimacha culture, but men and women both wore mantles in cooler weather.
The Chitimachas also wore moccasins on their feet.
Here are some more photographs and links about Indian clothes in general.
The Chitimachas didn't wear Indian war bonnets like the
Sioux. Some Chitimacha warriors wore
porcupine roaches and shaved their heads in the
Mohawk style. Other Chitimacha men wore their hair long, like the women.
Here is a website with pictures of these Indian hair styles.
The Chitimachas didn't usually paint their faces, but they did decorate their bodies with
tribal tattoos. Both men and women wore tattoos in the Chitimacha tribe.
Today, some Chitimacha people still wear moccasins
or a ribbon shirt, but they wear modern clothes like jeans instead of breechcloths... and they only wear roaches in their hair on special
occasions like a dance.
What was Chitimacha transportation like in the days before cars? Did the Chitimachas paddle canoes?
Yes--the Chitimacha Indians made long dugout canoes from hollowed-out cypress logs.
Here is an article with pictures of Indian boat styles.
Over land, the Chitimachas used dogs as pack animals.
(There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe.)
Today, of course, Chitimacha people also use cars... and non-native people also use canoes.
What was Chitimacha food like in the days before supermarkets?
The Chitimacha Indians were farming people. Chitimacha women harvested crops of corn, beans, sweet potatoes, and squash.
Chitimacha men hunted and fished for deer, wild turkeys, alligators, and all kinds of seafood. Here is a website with more information
about American Indians food.
What were Chitimacha weapons and tools like in the past?
Chitimacha hunters used bows and arrows or blowguns. Fishermen used nets, traps, or hooks made of bone.
In war, Chitimacha men fired their bows or fought with war clubs.
Here is a website with pictures and more information about Indian weapons.
What other Native Americans did the Chitimacha tribe interact with?
The Chitimachas traded regularly with the other tribes of the southeast, especially the Atakapa
and Houma tribes. The Chitimachas weren't known for fighting with other Indian tribes much,
but they did sometimes skirmish with the Natchez bands.
What kinds of stories do the Chitimachas tell?
There are many traditional Chitimacha legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the
Chitimacha Indian culture. Here is a legend about the formation of the Bayou Teche.
Here's a website where you can read more about Chitimacha legends.
What about Chitimacha religion?
Sorry, but we cannot help you with religious information. 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
Chitimacha sun worship or this site about
Indian religions in general.
Can you recommend a good book for me to read?
You may enjoy Louisiana Indian Tales,
a collection of traditional myths from several Louisiana tribes including the Chitimachas.
Or Martin's Quest is a kids' novel you might like
about a boy who learns about his Chitimacha and Cajun heritage. If you're looking for more information about Chitimacha culture and history,
one good source is
The Chitimacha People.
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
Thanks for your interest in the Chitimacha Indian people and their language!