A Structural and Lexical Comparison of the Tunica, Chitimacha, and Atakapa Languages

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In the main the culture of all of these peoples did not differ materially, but that of the Tunica and Chitimacha partook of the higher or at any rate more complicated civilization of the lower Mississippi, while the Atakapa Were on a much lower level, measured by our ordinary standards. The Tunica peoples had special religious houses or temples set On mounds like the other lower Mississippi tribes, and they were probably organized into exogamous clans, although of that there is no proof other than indications embodied in the terms of relationship recorded at a late date. The Chitimacha also had special religious houses and a cult which seems to have resembled in general that of the Choctaw. If the testimony of the survivors may be relied upon they also had totemic clans with matrilineal descent. The Atakapan peoples, however, seem to have been divided into a great number Of small bands having little coherence, either inside or with one another. There is not the slightest evidence that they had clans or gentes and the terms of relationship preserved are such as are encountered among loosely organized peoples without artificial exogamous groups. Like the Chitimacha, their principal reliance for food was upon fish and Shell fish. While they seem to have raised some corn, they cultivated the ground far less than either the Tunica or the Chitimacha. Their cultural allies were the Karankawa, Tonkawa, and other peoples of central and southern Texas lying west of them.

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