Chatot Indian Tribe

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Chatot Indian Tribe

Alabama Native American Tribes Index Page

Meaning unknown, but the forms of this word greatly resemble the synonyms of the name Choctaw. The language spoken by this tribe belonged, undoubtedly, to the southern division of the Muskhogean stock.

Chatot Indian Tribe History

The Chatot are first mentioned in a Spanish document of 1639 in which the governor of Florida congratulates himself on having consummated peace between the Chatot, Apalachicola, and Yamasee on one side and the Apalachee on the other. This, he says, “is an extraordinary thing, because the aforesaid Chacatos never maintained peace with anybody.” In 1674 the two missions noted above were established among these people, but the following year the natives rebelled. The disturbance was soon ended by the Spanish officer Florencia, and the Chatot presently settled near the Apalachee town of San Luis, mission work among them being resumed. In 1695, or shortly before, Lower Creek Indians attacked this mission, plundered the church, and carried away 42 Christianized natives. In 1706 or 1707, following on the destruction of the Apalachee towns, the Chatot and several other small tribes living near it were attacked and scattered or carried off captive, and the Chatot fled to Mobile, where they were well received by Bienville and located on the site of the present city of Mobile. When Bienville afterward moved the seat of his government to this place he assigned to them land on Dog River by way of compensation. After Mobile was ceded to the English in 1763 the Chatot, along with a number of other small tribes near that city, moved to Louisiana. They appear to have settled first on Bayou Boeuf and later on Sabine River. Nothing is heard of them afterward though in 1924 some old Choctaw remembered their former presence on the Sabine. The remnant may have found their way to Oklahoma.

Chatot Indian Tribe Population

I would estimate a population of 1,200-1,500 for the Chatot when they were first missionized (1674). When they were settled on the site of Mobile, Bienville (1932, vol. 3, p. 536) says that they could muster 250 men, which would indicate a population of near 900, but in 1725-26 there were but 40 men and perhaps a total population of 140. In 1805 they are said to have had 30 men or about 100 people. In 1817 a total of 240 is returned by Morse (1822), but this figure is probably twice too large.

Chatot Indian Tribe Location

West of Apalachicola River, perhaps near the middle course of the Chipola. (See also Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana).

Chatot Indian Tribe Villages

From the names of two Spanish missions among them it would appear that there were at least two towns in early times, one called Chacato, after the name of the tribe, and the other Tolentino.

Chatot Indian Tribe Historical Mention

The Chatot are noted because at one time they occupied the site of Mobile, Ala., and because Bayou Chattique, Choctaw Point, and Choctaw Swamp close by that city probably preserve their name. The Choctawhatchee, which is near their former home, was probably named for them.

Bienville’s account of the Chatot migration to the neighborhood of Mobile and its causes has already been given. 11 It seems strange that La Harpe nowhere mentions it, but from what Bienville tells us, it is apparent that it followed upon the attack of which news had reached Mobile January 7, 1706. The Lamhatty narrative merely says that three “nations” of the Tawasa were destroyed first, and that in a second expedition in the spring of 1707 four more were swept away. 12 Pènicaut, usually much inferior to La Harpe in his record of events, describes the removal at some length, though he places it in the year 1708, at least two years too late. He says:

Some days afterward, the Chactas, who were a nation repelled from the domination of the Spaniards, arrived at Mobile with their women and children and begged MM. d’Artaguiette and de Bienville to give them a place in which to make their dwelling. Lands were assigned them at a place lower down on the right, on the shore of the bay, in a great arm about a league in circuit. It is still called today l’Anse des Chactas. 13

Hamilton says that this Anse des Chactas extended “from our Choctaw Point west around Garrow’s Bend.” He adds:

They occupied the site of the present city of Mobile and were its first inhabitants.. . . When Bienville selected this very ground for new Mobile he had to recompense these Choctaws with land on Dog River. Maps of 1717 and later show them on the south side of that stream, sometimes near the bay, sometimes several miles up.

He notes that their name seems to survive in the Choctaw Point just mentioned and in an adjacent swamp known as Choctaw Swamp. Hamilton also cites several entries referring to members of this tribe in the baptismal registers between 1708 and 1729, but one or two of these may be true Mississippi Choctaw, since Hamilton fails to distinguish the two peoples. 14

In speaking of the tribes about Mobile Bay Du Pratz says:

Nearest the sea on Mobile River is the little Chatot Nation, consisting of about forty cabins; they are friends of the French, to whom they render all the services which can be paid for. They are Catholics or reputed to be such. 15

He adds that the French post, Fort Louis, was just to the north of them. His information would apply to about the year 1738. According to the late H. S. Halbert, of the Alabama State Department of Archives and History, the Choctaw of Mississippi until lately remembered this tribe, and stated that the Chatot language was distinct from their own. Du Pratz, however, in speaking of the small tribes of Mobile Bay, says:

The Chickasaws moreover, regard them as their brothers, because they have almost the same language, as well as those to the east of Mobile who are their neighbors. 16

This matter has already been considered in full. 17

About the time when the other Mobile tribes left to settle in Louisiana the Chatot departed also, as we know by Sibley’s entry regarding them, though he is wrong in speaking of them as “aborigines” of the part of Louisiana they then inhabited. His statement probably means that they had been one of the first tribes to settle on Bayou Beauf. The entry is as follows:

Chactoos live on Bayaa Beauf, about ten miles to the southward of Bayau Rapide, on Red River, toward Appalousa; a small, honest people; are aborigines of the country where they live; of men about thirty; diminishing; have their own peculiar tongue; speak Mobilian. The lands they claim on Bayau Beauf are inferior to no part of Louisiana in depth and richness of soil, growth of timber, pleasantness of surface, and goodness of water. 18

Their last appearance in history is in the enumeration of Indian tribes contained in Jedidiah Morse’s Report to the Secretary of War regarding the Indians, where they are referred to as the “Chatteau,” and are located on Sabine River, 50 miles above its mouth. 19 This report was published in 1822, but the information applies to the year 1817. What happened to them later we do not know, but it is probable that they are represented by or in a Choctaw band in the neighborhood of Kinder, Louisiana.

11. Amer. Anthrop. ii. s. vol. x, p. 568. See p. 138.
12. See p. 123.
13. Margry, v, p. 479.
14. Colonial Mobile, pp. 113-114.
15. Du Pratz, Hist, de La Louisiane, ii, pp. 212-213.
16. Da Pratz, Hist, de la Louisiane, ii, p. 214.
17. See Bull. 43, Bur. Amer. Ethn., pp. 27, 33.
18. Sibley in Annals of Congress, 9th Cong., 2d sess. (1806-7), 1087.
19. Morse, Report to Secretary of War, p. 373.

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