Language: Atakapa is a Gulf language, once spoken
along the Louisiana and East Texas coast. Atakapa is an
agglutinative language with complex verbs and
primarily verb-initial word order.
The Atakapas were nearly destroyed by a smallpox
epidemic in the 18th century, and their language, like other Gulf/Tunican languages, has not been natively spoken for more
than a century. However, some Gulf Indian people today are working to revive the Atakapa language again.
Names: The name Atakapa comes from the tribe's name in the language of their Choctaw neighbors.
It means "people-eaters." (This may or may not have been a literal reference to cannibalism.) Their own name for themselves was
Ishak, meaning "the people," or Yuk'hiti Ishak, "our people."
Some descendants today prefer to use the name Atakapa-Ishak.
Other spellings of these names include Attakapa, Attacapa, Attakapas, Atakapan, Yukhiti Ishak, and Icak. The three dialects of the Atakapa
language have been known as Western Atakapa, Eastern Atakapa, and Akokisa.