Tennessee's Indians in the Historical Era, Part 5 of 5

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - by Chuck Hamilton

A list of Tennessee’s tribes or nations



Named on French maps in the early 18th century, these occupied approximately the same area as the occupied by the Quizquiz of De Soto’s chroniclers.


 One of the towns encountered by the Spanish in the 16th century, it was probably located in the same place as the later Cherokee town of Citico.  One of the Cherokee towns in the late 17th-18th centuries had the same name, Chilhowee, though it was farther upstream.  The people of the 16th century town may have merged with the Koasati before that group moved downstream.


 Once thought to have originated where they were found in the late 17th century, most scholars now believe that the Cherokee were much more recent arrivals, first appearing in the region in the early years of the Beaver Wars in the 17th century.  They have been identified with the Late Qualla Phase which lasted in the Appalachian Summit from 1650 until Removal. 

 Today they make up the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the United Keetowah Band of Cherokee Indians, and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.


 By 1715, these former inhabitants of the town on Zimmerman’s Island lived with the Upper Creek on the Chattahoochee River.  When the Creek migrated west to Alabama, the Upper Chiaha went with them while the Lower Chiaha headed south and became some of the founders of the Seminole.

 They survive today among the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and as the Miccousukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.


 In addition to the main group in their initial home in northern Alabama-Mississippi and later in northern Mississippi-Southwest Tennessee, a band known as the Lower Chickasaw lived on the Savannah River from about 1730 to about 1775.

 They survive as the Chickasaw Nation.


 A confederacy rather than a tribe, this group became home to many peoples formerly living on the upper Tennessee River. 

 There were two basic divisions, the Muscogee-speaking Upper Creeks led by the towns of Abihka (which absorbed Coosa) and Tukabatchee and the Hitchiti-speaking Lower Creeks led by the towns of Kasihta (Cofitachequi) and Coweta.  Other primary tribes/towns which made up the Confederacy include: Atasi, Eufaula, Hilibi, Holiwahali, Okchai, Pakana, Wakokai, Fushatchee, Kanhatki, Kealedji, Kolomi, and Wiwohka.

 They survive today as the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and as the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, and also in the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma.


 By the mid-18th century, these people had merged with the Koasati and were living in the town of Coosada at Larkin’s Landing in Alabama.

 For a century or so, the lower Tennessee River, and sometimes its entire length, was called by their name.

 Their descendants shared the fate of their Koasati hosts.


 By the 1800’s, these people had moved from Coosada at Larkin’s Landing to just below the confluence where the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers become the Alabama River.

 They survive today in the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, and the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town in Oklahoma.


 At the time of contact, these were the most powerful tribe in the Lower Mississippi Valley with their seat at Emerald Mound and the last to maintain a classic Mississippian culture with the full Southern Ceremonial Complex well into the historical period.  Their descendants survive among the Chickasaw, the Muscogee (Creek), and the Cherokee.


 Named thus by the chroniclers of De Soto, this people in the vicinity of Memphis, Tennessee, may be the same as those later called Aganahali on French maps.


 Originally at the Dallas Phase site at the later town of Toqua, these people may have died out or may have merged with the Koasati.


 Originally one people with the Lenape and the Nanticoke, the Shawnee in historical times found themselves divided into five bands—Chillicothe, Hathawekela, Kispoko, Piqua, Mekoche—some of which found their way south during or as a consequence of the Beaver Wars.

 The Chillicothe and Kispoko bands of Shawnee lived in the Central Cumberland Basin from at least 1648 until 1715, with stragglers staying until 1721.  A group of Hathawekela moved there from the Savannah River and stayed for a short time in the early 18th century.  The Piqua band lived there from 1746 to 1756. 

 When their main group returned north, one group of the Kispoko moved to the Great Bend of the Tennessee River, where they lived until 1761.  According to turn of the century (19th/20th) archaeologist Clarence B. Moore, another group of Shawnee had previously lived in the Great Bend 1660-1721.

 The Hathawakela on the Savannah River relocated to the Chattahoochee in 1717, some later moving to the Tallapoosa while others returned north.  The Piqua lived for a time in the Panhandle of Florida before living next to the Abihka on the Talladega River.  These two Shawnee groups later combined into one.

 The Hathawekela, Kispoko, and Piqua merged together as the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma.  There are two other Shawnee tribes in that state, the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and the Shawnee Tribe.  Other Shawnee descendants survive in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and the Sauk and Fox Nation, and among the Seminoles of Florida.


 The Tali probably lived on Pine Island and were ultimately absorbed by the Koasati later in the 18th century.


 Originally at the confluence of the French Broad and Pigeon Rivers, this town gave its name to our state, as well as a Cherokee town on the Little Tennessee River and another south of the Hiwassee River near the Savannah Ford.  Several scholars have posited that the word is Yuchi, and in their trek southwest from the mountains, the Yuchi may very well have paused in the Little Tennessee Valley.  They certainly inhabited the site on the Hiwassee for a time.


 One group of Tuskegee (Tasquiqui) migrated northeast to join the Cherokee of the Overhill Towns on the Little Tennessee River.  Another lived on the island which bore their name and became Williams Island.  This group later migrated south to the Creek Confederacy and had their town first, on the Chattahoochee River near Columbus, Georgia as early as 1685.  Later they moved to the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers.


 When first they encountered Europeans, the Yuchi (Chisca, Euchee, Hogohegee, Tomahitans, Tahogalewi, Tahokale, Ani-Yutsi, Tsoyaha) were in Southwestern Virginia-Northeast Tennessee-Western North Carolina, the area often called the Appalachian Summit. 

 Their towns at the time included Guasili, Canasoga/Cauchi, Guapere on the upper Watauga River, Maniateque near Saltville, Virginia, and possibly Tanasqui at the confluence of the Freench Broad and Pigeon Rivers.

 In the first half of the 17th century, they lived along the Holston River, which was called by a version of their name (Hogohegee) on maps until 1799.  Before the end of that century, the Yuchi were in the Hiwassee Valley and its vicinity, including the later “Old Tennessee Town” of the Cherokee below the Savannah Ford in Polk County, Chestowee at the mouth of South Mouse Creek in Bradley County, Euchee Old Fields in Rhea County (now under Watts Bar Lake), and possibly other sites.

 Two traders from South Carolina living among the Cherokee in the Little Tennessee River town of Tanasi, Eleazer Wiggan and Alexander Long, tricked the Cherokee into destroying the Yuchi town about the mouth of South Mouse Creek, which led to a battle at Euchee Old Fields.  That was the extent of the Cherokee-Yuchi War of 1714. 

 However, it led to the Yuchi relocating southwest to the Cohutta, upper Chickamauga, and Pinelog Creeks, and to the Tennessee River above Muscle Shoals.  One group of Yuchi lived on the Savannah River approximately 1722-1750 before moving to the Chattahoochee to live among the Creek.  In fact, the Yuchi were one of the most widely dispersed native peoples in North America, with bands reported in dozens of locations.

 The Euchee (Yuchi) Tribe of Indians is headquartered in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, and is currently seeking federal recognition.  It has a seat on the board of Indian tribes of the State of Oklahoma.

 Chuck Hamilton



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