Focus on Mount Yonah and the Nacoochee Valley

The preceding article gave considerable attention to the Nacoochee Valley and Yonah Mountain.  Want to learn more?

Location:  Northeast Georgia on the southern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

GPS Coordinates: 4° 38′ 15″ N, 83° 42′ 49″ W

Etymology:   Nacoochee is the Anglicization of the  Uchee or Cherokee pronunciation of the Creek word, Nokose,  which means “bear.”   Yonah means “bear” in Cherokee.  Mount Yonah was named Mount Nocossee, until after the Native American occupants of the valley had departed.  See map below. Click images to enlarge them.

1810-Sturges-NocoseGeology:  The Nacoochee Valley was created by an ancient line of volcanoes that crossed the much older Blue Ridge Mountains.  Yonah Mountain, which dominates the valley, is the core of an extinct volcano.  The oldest cone in this chain is extinct also and named Curahee Mountain. It is near Toccoa, GA and the South Carolina state line.  The newest volcanic cone of this chain is Pigeon Mountain near Lafayette, GA and the Alabama state line.  Pigeon Mountain last had a minor eruption in 1857 . . . yes, that’s 1857 as in “just before the Civil War.”

The Pigeon Mountain volcano range in northwest Georgia.
The Pigeon Mountain volcano range in northwest Georgia.

These ancient volcanoes spewed forth gold, copper, zinc, rubies, sapphires, garnets and diamonds, which natural erosion has revealed on the surface.  The nation’s first major gold rush occurred here.  Some households in the region still support themselves by panning for gold.

The famous Chattahoochee River begins on the slopes of Brasstown Bald Mountain to the north several miles and then flows through the valley.  The Soque River begins on Tray Mountain and then flows through the valley.

The beloved Nacoochee Mound with Mount Yonah in the background
The proto-Creek town of Nokose. The royal village of Hontaoase was located immediately to the east.
The proto-Creek town of Nokose. The royal village of Hontaoase was located immediately to the east.
Although found laying flat, the Nacoochee Petroglyph Boulder was probably mounted in the ground vertically and functioned as a stela.
Although found laying flat, the Nacoochee Petroglyph Boulder was probably mounted in the ground vertically and functioned as a stela.

Native American history:  The Nacoochee Valley was a favorite hunting ground for humans during the Late Ice Age.  Artifacts from all cultural periods have been found here.   During the Woodland Period the permanent population began to grow.  Numerous small burial mounds, stone cairns and vertical stone monoliths were erected.

Around 750-800 AD, the construction of a large proto-Chickasaw town and the massive Kenimer Mound immediately to the east marked the beginning of intensive human occupation of the Nacoochee Valley that lasted around 900 years.

Virtual reality images superimposed on a satellite image of the village of Sautee.

The downtown of this Native metropolis was located immediately north of the Kenimer Mound in what is now the quaint village of Sautee, GA.  The complex included over a dozen modest platform mounds and a Mesoamerican style ball court that today is 240 feet wide and 380 feet long, if one include the three terraces constructed for fans.  The ball court is illustrated in the slide show on the lower right hand corner of this web page.

Until the late 20th century the ruins of a stone temple on top of the Kenimer Mound were visible.  However, a newcomer to the valley scooped up the stones to build the foundation and chimneys of his new house.

In 1939, archaeologist Robert Wauchope surveyed the Nacoochee Valley.  He found almost continuous development in which villages were separated from each other by anywhere from 100 yards to an quarter of a mile.

The Kenimer Mound in the Nacoochee Valley.
The Kenimer Mound in the Nacoochee Valley.

Europeans arrive

According to the 1658 book by French ethnologist, Charles de Rochefort,   six survivors of Fort Caroline were invited to settle in Northeast Georgia in late 1565 by the King of Apalache, if they agreed to marry Apalache wives. Some or all may have settled in the Nacoochee Valley.  Soon thereafter,  the king began inviting European Protestants and Sephardic Jews to settle in the more northerly regions of his kingdom, which were thinly populated.

A later Apalache king became more hospitable to Spaniards.   In 1646,  he allowed the Spanish to build a pack mule road from St. Augustine to the Nacoochee Valley that was later extended to the Tennessee Valley.  A Spanish trading post was constructed in the Nacoochee Valley.  On maps of the late 1600s, the polyglot village that grew up around the trading post is named Apalache.

A section of the 1693 Morden Map of North America.
There is no mention of the Cherokees on this 1693 map of Great Britain’s North American colonies. Morden showed the only Native American occupants in the Southern Highlands to be the Apalache and the Shawnee.

A British army unit observed  Spaniards smelting gold in the Nacoochee Valley from a distance around 1693.  All descriptions of a Spanish presence in the Georgia Mountains ended during the Queen Anne’s War, which lasted from 1701 to 1707.

In 1828,  gold miners working for South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun on Dukes Creek in the Nacoochee Valley discovered the ruins of a Spanish colonial village.  The ruins of several timber cabins were unearthed along with many 16th or 17th century European tools.  The artifacts unearthed included a Spanish cigar mold, so evidently cigar tobacco was cultivated at the colony.

The artifacts were inspected and validated by pioneer archaeologist, Charles Jones, Jr. in the 1850s.  However, there has been absolutely no interest among Georgia archaeologists to search for the European settlements in the Nacoochee Valley.  It seems to be taboo, just like the “Mayas Thing.”

Eleanor Dare Stones

It was Wauchope who became aware that in the early 20th century eight stone tablets had been found by a local farmer in an Apalache mountainside tomb, that were inscribed with Elizabethan English sentences.  They were messages to her father, John White.  Most told him where to find her.  She was in the proto-Creek village of Hontaowase (Offspring of people who make plants grow with water).  The last one was her grave marker.  She had married an Indian chief and thus was given a royal burial in a tomb.

View of northeast slope of Mt. Yonah. The footprints of the houses of the royal village of Hontaowase can be seen in an infrared image of the valley beneath Mt. Yonah.
View of northeast slope of Mt. Yonah. The footprints of the houses of the royal village of Hontaowase can be seen in an infrared image of the valley beneath Mt. Yonah. They are immediately to the east of the commoner’s village, where the Nocoochee Mound is located.
Satellite image showing probable location of Hontaowase. What appears to be the footprints of European buildings in the lower righthand corner was the site of an English trading post.

At the time,  there was a national sensation concerning the discovery of what appeared to be the grave stone of Virginia and Anias Dare,  Eleanor’s daughter and husband.   Wauchope urged the owner to give the eight tablets to Dr. Haywood Pierce, Jr at Brenau College, about 25 miles away.  Both the Nacoochee tablets and the original grave marker found on the North Carolina coast were declared authentic by a team of scientists from Harvard University.

Wauchope ventured up to the man-made cave (tomb) where the Dare Stone Tablets were found.  While poking around in the soil, he found another stone tablet.  It was different than the others.  Most of the tablet displays the profile of a mountain range,  Apalache glyphs, which we believe is a sample of the Apalache writing system.  On the right, however, are the English letters A and D.  In the top right is a small letter R.   Wauchope apparently never showed this tablet to Dr. Pierce.  A little over a year later, Wauchope moved permanently to Kentucky and shifted his interest to Mesoamerica.

This stone tablet, found to the probable burial tomb of Eleanor Dare contains a mixture of map symbols, Apalache glyphs and Roman letters.
This stone tablet, found near the probable burial tomb of Eleanor Dare contains a mixture of map symbols, Apalache glyphs and Roman letters.

By 1940,  a play about Eleanor Dare at Brenau College was being viewed as competition for the outdoor drama,  The Lost Colony, being performed on Roanoke Island, NC.   After several obviously fraudulent “Dare stones” were “found” in the Atlanta Area,   North Carolina economic interests hired a free lance journalist to write an article in the Saturday Evening Post that accused Dr. Pierce of fraud.

A University of North Carolina anthropology professor wrote a professional paper stating that the eight Dare stones, found in the Nacoochee Valley, were obviously fakes because there was no such Cherokee word as Hontaoase.    This academician and the author of the Saturday Evening Post article accused the discoverer of carving the stones in order to get a reward from Dr. Pierce.  Both were apparently unaware that these tablets had been found several decades before the announcement of the Dare Stone found on the North Carolina coast and that it had been Robert Wauchope, who had urged the owner to give them to Dr. Pierce to be analyzed.

Chattahoochee is not a Cherokee word either, but it is a real river.  Provincialism runs deep in some areas of Dixie.

Today, much of the Nacoochee Valley is protected by a large national historic district, but there is have been almost no efforts to make the public aware of its rich archaeological resources.   Tourist brochures, written by the Florida transplants, who now predominate the area, describe the Cherokees as “living for thousands of years in these mountains.”    Didn’t you know that Nacoochee was the name of a Cherokee princess, who fell in love with a Chickasaw brave named Sautee?   Like Romeo and Juliet, they jumped off of Yonah Mountain together when fulfillment of their love was forbidden by her daddy, the Cherokee chief . . .  yeh right.

A real estate speculator is trying to convince the Eastern Band of Cherokees into buying the Kenimer Mound because he thinks that it will enable him to build a gambling casino next door.  Meanwhile,  school children play soccer regularly on a thousand year old Itza Maya ball court that was discovered by Robert Wauchope and quickly forgotten.   Live rolls on.


Where the Uchee (Euchee~Yuchi) lived – Part Two

The drawing above portrays a village, whose footprint was discovered when the new Cherokee, North Carolina High School was built along the Oconaluftee River a few years ago. The layout of its plaza was identical 18th century Uchee towns in the Southern Highlands and to Uchee dance grounds in use today in Oklahoma, but North Carolina archaeologists declared it to be “the oldest documented Cherokee town in North Carolina.”  A model of the village was placed in the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and labeled  as such. 

No known Cherokee village ever had a round plaza surrounded by covered booths. Oconaluftee (the main river flowing through the Cherokee Reservation) is the Anglicization of the Itsate Creek words, Okoni Lufte, when mean “Oconee People – Cut off.”   While being told that the Cherokees have lived on the Oconaluftee River for 10,000 years, tourists are NOT told this dirty little secret, of course.

“Cut off” was a common term in the 18th century Southeast for when a Native village was obliterated by an enemy, like a fruit cut off from a tree. The site of the Okate-Creek town, which was paired with the Uchee village , is downstream on the Oconaluftee River in the Birdtown section of the reservation. The large five-sided Okate mound was still visible until the 1980s, when a sewage plant was built at the town site.  “Cutting off” the cultural memory of the Uchee’s existence has been going on for three centuries.

Native American Brain Food

The Uchee/Yuchi/Euchee practice, at least during the colonial period, of pairing with other ethnic groups has consistently obscured their presence and caused their numbers to be underestimated by academicians. Early European explorers were typically guided by men, who spoke either Yama (Mobilian Trade Jargon) or one of Muskogean languages. The Uchee language is by reputation difficult to learn and gender specific. Therefore, when Europeans made contact with Uchees, the Uchees were usually forced to communicate in a Muskogean language. As often as not, the European assumed that they were talking to Creeks.

There are well documented examples of provinces that were composed of Uchean and non-Uchean communities. Probably the best known is Palachicola on the Lower Savannah River in present day Allendale County, SC. The Apalache of Northeast Georgia planned Palachicola as a market and religious center for a province composed mostly of Water Clan Uchee. Over the centuries the Apalache and Uchee intermarried and merged their cultural traditions, creating the unique ethnic group that welcomed the first colonists of Georgia.

Hernando de Soto’s conquistadors visited a bi-ethnic Muskogean-Uchee province on the middle Oconee River in northeast Georgia in March of 1540. They called the province and its capital, Ocute. Its Creek name was Okvte (pronounced Ō : kȁu : tē). The word means “Water People” in Itsate Creek.

De Soto’s chroniclers only recorded Muskogean words while visiting the Okvte, because they only had contact with the Muskogean elite, living in compact fortified compounds with mounds. The commoners, many of the Uchee, lived in dispersed hamlets and farmsteads.

A hybrid Uchee-Shawnee-Muskogean province was located along the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains between the headwaters of the Savannah and Catawba Rivers (Northeast Georgia and the Carolinas). It was named Ustanauli. Usta is the Southern Shawnee name for the Uchee. At the presentation of the Kashita Migration Legend on June 7, 1735 in Savannah, the High King of the Upper Creeks was named Usta. The Uchee were obviously not the “slaves” of the Creeks in 1735, as now theorized by some academicians.

Determining the locations of other hybrid Uchee provinces is somewhat speculative. The Muskogean place names or tribal names of these hybrid provinces survive , but in most cases the Uchee words do not. Fortunately, some early 18th century maps actually label the Uchee villages, or local histories “remember” that there were Uchees living in that region when the first British settlers arrived.

Many of the original Uchee clans are now Creek clans with no cultural memory of their Uchee roots. However, their locations at the time of British colonization efforts tell us approximately where the aboriginal Uchee provinces were located.

There are several Uchee clans in Oklahoma and Florida, whose original locations cannot be determined by modern place names or colonial archives. Also, there were numerous Uchee trading towns scattered about the Southeast and Lower Midwest, whose names have even been lost. It is impossible to know what clans they were associated with. However, some of the larger clans can be pinpointed because the Creek or Cherokee translations of their name are mentioned in the Colonial Era archives. Ironically, most sources do not even list the Water Clan, which was by far the largest Uchee branch. One can assume then that its political structure never moved to Oklahoma.


Water Clan (Oconee, Ogeechee, Uchee, Euchee, Yuchi, Ouete)

The greatest concentration of Uchee towns and villages was located between the Ogeechee and Savannah Rivers, from the Lower Piedmont to the Atlantic Coast. This is the region, where in their traditions, they originated. The Uchee Motherland contains several large mound complexes that have generally been ignored by Georgia and South Carolina archaeologists. Some of the largest complexes are in Allendale, Hampton and Jasper Counties in South Carolina, plus Taliaferro, Screven, Warren, Jefferson, Burke, Bulloch, Emanuel and Bryan Counties in Georgia.

There was an ancient Uchee Water Clan province within the environs of the Okefenokee Swamp in Southeast Georgia that was known as the Oconi to the Spaniards. Being separated from the main body of Yuchi by the immigration of other ethnic groups, these Oconee had primary trade contacts with provinces that the Spanish called the Timucua. However, as the name indicates the Oconee were an entirely different ethnic group than their trading partners.

Typical of almost all the Muskogean-Uchean provinces in the Southern Lowlands, the Uchee Water Clan also established colonies in the highlands. One was in northwest South Carolina, near the Savannah River. It was located in present day Oconee County.
Another colony was in the Smoky Mountains along the Oconaluftee River and its tributaries. The Qualla Cherokee Reservation almost exactly matches the boundaries of this long forgotten province.

Raccoon Clan  (Sawate, Sautee, Sawahatchee, Sawakee, Salkehatchie, Salketcher)

The traditional territory of the Raccoon Clan was east of the Water Clan. Raccoon Clan villages were located along the Salketcher River in South Carolina and the Broad River in Georgia. Until the mid-1700s, the Broad River was known as the Sawahatchee, which means “Raccoon River.”

Uchee descendants of South Carolina Raccoon Clan members either remained in situ or moved west to join the Water Clan. Raccoon Clan Uchee along the Broad River were caught in the crossfire between the Coweta-Creek and Cherokee alliances, when the Creek-Cherokee War began n 1715. Their Muskogean elite moved to west-central Georgia and founded the Sawokli Clan of the Creek Confederacy. Many Uchee Raccoon Clan members moved with them and thereafter became known as Creeks.

Others joined the Bear Clan members in the Nacoochee Valley of Northeastern Georgia and founded the village of Sautee, where the huge Creek town of Itsate previously stood. Sautee was a member of the Elate (Foothill People) alliance until the 1794 Treaty of New York. At this conference, the United States took most of their land and forced them to join the Cherokees, while having minimal representation in the Cherokee National Council.

Bear Clan  (Nokose, Nikase, Nacoochee, Niquasee, Nequasee, Nickajack)

In the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s there were a cluster of Native villages in the region in the Blue Ridge Mountains, especially around Franklin, NC and Clarksville, GA, with Muskogean names meaning bear or bear cub. Nacoochee and Noguchee are Uchee pronunciations of the Creek word for bear, Nokose (Nō :kō : shē)

Some were later absorbed by the Cherokees and moved westward with the Cherokees. Others moved southwestward in Georgia and became associated with the Elate Alliance.

Uchee Bear Clan members, who joined the Cherokee Alliance, often established villages name Nikase (Bear Cub) which English speakers interpreted as Nickajack. Nickajack appears as geographical names today in southeastern Tennessee and Cobb County, GA (Metro Atlanta.)

Ustanauli Clan (Houstaqua, Usta, Eastanoli, Oostanaula, Ustanagua)

The powerful province of Ustanauli at the headwaters of the Savannah River, was composed of many ethnic groups. However, the Shawnee word for Uchee, Usta, suggests that the elite or at least a majority of the population, was Uchee. Ustanauli was in contact with the French at Fort Caroline (1564-1565). The French called the province by its Arawak name of Houstaqua. They reported that its king could muster over 4,000 warriors.

Ustanauli is a classic example of the systematic distortion of Native American history that erased the Uchee. Both the 1715 John Beresford Map and the 1721 John Barnwell Map label both Tugaloo and the region around it as Hogeloge (Uchee.) In 1737, the Rev. John Wesley, James Oglethorpe’s personal secretary, described Tugaloo as a small hamlet containing about 40 Hogeloge (Uchee) men, living in the ruins of a much larger town with abandoned mounds.

In 1957, the famous archaeologist, Joseph Caldwell, excavated Tugaloo and determined that it was a large proto-Creek town that was occupied from around 800 AD to 1700 AD, when it was sacked and burned. The towns occupants were associated with the Lamar Culture. Any survivors probably moved into the southern end of Stephens County or to northwest Georgia. Here they established the town of Ustanauli at the confluence of the Coosawattee and Conasauga Rivers. They would have to move again in the early 1800s, when Cherokee leaders decided that the location would become the planned capital of the Cherokee Nation, New Echota.

A short time after the sacking of Tugaloo, a small village with simple round houses was established on the southern end of Tugaloo Island. They built simple round houses, typical of the Uchee. The southern half of Stephens County, GA, where Tugaloo was located, was occupied by Upper Creeks throughout the Colonial Period until 1785. Their capital town was Cusseta, which appears on early maps of the State of Georgia.

Yet today, state historical markers and local history web sites in Stephens County tell a very different story. They announce that the mounds at Tugaloo were built by the Cherokees around 1450 AD and that Tugaloo was the first town of the Great Cherokee Nation in Georgia. There is no mention anywhere in county publications of either the Uchee or the Creeks – even though half the county was always Creek.

There is a funny story associated with this cultural amnesia. The creator of what is probably the most popular and well-crafted Cherokee history web site lives in Stephens County. When he started the web site, he gave himself a “Cherokee” name, which was taken from a local landmark. Despite his web site containing well over a hundred translations of Cherokee words, he could never translate his own name. There is a good reason. His name is pure Creek and also was the name of a Creek town in Alabama!

A large branch of the hybrid Ustanauli people also lived along the Suwannee River in northern Florida.  Here, they are known to anthropologists by their Arawak and Spanish name of Ustanagua – which means Usta (Uchee) People in Arawak.   Florida anthropologists call them Timucuas, even though they don’t know their language and the Suwanee River was named after the Shawnee Indians.  The town of Euchee, FL is nearby.

Bobcat Clan (Kowasate, Koasati, Tchogeloge, Hogeloge, Casqui, Caskenampo)

The Bobcat Clan originally controlled much of the Upper Tennessee River and Cumberland Highlands. By tradition, Hogeloge is said to be an Algonquin name. However, no scholar, including John Swanton, has ever come up with a translation of the word. If the word is indeed Algonquin, it suggests that the Uchee in this region originally paired off with the Shawnee, then later became paired with an Itsate Creek elite.

Until the mid-1700s, the Upper Tennessee River was either known as the Caskenampo or Hogeloge River. The name Caskenampo reflected the Muskogean component of the Bobcat Clan, while Hogeloge reflected is Uchee component. Caskinampo means “Many Warriors” in Koasati and Itsate Creek.

The Middle and Lower Tennessee River was known as the Callimaco River until after the American Revolution. This is an Itza Maya word, meaning “House or Throne of the King.”

The Koasati are descended from the Muskogean elite of this Uchee province. Their name is the Anglicization of the Itsate Creek word Kowasa-te, which means “Bobcat People.” Whereas, at the arrival of the Cherokees, the Uchee component of their province generally fled southward into the lands of the Bear Clan Uchee along the Upper Savannah River, the Kowasti stood their ground and became allies of the French. Their capital was on the Little Tennessee River at Big Island and was known as Caskenampo on 17th century maps.

The 1715 John Beresford Map showed the Cusate (Upper Creeks) still occupying Bussell Island and the Little Tennessee River. This map shows a French fort and two villages on Bussell Island. That fact has been completely left out of the Tennessee history books. Tennessee students are taught that after 1600 the region was “Cherokee.” The Beresford Map shows the Cherokees at that time located far to the north on the Holston River. However, by 1725, the Cherokees had captured lands along the Upper Tennessee River down to Bussell Island and the Koasati had been forced southward into northern Alabama.  Click the map below to enlarge it.

On this map the Hogeloges (Uchee) are shown to live downstream from the French fort and the Cusatees (Upper Creeks) are shown to occupy the Upper Tennessee and Little Tennessee River Valleys. The Koasati’s lived on Great Island in the Little Tennessee River. The Upper Tennessee River is labeled, Cusatee River. The Cherokee villages are show to be far upstream on the Holston and French Broad Rivers. This was the first European map to mention a word like Cherokee. Prior maps showed NE Tennessee occupied by branches of the Creeks and the Chiska.

Rabbit Clan (Chestua, Choestoe, Chestatee, Tanasi, Tennessee)

This may have been actually the Mouse Clan because the Tennessee Uchee and Cherokee word for rabbit is very close in sound to the Itsate Creek word for mouse. Rabbit makes more sense however.

The Uchee Rabbit Clan once occupied the extremely important trade route that followed the Hiwassee River (TN, NC, GA), Ocoee River (TN, GA), Nottely River (GA) and Chestatee River (GA). It was anchored by an ancient large town on Hiwassee Island, TN that the Spanish called Tanasqui. Along this route can still be found place names derived from the Uchee word for rabbit, Choestua. Chestatee is the Anglicized version of the hybrid Uchee-Itsate name Choestua-te, which means “Rabbit People.”

The rabbit is the totem animal of the Catawbas. Many Catawba scholars insist that their ancestors once lived on the west side of the Appalachians in eastern Tennessee. This cultural memory very likely remembers a paired relationship between the Uchee and Siouans of that region. The Tanasi, Tesna, Taensa or Tensaw People are normally associated with the Middle and Upper Tennessee River Basins, but early South Carolina maps also show them having a province in northern South Carolina that was allied with the Catawba.

There is a story, often repeated in history books, of a conflict in 1713 or 1714 between the Uchee town of Chestua and Cherokee towns on the other side of the Hiwassee River – supposedly in Tennessee. We only get the Cherokee side of the story so we don’t know exactly what triggered the conflict. In the late 19th century, the Cherokee elder, Swimmer, told Smithsonian ethnologist, James Mooney, that the war was started when the Uchees killed a Cherokee man after living peacefully across the Hiwasssee River from the Cherokees for a century. They then attacked the single town of Chestowee (Chestua) in revenge. However, contemporary Cherokee history sites state that the Cherokees conquered all of southeastern Tennessee in 1714.

Most contemporary history books provide the official South Carolina side of the story . . . that Indian traders Eleazer Wiggan and Alexander Long sold firearms to the Cherokees in Tennessee and agreed to buy all slaves captured, if the Cherokees would attack Yuchi towns along the Hiwassee River in present day Tennessee. The South Carolinians were seeking revenge because a Yuchi man in the town of Chestowee had cut off Wiggan’s ear after being caught cheating the Yuchi. Most texts place the location of “Chestowee” on the Hiwassee River in Tennessee. Several Yuchi towns, including Chestowee were supposedly destroyed and the survivors were marched off into slavery in South Carolina.

The Cherokee or South Carolina versions of the story are often repeated in Cherokee history web sites, Wikipedia, plus books by academicians. The authors should have looked at the maps! In 1714, the French occupied a fort at the confluence of the Tennessee and Tennessee River and all the territory between there and the Uchee on the Hiwassee River was occupied by Koasati and Upper Creeks. As can be seen above, the Cherokees couldn’t have possibly been neighbors of the Uchee for a century. They were nowhere around.

Furthermore, the Uchee town of Chestua in Tennessee continued to be shown on the maps for several more decades. The Cherokees did not conquer all of Southeast Tennessee in 1714. Chestua, Tennessee was not “cut off.” It was in Upper Creek territory until 1764, when the Upper Creeks agreed to withdraw southward from the Cherokees in order to create a buffer between the two peoples. It should be remembered that the Cherokees requested that the British build Fort Loudon on the Little Tennessee River in 1755 to protect them from attacks by the French-allied Upper Creeks living on the south side of the Hiwassee River.

Uchee Rabbit Clan villages were massacred in 1713 and 1714, but their probable locations were along the Upper Hiwassee River in North Carolina and Georgia. However, some of the Rabbit Clan survived. A Uchee village named Choestoe on maps continued to exist at the headwaters of the Nottely River in southern Union County, GA until 1838. Of course, local histories call it a Cherokee town.

Frogtown: There was also a Uchee village in nearby northern Lumpkin County, GA, which has been mistakenly labeled Cherokee. It controlled the vital trade link between Choestoe and the headwaters of the Chestatee River. Throughout the 1700s, the Cherokees derisively called the Highland Uchee, the Frog People (Ani-Wolosi or Ani-walasi). The earliest maps of the State of Georgia show a village named Frogtown on the trade route between Choestoe and the headwaters Yahoola Creek, a major tributary of the Chestatee River. Yahoola is a Creek word, so there were obviously still Creeks living around Dahlonega at that time.

Late 19th and 20th century historians saw the word Frogtown. Not knowing that this was the common Cherokee name for the Uchee, they assumed that it was a Cherokee village then changed its name to Walasi-yi (Place of the Frog) – a name that was never used on maps of the Cherokee Nation. Yet again, the Uchees were “cut off” from history.

From 1785 to 1838 official maps of the State of Georgia only used Creek or English names for Indian village in the Nacoochee Valley. The 1810 Sturgis Map of Georgia used the Creek word for bear, Nocose, for Yonah Mountain. This is primary evidence that even in this late date, the occupants of this area were ethnic Creeks and Uchee - not Cherokees - even though they were officially in the Cherokee Nation. Chota means "Frog" in Creek. This fact strongly suggests that all the "Cherokee lore" now put into local tourist brochures were the product of White Men, not the Native people, who actually lived there. In 1820, the village of Nokose sold its land to a group of families in Burke County, NC and moved to the Creek Nation in Alabama. However, the Eastern Band of Cherokees labels the Nacoochee Mound as "A Sacred Cherokee Heritage Site."
From 1785 to 1838 official maps of the State of Georgia only used Creek or English names for Indian village in the Nacoochee Valley. The 1810 Sturgis Map of Georgia used the Creek word for bear, Nocose, for Yonah Mountain. The Cherokee word for bear, Yonah, was not applied to this mountain until a couple of decades after all Native peoples were gone. This is primary evidence that even in this late date, the occupants of this area were ethnic Creeks and Uchee – not Cherokees – even though they were officially in the Cherokee Nation. Chota means “Frog” in Creek. This fact strongly suggests that all the “Cherokee lore” now put into local tourist brochures, including a couple of Cherokee names applied to local mountains, were the product of White Men who later settled there, not the Native people, who actually lived there. In 1820, the village of Nokose sold its land to a group of families in Burke County, NC and moved to the Creek Nation in Alabama. Had the Cherokee tribal government in NW Georgia considered this land, Cherokee, it would have forbidden the sale. However, the Eastern Band of Cherokees now labels the Nacoochee Mound as “A Sacred Cherokee Heritage Site.” A comprehensive investigation by University of Georgia archaeologists in 2004 could find no Cherokee artifacts in the village around the Nacoochee Mound.

A little known fact is that there were Rabbit Clan Uchee hamlets in the rugged Cohutta Mountains of Glimer and Towns Counties, GA and Polk County, TN until at least 1911. These were the last traditional Native American communities in the states of Georgia and Tennessee.

Uchee men cut firewood and hauled copper ore for the copper mines in Copper Hill, Tennessee. About 15 years later, the US Forest Service quickly acquired their remote farmsteads because they lacked legal titles to the properties. Most of these Uchee moved to the Snowbird Cherokee Reservation in Graham County, NC, where they retain their separate identity and physical appearance to this day.

Deer Clan

Little is known about the Uchee Deer Clan, because it was almost completely absorbed by the Creek Confederacy via the arrival of Raccoon Clan members in their territory during the early 18th century. Thus, their descendants would today be members of the Sawakli Clan in Oklahoma.

This clan lived along the Flint River in west-central Georgia. It was associated with ancient complexes of stone cairns and enclosures.

Duck Clan

This once large clan lived along the Duck River in central Tennessee. Since no one can explain the origin for this river’s name, most likely it is the English translation of its Uchee name. The Uchee of this region are strongly associated with the Old Stone Fort in Manchester, Tennessee. It is quite likely that their ancestors were its builders.

The Uchee of the Duck River Basin were almost annihilated by Native American slave raiders in the late1600s and early 1700s. Because they did not sign treaties with either Great Britain or France, they were “fair game” by the major tribes, allied with both of these European powers. The last Uchee villages in this region were apparently allied with the Shawnee. When the Cherokees and Chickasaws attacked the region around 1710, the remaining Uchee had the same fate as their Shawnee neighbors, either being killed, sold as slaves to the British in South Carolina or fleeing northward into Kentucky.

Them Uchee fellers jest can’t get no respect.

In Part Three, we will discuss alternative theories concerning the origin or origins of the Uchee, plus describe the unique architectural and town planning traits that distinguished Uchee communities.

Natives In Prison: The Forgotten Ones

It is a fact that the national media seems to overlook.  Of all ethnic groups in the United States, imprisoned Native American men compose the highest percentage of their group’s population.  Just as television moguls have apparently forgotten that Native Americans exist,   many Native Americans themselves seem to have forgotten that their incarcerated brothers and sisters exist.

Nearly every week, we come across stories about Natives across the country embroiled in legal battles to hold on to their sacred lands and ancient traditions. We applaud when a young college student stands up to academia over truth-telling in teaching events of history. Natives and non-Natives alike hold hope for the future as more and more see the beauty and wisdom of indigenous peoples’ time-honored connection to Mother Earth.

In the midst of this hopeful picture, however, sad statistics speak of continued history-making that is anything but hopeful. Despite the common belief that gambling casinos have created wealth among Native peoples, we know this is not the whole picture. Many tribal people, both on and off the reservations, struggle under circumstances of numbing poverty in a world fraught with alcoholism, drug abuse, youth suicide, domestic violence, and deadly diseases of epic proportion. One end result of this travesty is the alarming number of Native men and women, ending up in state and federal prison systems, lost and forsaken, with little hope for ever achieving a decent life.

Here in the Southeast, we have our own unique historical issues centered around the theft of the first peoples’ ancestral homeland and cultural heritage. More and more mixed-heritage descendants of those who managed to avoid removal are stepping up to learn, claim, and own their rightful Native heritage. Complicating this desire of the heart is the religious and racial prejudice deeply embedded in the character of many Southerners.

In today’s world, inter-tribal powwows, though not a tradition in Southeastern Native culture, have evolved over the past few decades into a unifying celebration for all Native peoples as well as an outreach for building better understanding within our society as a whole. The same can be said for spiritual groups within prison walls that promote unity among the diverse cultures of tribal peoples.

The focus in prisons centers around sweat lodge ceremonies and powwow-style drums, song, and dance. The struggle for the religious rights of Native peoples was fought largely from within prisons and culminated in the Native American Free Exercise of Religion Act of 1993.

Across the country, in prisons located near large local populations of Native people, adherence to the law and cooperation by prison personnel is more consistent than in other parts of the country. Here in the southeast, ignorance of the law, resistance to change, and outright denial by prison staff is more the norm than the exception. Now, at this point, I must explain that even though I cannot speak from personal experience, I do have close contact with one who can.

For the past two years, I have had daily contact and extensive conversations with a Muscogee Creek/Cherokee Native (with Irish blue eyes) known as Ghost Dancer, or simply, Ghost (his legal name though not recognized by the Bureau of Prisons.) This association is not one I would ever have sought out, for I was as ignorant and indifferent as the next person to prisons and the people within them. A unique circumstance and conscience alone compelled me to embark on this journey and the lessons I have learned now compel me to help give voice to the forgotten ones.

Ghost has been an activist for Native rights his entire life and the consequence has been incarceration in prisons from Florida to California for more than 32 years. Over the years, he became a leader in organizing spiritual fellowships among Native populations within the prison system and has often found himself standing toe-to-toe with prison authorities, reading them the law in his fearless fight for justice.

Now crippled by health issues and confined to a wheelchair, Ghost continues his life’s work with a smile and unfailing dedication. I was honored when Ghost asked me to serve as his official Minister of Record (spiritual advisor) and join other advocates on the outside who support and watch over his interests. It is from Ghost’s wealth of experience and knowledge that I convey his message and plea on behalf of Native inmates everywhere and for the brothers at Talladega Federal Correctional Institution, Talladega, Alabama, in particular.

At Talladega FCI, as in other prisons, the Native spiritual community consists largely of men who lack the knowledge and self confidence to speak up or take leadership roles. Most have known only poverty and found little opportunity to learn and grow to their full potential. Most carry a burden of mental and emotional pain; guilt and sorrow for the mistakes they have made – and some have made terrible mistakes. Others have been meted out shockingly severe prison sentences for low-level drug-related offences. Down deep, if we choose to look without judgment, we will find these men to be fallible human beings, not much different than ourselves.

This circle of brothers who call themselves the “Wolf Pack,” have pledged to dedicate their lives to prayer, self sacrifice, living humbly in harmony and balance; striving to walk in beauty and love as they learn more about the stabilizing foundation of spiritual traditions of their own people as well as those of other tribes and practices.

Within the inipi – sweat lodge ceremonies and on their small sacred ground, the goal is to honor and learn from all Native traditions. As Ghost says, “We learn songs, dances, and ceremonial practices that help us become better humans, brothers, sons, fathers, and husbands – better men.” In no way are Native teachings on how to live like a true human being in conflict with the higher teachings of other religions.

When we become aware of the dynamics of prison culture, we can also understand the importance of the spiritual group at a deeper level. Prisons, by nature, are filled with troubled people, and some of them are truly evil and dangerous; hardened beyond redemption. Just as on the meanest streets outside, competing gang leaders rule and the weakest among the prison population live in jeopardy of becoming targets.

Statistically, among all minorities, the largest percentage of Native men end up in prison, yet they make up the tiniest and most vulnerable minority of the total prison population. Yes, prisons have their share of Natives who are hardened criminals, so the burning question arises, where is the vulnerable young Native man to turn if he does not want to be targeted as someone’s victim or forced into a gang? Even though a Native has been raised as a Christian, say, or has never even been exposed to any spiritual tradition, a community of, by, and for those who identify as Natives and truly seek to better themselves, is the only safe and fully encompassing refuge available to them.

To have an elder or anyone come in from the outside to share time with the Native community, Ghost tells us, would be a true blessing for all the brothers. Many of these men never have a visitor during their entire sentence. Many have lost all ties to family and friends since their incarceration and have no one on the outside to give them hope and encouragement. Just to see a friendly face; to talk to someone who is not a guard or another prisoner would mean so much to them, especially if the person is Native or Native descent.

The healing process these men are going through can be greatly enhanced by visits from people who do not judge or condemn them forever. Giving or receiving personal information is neither wise nor recommended. To simply listen, enjoy a positive experience, and truly care would be good medicine for the visitor as well as the inmate.

Another positive result of individuals or groups coming in to meet with the brothers on a regular basis is that it helps stabilize the group when the leadership is not strong. When the staff is aware of willing and committed outside support, we can naturally expect more cooperation in assisting the group to meet their needs.

For insights on the possibilities for positive impact individuals can make in the lives of the incarcerated, I heartily recommend taking a look at Many years ago, the kindness of Bo Lozoff made a profound difference in Ghost’s life during some of his darkest hours. His book, We Are All Doing Time, also changed my life for the better.

The door is open; the invitation has been extended. If you love to drum and sing, consider coming to drum and sing with these forgotten brothers. You can pray with them, or even sweat in the lodge with them. If you conduct sweats on the outside, you would be welcome to conduct a sweat for the group.

Whatever your knowledge or skill, all these small acts of kindness will go a long way toward motivating these men to do even better, so that when they complete their sentences and return to the free world, they will be better prepared to become assets to their communities rather than burdens on society.

Individuals or groups wishing to arrange for visits with the Native Spiritual Group at Talladega must first apply through the Chaplain’s office. Background checks will be made before permission is granted. Please make inquiries to Chaplain James Bowen Phone: 256-315-4107 or Email: Questions or feedback on interest or intent to apply will be appreciated. Please contact Edna Dixon at

About the Author

Growing up in middle Georgia in the 1940’s and 50’s, Edna’s frequent visits to the Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon captured her imagination and inspired her interest in the ancient people who once lived there. Unfortunately, through all her school days, she never learned the full and true story of the historical Creek people.

Her interest in Native people was fostered by her grandmother, Lois Taber Peirce, who shared memories of growing up on the Cheyenne reservation in Indian territory and the Cherokee reservation in North Carolina, where her Quaker parents served as teachers in the government schools. Later in life, after her children were grown, Edna returned to college and took every course she could find related to Indian history and culture. She has fond memories of a three-week field trip out west to study the ancient ruins of the Anasazi.

Following her retirement as a Registered Nurse, Edna reconnected via the internet with an old high school friend who happened to be a Creek Indian. In those days, he had kept this fact to himself because of the sting of prejudice he knew so well. Then, also retired, this man was continuing his life-long effort to teach others about his Creek heritage.

Edna quickly jumped at the chance to work with her old friend to further his vision and goals. For the next 15 years, until his death in 2013, Edna worked directly with Bobby Johns Bearheart, Chief of the Perdido Bay Tribe in Pensacola, Florida, to build his organization and expand his outreach. Little did she realize that these years of learning, organizing, teaching, and writing for PBT from her 500-mile office were preparing her for a continued journey that would take her into the realm of prisons and the justice system, and their impact on Native Americans.

Edna lives in rural east Tennessee with Jack, her husband of 56 years.


Access Genealogy publishes the Original Migration Legend of the Creek People  announced on Friday, September 25, 2015 that it had become the sole source on the web for those wishing to read the original English words of the Migration Legend of the Creek People, which were recorded by Georgia Colonial Secretary, Thomas Christie, on June 7, 1735.   The original handwritten documents have been presumed lost for 280 years.

This popular history and genealogical reference site was already ranked Number 1 by Google for those researchers wishing to know more about Migration Legend.  However, the only version available until this time was an English translation of excerpts of the document that were published in two German language books during the 1700s.

The translator of the German excerpts was linguist Albert Samuel Gatschet, a self-taught ethnologist from Germany, who was employed by the Smithsonian Institute.  After becoming fluent in English,  Gatschet became fascinated with the cultures of the North American Indians, particularly the Mound Builders.  He traveled across the Atlantic and convinced the Smithsonian that he was the world’s leading expert on the Southeastern Indians.

If this seems odd,  Cyrus Thomas, the Smithsonian’s chief archaeologist, who hired Gatschet, had even less credentials.  Thomas was a self-taught expert on the insects of Indiana, when hired.  He had no formal education in anthropology, archaeology or American Indian history.  However, he was a Union veteran and had political connections!  Nevertheless, he taught himself what was considered at that time to be scientific methods for archaeology.

Explanation of the Migration Legend

While attending the first diplomatic conference between the Creek Confederacy and the new Province of Georgia, High King Chikili brought with him a buffalo calf velum,  on which was painted in red and black abstract characters, the legendary history of the Kaushete (Cusseta People) who were a major division of the Upper Creeks and the last branch of the Creeks to arrive in the Southeast.  It was a complete writing system, not pictographs as used by Northern tribes.

While Chikili read the velum,  the famous Creek woman, Mary Musgrove translated and Thomas Christie recorded.  At the end of the reading of the velum,  Chikili gave a speech to the assembled dignitaries of the colony.  Realizing that he had in his possession extraordinary documents,  Supervising Trustee, James Edward Oglethorpe ordered both the velum and its translation shipped immediately to the King George II of England and the colony’s other trustees.

Although the buffalo velum was mounted on the wall of the Georgia Office at Westminster Palace until at least 1784,  the English translation by Christie was quickly misplaced.  It has been assumed lost for 280 years since then.

Several Muskogean cultures in the Southeast used copper and brass tools and weapons. Although People of One Fire researchers have identified numerous examples of clustered or individual Itza Maya glyphs on the stone, ceramic, copper and shell art at sites in North Georgia,  Caucasian anthropologists have still refused to label Muskogean culture,  a civilization . . . on the grounds that “the ancestors of the Creeks, Seminoles, Miccosukees, Koasatis and Alabamas were illiterate.”

In addition to providing extremely valuable information on the history of the Muskogean peoples, the recently discovered documents provide absolute proof with multiple witnesses that the Muskogeans were indeed literate.  The problem is that they wrote on leather and to date, no leather codices have been found.  This is probably because of the damp, acidic soil of the Southeast and the violent chaos that accompanied the European occupation of the region.

Optional versions for readers

After the documents were retrieved by a professional archivist in England on April 28, 2015,  the Archbishop of Canterbury paid for having them being photographed with a special high resolution digital camera that does not damage ancient artifacts.   However, these images, although enhanced, would be almost illegible to laymen because Christie wrote on both sides of the paper and the ink had run through the paper.

The digital images were electronically transmitted to the Apalache Foundation, where they were enhanced again by a powerful business computer with special software previously used for enhancing ancient maps and architectural drawings. The macro-enhanced images then went thought a painstaking transcription process.

Readers of the new web pages on Access Genealogy will have several options.  They may read the actual words recorded by Thomas Christie as Mary Musgrove, translated the Creek words of the High King Chikili.  Albert Gatschet’s version is provided so the reader can see the differences.   The original words were also translated into modern English.  For example, Mary Musgrove used the word “hill” when actually the velum was describing a high mountain.  The final option is an annotated version of the modern translation, which links descriptions in the Migration Legend to actual geographical places in Mexico and the Southeastern United States.

There is no cost involved with doing research on Access Genealogy. To read the original Migration Legend, plus a modern translation and annotations, click this link:

The Original Migration Legend

The Uchee (Yuchi~Euchee) – Part One

There are two different versions of the Uchee people. The one you read in Wikipedia and anthropology books calls them Yuchi and is the product of a legion of late 20th century speculations that have been regurgitated back and forth so much by academicians that they have deluded themselves into thinking they are facts.

The other is what the Uchee People and Colonial Period eyewitness accounts state. In this strange world we live in, their factual history has become a taboo subject that cannot be discussed in academia, because it might make some university-published books obsolete.

Native American Brain Food

Scan virtually any anthropological reference in the United States and you will be told that the Yuchi originally lived in southeastern Tennessee, but also occupied villages scattered around eastern North America. You will be told that the Chiska encountered by Hernando de Soto and Juan Pardo’s soldiers were Yuchi. A reference citation will tell you that this is true, because John Swanton and Charles Hudson said so. You will also be told that the Yuchi were driven out of Tennessee in the early 1700s by the Cherokees and afterward moved down the Savannah River Valley, where they eventually merged with the Creeks. More recent books on the Creeks will tell you that the Yuchi became the “slaves” of the Creeks. Say what?

Readers are also always told that the Yuchi language is unlike any language in the Americas. Personally, I am not even sure that this orthodoxy is true. The statement was ” inscribed in stone” by the same academic disciplines, which failed to notice for two centuries that such a basic word as chiki was used for house in the Totonac, Itza Maya and Eastern Creek languages.

I stumbled upon that baby step into a brave new world back in 2006, while building the Etowah Model for the Muscogee-Creek Nation. I noticed that the prefabricated, post-ditch houses at Etowah were identical to Totonac and Itza houses that I had studied in Mexico. Out of curiosity, I looked up casa in a Spanish-Totonac dictionary and had an OMG moment.

The name John Swanton stands out as virtually the only early-to-mid- 20th century ethnologist, who published books of national stature on the Southeastern Indians. Most anthropological theses and dissertations at Southeastern universities quote Swanton very early on in the paper in order to prove that the writer is not a heretic. Both students and practicing archaeologists consistently use Swanton’s translations of Muskogean words rather than consulting official dictionaries. Until the People of One Fire came along, John Swanton was virtually the Alpha and Omega of Muskogean ethnology.

I keep all of Swanton’s books near my work station because they contain a compendium of hundreds of eyewitness accounts from the Colonial Period. However, very few of his translations are accurate. In fact, his translations are so off-base, it is obvious that he did not own a Muskogean dictionary. Some of his interpretations of eyewitness accounts are solid, most are not. He assumed that the locations and names of indigenous ethnic groups in 1000 AD and 1500 AD were the same as they were in 1800 AD. Swanton consistently ignored Colonial Period maps, because he was not a visually oriented person. Enough said.

Their name

In their own language, the Uchee called themselves Tsoyaha. The word is roughly translated into English as “Children of the Sun.” This is a generic word. Individual Uchee provinces and bands had their own names that more often as not, were derived from other languages. These other names include Utsi, Okoni (Oconee), Okasi (Ogeechee) and Ouete of the Uchee Water Clan; Nokoche, Nokose and Naguchee of the Uchee Bear Clan; Chestua and Chestatee of the Rabbit Clan; Kowasate of the Bobcat Clan; Ustanauli on the Upper Savannah River; Ustanauki on the Suwannee River in Florida and Tchogaloge of the Upper Tennessee River.

There is a big question mark concerning the clan affiliations of isolated Uchee trading villages that were once scattered across the Southeast and Midwest. In most cases, the existences of these villages were so quickly erased by the incessant tribal and colonial warfare of the 1700s that there were few opportunities for Europeans to observe and document them.

There are probably several other Uchee band names that have been lost by history. However, Chiska was not one of them. The Chiska in Tennessee were the same ethnic group as the Panaoan-speaking Chiska in eastern Peru. Chiska means “bird” in Shipibo. It is no accident that the Chiska were shown on 17th century French maps as living on the Shipi-sipi that is now called the Holston River.

The Tsoyaha’s three most common names today, Yuchee, Uchee and Euchee are all Anglicizations of the Creek word Ue-se (pronounced roughly Ou : jzhē) which means “Offspring from Water.”

Both Carolina and Georgia Colonial authorities used the word Uchee. It most closely approximates one of the Muskogean names for the Uchee Water Clan, so probably is the most “correct.” That name predominates in South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama today.

The Uchee lifestyle

The earliest eyewitness accounts by empathetic European explorers described poly-ethnic indigenous societies in the Southeast that were quite different than the simplistic concept of “chiefdoms” that so saturates anthropological literature. One wonders if the late 20th century academicians, who adapted the label of “chiefdom” from studies of Sub-Saharan African societies, even bothered to read these eyewitness accounts. This is especially true for the Uchee.

Throughout the Southeastern region, one reads eyewitness accounts of dualistic societies. In most provinces, the elite lived in separate towns from the commoners. Remember the description in the de Soto Chronicles of the conurbation that composed the great town of Coça?  The elite were in a village on the south side of Talking Rock Creek.  The commoners were on the north side.

The French gave an identical description of the Natchez. The Natchez elite lived in fortified mound centers and spoke a different language than the commoners.  The commoner’s villages either had no mounds or else only small burial mounds.

In 1658, Charles de Rochefort wrote that North Georgia’s Apalache elite lived in mountainside or hillside towns, built of stone.  They wore brightly colored clothing like that of the Seminole and Miccosukee today.   The commoners wore plain, off-white garments, woven from mulberry fibers or else leather. The Apalache commoners lived in river bottomlands in villages that were identical those of the Creeks a half century later.

An alternative pattern in some parts of the Southeast was for two or more ethnic groups to live in paired towns or clusters of egalitarian towns. In such situations, each ethnic group had it own elite, but was allied with other ethnic groups in confederacies. This was the organizational structure of the 18th century Cherokee, Catawba and Creek alliances.

The Uchee were the consummate regional traders of the Southeast, yet in most regions they preferred to live in dualistic relationships with other ethnic groups – particularly the Muskogeans. The Uchee lived in dispersed villages and farmsteads, where they maintained their language, religious traditions and distinct architecture, while having a symbiotic relationship with entirely different ethnic groups, who occupied separate towns.

The closest parallel to the Uchee lifestyle would be the Amish and Orthodox Mennonite communities in North America. Within their own communities, these Anabaptists speak Platt Duetsch, the Late Medieval language of the Netherlands and northwestern Germany. Most congregations only use horse-drawn transportation. Their church congregations are exclusive and are prone to expel members, who do not conform to all traditions.

Yet in order to survive, these Orthodox Mennonites and Amish actively do business with the “English” outside their communities. Perhaps, in the case of the Uchee, maintaining a distinct ethnic identity enabled traders to maintain neutrality while passing through warring provinces.

There is also extensive cultural evidence that in some regions, Uchee priests functioned like the Druids of the British Isles. They carried the knowledge of ancient times through succeeding generations and were considered to be sources of wisdom by many ethnic groups other than the Uchee.

Uchee origin traditions

The Uchee, who made contact with the early British colonists, stated that their ancestors came across the ocean from the home of the sun and that their first homeland was on the South Atlantic Coast. That statement obviously means that they arrived in North America by traveling over the Atlantic Ocean. Where their migration journey began is a subject of educated speculation that will be discussed in Part Two. This discussion is going to be quite controversial since it challenges the presumption that all indigenous peoples arrived in the Americas via the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska.

Wherever the Uchee originated, both they and the Creek Indians agreed that the Uchee were one of the oldest ethnic groups in the Southeast. According to Uchee tradition, when they arrived on the coast, there were several other peoples living in the interior that either moved westward or took canoes to southern lands. The Algonquians were the only indigenous peoples, whose presence in Southeast was older than the Uchee.

After the Uchee, the Siouans migrated southward into the Carolinas and portions of eastern Tennessee. They were eventually followed by bands of people from the south and west, who evolved into the Chickasaws, Alabamus and Creeks. When and why the Uchees arrived is again going to be a controversial subject that can at present be answered by “educated” speculations.

In Part Two, we will first examine the locations of Uchi provinces and villages, when first contacts were made with Europeans. Most readers will be surprised how extensive and widespread the Uchee provinces were. The United States Department of the Interior has relabeled all known Uchee Provinces as Creek, Cherokee, Timucua or “Tribal Affiliation Unknown.”

We will then take a look at the available archaeological and linguistic information in the Southeastern United States and Western Europe, to speculate on the origin or origins of the Uchee. The Uchee could well be the descendants of the ancient people, who are the source of the story of Atlantis.

Creeks remembered visit by Jean Ribault in 1562!

The Creek Migration Legends Series

We are still rummaging through the UK National Archives and Lambeth Palace Archives and finding extraordinary information that will radically change the understanding of the past. 

After Tamachichi (Tomochichi in English) and James Edward Oglethorpe first met in early 1733,  the elderly Creek leader took Oglethorpe on a walking tour of the landscape where Savannah would be built.  He said that the colony was going to be developed at the location of the Creek Indians’ first town.  He pointed out a large mound, where he said “was the tomb of our first emperor. ”


Walking along Yamacraw Bluff,  Tamachichi pointed to a small conical mound and told Oglethorpe, “This is the tomb of my ancestor, a king, who  many years before entertained Frenchmen visiting here. The leader of the Frenchmen had a red beard. They rowed up the Savannah River from the ocean in a barge.”   Tamachichi then insisted that his village, which contained the ancestor’s burial, remain, even though Savannah was being developed immediately to the east and south.

jean-ribaultCaptain Jean Ribault was known for his “trade mark” bushy red beard.   When executing Ribault in the vicinity of present day Brunswick, GA, the Spanish thrust a dagger into his heart then cut off the skin of his lower face in order to send the beard to King Phillip II of Spain.  Those Spaniards REALLY didn’t like Protestants!  *

The water color above portrays the Ribault’s fleet exploring the Bay of Dolphins (probably St. Andrews Bay, GA).  Note the barge being rowed near shore in the upper right portion of the painting.   In 1562,  Ribault commanded a barge to explore the region south of Charlesfort (Parris Island, SC).  He made contact with the King of Chicola, after rowing up a river.

In 1565,  Captain René de Laudonnière, Commander of Fort Caroline, sent a barque, which had sails, northward to beg food from Native provinces along the Georgia coast.  His memoir mentioned that the King of Chicola had provided food, but did not specifically say that his sailing ship visited the town.  De Laudonnière did emphasize though, that Chicola was the same province that the Spanish had called Chicora in the 1520s.  Its actual name was Parachicora or Palachicola. The Irene Island royal compound and the original  town of Parachicora were apparently abandoned in the late 1500s then moved upstream to present day Allendale County, SC and Screven County, GA in order to escape Spanish depredations and European plagues.

It is possible that the Frenchmen remembered by the Creeks were from Fort Caroline,  but since the Creeks remembered a leader with a red beard and a barge being rowed, it was far more likely to be Jean Ribault.  It is also quite likely that the UK National Archives will eventually reveal the Creek’s memories of Fort Caroline or the handful of its survivors, who settled in Northeast Georgia.  All French, Spanish, English and Dutch maps placed Fort Caroline at the mouth of the Altahama River in Georgia.

*The myths of the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine and Fort Caroline being in Jacksonville, were created in the mid-19th century by a real estate speculator from New York, who purchased large tracts of lands near both towns.  The report by the founder of St. Augustine, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés  to the King of Spain, placed the original location of St. Augustine in September 1565 at the latitude of St. Andrews Bay, GA.  St. Augustine was moved to its current location in March 1566. The dense and hostile Native population at St. Augustine’s original location made life miserable for the Spanish colonists.  The current location had relatively few Native occupants.



The Story of Scotland . . . before there was a Scotland

Now fess up!  A bunch of you out there, even if you carry BIA cards, have as much or more Irish, Scottish or Scandinavian DNA as you do indigenous.  This outstanding documentary is about YOUR ancestors.

BEFORE SCOTLAND – Parts One and Two

(2009)   Rated G ~ Free  ~ YouTube

To watch program  (click)  Before Scotland

This two part program is a masterpiece and continuously presents information that most North Americans would consider surprising.   It begins at the tail end of the Ice Age and ends around 900 AD when Gaels were invading what is now Scotland from the west and Vikings were attacking from the east.  Until that time, the most common name for present day Scotland was Britain!   Scot is the Irish Gaelic word for a pirate and land is the Viking word for land.

In 2008, the BBC heavily promoted a high budget documentary series entitled, The History of Scotland Even though it was hosted by a Scottish archaeologist, most Scots felt that the program was too much about the personal journey of the show’s host and too little about the Scottish people.  Scottish students and almost anyone not from Scotland would finish the program not knowing what the Scottish people looked like and how they lived during various periods of the past.

A private film company that works with Scottish public television then created an equally high budget documentary that included many actors in period costumes, plus extensive filming of restored Scottish villages from various epochs.

The approach worked.   I finished watching the entire History of Scotland series, not really knowing who the Scots were.   After watching the Story of Scotland – Before Scotland, now I do.

Did you know that the people of pre-Scotland spoke Welsh?

Did you you know that the farming peoples of the west coasts of Scotland and Wales, plus both coasts of Ireland carry high levels of the same Mediterranean DNA as the Atlantic coasts of France and Iberia.  That’s right,  you could have had Irish or Scottish ancestors, but show up with Iberian or Mediterranean DNA.

Now here is where it gets interesting.   We have Mediterranean peoples in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  They love to carve concentric circles in stone boulders, just like the Late Bronze Age peoples in the Southern Appalachians.  They make “Bell Beaker” pottery that is almost identical to the Deptford pottery that was first made in Savannah, GA.  They have the same word for water as the Muskogee Creeks.

Then suddenly at the end of the Bronze Age, the branch of the Bell Beaker people, who sailed Phoenician type boats over the oceans, disappeared from Scotland and Ireland.  You can guess the possibilities.

Part Two is available on Youtube, when you finish Part One.


How the Creek Migration Legend led to formation of the Methodist Church – Part Four

“From now on, when we come to this place, we will call it Georgia.”
Parakusa (High King) Chikili
Speech to the leaders of Savannah, GA
June 7, 1735

“This Morning James Oglethorpe, Esq; accompanied by the Rev. Mr John Wesley, Fellow of Lincoln College, the Rev. Mr. Charles Wesley, Student of Christ Church College, and the Rev. Mr. John Ingram of Queens College, Oxford, set out from Westminster to Gravesend, in order to embark for the Colony of Georgia – Two of the aforesaid Clergymen design, after a short stay at Savannah, to go amongst the Indian Nations bordering that Settlement, in order to bring them to the Knowledge of Christianity.”

Gentleman’s Magazine – October 14, 1735

The image above portrays John Wesley romancing Sophia Hopkey in the movie, “Wesley” (2009)

The Creek Migration Legends Series

Prologue: The thinly populated provinces of the Creek Confederacy along the Georgia Coast had sold a county-sized tract of land to Squire Oglethorpe that nobody lived on until a few months before the Georgia colonists arrived. It consisted of the swampy land between the Savannah and Ogeechee Rivers, up to the high tide line. It was land that most Creeks disdained, because it was infested with mosquitoes, parasitic worms and horrific intestinal diseases, most notably “the flux” (vibrio~New World cholera) a bacteria that thrived in locations where fresh and salt water mixed.

The Creeks had formerly called the region around this county sized province, Parachikora. The Spanish had once called Chicora. The French had once called it Chicola. Now it would be called Georgia.  A century later, some historian in South Carolina would decide that Chicora was 150 miles to the north near Georgetown, SC.  A legion of institutions, streets, schools and Indian tribes in that state would eventually be named Chicora.

Mikko Tamachichi made a “fast buck” in February of 1733, selling land that he had never lived on until late 1732. In fact, until 1717 the Coastal Plain had been the domain of the Yamasee Confederacy. After Yamasee’s demise in the war against South Carolina, the new Koweta Confederacy cut a deal with South Carolina officials that declared all lands west and south of the Savannah River to be Koweta turf.

In private negotiations with James Oglethorpe in early June of 1735, Chikili had agreed to allow the construction of a trading post at the Fall Line of the Savannah River. The Creeks detested the South Carolina planter aristocracy because they kept thousands of African and Native America slaves in bondage. Squire Oglethorpe had banned slavery in the new colony. A Georgia trading post on the Fall Line would be much closer to the main centers of Creek population.

When Chikili and the national council strode out of Savannah in mid-June 1735, they assumed that the Colony of Georgia would always be a thin strip of unwanted land on the coast, which would be a source for European firearms, manufactured goods and technology.

The minuscule population of Georgia would always be dependent on the mighty Creek army for protection from the Spanish, French and Cherokees. With a steady flow of munitions and intelligence being supplied by loyal Georgia-based traders, the Creeks could quickly re-occupy their lands, seized by the Cherokees twenty years earlier. Perhaps they could eventually drive the Cherokees back north to where they came from. At least, that was the delusion that Creeks carried toward this new colony in their midst.

Act VII: John Wesley’s planned mission to recreate the Creek Indians in his own image was doomed from the start. He later admitted that “he hoped to save his own soul by saving theirs.” There was a worse problem, however, than Wesley’s self-doubts. He viewed the Creeks as simple-minded children with no cultural memory or knowledge of spiritual matters. He expected them to be in awe of his superior intellect and cultural heritage then immediately do everything possible to emulate him.

Remember the University of Georgia senior anthropology professor in 2012, who said to us, “Now run along children and play.  You shouldn’t be meddling in things that you don’t understand.”

Wesley’s response to being bested intellectually by the Creek elders at Palachicola (Part Three) was to shun the Native peoples for the rest of his time in Georgia. He pretended in his mind that they did not exist, since they refused to bow down before him.

Does that sound like some Dixie academicians we know?

James Oglethorpe appointed John Wesley as his private secretary to replace Thomas Christie. Wesley would be completely loyal to his patron and was expected to be his “eyes and ears” among the colonists. Almost from the beginning of the settlement, the colony’s chief magistrate, Thomas Causton, had been breeding discontent. He actively tried to get Oglethorpe court-martialed in England.

Wesley became aware that Causton was embezzling the Trustee’s funds and conducting business with the Moravians dishonestly. The Moravian commune had an agreement in which they would provide public works for the colonial government as payment for supplies. Causton was applying their required work to improvements to his plantation. Eventually, the evidence that Wesley gathered was sufficient to impeach Causton.

Since it was obvious that Wesley was not going to be a missionary to the Creek Indians, Oglethorpe also asked him to minister to the foreigners, who were now arriving in Georgia by the boatloads. Wesley was multilingual and highly educated. He was the ideal person to minister to their needs and to integrate them into the colony. After twiddling his thumbs, looking for something to do, he suddenly became a very busy man.

From the beginning, religious tolerance (except for Roman Catholics) was a mainstay of the Colony of Georgia. One of the oldest synagogues in the United States was founded there by Sephardic Jews, evicted from Brazil. They were joined by French Huguenots, who had fled France in the 1680s to live for two generations in Geneva, Switzerland. Italian-speaking Waldensian Protestants arrived in Savannah after being persecuted for many centuries by both the French and Italian Roman Catholics. The Moravians originally spoke Czech, but after living in Germany for awhile, also spoke German. The Salzburgers were Lutheran refugees from Austria, who spoke German. Their colony was at the northern edge of the lands, purchased from the Creeks.

Wesley’s days became filled with direct interaction with the foreign colonists. This was his typical week day schedule: 5:00-6:30 English Prayers – 9:00-10:00 Italian Prayers – 10:30-12:30 English Communion and Service – 1:00-2:00 French Prayers – 2:00-3:00 Catechism of children – 3:00-4:00 English Prayers. He made frequent visits to the Moravian commune north of Savannah. They became his closest friends and taught him German. He also periodically visited the Lutherans at Ebenezer, several miles northwest of Savannah. (See the 1735 Map of Savannah.)

It is quite ironic that John Wesley was destined to found the Methodist Church. While very empathetic and friendly with foreign Protestants and Jews, he treated the British Dissenters (non-Anglicans) of Savannah in a similar manner to the Creek Indians, after the humiliating sermon in Palachicola.

Wesley’s ostracism of their people, was particularly irritating to the Presbyterian Scots, who composed the majority of soldiers, protecting the colony. Wesley shunned the Dissenters (primarily Presbyterians and Calvinists) and refused them attendance at prayer meetings or church services. This was because he always despised the doctrine of predestination that was preached by the founders of Presbyterianism, John Calvin and John Knox.

A romantic interlude: On the voyage to Georgia, John Wesley had made friends with Sophia Hopkey and her mother. While on aboard, he gave Sophia French lessons. Sophia was considered the most attractive single lady in the new colony and was a member of one its wealthiest families. Wesley continued to pay regular social visits to the Hopkey home, developing a warm friendship, which most persons, including Sophia, assumed was leading to matrimony.

In late 1736, just when a formal betrothal announcement by Sophia and John, seemed imminent, Wesley later claimed that Bishop Spangingberg of the Moravians advised him to avoid amorous relationships with women. At the time, Wesley told some that God had told him to break off the relationship. Whatever the cause, Wesley suddenly began shunning Sophia . . . without any explanation to her.

On March 12, 1737, Sophia and William Williamson eloped to Purrysburg, SC and were legally married there. Wesley had refused to perform the ceremonies. He suddenly regretted the cruel way that he had dumped the young woman that he loved. He should have never listened to the advice of the bishop.

On August 17, 1737, probably as an act of reconciliation, Sophia showed up at church service for the first time since marrying. Wesley refused to give her communion. Wesley was exhibiting the same jackass behavior that in the previous year he had exhibited toward the Creek Indians, when he didn’t get what he wanted. The next day, her husband filed a charge of criminal defamation of Sophia and sued Wesley for 1000 pounds sterling in civil claims.

Wesley denied the right of the courts to interfere with what he viewed to be an ecclesiastical matter, but a trial was held, nevertheless. A newspaper of the time stated that “the jury consisted of a Frenchman who did not understand English, one papist (Roman Catholic), one infidel, three Baptists, and seventeen Dissenters (Presbyterians).” Nevertheless, the jury did not produce enough guilty verdicts to convict him. However, there was another problem. Sophia was the niece of Thomas Causton.

The Caustons and Hopkeys began spreading rumors that Sophia had repeatedly rejected Wesley’s proposals and that Wesley was secretly a Roman Catholic. Public opinion swayed to being almost entirely against Wesley . . . so much so that Oglethorpe could not dare intervene. After he received rumors that a lynch mob was about to come after him, Wesley was rowed across the Savannah River during the dead of night. He then traveled to Charleston and took the next ship to England.

After arriving in London, Wesley was called before the Board of Trustees for the Province of Georgia. In a non-judicial trial, he was made the scapegoat for everything that had gone wrong in the colony, then fired.

Unable to find a church assignment in England because of the rumors constantly arriving from Savannah, Wesley joined a Moravian congregation in London on Aldersgate Street. Both he and his brother, Charles became friends with the young Moravian missionary Peter Boehler, who was temporarily in England, before departing for Georgia. The Moravian and Salzburg missionary efforts among the Creeks and Uchee along the Savannah River were thriving. The Church of England had lost interest in the missionary work with the Creeks after William Wake died in 1737.

George Whitefield, Wesley’s friend from the Holy Club at Oxford, was also excluded from Anglican churches when he returned to England. He began preaching in the open air to the commoners, just as Wesley had done at Frederica (Part III). On May 27, 1738 Wesley experienced a “born again” moment at the Moravian service. This is the point in time that he always considered his beginning as a true Christian. He never exhibited again the arrogant, jackass behavior that so poisoned his ministry in Savannah. Charles Wesley and George Whitefield, soon had “born again” experiences at the same location.

Bethesda Orphanage for Boys - founded by the Rev. George Whitefield in 1740.
Bethesda Orphanage for Boys – founded by the Rev. George Whitefield in 1740.

The Wesleys and Whitefield cut their ties with the Moravians in 1739, when their congregations in England shifted to religious practices more akin to those of the Quakers. The three rebellious ministers then formed the Methodist Society with Whitefield as its leader.

John Wesley
John Wesley

The Methodist Society maintained its allegiance to the Church of England, but focused its ministry on the poor and working class, who felt unwelcome at most Anglican churches. Whitefield volunteered to return to the colonies and John Wesley replaced him. Whitefield founded an orphanage in Savannah and then began a triumphant progression up the colonies that is now called the Great Awakening.

Both Wesley brothers always considered themselves to be members of the Church of England even though John was frequently persecuted by Anglican clergy and English magistrates. During the American Revolution tensions accelerated between the Church of England and Methodist factions, because almost all the Methodists were Whigs, who sympathized with the American revolutionaries.

In 1784, when the Church of England no longer existed in the new United States of America, John Wesley “laid hands” on an Anglican priest, Thomas Coke, naming him bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America. He “laid hands” on Richard Whatcoat and Thomas Vasey to be the presbyters of the new denomination. This moment is considered to be the birth of the Methodist Church as a separate denomination. Methodist Societies in Great Britain soon separated from the Church of England.

Statue of John Wesley on Wesley Square in Savannah
Statue of John Wesley on Wesley Square in Savannah

A final footnote on history

In 1743, James Oglethorpe, received orders to return to England to face charges of mismanaging the invasion of Florida during a war with Spain. He was absolved and in fact, praised for his victory at the Battle of Bloody Marsh. However, he never returned to Georgia.

Chikili was no longer treated with deference by the colonial administrator, who replaced Oglethorpe. Chikili quickly turned over the leadership of the Creek Confederacy to Malatchi, the nephew of Emperor Brim, who was far more militant in attitude. The capital of Koweta was moved from the Ocmulgee River to the Chattahoochee River, to symbolize the Creek’s independence from both Great Britain and France. However, for the remainder of the Georgia colony’s existence, more and more land was ceded to the British.

When John Adams arrived in London that same year to be the first ambassador to the Court of St. James, one of the first Englishmen to pay him a social call was none other than General James Edward Oglethorpe, founder of the Colony of Georgia. Oglethorpe and Adams continued their friendship until Oglethorpe’s death in 1785. Although senior general in 1775, Oglethorpe had declined command of British forces being dispatched to crush the rebellion.

In 1784, the same year that the Methodist Church was formally birthed, the Creek Confederacy found itself being treated like a squatter on its own land. It was clear that the new government considered Creeks to be a barrier in the way, rather than a partner in progress.

Then one morning in 1790, Creek leaders learned that five years earlier, the United States had secretly negotiated a treaty with the Cherokees that took all remaining Creek lands in northeast Georgia, while giving the rest of North Georgia to the Cherokees. It was the beginning of the end.

John Wesley passed on to his eternal reward in 1791.  Virtually, a pauper for most of his life after leaving Georgia, all that he left this world was his clothes, his Bible and the Methodist Church.  It was John Wesley, who first publicly used the phrase, “Let us agree to disagree,”  while giving the eulogy at George Whitefield’s funeral.

Migration Legend Supplement: Rare 1735 map of Savannah

The map below was published in late 1735 in Germany.  It accompanied excerpts of the Migration Legend of the Creek People, translated into German.

This map, along with the lost documents that were discovered in April 2015, provide a radical new understanding about the origins of the Creek Confederacy and several of its members.  Both High King Chikili and Tamachichi stated in these documents that the first “Creek” town was where Savannah was located and “our first emperor is buried there.”

Note in the second detailed map that the tomb of the first “Creek emperor” (Indian King’s Tomb) is clearly labeled.  Prior to these discoveries, absolutely no one ever considered the possibility of Savannah being the place where the first Muskogean polity developed.  This paradigm radically changes the interpretation of “Mississippian” archaeological sites and artifacts in the Lower Southeast.

Notice the “Old Fort” on the east side of the Ogeechee River.  So far I have been unable to find another map or colonial archive that mentions a fort at that location.  The location is not heavily developed today.  It might be a fascinating location for archaeologists to explore.

Click the maps to enlarge them to full resolution.


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