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Lies Your Teacher Told You About the Uchee (Yuchi) People

Lies Your Teacher Told You About the Uchee (Yuchi) People

 

(Image Above) – This is a water color painting of a Uchees near Savannah, created by German artist Georg Fredrich Von Reck in 1735. Note that they are wearing clothing that they wove themselves.  All anthropology books state that among American Indians, only the Navajo knew how to weave cloth . . . or that the Creeks had forgotten how to weave cloth by the time that British colonists arrived.

Part Four of the Series on fabricated Southeastern History . . . In 1776, the largest Native American town in North America, north of Mexico, was Uchee Town, on the west side of the Chattahoochee River near present day Columbus, GA.  It contained somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 residents.  Today, official Department of the Interior maps and the Georgia state history book would have you believe that the Uchees never existed.

We will be examining several branches of the Uchee.  A Southeastern tribe, whose name ended in “re,ree, le, ly or lee” can be assumed to be Uchee or a mixture of Uchees and other peoples. That suffix is pre-Gaelic Irish and Bronze Age Scandinavian, by the way.

Actually, most history teachers in the Southeast wouldn’t have a clue, who the Uchee are.  They still exist, but most anthropology professors, if they mention them at all, put them in the same realm as wooly mammoths! They know nothing about the cultural history of this fascinating people.  The lies are mainly concentrated in the Tennessee state history text.  The Uchees were consistently labeled Uchee, Ogeechee, Okate, Hogeloge or Round Town People by British, Spanish, Georgia and Alabama officials . . . mostly Uchee. The “Yuchi” spelling appeared on the Tennessee frontier in the 1790s or later.  However, by the late 1800s, Tennessee academicians were about the only people, who talked about them, so that frontier spelling predominates in academia today.  

Several branches of the Uchee people are briefly mentioned in the chronicles of the De Soto and Pardo expeditions.  One does not see many references to the Uchee until the Cherokees massacred a Uchee town on the Hiwassee River in 1713.  The details of that story are discussed in this article as one of our principle lies.  Most knowledge of the cultural traditions of the Uchee comes from reports by colonial officials in the Province of Georgia.

When founded in 1733, Savannah was surrounded on all sides by Uchee provinces, which were associated with the Creek Confederacy.  The tiny village of Yamakora (Yamacraw) in present day Downtown Savannah was only founded a few months before Savannah was settled. Upstream about 14 miles were mixed Uchee-Creek towns in present day Hardeeville, SC and about 10 miles farther north, at Palachicola, GA.

After horrific smallpox and malaria plagues decimated the Uchee population near Savannah, most moved either upstream to near Augusta, GA or to the Flint and Chattahoochee Valleys in southwest Georgia.  There continued to be a large Uchee population on the Ogeechee, Ocmulgee and Oconee Rivers until these regions were ceded to Georgia in the late 1700s and early 1800s.  After that time, the surviving Uchees either assimilated with their European and African neighbors or else were classified as “Creeks Indians” by the federal government.  

Migration Legend and Etymology

As an ethnic group, the Uchee tribes called themselves Tsoyoha, which in their language means “Children of the Sun.”   Uchee elders told Georgia officials that their ancestors had traveled across the Atlantic Ocean from the “home of the sun” and first settled near the mouth of the Savannah River. There was no other tribe living in the region at that time, but they could see the ancient mounds and shell rings of an earlier people. They had spread inland along the Savannah and Ogeechee Rivers to the Tennessee River as the major players in the Southeastern Salt Trade.  It is possible that other branches of the Uchee in the Carolinas landed at other river mouths on the coast as far as the Santee River.  The Wataree once occupied the North Carolina Mountains from Franklin, NC northward. The Cherokees called them the Watagi (Watauga).

Uchee is the Anglicization of the Creek pronunciation of the Archaic Irish/Scottish word for water, uisce. The Creeks also called them Okate (Water People), Okasi (Ogeechee-Descendants of Water) or Okani (Born in Water). Oklahoma Uchee prefer to use the name, Euchee.  It is not clear, where that spelling came from.

The principal highland Uchee tribes, other than the Wataree, were the Tokahre or Tokase in Creek (Tokee, Tongaria, Tugaloo, Toccoa, etc), Nokose (Bear Clan), the Choeste (Chestate ~ Rabbit Clan), plus the Duck Clan in the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee. Tokah-re is a Bronze Age Irish/southern Scandinavian word, which means “Principal Nation or Principal People.” The Creeks and Uchee rolled their R’s so hard that English speakers usually interpreted “re” as “le” or “ly”.  Tokah-re or Tokahle now means “freckled” in Muskogee-Creek.   The Tokah-re were very large and freckled.  Their descendants became the powerful Tuckabatchee Province of the Creek Confederacy and the Tokase branch of the Seminole alliance.

Hogelogee is the Anglicization of the Virginia Algonquian word Tchogele-gi, which is derived from Tokale-gi.  Apparently, the English first heard of the Uchee via Algonquian tribes in Tidewater Virginia and their strange version of the ethnic name stuck.

The probable appearance of the Uchee town of Choestoa on the Hiwassee River in Towns County, GA. It later moved to southern Union County, GA.

 

The 1754 Emmanuel Bowen map of Georgia and South Carolina clearly shows Uchees living on the Savannah River.

Where the Uchee lived

At the time of Georgia’s settlement in 1733, the Uchee occupied most of the Savannah River Basin and all of the Ogeechee River Basin. Colonial maps clearly label the northeastern corner of Georgia (Rabun, Stephens and eastern Habersham Counties) as Hogeloge . . . that is . . . Uchee.  In 1737, the Province of Georgia’s Indian Agent, Charles Wesley, visited the village of Tugaloo near the present day city of Toccoa. He described it as “being occupied by about 100 Uchees” and added that the Indians around that part of the colony were also Uchees, not Cherokees.  Although the Uchees moved upstream from Savannah around 1752, they continued to live along the Savannah River until the land was ceded after the American Revolution.  “Hogelogees”  is clearly labeled on all Georgia maps during the colonial period.

The Uchee’s largest town and “Mississippian Period” capital was on the headwaters of the Ogeechee River in present day Taliaferro County. This site still has three large mounds visible and was called Cofita by the De Soto Expedition’s chroniclers.  Other branches of the Uchee were on the Oconaluftee River in North Carolina and the southside of the Hiwassee River in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.  At that time, the Wataree Uchee occupied the region around Old Fort, Lenoir and Warrenton, NC, plus other sections of the Catawba and Wataree Rivers.  They were also on the Watauga River in North Carolina and Tennessee.  By that time, the Uchee in the Cumberland Plateau had been made vassals of the Cherokees, but they were not ethnic Cherokees.

Caron Griffin in 1971

The Uchee remained for a long time in the interior of Georgia.  Rabbit Clan Uchee village continued to exist along the Nottely and Chestatee Rivers in Georgia until the Cherokee Removal in 1838.  Many Uchee families along the Savannah River from Elbert County southward decided to assimilate or just were bypassed.  There is a Uchee tribe in the southern Savannah River Basin, which seems to be eligible for federal recognition.  There was also a concentration of Uchee villages on the Ocmulgee River near present day Hawkinsville, GA.  Most of these Uchee never left, but elected to assimilate when their land was ceded by the Creek Confederacy in 1805. The Uchee-Creeks on the Upper Savannah frequently intermarried with the Uchee-Creeks in the Hawkinsville-Irwinton, GA area.  There are still MANY Uchee descendants in the Hawkinsville-Irwinton Area. Caron Griffin (now Morgan), first wife of Chip Carter (Jimmy’s son) is one of those Uchee descendants. She graduated from Wesleyan College in Macon.

The state history textbooks

  • Georgia’s state history text does not even mention the Uchees!  In 1735, the land area where the Uchee villages were located was twice the size of where Cherokee villages were located.  You go figure. I am beginning to think that the State of Georgia uses professors from Turkistan to write its history books.
  • South Carolina’s history book briefly mentions the Uchees as a small tribe that “briefly lived in South Carolina, probably entering the state no earlier than 1661.” Keep in mind, the Uchee Migration Legend states that there ancestors arrived on the SC and GA coast in ancient times.   The South Carolina textbook’s authors are completely unaware that there are large numbers of Uchee descendants still living in the most southerly four counties of the state between the Savannah and Salkehatchee Rivers.  The region between the Salkehatchee River in South Carolina and Ogeechee Rivers in Georgia has been their traditional territory for thousands of years.
  • North Carolina’s current history book does not mention the Uchee.  However, as late as the 1980s, North Carolina history texts did locate the Uchee around the headwaters of Catawba River, east of Asheville.  Yuchi Ethnoarchaeology (1954) by Joseph Bauxar specifically states that there were Uchee villages on the French Broad and Catawba Rivers in North Carolina. The Uchee also lived in the Oconaluftee River Valley along with the Oconee Creeks.  A standard round Uchee village was uncovered when the new Cherokee High School was constructed, but it was labeled “Cherokee” since it was on the Cherokee Reservation.
  • Virginia’s state history book does not mention the Uchee, although colonial era documents place a Uchee trading town, where Saltville, VA is now located – far western Virginia.
  • Alabama’s state history text mentions Uchee Town on the Chattahoochee River, but incorrectly states that Uchee Town was the only place where the Uchee lived at that time.
  • Florida’s state history text correctly states that the Uchee originally raided Spanish haciendas in Florida, but later a band of Uchee settled in an area that is now Euchee in the Florida Panhandle.  They eventually merged with the Seminoles.

The Tall-Tales that professors tell you!

Lie No. 1 – The Great Cherokee Nation captured all of the Savannah River in 1681 from the Yuchis

This lie proliferates on the internet and all “Cherokee history” web sites.  Most references do not state a source for this lie. If they do, they merely cite a contemporary unreferenced source. This is typical for fabricated Native American history in the Southeast.  The best I can determine is that in 1976 a stupid Caucasian history professor at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill . . . while employed by the state in the Cherokee History Project . . . decided that the Savano were a branch of the Cherokees.  They were not.  They were Southern Shawnee, allied with the Creek Confederacy.  In his report, he substituted Cherokee for Savano in a description of an actual historical event.  

Then a Cherokee historian in Oklahoma, who knew nothing about the history of Georgia, wrote in his History of the Cherokee Nation that the Savannah River was named after a branch of the Cherokees. He referenced the Cherokee History Project as his source.  Then about ten years ago, a slick documentary funded by North Carolina Cherokee casino money and shown on PBS, stated that by 1681 the Cherokees had conquered all the land in Georgia down to the present location of Savannah, GA.  

Then a legion of stupid, text message generation newspaper reporters began including in their articles a statement from the Museum of the Cherokee Indian that the Cherokees occupied all of Georgia from Savannah northward in 1733. A TV station in Knoxville, TN even broadcast a map showing ¾ of Georgia as where the Cherokees had lived for thousands of years and described Ocmulgee National Monument as the ancient capital of the Cherokee Nation, when they controlled all of the Southeastern United States.

Then the final phase to this madness occurred in early 2018.  Some anonymous person changed the articles on Savannah’s History and Creek Chief Tomochichi to state that the village of Yamacraw in Savannah was Cherokee and that Tomochichi was a famous Cherokee chief.  Those changes were referenced to a Cherokee website, which made those statements.   When I repeatedly changed these articles back to their original wording, the changes were redacted within hours. Finally, our tribe had to threaten litigation against Wikipedia before someone out there in NeverNeverLand took the time to see that the articles had been changed to fake history and that I was not the “bad guy.”

Here is the real history.   Around 1670 a band of Rickohocken slave raiders from Virginia, on contract with the Dominion of Virginia, captured the Uchee-Creek provincial capital of Potofa*, where Augusta, GA is now located. Those of Potofa, who survived the raid were later sold to plantations in Virginia and Carolina. This band decided to establish their villages in Potofa since the location was much closer to the remaining Native Americans, who had not been killed or enslaved.  These Rickohockens were called Weste by the Itsate Creeks, which means “Scraggly-haired People.”  White settlers in Carolina changed that to Westo.  The Westos did an ethnic cleansing of most of the small indigenous tribes in the South Carolina Upstate then sold their Native American slaves in Charlestown, Georgetown and Beaufort.  However, by 1780 the Westos began to raid small tribes on the coast, who were friends with the British.  They also stole slaves from plantations.  The Carolinians then turned on the Westos, giving support to the Savanos in order to persuade them to take on the Westos. 

*Yes, that is the same Potofa, mentioned in the De Soto Chronicles.

Obviously, a French fort & many Cusatee (Upper Creek) villages occupied region north of the Uchees, not Cherokee villages & English trading post.

Lie No.2 – In 1713, the Cherokees massacred all the Uchee and drove away all the Creeks on the Hiwassee River in Tennessee.

This story is a classic example of how history professors often do not know the history of the state that they teach history in.  They are merely regurgitating false history that they were taught and use their former professors as their sources, not eyewitness accounts or historic maps. First of all, the 1714 date that some academician or wannabe Cherokee historian wrote in the Wikipedia article on this incident is wrong.

South Carolina archives record that in 1710, Indian trader Alexander Long was partially scalped and relieved of one of his ears by Uchees living in a village named Choestoa, because he had cheated them in a trade. Choestoa means “Rabbit Clan” in Uchee.  Three years later, he and his partner, Eleazer Wiggins, approached the Cherokees with a “deal”.   They would supply the Cherokees with firearms, if the Cherokees would destroy the Uchee town of Choestoa.  The traders also agreed to buy all slaves captured at Choestoa.

The governor of Carolina sent a letter to the Cherokees, ordering them not to attack Choestoa, but Wiggins insured that the letter was delayed.  Long and Wiggins apparently “pulled some political strings” among some prominent colonial leaders to ensure that the colonial militia would not interfere.

Wiggins and the Cherokees waited until most of the warriors in Choestoa were away hunting.  The remaining defenders of the town were overwhelmed by the firearms.  They only had bows and slings.  Those Uchee, who were not initially killed or captured took refuge in the council house, then committed suicide by setting it on fire in order to avoid slavery.  The captives were quickly sold at the Charleston slave market and whisked away to the Caribbean Islands, where they would suffer short, brutal lives as sugar plantation slaves.

The modern Cherokee version of this story states that Long-Wiggins trading post was at the” great” Cherokee town of Chota near the Tennessee and that the conquerors of Choestoa went on to capture all of eastern Tennessee from the Upper Creeks.  You can see from the map above that clearly didn’t happen.  There is a French fort and several Custate-Creek villages near the then Itsate-Creek town of Chota.  In 1715, there were no Cherokees living on the Tennessee River and as late as 1725, a Uchee town named Choestoa still thrived immediately downstream from the confluence of the Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers. 

All the Uchees were not killed nor were the Creeks driven out of Tennessee . . .  as contemporary Cherokee websites would have you believe. What did happen, though, was that after the massacre of “some village” named Choestoa, the Uchee went on the warpath, attacking English traders, who passed through their lands and also massacring several Cherokee villages in northeastern Tennessee.  The Carolina fur and deerskin trade was being disrupted.  Long and Wiggins were arrested then brought to trial.  The court proceedings became the first Carolina colonial government archive to mention the Cherokees in northeastern Tennessee.

Twentieth century and twenty-first century academicians have written several professional papers on this incident . . . all produced in the fog of total ignorance of the Uchee and Creek languages, plus historical maps.  They pondered why the Uchees would “give a Cherokee name to one of their towns.”  <Rolling in the floor laughing>

It never dawned on any of these astute scholars that the incident could not have possibly occurred in east central Tennessee in 1713, because the Cherokees were nowhere around. It was the French, who had a trading post on the Tennessee River.  At that time, without the aid of white men, the Cherokees generally got their tails whipped by Uchee war parties.  Cherokee villages did not have fortifications like Uchee and Creek towns.

Then I came upon astounding information.  Wiggins and Long operated a “factory” or trading post at Conasi (Quanasse in Cherokee).  That is where Hayesville, NC is located today.  The Choestoa that they got revenge on was either in Towns County or Union County, GA.  To this day, the southern end of Union County is occupied by the Choestoe Community.  However, a large, fortified Upper Creek town remained at the confluence of Coosa Creek and the Nottely River in present day Blairsville, GA until the 1780s or later.  In fact, there are STILL Upper Creek descendants living in Union County. 

Lie No. 3 – Much of what Wikipedia tells you

There is so much malarkey in Wikipedia on the Uchee, we will just have to color the letters. Red means a bald-faced line. Magenta means a either a partial fib or something that is just dumb.  I have no idea where these white academicians get many of these ridiculous statements, such as the meaning of the word, Yuchi.

“Uchee Town is named after the nearby Uchee Creek, which in turn is named for the Yuchi tribe. The word “yuchi” probably means “at a distance” in the Yuchi language, with yu meaning “at a distance” and chi meaning “sitting down”. The Yuchi lived in the area around present day Russell County, Alabama and Fort Benning, Georgia, before being removed to the Indian Territory. The Uchee Methodist Church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A post office was operated in Uchee from 1835 to 1907.”

“The next phase of occupation was by the Yuchi and would continue until their removal to Indian Territory in 1836. The Yuchi constantly shifted their alliances with various European powers. They had occupied the Savannah River valley until they were defeated by the Cherokee in 1681, then the Ocmulgee River valley until 1716. After this they occupied the area surrounding the Chattahoochee River and this is when they founded Yuchi Town. It is the largest known historic village site associated with the Yuchi.  They were ultimately displaced by the expanding frontier of the United States.  No Uchees still remain in the Southeastern United States.”

Mouse Creek villages were entirely different than Uchee villages, which were round and had round buildings.

Lie No. 4 – The Yuchis are the same people as the Chiska and the Mouse Creek Culture in Tennessee.

In the early 1900s,  Smithsonian Institute ethnologist, John R. Swanton, speculated in one book that the Uchees were the same people as the Chiska, mentioned by the Hernando de Soto Expedition.  He had no justification for this speculation.  The chronicles of the De Soto and Pardo Expeditions describe the Uchees and Chiskas as being two different tribes.  The Chiskas were Panoan-speaking immigrants from Peru.  The main body of Chiskas still live in Satipo Province, Peru.    Juan Pardo visited a town in eastern Tennessee, named Satipo. 

During the 1980s, the professors on the Hernando de Soto Route Study retold the speculation about the Uchees and Chiska being the same . . . perhaps presenting it as a probable rather than speculation . . . but not a fact.  However, in his book, Soldiers of the Cross, Warriors of the Sun,  University of North Carolina graduate, Charles Hudson, presented this myth as a long-accepted fact.  Since then all references state as a fact and Hudson’s opinion as the authority on the matter.  Nope, it’s a lie.

Between the late 1940s and 1970s,  archaeologists from the University of Tennessee, funded by the Tennessee Valley Authority, found a series of twin towns along the upper Tennessee River.  The same phenomenon is seen in Northwest Georgia along the Coosawattee and Coosa Rivers.  Actually, the same situation exists in the Nacoochee Valley in Northeast Georgia.  They labeled the ones with ceremonial mounds, the Dallas Culture and the ones without mounds, the Mouse Creek Culture.  These towns had similar pottery and houses, but not quite the same.  Never having dated a Creek Indian or had one as a guest in their home, they assumed that we were extinct . . . or at least, ignorant peons.  So the Tennessee professors dreamed up an interpretation that the Dallas Culture was composed of Creek Indians and the Mouse Creek Culture was composed of Uchee.  Forty years later, that speculation is taught as a fact to Tennessee students and all anthropology students in universities around the nation.  In fact, it is yet another lie.

You see, the Creek Migration Legend specifically addresses the existence of twin towns in Tennessee.  It says that in what is now Tennessee, Alabama and North Georgia, whenever possible, the Chickasaws and Custate-Creeks built their towns side-by-side.  The Cusate were mound-builders, the Chickasaw spoke a similar language, but did not build large mounds.  Now, along the Savannah River,  the Oconee Creeks and Apalache Creeks did cluster their towns.   Creek towns were fortified and contained large mounds.  The Uchee mainly lived in small villages and farmsteads.  However, the architecture of the Creeks and Uchee was very different. 

Now you know!

 

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.

8 Comments

  1. Wrapscallionn@gmail.com'

    I know a man who was taught a type of Muscogee language, but we cant confirm which one it is. One interesting thing is, the Yellow Water River of Santa Rosa county, FL was called ” Oyuva Lave ” on an early Pensacola Harbor map. I know this area was where some Yuchi lived, and i think those were Yuchi words, because this older man recognized them immediately. He is from the Perdido River Area, an area you probably know of.

    Reply
    • Matt, I am fairly certain that is not one of the current Muskogean languages. Neither word appears in either my Muskogee or Miccosukee dictionary. Surviving Florida Apalachee settled in Pensacola. It may be their Peruvian Arawak language. We still don’t have a Uchee dictionary so there is no way to compare the words to Uchee. The Muscogee Creek Nation gave over $600,000 to the University of Oklahoma for a Uchee Dictionary and got next to nothing.

      Reply
  2. brady.essary@gmail.com'

    Richard,

    Would you be willing to contact me about visiting the Track Rock site?

    Reply
    • Brady, I really damaged my legs in November and can’t do any serious climbing for awhile. Only about 50 feet from my house, my legs fell through a animal den and my knees hit a rock, while my head slammed in to a stump. If you have any questions, contact us at PeopleOfOneFire@aol.com

      Reply
  3. shannoneileen@gmail.com'

    I enjoy your writing style! I have the book Yuchi Indian Histories Before the Removal Era edited by Jason Baird Jackson. Have you heard of it? Do you believe it to be accurate?

    Reply
    • I have not heard of the book, but I have found all books by Creeks and Yuchi authors to be accurate. Neither the Creeks or Yuchi are inclined to create fairy tales about our past.

      Reply
      • shannoneileen@gmail.com'

        Thank you. 🙂 I’ve noticed that you have posted meaningful content since this post that I would like to study. I am trying to catch up because this knowledge means a lot to me, but Grad school and family obligations have me burning the candle at both ends. I would also like to contribute to your independent study because I know how hard it is to write a grant proposal (me <— currently) and I love the fact that you will not bend to the powers that be because you are in search of truth alone. As soon as I am able, I will. You are appreciated.

        Reply

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