Select Page

Many Southeastern Native Americans were never “federally recognized”

Many Southeastern Native Americans were never “federally recognized”


Above:  Until the mid-twentieth century, most Southern states forbade American Indians from attending public schools. The laws did not differ between tribal affiliations or non-affiliation.  The only formal education that the author’s grandmother had was at a school in the basement of a Methodist church near the Savannah River.  Grades 1-8 were taught simultaneously by the church’s minister.

There is pervasive myth being spread by text message generation journalists and especially in online media catering to Native Americans that one is not of Native American descent unless one is a member of a federally-recognized tribe.  Many bloggers from west of the Mississippi in federally recognized tribes sarcastically call any small southern tribe, which seeks state or federal recognition . . . wannabe’s.  They are  WRONG! The true history of the region is oh so different. 

There were dozens of small tribes in the Southeast that never fought a war against the United States and therefore never signed a peace treaty.  It seems that the primary criteria for being considered a Native American today is having ancestors, whose had land desired by plantation owners or who fought a war against the United States after its creation in the 1780s. 


Take a look at 17th century and early 18th century maps of what is now the Southeastern United States.  There were hundreds of distinct tribes originally living in the region. Then look above at a map of the Southeastern United States from 1800.  It mentions four tribes in bold letters (Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek  and Cherokee) and three tribes in regular typeface (Akansas, Chitimacha and Catawba).  In 1800, the Seminoles were not recognized as a separate tribe.   Today there are three large Federally-recognized reservations in the Southeast:  Choctaw (Mississippi), Cherokee (North Carolina) and Seminole (Florida).  There are five minuscule federally recognized reservations in the region: Poarch Creek (Alabama), Catawba (South Carolina),  Miccosukee (Florida), Chitimacha (Louisiana), Coushetta (Louisiana), Jena-Choctaw (Louisiana) and Tunica-Biloxi (Louisiana).   One Southeastern tribe is now entirely in Oklahoma . . . the Chickasaw . . . but what happened to all all the other tribes?

Hundreds of Southeastern tribes are no longer recognized by the federal government as existing, but we will look at the fate of seven Southeastern tribes that typify the fate of the other tribes.   Most of the indigenous tribes of Florida were made extinct by Spanish oppression, European diseases and British-sponsored slave raids. Most of the tribes in South Carolina shrank to such small numbers that their few survivors disappeared into the European and African majority populations.

YuchiFamilyUchee:  Uchee villages could formerly be found all over the Southeast, but their greatest concentrations of villages were along the Ogeechee and Savannah Rivers, plus in southeastern Tennessee.  The Uchees never fought a war against Great Britain or the United States, therefore there were no treaties between the Uchees and these governments.   The Uchees fought on the side of the United States in the Red Stick War.  However, even before then federal and state politicians considered them to be an exotic branch of the Creeks. 

One branch of the Uchee lived in traditional villages within the rugged Cohutta Mountains of North Georgia until at least World War I.  They picked up cash income by hauling firewood and provisions to copper smelters in Copper Hill, Tennessee.  When the US government purchased most of the Cohuttas to become a national forest in the 1920s and 1930s, it is believed that most of the Uchee’s living there moved to the Snowbird Cherokee Reservation. However, some dispersed into other parts of Georgia and Tennessee.

Those Uchee, who refused to relocate from the Savannah River basin to the Creek Nation typically disappeared into small, remote hamlets of eastern Georgia or southern South Carolina, often intermarrying with other races.   Those on the Chattahoochee River and northwest Florida shared the fates of their Creek and Seminole neighbors.  Today, even those Uchees in Oklahoma and along the Savannah River, who are almost fullblood Native Americans are frustrated with their attempts to obtain separate federal recognition, because the United States government never signed a treaty with a Uchee tribe.

ShawneegirlSavano or Southern Shawnee:  In 1705, a French map of North America labeled what is now western North Carolina as “The Nation of Shawnees.”   There was a very large Shawnee town where Biltmore Village is now located in Asheville, NC until 1763.  However, the Savano were quickly forced out of most of North Carolina,  west of Buncombe County, by the Cherokees.  Some Savanos fled southward and gave the Savannah River its name.  Other Savanos joined the Creeks on the Chattahoochee River, moved to northeast Alabama or even settled in northern Florida, where they gave the Suwannee River its name.

Unlike the Uchee, the separate ethnic identity of the Savano has completely disappeared.   Because of their chronic attacks against white settlements in Virginia and Maryland between 1754 and 1814,  the Northern Shawnees were thoroughly hated in Washington, DC.  Surviving Shawnees in the mountains of Alabama, North Carolina, Kentucky and West Virginia thought it wise to keep a very low profile.   After 1814, most Savanos in the Southeast called themselves either Creek or Seminole . . . even if they remained in the Southeast after the majority of Creeks and Seminoles were forced to the Indian Territory. 


Pernell Roberts

South Georgia Swamp Creeks:   Many Hitchiti-speaking Creeks in South Georgia did not move westward, when the Creek Confederacy sold their lands, because they did not recognize the authority of the Muskogee-dominated confederacy.  Even though they were theoretically citizens of the State of Georgia, many Hitchiti Creeks on Altamaha River were captured by federal troops in 1843 and marched in chains to Fort Mitchell, then transported to the Indian Territory.  Those that remained in the swampy, unclaimed river bottoms of South Georgia rivers and the Okefenokee Swamp established an important economic role as the intermediaries between the white-owned plantations or turpentine operations and African-American laborers.  Creeks in this region often were the foremen for labor gangs of blacks, before and after the Civil War.  They chopped the wood for steamboats, supervised laborers tapping pine trees for rosin, plus raised livestock and vegetables to sell in towns.  In the region around Waycross, GA they were called “Ware County Indians” or “Swamp Rats.”

The situation changed radically in the 1890s, when Northern timber companies and capitalists began seizing vast tracts of land along South Georgia rivers and eventually the entire Okefenokee Swamp.  These were areas, thinly occupied by Swamp Creeks, in which land ownership was poorly documented.  The Swamp Creeks often had never obtained title to their soggy land because no one wanted it. 

Northern lawyers filed quit claim deeds for hundreds of thousands of acres a time.  Along the Altamaha River, one powerful New York family even created new counties with their stooges appointed as sheriffs, county commissioners and mayors.  The Swamp Creeks didn’t stand a chance legally and were soon dispersed into a wide region of the Lower Southeast.   Some were able to reestablish themselves as whites with black hair and tan skin.  No one knows where the others went. 

Actor Pernell Roberts (Adam Cartwright in the hit TV series, Bonanza) from Waycross, GA was secretly a Swamp Creek.  While concealing his Creek heritage to avoid type-casting, throughout his life he quietly assisted Native American causes and put many Native American youth through college.

SaponiLadySaponi, Tutelo, Oconeechi or  Eastern Blackfoot:  Perhaps a hundred thousand or more United States citizens have at least some Saponi ancestry . . . maybe many more.  It was once a very large, powerful alliance of Siouan and Muskogean remnant tribes in southern Virginia and north-central North Carolina. Oconeechi is a Creek word.  They are a favorite target of wannabe rants by western Indians, who don’t realize that there was a very large Blackfoot tribe in the East.  In fact, there were originally far more Blackfoot in Virginia and North Carolina than ever lived in the West.  They were an entirely different ethnic group, however.

The Blackfoot never fought a war against the Great Britain or the United States.  They signed a few treaties with the Commonwealth of Virgina very early in its history.  However, they were decimated by the double whammy of European diseases and catastrophic slave raids by the Rickohockens and Cherokees.  The survivors found it wiser to keep a low profile and move to safer locales.  Many individual Saponi families ended up on remote farms in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Some Melungeon families trace their heritage to the Eastern Blackfoot.

Some Saponi descendants still live in their homeland and they are organized into state-recognized tribes.  As can be seen above, they are REAL Native Americans and do not deserve the verbal abuse that they receive from federally-recognized tribal members. 

ItzaMaya-LakeAtitlanUpland Creeks of Georgia and South Carolina:  Among many academicians and the general public there is a belief that all Creeks are Muskogee Creeks and that all “real Creeks” either moved to Oklahoma or Florida.  Those in Florida all became Seminoles in this belief system.  First of all there are many Creek descendants in northern Florida, who do not consider themselves Seminoles.  Their ancestors, who came from Alabama and western Georgia, spoke Muskogee, not Hitchiti.   However, there is also a large population of Creek descendants elsewhere, whose ancestors spoke either Hitchiti or Cusabo.   Their homelands are in northeastern Georgia, the southern coast of South Carolina  and the northern half of South Carolina.

Mayan Elder MamaThe Creeks in North Georgia, Eastern Georgia and Northern South Carolina were traditional enemies of the Koweta and Tuckabachee Creeks.  There is a reason why Cherokees say that the Lower Cherokee language is extinct, while Georgia Creeks have no trouble translating all “Lower Cherokee” words.  That’s because the eight towns of the Tamasee Alliance, who eventually joined the Cherokee alliance were Creeks . . . originally colonies of Creek towns in Georgia or elsewhere in South Carolina.  Most of the other Creeks in eastern Georgia and South Carolina eventually joined the newest version of the Creek Confederacy in 1717, when it was sponsored by Koweta. 


Bubba Mountain Lion at 17

After a mixed blood Tory officer, Alexander McGillivray, made himself Principal Chief during the American Revolution and moved the capital to Pensacola, there was anger among pro-Patriot branches of the Creeks in eastern Georgia and South Carolina.  That turned into outrage, when throughout the 1780s and early 1790s,  McGillivray launched repeated attacks by the Upper Creeks against Hitchiti-speaking Creeks in Northeast Georgia. There are several accounts of whites and Hitchiti Creeks fighting from the same forts.

Most of these estranged Creeks left the Creek Confederacy and never went back.  Approximately,  20,000 Creeks stayed in Georgia and South Carolina, when all Creek Confederacy lands in Georgia were ceded.   Until the middle 20th century, the Upland Creeks of Northeast Georgia and South Carolina often married among themselves, but went to distant towns to find mates, so they would not be related.  However, since World War II,  there has been very little, if any, stigma attached to marriage between other races and the Creeks . . . other than the newest generation of Creeks tend to be better educated than others.   So in each generation the differences in physical features with their neighbors is decreasing.

Moundville Native American Festival, Fall 2005MOWA Choctaws:  The MOWA Choctaws are descended from Choctaw families in Alabama, who refused to immigrate to the Indian Territory in 1832, but instead accepted allotments in southwestern Alabama.  Ethnically, they are no different than those Choctaws in the federally recognized Mississippi Choctaw Reservation.  Citizens of both tribes are typically today, bi-racial or tri-racial.   However, the difference is that Alabama politicians once made a big deal out of the partial African ancestry of many MOWA Choctaws, while Mississippi politicians didn’t seem to care.  The Choctaws, who stayed behind in Mississippi and Alabama, played the same economic role that the Swamp Creeks played in Southeast Georgia.  There is really no justification for the MOWA Choctaws being denied federal recognition . . . but there is a reason . . . gambling casinos.

The North Carolina Cherokees spend large sums of money each year on lawyers and lobbyists, whose jobs are to stop the proliferation of gambling casinos in the Southeast.  They are directly behind the obstruction of efforts by the federally recognized Catawba Nation to build a casino and frustrated efforts over the past fifty years for the largest Indian tribe east of the Mississippi, the Lumbee Nation of North Carolina, to achieve federal recognition.  The Lumbee Nation has over 55,000 members and the tribe has always been located in the same area of North and South Carolina since the late 1500s.

A young Lumbee man. The BIA refuses to recognize him and his kin!

A young Lumbee man. The BIA refuses to recognize him and his kin!

When the MOWA Choctaws first began attempting to be recognized by Congress, all manner of subtle racial slurs were thrown into the battle to stop the process.  Most did not NOT originate from white Alabamans, who continue to support something that should have been done a long time ago.  No, the rumors that the MOWA’s were really Africans, not mostly Native American,  came from the Cherokees.  Yes, that is the same tribe, which averages 0-2% Native American DNA.  

In the case of the MOWA Choctaws, they have two more enemies blocking federal recognition.  They are their kin to the west, the Mississippi Choctaws and their neighbors to the south, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.  A MOWA-Choctaw casino could potentially reduce gambling revenue for both tribes. 

Georgia will soon be approving a billion dollar casino wonderland in Downtown Atlanta and seven $250 million casinos at strategic locations on its interstate highway system.  When those monsters are completed, the Native American casinos in the Southeast will be marketing themselves as ideal locations for auto shows, bridal showers and weddings.

That’s the reason that this article was placed in the Humor section of the People of One Fire.


The following two tabs change content below.
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.



    Grandmother told me some things about our Indian heritage, including that there were many, many tribes and our tribe became part of another tribe after all the wars and disease. She said it in such a hushed and painful manner that I always knew it was very bad. Maybe they were mostly killed or enlaved. When I ask my mother (age 89) about our tribe she quietly tells me to “Just say Cherokee.” She has the same pained look on her face as Grandmother. When I saw her most recently I asked why she or Grandmother wouldn’t tell us more. She said “there are some things that are best left in the past.” I’ve always been confused and I know I’m not part Cherokee. My mother is the last of her generation and it seems that part of our family history dies with her. But I’m still proud of who I am! ZAX

  2. I grew up always puzzled why we were Creeks and celebrated the Green Corn Festival, yet the bad guys were the Muskogees . . . but the Cherokees and Iroquois were rarely mentioned. My grandmother always said that there were whites living in the mountains at least a hundred years before there was anything such as a Cherokee. I didn’t understand what she meant then, but now I do. ZAX


    RIchard, you have written so many things that validate what my grandmother said. I was always curious but very confused because so little, or just the opposite was in our history classes, books, TV or movies, and I wondered why. She also said there were “whites” living in the mountains long, long ago. My mother said that she meant before Columbus arrived and that it was absolutely true. A few weeks ago I traveled to Kentucky to see her in her assisted living home and I told her about you and your research. Her response, “I told you so.” Grandmother and my mother were/are intelligent, educated women and neither was big on exaggerating anything. If they said it, then we’ve always known they were serious. “Nobody’s fool.”


    Richard, I’m starting to think that the “Yuchi /Yuchis” are the people that are mentioned by Desoto’s men that were living in South Carolina in 1540? Their name for their Nation “Tsoyaha” or “Children of the Sun” seems to fit with some of the sounds of “Yucaha” the city that was noted by “A GENTLEMAN OF ELVAS in 1557, one of the men that traveled with Desoto army. They also had at least some cities in Tennessee one being “Chiha” and as you have noted were salt trading cites.
    Their history story likely connects them with Europe long ago and as stated by the Apalacha nobles they arrived from the North perhaps the “Cofitahchi” (mixed people) and some later became known as the “Carribs” who both were known as great warrior peoples. Round houses are common with the Celtic peoples of “Air land” (Ireland) of the Scottish peoples and also connects with the sounds of “Duhare” people that lived in North Carolina and were discovered by the Spanish in 1521.
    Well designed cities with walls and round houses were noted being built by the Yuchi in Georgia, Tenn., S.C and of course among the Nations the lore of tall whites with red / auburn hair living in the Americas (Ha-vilah) seems to fit as well. That would help explain the DNA mixtures of the Cherokees, Shawnee, Yuchi’s peoples that were all noted as taller and more lighter skin tone than many of the other Nations East of the Mississippi river by the 1600-1700’s.
    When the Kingdom of the Apalacha fell in the early 1700’s created by the slave trade of the Dutch, Spanish and English merchant families many of the Celtic peoples (700-1200’s) had already been rounded up and sold off in the 1500’s. Why would Desoto drive 300 hogs to Georgia and South Carolina, North Carolina and not let his men eat them? They were meant to spread infectious plagues to the Natives and Celtic peoples of Europe living in the South East US.

    • The Uchees were definitely living in South Carolina and Georgia in 1540. They occupied the region between the Ogeechee River in Georgia and Port Royal Sound. However, round houses are common all over the world, particularly in western South America. Full-blooded Uchees are not light skinned, but typically darker than Creeks. There is a lot of variation in skin pigments in the Americas. I have noticed several Amazonian tribes that are lighter skinned than me, and I am 3/4th Viking. LOL


        Richard, The Creeks (made up of many ancient peoples of Georgia, Alabama (Alba-ma) and some that migrated from Peru, Mexico, The Seminoles (a nation of the Yamasees (I-am-ma), Yuchis, Maya (Mais), were not all of darker skin tone. The same can be said also of the Cherokee peoples. The French and Spanish report of the people of Georgia, Alabama in the 1500’s were a tall people (some chiefs over 7 feet). I have seen Maya artwork that reports people living in Maya Mexico in the 800’s that were dark, tan and white skin tone peoples. Yes there were sea peoples that could build boats and made it here from across both oceans. I don’t believe in a thesis of Mammoths crossing the North pole but I do still believe in St. Nick.


    Mark and Richard,

    Could “Tsoyaha” – “Children of the sun” be linked to the Sámi people and the Sámi mythology?

    Here is a wikipedia article about the “official” Sámi flag:

    Children of the Sun
    Sámi drum with sun-moon symbol

    The motif was chosen with the poem “Päiven parneh” (“Sons of the Sun”) in mind. The poem was written down by the South Sámi Protestant priest Anders Fjellner (1795-1876), from a joik heavy in elements from Sámi mythology. The poem describes the Sámi as “sons and daughters of the sun”, through the union between a female “giant” (an unidentified mythological entity) who lives in a “House of Death” far in the North, and the Sun’s male offspring with whom she elopes. The Sámi are also referred to as “offspring of the Sons of the Sun” in the Sámi national anthem.

    Sami flag:

    In doing more research on the Sámi people I also found some interesting info:
    Akka-goddesses in Sami mythology.
    Maderakka (Mattarakka) was the tribal mother, ancestral mother the first akka and one of her three daughters is named Sarakka.
    Example picture; The bottom depiction of the three daughters from left to right: Juksakka (with bow), Uksakka, Sarakka.

    Could the Sámi goddess “Sarakka” be linked to one of the place- or tribe names similar to Cherokee?

    More interesting Sámi pictures (pictogrames etc.) can be found in the following link:

    • Oh yes! Uchee’s are showing up with Saami DNA test markers.


    AND those same Saami DNA test markers are also found in the original inhabitants of southwest Ireland and the Basque. All of which only adds to the original migration legend of the Uchee who came from the place of the sun. As you also know, Richard, many Uchee also carry the Panoan marker (Peru). The Uchee are some of the most genetically “interesting” of all the Native American peoples. My own DNA is mixture that includes “Native American” (whatever that means), the Saami marker, the Panoan marker and even a Maori marker. All of that along with a heavy dose of Northern European DNA. Our ancestors were truly world travelers. The widely held belief that ancient peoples were limited in their ability to travel vast distances and slowly migrated around the world is not holding up to recent historical discoveries and DNA testing.

    • I did NOT know that the Uchee carried the Panoan DNA marker. That is very significant because the Highland Apalache (Panoan) Migration Legend says that they came from the south and established their first capital where Downtown Savannah is today. The Uchee Migration Legend also has them arriving in the Savannah Area, but from across the Atlantic and much earlier. Very interesting.


    In my previous comment, I stated that my “own DNA is mixture that includes “Native American” (whatever that means).” I wanted to clarify that current DNA testing that reveals Native American ancestry is limited in the number of tribal markers. To have DNA that reveals Native American ancestry does show a linkage but may not show all of the Native American DNA linkages.


    I need to make an additional correction to my original statement:
    After further research to verify a statement I read in an article regarding Uchee DNA markers, I found that the supposed link between Uchee and Panoan markers has NOT been scientifically verified. Therefore, I need to retract my statement that “many Uchee also carry the Panoan” marker. I sincerely apologize for this critical error on my part. A good lesson in why we need to insure that our statements carry appropriate scientific proofs.
    POOF is a site for information sharing that stimulates cultural exchange and furthers research into our past. It is not a source of speculation and unfounded statements.


    In my research on the Uchee (Yuchi) and the possible Sámi (Saami) relation and origin, I have tried to find linguistic similarities and have done intensive research in various vocabularies with interesting results.
    Although many might think my findings are too far fetched; I present part of my research and theory.

    The following word set (word list) is taken from a website:

    Note: Since I’m not a Uchee (Yuchi / Tsoyaha) and not an expert in the Uchee language; I can’t judge if the given Yuchi words are correct.

    Word comparison between Yuchi and Sámi (Saami):

    English – Yuchi – Sámi

    One – ‘Saòh – okta
    Two – ‘Nowah – Guokte, Doai, Moai
    Three – ‘Nokah – Golbma
    Four – Ptachthklah – Nelj, Nielj
    Five – Ptchichwacha – Vihtta
    Man – Koeetah – Olmmái
    Woman – Waneetah – Niezan, Nieddaš
    Sun – ‘Ptso – Päi’vee, Piejv
    Moon – Shafah – mánnu
    Water – ‘Tsach – cháhci

    Additional info Sámi words:

    Guokte means “two”
    Doai means “you” (plural); “you two”
    Moai means “we”, “we two”

    Niezan means “woman”
    Nieddaš means “young woman”

    Word comparison between Yuchi and Austronesian:

    English – Yuchi – Austronesian

    One – ‘Saòh – Esa
    Two – ‘nowah – Nua
    Woman – Waneetah – Wawina (Wanita; Vanita?)
    Water – ‘Tsach – Tacik

    (English – Yuchi)

    “one” – “‘Saòh”:

    Western Malayo-Polynesian / WMP:
    Malay: esa
    Sundanese: esa

    Central Malayo-Polynesian / CMP:
    Rotinese: esa
    Yamdena: sa-
    Proto-Ambon: esa

    Tongan: ha
    Samoan: se
    Maori: he

    “two” – “‘Nowah”:

    Western Malayo-Polynesian / WMP:
    Yami: doa
    Mansaka: dowa
    Palawan Batak: duwá
    Malay: dua

    Central Malayo-Polynesian / CMP:
    Rotinese: dua
    Komodo: rua
    Asilulu: lua
    Atoni: nua

    Maori: rua
    Hawaiian: lua

    Mekeo: nua

    “woman” – “Waneetah”:

    Western Malayo-Polynesian / WMP:
    Malay: wanita (loan from Sanskrit: vanita; meaning woman, graceful lady)

    Tolai: wawina
    Tongan: fefine
    Samoan: fafine
    Maori: wahine
    Hawaiian: ,,

    “water” – “‘Tsach”:

    Western Malayo-Polynesian / WMP:
    Tagalog: tásik (saltwater)
    Malay: tasek (lake)
    Ma’anyan: tahik (sea, ocean)

    Central Malayo-Polynesian / CMP:
    Manggarai: tacik (sea)
    Lamaholot: tahik (sea, saltwater)
    Yamdena: tasik (saltwater, sea)

    Fijian: taci (the sea)
    Tongan: tahi (sea, sea-water)
    Samoan: tai (tide)
    Maori: tai (the sea)
    Hawaiian: kai (sea, sea-water)

    In this comparative word list you can see that the Yuchi, Sámi and even Austronesian languages have atleast three and maybe four words similar with eachother;

    Austronesian – Sámi – Yuchi – English

    Esa – Okta – ‘Saòh – One
    Nua – Moai – ‘Nowah – Two
    Wawina – Nieddaš – Waneetah – Woman
    Tacik – cháhci – ‘Tsach – Water (Sea?)

    The Yuchi word “‘Saòh” and the Sámi word “Okta” might not look similar at first sight but perhaps over time the word “‘saòh” was switched around. “‘Saòh” could have been “òh’sa” which makes it sound more similar to “okta” (ok’ta). The Austronesian “Esa” (E’sa) is also very similar. In many Austronesian languages / dialects the e is deleted. Other Austronesian words for “one” are: “Sa”, “Sane” (sa’ne), “Satu” (sa’tu), “Tahi” (ta-hi), “Kahi” (ka-hi).

    The Yuchi word Waneetah meaning “woman” seems to be related to the Sámi word Nieddaš; wa-neetah was perhaps wa-nieddaš (wa-Niettaš?); but also is very similar to the Malay word Wanita which is a loan from Sanskrit Vanita meaning “woman”, “graceful lady”.
    The peculiar word “waneetah” and the similarity with “nieddaš” and “wanita”; “vanita” makes one wonder if the Sámi language is actually directly related to sanskrit like Proto-Indo-European languages are related to sanskrit. Or perhaps the word waneetah is a loan via the seafaring Malay Austronesians who many practiced the Hindu religion at one point in time. The Malay-Austronesians did sailed the Indian Ocean; trading with Hindus in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Southern India; as far as East Africa (Madagascar, Comoro Islands). In theory the Malay-Austronesians could also have reached the westcoast of America; perhaps around Meso-America, Central America and influenced certain words in daily speech of the natives, from there on (perhaps others; Meso-American, Central American natives) introduced the word to the Yuchi.

    A surprising similar word to the Sámi word “Olmmái” meaning man (male) can be found in the Central Malayo-Polynesian Buru dialect in Island Southeast Asia; “umlanai” meaning “man”, “husband”.
    All the similarities with Austronesian words could be coincidence (by chance; a separate development), yet nobody can deny the great achievments of the Austronesians as one of the greatest seafarers in the world.


    Online English – Saami dictionary:

    Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database

    Malay Archipelago – 1869 – by Alfred Russel Wallace

    This is my theory, research and should NOT be taken as fact until proven.


      I had asked once about the frequency of the name “Juanita” among Eastern Cherokee, and was told it was a replacement for the Cherokee name “Awanita”, meaning a baby fawn. By adopting the Spanish spelling, they were less likely to be asked about pronunciation as frequently. The root awi is deer. That does not exclude the Uchee source, or the others – a deer is certainly graceful!


        Brian Wilkes, Thank you for your comment and information. Language is always in motion. Depending on how much one is exposed to other cultures; it can change slowly; adopting few words or change very rapidly. Since the Uchee (Yuchi) were traders I think they might have a mixed language.
        A good example would be a big (Capital-) city – Seaport. There you have many nationalities and cultures living together. Many communities; Spanish, Portugese, Russian, Hindi, Chinese, English, French etc.; communicate in their own language.
        When these different communities have to communicate with eachother they will mostlikely try to speak in one language; English for example. Many are not familiar with certain English words and will use words from their own to express themselfs. Eventually the languages will mix into one which all communities will understand; a Creole language.
        In the Caribbean you have Creole languages such as Papiamento, spoken in Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao which shows influences by indigenous languages, Spanish, Portugese and Dutch.
        In Jamaica you have Patois or Patwa which shows influences by Spanish, Portugese, Hindi, Arawak, African languages and Irish.
        Having said that; it’s very surprising to find what seems to be a possible Austronesian link with the Uchee (Yuchi) and Sámi (Saami) languages. At the moment I am actually doing more research on it and finding more word similarties which I will share for anyone who is interested.

        In case of the Uchee (Yuchi) word “waneetah” meaning “woman”;

        The Uchee seemingly have the mtDNA V marker. The highest concentration mtDNA V can be found among the Saami people of northern Scandinavia; upto ~59%.
        This mtDNA V is believed to have originated around 9,800 years ago in the Near East; which is now known as the Middle-East or West Asia. Therefor we have to look in the Middle-East first for a possible origin of the word “waneetah”.
        In Sanskrit you have the word “vanita” meaning “woman”; “graceful lady”/”loved wife”. In Avestan; an East Iranian language; you have the name Anita; a short form for Anahita, the Irianian water goddess. In Hebrew, Anita derives from the name Hannah, which means grace or graceful which has more or less the same meaning as the Sanskrit “vanita”.
        These three examples come from languages that are in the same region or atleast bordering the region where mtDNA V is believed to have originated.
        The question is; Is the word “waneetah” native to the Uchee or did they adopted the word from one of the later Middle-Eastern (Caucasus?) settlers?

        Note: Haplotype V has also been found in Iberia (Basques) and Northern Africa.


    Very good paper. I’m Lumbee/Cheraw and I am well aware of groups like the Cherokee Identity Task Force at work to block recognition of non-federal tribes.

    • Thank you for your comment. Many people in the Southeast think that it is outrageous how the federal government has treated the Lumbee People. There are blue-eyed blonds owning Native American casinos in the Northeast and Midwest, yet the Feds refuse to recognize the Lumbees.


    Fascinating! My ancestors were Croatoans. That community also never signed a treaty (to my knowledge), and doesn’t exist to the feds. Leaving their home area in the late 1700’s, one group went in with the Lumbee, and another went in with the Cheraws in South Carolina. When my line moved to Georgia in the early 1800’s, the Georgians identified them as Cheraw, and in a short time that word was confused with Cherokee. The words passed down in the family seems to be Hitchiti, according to one Creek linguist. I remember the stories of the Moon-Faced People and the redheaded giants who lived in the Southeast before Columbus. There were also stories in NC, OK and Peru about continuing contact into the early 19th century.

    When the casino boom began, the CNO joke was “Build them large enough to be factories after the feds take casinos away from us.”

    Thank you for all your work!




    Also don’t forget the large element of actual wannabees for exist also not everyone is an Indian,the Lumbee are the largest wannabee tribe of individuals that we re never tribal and has no language or Indian customs and no Indian DNA to speak of …Allot of times it hard to go back after following a myth so long of Indian heritage but the truth is most are not native and never were.the Casinobloe financial gains are the motivation since there is no actual heritage or culture to preserve among the fake tribe known as Lumbees ,prominent researches dr.heinegg and demarche have researched the Lumbee core family s and found them to be mulattos of black and white ancestry not indians.

    • Okay . . . So how do you classify some of the most prominent Cherokee families in Oklahoma, who have turned out to have no indigenous DNA whatsoever. They were Scottish Jews, who became leaders of the tribe in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Before John Ross’s father sailed from Scotland to America, his last name was Rozanes.

      I know some Lumbees. They definitely have Native American ancestry. They have shovel teeth and eyefolds.


    Admixture washes out the dna over time. So people who were mixed in the 1700’s are already diluted. By the 20th century or lets just say Dawes 1900, there was a lot of admixture and family groups were dispersed. Many who registered even if they weren’t accepted were mixed populations showing 1/8, 1/16, 1/32. At those percents there would be no dna for people born in the last 50 years probably. The most likely possibility now for a full blood of a registered family on Dawes is 25 – 50 %. It’s really the law of averages.


    Sad thing is that some of those groups seeking recognition now would look to block others once they gained their own recognition. They already discriminate against people who are distantly removed from the home regions.


    My paternal ancestors came from South Carolina and my father told us that we were Native. He would always say that we were, “Blackfoot” My brother took a DNA test and the result was 100% Native from Columbia South America. I wonder if anyone knows how my ancestors wound up being slaves near Columbia South Carolina (Orangeburg County). Also what tribes would be in the area of the Ogeechee River area of South Carolina. I was also thinking that they could have been Seminoles who were enslaved and taken to South Carolina.

    This is an excellent and very informative article as many of my Virginia ancestors were Saponi Tuetalo and Wicomico, all small tribes that never received federal recognition.

    • Hey Anita
      You must be new to POOF. Last year, we ran a series of articles, which proved that the tribes in the Low Country of South Carolina were from South America. SO . . . that proves that your brother’s DNA test was accurate. The Uchee (Yuchi) lived on the Ogeechee River. Most of the tribes on the coast of Georgia were also from South America. For example, Osabaw Island is the Anglicization of a Peruvian word, Asibo, which means “Place of the Yaupon Holly.” Thanks for writing us.

      Richard T.


    There is also another truth and it has to do with tribal extinction concerning Southeastern woodlands people. The Congaree are not all extinct. Some never left the land. Some survived, one way or another, on the land. Some endured indenture on ancestral land. Some endured slavery in the Bluffs on ancestral land. Some of their living descendants understand that part of the Congaree and other woodland folk genocide was due to paper genocide — tribally erasing the people and labeling them as Free People of Color (FPOC) and backing that up in the earliest colonial Congressional Records, Annuals, etc and sealing them in the first census of 1790, which instructed census takers on how to report indigenous people in White Settlement. So now that they’re tribally erased and landless, the whites further marginalized them by racially reclassifying them as mulatto or black in the 1850 census and so on. This was the demise of many in Lower Richland and Lugoff SC and our early cemeteries are all classified as black cemeteries when I can assure you the opposite. You will find in the SE woodlands, from SC to NC to VA, many woodlands people who know the history better than most. We are still here. The descendants are still here of the Congaree.

    • And we are HAPPY that you are still here. Never forget your heritage and announce it proudly!

      Thank you for writing us.


    My grandmothers grandmother , half Lumbee ( one of the guys Poarch uses to determine their heritage was a Lumbee , so was his brother , my ancestor ) half Poarch ” Creek ” , looked almost exactly like the picture of one of thenoldernladies you have in this article. I am 6′ 3″ , had a cousin who was 6’10” , dark skin and dark straight hair , my son is about 1/4 Maumee ( a tribe also that is not supposed to exist ) . It’s just weird the way they do these things.


    There is pervasive myth being spread by text message generation journalists and especially in online media catering to Native Americans that one is not of Native American descent unless one is a member of a federally-recognized tribe. Many bloggers from west of the Mississippi in federally recognized tribes sarcastically call any small southern tribe, which seeks state or federal recognition . . . wannabe’s. They are WRONG! The true history of the region is oh so different. ”

    now as far as i know everything that befell the populations here on this continent all began back east. i feel robbed when full bloods from the midwest or any place west of the mississipi accuse me of being a wannabe or a fake or just someone who wishes they were native versus what i really am according to ancient spiritual law of the land . as if bia law regulation and blood quantum rules were the gospel for all. self appointed ambassadors and spokespersons for all indigenous peoples leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. the very first paragraph alone was enough for me so much so that i didnt need to finish it in order to have my own personal feelings validated


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to POOF via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this website and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 809 other subscribers

The Information World is changing!

People of One Fire needs your help to evolve with it.

We are now celebrating the 11th year of the People of One Fire. In that time, we have seen a radical change in the way people receive information. The magazine industry has almost died. Printed newspapers are on life support. Ezines, such as POOF, replaced printed books as the primary means to present new knowledge. Now the media is shifting to videos, animated films of ancient towns, Youtube and three dimensional holograph images.

During the past six years, a privately owned business has generously subsidized my research as I virtually traveled along the coast lines and rivers of the Southeast. That will end in December 2017. I desperately need to find a means to keep our research self-supporting with advertising from a broader range of viewers. Creation of animated architectural history films for POOF and a People of One Fire Youtube Channel appears to be the way. To do this I will need to acquire state-of-art software and video hardware, which I can not afford with my very limited income. Several of you know personally that I live a very modest lifestyle. If you can help with this endeavor, it will be greatly appreciated.

Support Us!

Richard Thornton . . . the truth is out there somewhere!

Pin It on Pinterest