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Where did the Uchee’s live?

Where did the Uchee’s live?


Part Five of the Series,  Southeast Georgia and the World of Pernell Roberts

This is a question, which is asked me regularly.  The confusion is directly the responsibility of the past two generations of academicians, who have not done their homework.  They just parrot each other’s speculations without studying our indigenous languages or the colonial archives . . . even at academic conferences devoted to the Uchee.  No one in academia seems to know that a host of indigenous ethnic names in the Lower Southeast mean “Water People.”

Any tribe in the Southeast, who had a “ree” or “lee” suffix at the end of their name can be assumed to be Uchee or to have originally contained a Uchee population component.  Most indigenous ethnic groups in the Lower Southeastern United States and eastern Peru roll their R’s so hard that they sound like L’s to English and French speakers. Panoans pronounce Peru as Pä : lú.  Explorers from Spain or Portugal typically recorded the sound as an R, since they also roll their R’s.   Thus, Chicora (16th century Spanish) was written as Chiquola by the 16th century French and Palachicola by 18th century English explorers.  The “Re” suffix is from Pre-Gaelic Ireland and Pre-Germanic Scandinavia.  It means “tribe or nation.”  “Ue” was the Pre-Gaelic word for water. 

Be wary of any Southeastern history article that mentions the Cherokees being in the Southern Appalachians before 1700.  During the past 40 years, academicians in North Carolina universities, the University of Georgia and the University of Tennessee inserted the word, Cherokee, in “modernized” colonial documents, where it didn’t exist.  They will also insert inaccurate speculations and treat them as facts.  In particular, they will have the Cherokees occupying the Tennessee River Valley in the 1600s.  As you can see in the Beresford Map below, at least as late as 1715, it was occupied by the Cusate Creeks and Uchee.   If challenged, the professors will quote one of their peers or professors and use that person’s speculations as factual proof.

The most common mistake is the presumption that Yuchi is the original name for these widely spread tribes and that they originated in eastern Tennessee.  Both statements are rooted in the fact that most of the academic papers, which mentioned the Uchee during the latter half of the 20th century merely replicated these inaccurate statements by Smithsonian ethnologist, John R. Swanton, without questioning them.  They were speaking from the throne of third hand information and armed with complete ignorance about the indigenous languages of the Southeast.  The “Yuchi” and “Yuchee” spelling of their name originated in the 1790s among frontiersmen in eastern Tennessee, but initial contact was made with the Uchee on the South Atlantic Coast during the early Colonial Period.  All Colonial documents call them the Uchee . . . which is the Anglicization of Uesi, a Creek word meaning “Water – Offspring from.” A Muskogean internal S is pronounced like “shē,”chē,” tshē or “jzhē” . . . depending on which Muskogean language it is.

Many references state matter-of-factly that the Ichesi, Chiska and Tamahiti (Tamahitan) were Uchee.  Books by North Carolina-educated authors state that the Chiska were Uchee and that the Tamahiti were Cherokees.  They were not. Ichesi is the Europeanization of Itza-si, which means “Itza-descendants of.”  The Chiska in the Southeast were immigrants from Peru, where the Chiska still live today.  The word is Panoan and means, “Bird.”   Most of the Chiska survivors in the Appalachians became the Cherokee Bird Clan, which is named the Chisqua.   Tamahi is a Totonac word that means, merchant.  It was borrowed by the Itza and Itsate Creeks.  Tamahiti is the Itza and Creek word for “merchant people.”  What happened was that in the early 20th century,  ethnologist John R. Swanton speculated that the Ichesi, Chiska and Tamahiti might be Uchee tribes, without knowing the meaning of the words.  Then, in several of his late 20th century books, Charles Hudson stated this speculation as a fact.  Thereafter, all of his worshipers in anthropology took his false statement as orthodoxy.

Example of extremely bogus history

I found this sentence in several Wikipedia articles:

The Yuchi occupied the Savannah River Valley until they were defeated by the Cherokee in 1681.”  

The oldest statement of this horse manure in a 1967 Cherokee history article by a North Carolina history professor. The article showed all of Georgia down to Savannah being Cherokee territory in 1733, when Savannah was settled.  However, the statement now appears in many anonymous Wikipedia articles and “Cherokee history” websites . . . except in the Cherokee websites it is stated “Cherokees capture all of Savannah River Valley from Yuchi’s in 1681!” 

The word Cherokee does not appear on any map until 1715.   Until that time, maps show western North Carolina occupied by the Shawnee and Itsate Creeks.  Uchees are shown on maps, living along several areas of the Savannah Basin until after the American Revolution.  In 1681, a band of Westo did capture a Uchee town, where Augusta, GA is now located.  The Westo settled there.  However, the Westo were not Cherokees and they did not capture all of the Savannah River Valley.  Nevertheless, until I filed a formal complaint with Wikipedia in 2018, its article on Tomochichi stated that he was a Cherokee chief of the powerful Yamacraw Band.   Actually, there were just 50 people living in his village and they were all Creeks!  LOL   Meanwhile,  there are several Cherokee history websites that label the Yamacraw a branch of the Cherokees.  They use Wikipedia as their source.


This is the appearance of “Ocute” when visited by De Soto. The town’s ruins are located in Hancock County, GA and called Shoulderbone Mounds.

Colonial Era contacts with the Uchee

(1) Hernando de Soto Expedition (March 1540):  The Spanish entered the province of the Water People (Okvte) after leaving the Ocmulgee Basin.  They were described as being very tall and wearing turbans.  The leaders wore beards, while the adult men wore mustaches.  One elderly leader had a beard that reached his belly button.  The Kingdom of Apalache was immediately north of Okvte, which the Spanish wrote down as Ocute.  Apalache was a no-go zone, so the Okvte hoodwinked the Spanish into turning eastward toward a town named, Kofitvcheki . . . an arch-enemy of the Okvte. It was located two days walk from the ocean.  The Spanish said that they followed the azimuth of the sunrise, which would have placed Kofitacheki at the Santee Mound on the Santee River in South Carolina.   South Carolina archaeologists labeled the Mulberry Mound on the Wataree River, about 140 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.  Reading comprehension is not mandatory for doctoral candidates in most anthropology programs in the Southeast.

The Muscogean-Itza elite of the Okvte lived in palisaded compounds, containing several mounds.  The Uchee commoners lived in family or extended farmsteads dispersed throughout the province.  Apparently, when an enemy approached the province, the commoners would flee (if possible) to the heavily fortified compounds, where the elite lived.   Archaeologists have found exactly the same pattern on the lower Savannah River. 

(2) Hernando de Soto Expedition (April 1540):  The next province reached by the conquistadors was Okesi, whose capital was called Cofeta (means mixed race in the Creek languages).  This has to be the large ruins of a town on the Ogeechee River in Taliaferro County, GA.  The entire Ogeechee River Basin as originally occupied by Uchee with a Muskogean or Itza elite . . . hence, the name of its capital.

(3) Hernando de Soto Expedition (June 1540):  While coming down out of the North Carolina Mountains, the expedition’s chronicles mentioned the Utsi (Uchee), but did not tell us much about them.

(4) First Jean Ribault Voyage (1562):  While establishing Charlesfort on Port Royal Sound, SC  the French made friends with the king of Owate (Ouada in French).  This Uchee province was located between Port Royal and the Savannah River and included Hilton Head and Kiawah Islands.   Owate means “Water People” in an Itsate-Creek dialect.  Their capital was located at the mounds now situated in the community of Okatie, SC . . . which means “Water People” in another Itsate Creek dialect.  The Kiawah or Kiale, an offshoot of the Okate on the Oconee River, developed their capital in present day Watkinsville, GA, but had villages in the South Carolina Mountains and on Kiawah Island, SC.  Their descendants are in the Kialeki Tribal Town in Oklahoma.

(5) Fort Caroline Expeditions (1564-1565):  The French colonists, who built Fort Caroline, renewed their friendship with the Owate, but also sent six trading expeditions into the interior of Georgia.  The longest expedition lasted six months and was led by Lt. LaRoche Ferrière.  He made contacts with Kofita, but his longest stay in any province was with the Uchee province of Ustanauli in Northeast Georgia, on the west side of the Savannah River.   The Ustanauli were a hybrid people of mixed Uchee, Chickasaw and Southern Shawnee villages.   Although typically considered to be Uchee by early colonists in Georgia (See Charles Wesley), when they moved to northwest Georgia, they were considered to be Chickasaw.  After the Cherokees were given northwest Georgia in 1794, the town of Ustanauli moved to western Tennessee.  Their NW Georgia town became a cluster of Cherokee farmsteads and a stagecoach station.

The French also sent expeditions westward, up the Satilla and St. Marys Rivers in Southeast Georgia.  They made contact with the Okvni (Oconee) in the Okefenokee Swamp, whose large capital was called Sarope.   The Okvni were not terribly friendly with the French. Okvni means “Born on water” or “Live on water” in Itsate Creek.  This name makes me strongly suspect that they lived on timber platform villages deep within the Okefenokee Swamp.  Even as late as 1776,  explorer William Bartram was told that the Okvni (Oconee) villages were almost impossible to find, if one was not intimately familiar with the Okefenokee Swamp.

(6) Captain Juan Pardo Expedition (1568):  Among provinces and towns that met with Pardo to unknowingly swear allegiance to the King of Spain were the people that the Spanish called Toque.   That’s the Tokah-re, who occupied a province around present day Highlands, NC and along the Tuckasegee River. Tuckasegee is the Anglicization of the Muskogee word Tokah-se-ki, which mean “Freckled people-descendants of”in Muskogee.  As will be explained below, tokah has a different meaning in Gaelic.  Their descendants are the Tokasee Branch of the Seminoles and the Tuckabachee Branch of the Creek Confederacy.   Pardo made brief contact again with the Utsi (Uchee) living somewhere in Western North Carolina or Eastern Tennessee, but his chronicles tell us very little about them.

There is a little more information from the soldiers, who were left behind by De Soto to man small infantry forts.  One of those was Sergeant Hernando Moyano.  A Spanish party under the command of Moyano attacked a Uchee town, which specialized in the making of salt.

Map of Native American salt-panning sites

In 2009, the Yuchi (Uchee) were placed in Southwest Virginia by a book entitled Virginia’s Montgomery County.  It was published in Christiansburg, VA, under the auspices of the Montgomery Museum and Lewis Miller Regional Art Center.  The author reasoned that since the salt mines in Saltville, VA were important to the Confederacy’s Army of Northern Virginia, Saltville was obviously the place that Moyano attacked.   North Carolina proponents of the Burke Site, with its three feet high, 40 feet diameter mound, making this metropolis the most important Native American city in the Southeast, saw the Saltville connection as proof of their fantasy.   By October 2018,  press releases were going around the national news circuit stating the speculation about Saltville as fact. 

What the well-meaning folks in Southwest Virginia were not told by the North Carolina academicians was that . . . as you can see in the map on the right . . . there were far more locations in eastern Tennessee, where Native Americans produced salt than in Virginia.  Those Tennessee salt panning sites are EXACTLY where there are multiple eyewitness accounts of Uchee villages and salt traders. The Uchee village attacked by Moyano was most likely in the Holston River Valley or the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. 

(7) Spanish missionaries (early 1600s):  Anonymous Spanish expeditions made contact with Ocvni on the edge of the Okefenokee, which the Spanish called Lago de Oconi.   Clearly, it was more of a lake than a swamp at this time.  A road was built to connect the Camino Real, running east-west in northern Florida with the Rio Secco (Altamaha River).  It skirted the western edge of the Okefenokee. Three mission stations were constructed along this road.  They only lasted two or three decades.  Contemporary Florida scholars label the Okvni in the Okefenoke Swamp as a “Timicua” tribe, because they don’t know the etymology of the tribal name.

(8) Johann Lederer (1669):  This German immigrant physician and explorer traveled along the eastern flank of the Blue Ridge.  He passed through the province of the Okvnasi, which Virginia frontiersmen wrote down as OcconecheeSome 20th century scholar decided that the Okvnasi were a Siouan tribe, because there were Siouan tribes nearby.  In fact, no Okvnasi words survive and their real name is Muskogean.  It means “Oconee – descendants of.”

(9)  James Needham and Gabriel Arthur (1673-1674):  A letter by their employer, Abraham Wood, describing their journey to Southwestern Virginia makes many mentions of the Occoneechees, but does not describe their villages and customs.  Gabriel Arthur was killed by the Tamahiti.

(10) French exploration of the Tennessee and Little Tennessee Rivers (1680s and 1690s):  LaSalle encountered Uchee villages paired with Chickasaw villages in western Kentucky  . . . probably in the vicinity of present day Paducah, KY.  Archaeologists have also found substantial evidence that on the Upper Savannah River, Uchee villages were paired with Proto-Creek villages.

Anonymous French explorers and Marines on the Tennessee, Hiwassee and Little Tennessee Rivers encountered a Uchee province along the south side of the Hiwassee River.  They called themselves the Tokah-re, which the French wrote down as Togaria. Tokah-re means “Elite Tribe or Province” in Pre-Gaelic and Gaelic Irish.


(11) French fort on Bussell Island (1690?-1716?): French maps, published between 1700s and 1717, show another branch of the Uchee, the Hogeloges, living on the Tennessee River between the Little Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers. Hogeloge is the Algonquian name for Tokah-le.  “Ge” is an Irish Gaelic and Algonquian suffix means “tribe or people.”  Both French and English maps showed the Tennessee River upstream from the Little Tennessee River, occupied by the Upper Creeks.

Uchee town in flames after the Cherokee slave raid.

(12) Massacre of Uchee Village of Choestoa (1713):  In 1710, Indian trader Alexander Long was partially scalped and relieved of one of his ears by Uchees living in a village named Choestoa. During this era, the Highland Uchee were generally called “the Round Town People.”  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 insure 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 and that the conquerors of Choestoa went on to capture all of eastern Tennessee from the Upper Creeks.  You can see from the map below that clearly didn’t happen.  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 lands south of the Hiwassee River in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee remained Upper Creek territory until 1763, when the British seized the lands of the Upper Creek allies of the French in Tennessee and gave it to the Cherokees.

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 occurred in east central Tennessee in 1713, because the Cherokees were nowhere around and 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. 

So,  there was a large Uchee population living along the Hiwassee, Nottely and Toccoa Rivers, plus Rabun and northern Stephens Counties, GA.  In fact, there were still Uchee communities in the Cohutta Mountains of Georgia and Unaka Mountains of Tennessee in 1911.  They hauled firewood for the copper smelters in Copper Hill, Tennessee.  When the US Forest Service used imminent domain to assemble the Chattahoochee National Forest in the 1920s and 1930s, the Uchee families scattered.  Those with the most Native American DNA probably moved to the Snowbird Cherokee Reservation in Graham County, NC. 

Georgia Colonial maps consistently labeled what is now Rabun and northern Stephens Counties as Hogeloge (Highland Uchee). The southern boundary of the Cherokee Nation was the NC-GA line and the Chattooga-Tugaloo Rivers (present GA-SC line) until 1784. The Georgia historical markers and tourist brochures that describe Tugaloo as Georgia’s first Cherokee town are ludicrous.  The town was Creek until around 1700 then burned then a section of the plaza was re-occupied by a small Uchee village.  

(13) Yamasee War (1715-1717):  Still angry about the massacre at Choestoa,  Highland Uchee villages generally sided with the coalition of tribes that with the backing of France and Spain, declared war on the Colony of Carolina.  The coalition considered Virginia to be a separate nation and generally did not attack Virginia-based traders.  In December 1715, Creek and Lower Cherokee leaders met at the Hogeloge village of Tugaloo on the Tugaloo River.  At the behest of a conjurer named Charate Hagi  (Charity Hagey in frontier English) the Cherokees murdered 32 members of the Creek delegation in their sleep.  This precipitated the 40 year long Creek-Cherokee War.

Cherokees and Wannabe Cherokees get really angry when I point this out, but the information is undeniable.  Charate is an Itsate Creek word meaning “Splinter People.”  It’s equivalent in Muskogee is Charake.  Charate is not a Cherokee word.  “Hagi” is the Middle Eastern word for a conjurer.   Something is very, very wrong with the current official version of Cherokee history.

Some academic papers state that the Coastal Plain Uchee along the Ogeechee, Savannah, Pon Pon and Ogeechee Rivers joined this coalition.  However, there is really no evidence of any battles between the Coastal Uchee and Carolina colonists.  Whereas Yamasee in Carolina were either killed or sold into slavery,  there were no reprisals against the Uchee.  Relations between the Uchee and British colonists were quite amiable during the remainder of the Colonial Period.

(14) Beresford Map of the Southeast (1715): A map, hand drawn by South Carolinians, Richard and John Beresford, also show this branch of the Uchee living on the south side of the Hiwassee River, but labels them the Tchogalegas.  This is the first map to mention the Cherokees.  It labels them as “Charakeys” and places them in the extreme northeast corner of Tennessee.

(15)  Reports by Thomas Christie (1733-1743):  By far, the most accurate and comprehensive information about the Uchee comes from Thomas Christie,  Colonial Secretary of the Province of Georgia during its earliest years.  Christie documented conversations that he had with Uchee elders.  Unfortunately, few, if any, academicians have read Christie’s reports to the Archbishop of Canterbury.   They contain the Uchee Migration Legend, describing an origin across the Atlantic Ocean, and provide information on ceremonies, political organization and lifestyles.  It is clearly stated that the Uchee’s ancestors first reached North American at the mouth of the Savannah River then spread over much of the lower Southeast.  When they first arrived, the region was inexplicably uninhabited, but they could see the mounds, shell rings and middens constructed by earlier peoples.  The Coastal Uchee became manufacturers of sea salt and traders of other items unique to the South Atlantic Coast.  Their trading network stretched to much of Eastern North America.

Uchee salt refining technology was surprisingly sophisticated. This is a Uchee salt plant on Tybee Island, GA. Tybee’s name is derived from the Itza word for salt, taube.

(16)  Philipp Georg Friedrich von Reck (1733-1740):  Hanoverian Count Georg Von Reck received a 500 acre grant from the Georgia Board of Trustees in advanced payment for his organizing the transportation of the Salzburg Protestant Refugees from Europe to Georgia. He arrived in Savannah in January 1733 before it was actually founded.  He immediately became close friends with the Uchee and Creeks living near the site of the new town.  He documented their appearance and villages with water colors and charcoal sketches.  In fact, Von Reck’s sketches and water colors are just about the only visual information we have on the appearance and cultural practices of the Uchee and Creeks, living in the Atlantic Coastal Plain during the 1700s.   Von Reck especially bonded with the Uchee and actually lived among them for periods of time.  He wrote back to England . . .

Von Reck stated that the Uchee wove their own clothing. These Uchee outfits certainly don’t look European.

They are very courteous, friendly, and hospitable towards strangers, with whom they quickly become acquainted. Their table is open to everyone, and one can sit at it uninvited. When an Indian want to assure someone of his friendship, he strikes himself with his right hand on his left breast and says, my breast is like your breast, my and your breast is one breast the equivalent of my and your heart is one heart, my heart is closely bound with your heart, etc. And it is all so a sign of friendship and welcome to light a pipe of tobacco and hold it up before the arriving stranger so that he can take a couple of draws on it, also to hold up a bottle of rum, so he can take a swallow from it. … They are satisfied with the little that they have, even if it consists only of a gun, kettle, and mirror. They keep their word, and hate lies. When they praise a European, they say that he has never told them an untruth. They are affectionate and live peaceably with their wives.”

(17) The Rev. Charles Wesley at Tugaloo (1737):  As Indian Agent for the Province of Georgia, Charles Wesley was dispatched to Tugaloo to obtain a treaty with the Uchee Indians.  Both South Carolina and Georgia claimed the vast region from Augusta northward that is now called Middle and North Georgia.  The Cherokees were cozy with South Carolina, while the Creeks were best buddies with Georgia and hated South Carolinians.  Supervising Trustee James Edward Oglethorpe hoped that by getting the Uchees in Northeast Georgia on their team,  Georgia’s claim would become a fait accompli.  Most people don’t realize that until the early 1790s, the only maps, which showed Middle and North Georgia to be in Georgia, were published by Georgia.   Even the first official maps of the United States showed these regions to be in South Carolina. 

Wesley described Tugaloo as a unimpressive village containing about 100 Uchee residents.  He had nothing good to say about the Uchee living there, calling them slovenly and filthy.  Apparently, a treaty was signed, however, which opened up trade by the new town of Augusta with the Creeks and Uchees living in Northeast Georgia.  Pretty soon,  all the traders based on the South Carolina side of the Savannah moved to Georgia.  Wesley later remarked that he never saw a Cherokee Indian the whole time in Georgia. 

After he and his brother, John, returned to England, they along with the Rev. George Whitfield became the key leaders in the formation of Methodist Societies, which later became the Methodist Church after the Wesley Brothers died.  They never actually left the Church of England, even thought they were banned from preaching in Anglican churches.   Charles Wesley composed some of his most famous songs, including “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” while living in Savannah. 

(18) Uchee & Creek Relocations (1745-1754): The War of Jenkin’s Ear marked the last time that South Carolina and Georgia feared an invasion from Spanish Florida.  It was the first time that a regiment of colonial American troops was raised (by General James Oglethorpe) and placed “on the Establishment” – made a part of the regular British Army – and sent to fight outside North America.  This regiment along with their Creek and Uchee allies defeated a Spanish invasion in the Battle of Bloody Marsh on St. Simons Island, GA then later invaded Spanish Florida.

1754 – The letter A marks former Uchee lands opened up to settlement.

With the Spanish threat removed,  General Oglethorpe returned to England in 1743.  Almost immediately, the officials in charge of Georgia and South Carolina began reneging on their treaties with the Creeks, Uchee and Cusabo.  They wanted the Indians OUT of the lands that were suitable for cultivating rice, indigo and tobacco.  Creeks and Uchees living near the coast were pressured to move inland.  Creek translator, Mary Musgrove, essentially had Ossabaw and Wausau Islands stolen from here by a Georgia court.

Both colonies did not trust the Cherokees and feared that they would become French allies. Georgia invited refugees from Majorca to settle in what is now Stephens County. South Carolina moved several remnant tribes to the region to act as a buffer between the.Cherokees and white settlements.    Their names became such geographical place names as Mount Enotah (Enote/Enoree), the Soque River (Soque) and Tesnatee Mountain (Taesna).  Chickasaw and Savano (Southern Shawnee) bands were invited to settle on the west bank of the Savannah River.  The Uchee were encouraged to move upstream on the Savannah and Ogeechee Rivers.  The official 1754 map of Georgia at right reflects those ethnic changes.

A surprising number of residents along the Savannah River STILL have substantial mixed Uchee-Creek ancestry,  particularly in Jasper, Hampton and Allendale Counties.  Hardeeville, SC . . . just north of Savannah . . . has an annual Native American festival that honors the Uchee-Creeks in their county. Particularly, in eastern Allendale County, there are families which look almost fullblood Native American.

Because they were usually bilingual and well-acquainted with Anglo-American culture, the Savannah River mixed-blood Uchee-Creeks had a distinct advantage in dealing with the rapid cultural changes that occurred in the Creek Nation.  A disproportionate percentage of Savannah River Uchee-Creeks became the leaders of the Creek Confederacy and ultimately the Muskogee-Creek Nation.  Prominent Savannah River Uchee-Creek heritage families in both Oklahoma and the Southeast today include:   Barnard, Beaver, Benton, Berry, Berryhill, Best, Bone, Broomfield, Brown, Burden, Childers, Davis, Hightower, Hill, Holmes, Galphin, Perry, Perryman, Porter, Posey, Proctor, Roberts and Williams.

The 1790s – Uchee horse thieves: One of the most pressing problems facing newly appointed Agent for Indian Affairs in the Southeast, Benjamin Hawkins, in 1795 was the constant horse-stealing raids by young Uchee men across the Oconee River.  After the American Revolution government officials no longer treated the Uchee as a separate tribe or ethnic group.  The Uchee have paid dearly for the erasure of their distinct identity.   In 1786, the second treaty signed between the Creek Nation and United States gave away all Uchee lands in Georgia.  Uchee families, who had been friendly with Anglo-American colonists and generally stayed neutral in the Revolution, suddenly found themselves cast out of the ancestral lands, where they had lived for at least 3,000 years.  Creek leaders signed the Treaty of Shoulderbone Creek that mainly gave away Uchee lands. 

Forced to move to the west side of the Oconee River, the Uchees struggled to survive.   The young men found that the quickest way out of poverty was to steal horses and cattle from white settlers on the east side of the Oconee then trade them to other tribes.    Eventually, the Creek Confederacy was forced to cede the lands between the Oconee and Ocmulgee River in order to scatter the Uchee to the winds. Some mixed-blood Uchee took allotments near present day Hawkinsville, GA in the Treaty of 1805.  Their descendants continue to live in the Hawkinsville Area.  Most Uchee families either moved to Florida or to Creek towns on the Chattahoochee River. 

Never again would the Uchees be a separate entity that would raise the concern of government officials.  By the 20th century academicians would even forget that the Uchee occupied a substantial area of Southeast and Middle Georgia . . . a region much larger than where the Cherokee villages were actually located in the 1700s.  Contemporary maps of Native America mention the Uchee.  If they have the word, Yuchi, on the map at all, it is a small spot in Southeastern Tennessee.


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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.



    Fantastic post Richard. I like how you explain the pronunciations as they should be for the individual tribes I find this most interesting and am beginning to understand a little more, but sometimes complicated for me to keep up with this history even though I have been interested in the Native Americans for some time now.

    • Probably the best thing for me to do is a video for pronunciation. Now that the work on my old house is almost done, I will be putting more time into improving the quality of my videos.


    Richard, thanks for the article. “Tali village” by a Uchee town on that map indicates 2 different peoples. As you know a Talimico town was mentioned by the Spaniards in 1540 in South Carolina. Do you have a translation for the Tali people? The turban headdress of this landmass seems to be a connection from here to North Africa in the ancient days.
    Clear evidence of a mass destruction event around 96400-9600 BC with Nano diamonds that connects with the so called Atlantis story of the Egyptians/ Greeks 2600 years ago…perhaps the turban wearing Berber people? The kingdom of Egypt didn’t even exist 9600 BC.

    • It’s funny that people always think that ideas have to come from the Old World. 8,000 year old mummies in Peru are wearing turbans! Also, the earliest known pyramids are in Peru.


    Thank you Sir what a fascinating read, I’m not shocked that legit historians and anthropologist would change or emit facts etc. Thank you You have done your research.

    • Actually, my mother’s family are part Uchee. I had ancestors living in Palachicola, when the Rev. John Wesley preached there in 1737.


    Mark, You have to know that similar knowledge, technology (ideas) and such can be developed seperately in non-related societies. Than you have the multiple migrations back and forth bringing cultures together where they exchange ideas.

    It is very well possible that ideas (knowledge and technology) came from west (Americas) to east (Middle-East).

    Having said that, it’s different when it comes to genetics. People tend to mix especially in seaports which is still very common today.
    In case of the Paracas people/elite; they do seem to have their origins outside the Americas especially since the genetic tests have pointed their origin somewhere in or near the Caucasus. IF the Paracas people actually are related to the New Zealand red heads which genetic tests have pointed their origin to southern Iran there is a possibility that at some point in time the ancestors of the Paracas people migrated somewhere from South Asia ;Indus Valley?; (seemingly via Middle-East and Caucasus) via the Mediterranean sea and Atlantic Ocean to Peru.
    It’s not like the Paracas people materialized into exsistance out of thin air on day.
    There is always the debate on the native American or American Indian naming. If the Paracas people really have similar (the same?) genes/DNA as the Indus Valley people than the word “Indian” would be correct. That way the somewhat hated word American “Indian” could have a new meaning as in refering to the “Indus” valley people who found a new home in the Americas.

    Of course it could be debated on what or who a real native American is. Example: If a European group of people migrated to the Americas and settled on a piece of land which is not occupied by any people, those Europeans would become native to that particular piece of land.
    The Paracas people could be called native Americans if they were the first to settle a particular uninhabitad land.

    Before ending te comment: The comment section is a great way to give your opinions, debate and share information/knowledge.
    Great article as always.


    Funny when historians make a list of native tribes that allied themselves to James Oglethorpe and the British against the Spanish, the Cherokee are never mentioned.
    Strange thing is there are other native tribes on that same list most people have never heard about.


    I’m fairly sure the Cherokee were recorded as “Chalaque” or something like that in Spanish records from the 1500s. Which comes from Tsa-la-gi (which was a creek word if I’m not mistaken). Cherokee is the English version taken from the Eastern Cherokee who pronounced the word as Tsa-ra-gi. The Eastern Cherokee went extinct due to disease and warfare. What was left of them mixed in with the other two groups. However, I myself do not believe the Cherokee have been in this region for very long.

    The Cherokee speak an Iroquoian language. If you look at oral traditions of both the Iroquois and the Cherokee, it paints a clear picture that we came from somewhere further south. Then the Cherokee split off and returned “home” (or just stayed there to begin with). This is thought to have occurred roughly 4500-6000 years ago based on differences between the languages. Then relatively recently the Cherokee moved up north and settled in the southeast. This theory has more evidence to support it than any other that I’ve heard so far (though it isn’t exactly a very popular one among our folks lol).

    This theory gets some credibility from the fact that both the northern Iroquois tribes and the Cherokee used blowguns. Which points out that the Iroquois as a whole came from the south. However, the Iroquois used short blowguns likely adapted from the thousands of years they spent up north. The Cherokee on the other hand are recorded as having used blowguns in excess of 10 feet (some as long as 13 feet). This is completely unnecessary anywhere around here but is common among central and South American tribes who needed the extra reach to hit monkeys in the tops of trees. All that extra length would also point towards their arrival being fairly recent as they had not adapted to using shorter blowguns like other tribes in the region.

    I mean there are other things that lend credibility to that theory but I chose that topic because I like blowguns lol.

    A few other things that I would like to point out: Cherokee (or any of it’s derivative spellings or pronunciations) was not our word for our people. The name was given to us and eventually adopted. I’m not sure about the whole “Keetoowah” stuff, either. Those are the one’s that believe we built the mounds so I don’t particularly trust their story. There’s also some issues about where that word actually comes from and some say it is not one of our words. Though it is possible that we may have absorbed some of them, (as well as their words) I don’t believe we are “them”.

    Also, while it is a record, I’m not sure I would trust records made by one group of people about another group of people. First and foremost, Europeans had a nasty habit of calling tribes by a name they gave them, a name they got from another tribe, or mistakenly identifying them as another tribe altogether.

    There’s also the issue of tribes absorbing each other and blurred lines between tribes that lived close together. The Cherokee today have many people who claim descent from other groups like the Sappony, Shawnee, Creek, and Euchee. The Cherokee even absorbed some remnants of the Natchez (who actually had their own village among the Cherokee). Just because the name of a village (or tribe) comes from someone else’s language doesn’t necessarily mean that the place was inhabited by that group of people. The Cherokee, being newer arrivals, may have learned the names of places from the tribes in that area. Or maybe they absorbed the people who were living in those areas and the names stuck. It’s a possibility. I mean when I go to a new city I don’t rename it. I use the one that’s already there lol.

    Lastly, there’s also the issue of tribal territory in general. I’ll use the Cherokee-Iroquois war as an example. If I recall correctly, that had something to do with hunting land or something like that. It turned into one of those long, drawn out hereditary feuds where you don’t really remember why you’re fighting, you just kind of are. However, to this day if you gave some of the older folks in each tribe a blank map and told them to draw their people’s territory, you will probably get two VERY different pictures lol. I’m sure the disputes over tribal territory were not helped by the arrival of the Europeans.

    • Chalique is the Spanish spelling of Chiliki, which is the Totonac, Itza Maya and Creek word for a barbarian. In Mexico, it referred to the Chichimeca. The Chalaque in South Carolina wore skins and cultivated root crops. That is also the description of several tribes in central Florida and the Guanahatabey in western Cuba. Dutch and French maps show a tribe named the Charaqui, living in Quebec, east of Lake Erie in 1643. That is the most likely candidate for the Cherokee. There are no Cherokee words mentioned in the De Soto and Pardo Chronicles. What some Cherokee history sites call Cherokee town names in the De Soto Chronicles are either Creek or Panoan words. By the time that the Cherokees were in NE Tennessee, they were a mixed-ethnic people. The Cherokee bird clan has the same name as the Chiska people of NE Tennessee. Chiska means bird in the Panoan languages of Peru.


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