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105. The Southern And Western Tribes

The nearest neighbors of the Cherokee to the south were the Creeks or Muscogee, who found mixed confederacy holding central and southern Georgia and Alabama. They were known to the Cherokee as Ani'-Ku'sa or Ani'-Gu'sa, from Kusa, the principal town of the Upper Creeks, which was situated on Coosa river, southwest from the present Talladega, Alabama. The Lower Creeks, residing chiefly on Chattahoochee river, were formerly always distinguished as Ani-Kawi'ta, from Kawita or Coweta, their ancient capital, on the west side of the river, in Alabama, nearly opposite the present Columbus, Georgia. In number the Creeks were nearly equal to the Cherokee, but differed in being a confederacy of cognate or incorporated tribes, of which the Muscogee proper was the principal. The Cherokee were called by them Tsal-gal'gi or Tsûlgûl'gi, a plural derivative from Tsa'lägï', the proper name of the tribe.

The ordinary condition between the two tribes was one of hostility, with occasional intervals of good will. History, tradition, and linguistic evidence combine to show that the Creeks at one time occupied almost the whole of northern Georgia and Alabama, extending a considerable distance into Tennessee and perhaps North Carolina, and were dispossessed by the Cherokee pressing upon them from the north and northeast. This conquest was accomplished chiefly during the first half of the eighteenth century, and culminated with the decisive engagement of Tali'wä about 1755. In most of their early negotiations with the Government the Creeks demanded that the lands of the various tribes be regarded as common property, and that only the boundary between the Indians and the whites be considered. Failing in that, they claimed as theirs the whole region of the Chattahoochee and Coosa, north to the dividing ridge between those streams and the Tennessee, or even beyond to the Tennessee itself, and asserted that any Cherokee settlements within those limits were only by their own permission. In 1783 they claimed the Savannah river as the eastern boundary between themselves and the Cherokee, and asserted their own exclusive right of sale over all the territory between that river and the Oconee. On the other hand the Cherokee as stoutly claimed all to a point some 70 miles south of the present city of Atlanta, on the ground of having driven the Creeks out of it in three successive wars, and asserted that their right had been admitted by the Creeks themselves in a council held to decide the question between the two tribes before the Revolution. By mutual agreement, about 1816, members of either tribe were allowed to settle within the territory claimed by the other. The line as finally established through the mediation of the colonial and Federal governments ran from the mouth of Broad river on Savannah nearly due west across Georgia, passing

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about 10 miles north of Atlanta, to Coosa river in Alabama, and thence northwest to strike the west line of Alabama about 20 miles south of the Tennessee.[1]

Among the names which remain to show the former presence of Creeks north of this boundary are the following: Coweeta, a small creek entering the Little Tennessee above Franklin, North Carolina; Tomatola (Cherokee, Tama'`lï), a former town site on Valley river, near Murphy, North Carolina, the name being that of a former Creek town on Chattahoochee; Tomotley (Cherokee, Tama'`lï), a ford at another town site on Little Tennessee, above Tellico mouth, in Tennessee; Coosa (Cherokee, Kusä'), an upper creek of Nottely river, in Union county, Georgia; Chattooga (Cherokee, Tsatu'gï), a river in northwest Georgia; Chattooga (Cherokee, Tsatu'gï), another river, a head-stream of Savannah; Chattahoochee river (Creek, Chatu-huchi, "pictured rocks"); Coosawatee (Cherokee, Ku'sä-weti'yï, "Old Creek place"), a river in northwestern Georgia; Tali'wä, the Cherokee form of a Creek name for a place on an upper branch of Etowah river in Georgia, probably from the Creek ta'lua or ita'lua, "town"; Euharlee (Cherokee, Yuha'lï, said by the Cherokee to be from Yufala or Eufaula, the name of several Creek towns), a creek flowing into lower Etowah river; Suwanee (Cherokee, Suwa`nï) a small creek on upper Chattahoochee, the site of a former Cherokee town with a name which the Cherokee say is Creek. Several other names within the same territory are said by the Cherokee to be of foreign origin, although perhaps not Creek, and may be from the Taskigi language.

According to Cherokee tradition as given to Haywood nearly eighty years ago the country about the mouth of Hiwassee river, in Tennessee, was held by the Creeks, while the Cherokee still had their main settlements farther to the north, on the Little Tennessee. In the Shawano war, about the year 1700, the Creeks pretended friendship for the Cherokee while secretly helping their enemies, the Shawano. The Cherokee discovered the treachery, and took occasion, when a party of Creeks was visiting a dance at Itsâ'tï (Echota), the Cherokee capital, to fall upon them and massacre nearly every man. The consequence was a war between the two tribes, with the final result that the Creeks were forced to abandon all their settlements 'upon the waters of the Tennessee, and to withdraw south to the Coosa and the neighborhood of the "Creek path," an old trading trail from South Carolina, which crossed at the junction of the Oostanaula and Etowah rivers, where now is the city of Rome, Georgia, and struck the Tennessee at the present Guntersville, Alabama.

As an incident of this war the same tradition relates how the Cherokee once approached a large Creek settlement "at the island on

[1. Royce, The Cherokee Nation of Indians, in Fifth Report of Bureau of Ethnology, pp. 205-208, 266, 272, 1887; also (for 1783) Bartram, Travels, p. 483, 1792.]

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the Creek path," in Tennessee river, opposite Guntersville, and, concealing their main force, sent a small party ahead to decoy the Creeks to an engagement. The Creek Warriors at once crossed over in their canoes to the attack, when the Cherokee suddenly rose up from their ambush, and surrounded the Creeks and defeated them after a desperate battle. Then, taking the captured canoes, they went over to the island and destroyed all that was there. The great leader of the Cherokee in this war was a chief named Bullhead, renowned in tradition for his bravery and skill in strategy.[1] At about the same time, according to Wafford, the Cherokee claim to have driven the Creeks and Shawano from a settlement which they occupied jointly near Savannah, Georgia.

There was a tradition among the few old traders still living in upper Georgia in 1890 that a large tract in that part of the State had been won by the Cherokee from the Creeks in a ballplay.[2] There are no Indians now living in that region to substantiate the story. As originally told it may have had a veiled meaning, as among the Cherokee the expression "to play a ball game" is frequently used figuratively to denote fighting a battle. There seems to be no good ground for Bartram's statement that the Cherokee had been dispossessed by the Creeks of the region between the Savannah and the Ocmulgee, in southwestern Georgia, within the historic period.[3] The territory is south of any traditional Cherokee claim, and the statement is at variance with what we know through history. He probably had in mind the Uchee, who did actually occupy that country until incorporated with the Creeks.

The victory was not always on one side, however, for Adair states that toward the end of the last war between the two tribes the Creeks, having easily defeated the Cherokee in an engagement, contemptuously sent against them a number of women and boys. According to this writer, the "true and sole cause" of this last war was the killing of some adopted relatives of the Creeks in 1749 by a party of northern Shawano, who had been guided and afterward sheltered by the Cherokee. The war, which he represents as a losing game for the Cherokee, was finally brought to an end through the efforts of the governor of South Carolina, with the unfortunate result to the English that the Creeks encouraged the Cherokee in the war of 1760 and rendered them very essential help in the way of men and ammunition.'

The battle of Tali'wä, which decided in favor of the Cherokee the long war between themselves and the Creeks, was fought about 1755 or a few years later at a spot on Mountain creek or Long-swamp creek, which enters Etowah river above Canton, Georgia, near where

[1. Haywood, Nat. and Aborig. Hist. Tenn., p. 241, 1823. Bullhead may be intended for Doublehead, an old Cherokee name.

2. Mooney, The Cherokee Ball Play, in The American Anthropologist, in, p. 107, April, 1890.

3. Bartram, Travels, p. 518, 1791.

4. Adair, History of American Indians, pp. 227, 247, 252-256, 270, 276-279, 1775.]

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the old trail crossed the river about Long-swamp town. All our information concerning it is traditional, obtained from James Wafford, who heard the story when a boy, about the year 1815, from an old trader named Brian Ward, who had witnessed the battle sixty years before. According to his account, it was probably the hardest battle ever fought between the two tribes, about five hundred Cherokee and twice that number of Creek warriors being engaged. The Cherokee were at first overmatched and fell back, but rallied again and returned to the attack, driving the Creeks from cover so that they broke and ran. The victory was complete and decisive, and the defeated tribe immediately afterward abandoned the whole upper portion of Georgia and the adjacent part of Alabama to the conquerors. Before this battle the Creeks had been accustomed to shift about a good deal from place to place, but thereafter they confined themselves more closely to fixed home locations. It was in consequence of this defeat that they abandoned their town on Nottely river, below Coosa creek, near the present Blairsville, Georgia, their old fields being at once occupied by Cherokee, who moved over from their settlements on the head of Savannah river. As has been already stated, a peace was made about 1759, just in time to enable the Creeks to assist the Cherokee in their war with South Carolina. We hear little more concerning the relations of the two tribes until the Creek war of 1813-14, described in detail elsewhere; after this their histories drift apart.

The Yuchi or Uchee, called Ani'-Yu'tsï by the Cherokee, were a tribe of distinct linguistic stock and of considerable importance in early days; their territory bordered Savannah river on both sides immediately below the Cherokee country, and extended some distance westward into Georgia, where it adjoined that of the Creeks. They were gradually dispossessed by the whites, and were incorporated with the Creeks about the year 1740, but retain their separate identity and language to this day, their town being now the largest in the Creek Nation in Indian Territory.

According to the testimony of a Cherokee mixed-blood named Gansë'`tï or Rattling-gourd, who was born on Hiwassee river in 1820 and came west with his people in 1838, a number of Yuchi lived, before the Removal, scattered among the Cherokee near the present Cleveland, Tennessee, and on Chickamauga, Cohutta, and Pinelog creeks in the adjacent section of Georgia. They had no separate settlements, but spoke their own language, which he described as "hard and grunting." Some of them spoke also Cherokee and Creek. They had probably drifted north from the Creek country before a boundary had been fixed between the tribes. When Tahlequah was established as the capital of the Cherokee Nation in the West in 1839 a few Yuchi were found already settled at the spot, being supposed to have removed from the East with some Creeks after the chief McIntosh was killed in

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1825. They perished in the smallpox epidemic which ravaged the frontier in 1840, and their graves were still pointed out at Tahlequah in 1891. Shortly before the outbreak of the Civil war there was a large and prosperous Yuchi settlement on Cimarron river, in what was afterward the Cherokee strip.

Ramsey states that "a small tribe of Uchees" once occupied the country near the mouth of the Hiwassee, and was nearly exterminated in a desperate battle with the Cherokee at the Uchee Old Fields, in Rhea (now Meigs) county, Tennessee, the few survivors retreating to Florida, where they joined the Seminoles.[1] There seems to be no other authority for the statement.

Another broken tribe incorporated in part with the Creeks and in part with the Cherokee was that of the Na'`tsï, or Natchez, who originally occupied the territory around the site, of the present town of Natchez in southern Mississippi, and exercised a leading influence over all the tribes of the region. In consequence of a disastrous war with the French in 1729-31 the tribe was disrupted, some taking refuge with the Chickasaw, others with the Creeks, either then or later, while others, in 1736, applied to the government of South Carolina for permission to settle on the Savannah river. The request was evidently granted, and we find the "Nachee" mentioned as one of the tribes living with the Catawba in 1743, but retaining their distinct language. In consequence of having killed some of the Catawba in a drunken quarrel they were forced to leave this region, and seem to have soon afterward joined the Cherokee, as we find them twice mentioned in connection with that tribe in 1755. This appears to be the last reference to them in the South Carolina records.[2]

Just here the Cherokee tradition takes them up, under the name of Anin'tsï, abbreviated from Ani'-Na'`tsï, the plural of Na'`tsï. From a chance coincidence with the word for pine tree, na`tsi', some English speaking Indians have rendered this name as "Pine Indians." The Cherokee generally agree that the Natchez came to them from South Carolina, though some say that they came from the Creek country. It is probable that the first refugees were from Carolina and were joined later by others from the Creeks and the Chickasaw. Bienville states, in 1742, that some of them had gone to the Cherokee directly from the Chickasaw when they found the latter too hard pressed by the French to be able to care for them.[3] They seem to have been regarded by the Cherokee as a race of wizards and conjurers, a view which was probably due in part to their peculiar religious rites and in part to the interest which belonged to them as the remnant of an extirpated tribe. Although we have no direct knowledge on the subject, there is every

[1. Ramsey, Annals of Tennessee, pp. 81, 84, 1853.

2. Mooney, Siouan Tribes of the East (bulletin of the Bureau of Ethnology), p. 83,1894.

3. Bienville, quoted in Gayarré, Louisiana.]

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reason to suppose that the two tribes had had communication with each other long before the period of the Natchez war.

According to the statement of James Wafford, who was born in 1806 near the site of Clarkesville, Ga., when this region was still Indian country, the "Notchees" had their town on the north bank of Hiwassee, just above Peachtree creek, on the spot where a Baptist mission was established by the Rev. Evan Jones in 1821, a few miles above the present Murphy, Cherokee county, North Carolina., On his mother's side he had himself a strain of Natchez blood. His grandmother had told him that when she was a young woman, perhaps about 1755, she once had occasion to go to this town on some business, which she was obliged to transact through an interpreter, as the Natchez had been there so short a time that only one or two spoke any Cherokee. They were all in the one town, which the Cherokee called Gwal`gâ'hï, "Frog place," but he was unable to say whether or not it had a townhouse. In 1824, as one of the census takers for the Cherokee Nation, he went over the same section and found the Natchez then living jointly with the Cherokee in a town called Gû`läni'yï at the junction of Brasstown and Gumlog creeks, tributary to Hiwassee, some 6 miles southeast of their former location and close to the Georgia line. The removal may have been due to the recent establishment of the mission at the old place. It was a large settlement, made up about equally from the two tribes, but by this time the Natchez were not distinguishable in dress or general appearance from the others, and nearly all spoke broken Cherokee, while still retaining their own language. As most of the Indians had come under Christian influences so far as to have quit dancing, there was no townhouse. Harry Smith, who was born about 1820, father of the late chief of the East Cherokee, also remembers them as living on Hiwassee and calling themselves Na'`tsï.

Gansë'`tï, already mentioned, states that when he was a boy the Natchez were scattered among the Cherokee settlements along the upper part of Hiwassee, extending down into Tennessee. They had then no separate townhouses. Some of them, at least, had come up from the Creeks, and spoke Creek and Cherokee, as well as their own language, which he could not understand, although familiar with both of the others. They were great dance leaders, which agrees with their traditional reputation for ceremonial and secret knowledge. They went west with the Cherokee at the final removal of the tribe to Indian Territory in 1838. In 1890 there was a small settlement on Illinois river a few miles south of Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, several persons in which still spoke their own language. Some of these may have come with the Creeks, as by an agreement between Creeks and Cherokee about the time of the Removal it had been arranged that citizens of either tribe living within the boundaries claimed by the other might remain without question if they so elected. There are still several

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persons claiming Natchez descent among the East Cherokee, but the last one said to have been of full Natchez blood, all old woman named Alkïnï', died about 1895. She was noted for her peculiarities, especially for a drawling tone, said to have been characteristic of her people, as old men remembered them years ago.

Haywood, the historian of Tennessee, says that a remnant of the Natchez lived within the present limits of the State as late as 1750, and were even then numerous. He refers to those with the Cherokee, and tells a curious story, which seems somehow to have escaped the notice of other writers. According to his statement, a portion of the Natchez, who had been parceled out as slaves among the French in the vicinity of their old homes after the downfall of their tribe, took advantage of the withdrawal of the troops to the north, in 1758, to rise and massacre their masters and make their escape to the neighboring tribes. On the return of the troops after the fall of Fort Du Quesne they found the settlement at Natchez destroyed and their Indian slaves fled. Some time afterward a French deserter seeking an asylum among the Cherokee, having made his way to the Great Island town, on the Tennessee, just below the mouth of Tellico river, was surprised to find there some of the same Natchez whom he had formerly driven as slaves. He lost no time in getting away from the place to find safer quarters among the mountain towns. Notchy creek, a lower affluent of Tellico, in Monroe county, Tennessee, probably takes its name from these refugees. Haywood states also that, although incorporated with the Cherokee, they continued for a long time a separate people, not marrying or mixing with other tribes, and having their own chiefs and holding their own councils; but in 1823 hardly anything was left of them but the name.[1]

Another refugee tribe incorporated partly with the Cherokee and partly with the Creeks was that of the Taskigi, who at an early period had a large town of the same name on the south side of the Little Tennessee, just above the mouth of Tellico, in Monroe county, Tennessee. Sequoya, the inventor of the Cherokee alphabet, lived here in his boyhood, about the time of the Revolution. The land was sold in 1819. There was another settlement of the name, and perhaps once occupied by the same people, on the north bank of Tennessee river, in a bend just below Chattanooga, Tennessee, on land sold also in 1819. Still another may have existed at one time on Tuskegee creek, on the south bank of Little Tennessee river, north of Robbinsville, in Graham county, North Carolina, on land which was occupied until the Removal in 1838. Taskigi town of the Creek country was on Coosa river, near the junction with the Tallapoosa, some distance above the present Montgomery,

[1. Haywood, Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee, pp. 105-107, 1823. For a sketch of the Natchez war and the subsequent history of the scattered fragments of the tribe, see the author's paper, The End of the Natchez, in the American Anthropologist for July, 1899.]

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Alabama. We find Tasquiqui mentioned as a town in the Creek country visited by the Spanish captain, Juan Pardo, in 1567. The name is evidently the same, though we can not be sure that the location was identical with that of the later town.

Who or what the Taskigi were is uncertain and can probably never be known, but they were neither Cherokee nor Muscogee proper. It would seem most probable that they were of Muskhogean affinity, but they may have been an immigrant tribe from another section, or may even have constituted a distinct linguistic stock, representing all that was left of an ancient people whose occupation of the country antedated the coming of the Cherokee and the Creeks. The name may be derived from taska or taska'ya, meaning "warrior". in several of the Muskhogean dialects. It is not a Cherokee word, and Cherokee informants state positively that the Taskigi were a foreign people, with distinct language and customs. They were not Creeks, Natchez, Uchee, or Shawano, with all of whom the Cherokee were well acquainted under other names. In the townhouse of their settlement at the mouth of Tellico they had an upright pole, from the top of which hung their protecting "medicine," the image of a human figure cut from a cedar log. For this reason the Cherokee in derision sometimes called the place Atsïnä'-k`taûñ, "Hanging-cedar place." Before the sale of the land in 1819 they were so nearly extinct that the Cherokee had moved in and occupied the ground.

Adair, in 1775, mentions the Tae-keo-ge (sic--a double misprint) as one of several broken tribes which the Creeks had "artfully decoyed" to incorporate with them in order to strengthen themselves against hostile attempts. Milfort, about 1780, states that the Taskigi on Coosa river were a foreign people who had been driven by wars to seek an asylum among the Creeks, being encouraged thereto by the kind reception accorded to another fugitive tribe. Their request was granted by the confederacy, and they were given lands upon which they built their town. He puts this event shortly before the incorporation of the Yuchi, which would make it early in the eighteenth century. In 1799, according to Hawkins, the town had but 35 warriors, "had lost its ancient language," and spoke Creek. There is still a "white" or peace town named Taskigi in the Creek Nation in Indian Territory.'

The nearest neighbors of the Cherokee on the west, after the expulsion of the Shawano, were the Chickasaw, known to the Cherokee as Ani'-Tsï'ksû, whose territory lay chiefly between the Mississippi and the Tennessee, in what is now western Kentucky and Tennessee and - however., of the extreme northern portion of Mississippi. By virtue, conquest from the Shawano or of ancient occupancy they claimed a

[1. Adair, History of American Indians, p. 257, 1775. The other statements concerning the Taskigi among the Creeks are taken from Gatschet's valuable study, A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians, I, pp. 122,145, 229,1884.]


large additional territory to the east of this, including all upon the waters of Duck river and Elk creek. This claim was disputed by the Cherokee. According to Haywood, the two tribes had been friends and allies in the expulsion of the Shawano, but afterward, shortly before the year 1769, the Cherokee, apparently for no sufficient reason, picked a quarrel with the Chickasaw and attacked them in their town at the place afterward known as the Chickasaw Old Fields, on the north side of Tennessee river, some twenty miles below the present Guntersville, Alabama. The Chickasaw defended themselves so well that the assailants were signally defeated and compelled to retreat to their own country.[1] It appears, however, that the Chickasaw, deeming this settlement too remote from their principal towns, abandoned it after the battle. Although peace was afterward made between the two tribes their rival claim continued to be a subject of dispute throughout the treaty period.

The Choctaw, a loose confederacy of tribes formerly occupying southern Mississippi and the adjacent coast region, are called Ani'-Tsa'`ta by the Cherokee, who appear to have had but little communication with them, probably because the intermediate territory was held by the Creeks, who were generally at war with one or the other. In 1708 we find mention of a powerful expedition by the Cherokee, Creeks, and Catawba against the Choctaw living about Mobile bay.[2]

Of the Indians west of the Mississippi those best known to the Cherokee were the Ani'-Wasa'sï, or Osage, a powerful predatory tribe formerly holding most of the country between the Missouri and Arkansas rivers, and extending from the Mississippi far out into the plains. The Cherokee name is a derivative from Wasash', the name by which the Osage call themselves.[3] The relations of the two tribes seem to have been almost constantly hostile from the time when the Osage refused to join in the general Indian peace concluded in 1768 (see "The Iroquois Wars") up to 1822, when the Government interfered to compel an end of the bloodshed. The bitterness was largely due to the fact that ever since the first Cherokee treaty with the United States, made at Hopewell, South Carolina, in 1785, small bodies of Cherokee, resenting the constant encroachments of the whites, had been removing beyond the Mississippi to form new settlements within the territory claimed by the Osage, where in 1817 they already numbered between two and three thousand persons. As showing how new is our growth as a nation, it is interesting to note that Wafford, when a boy, attended near the site of the present Clarkesville, Georgia, almost on Savannah river, a Cherokee scalp dance, at which the women

[1. Haywood, Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee, p. 24,1823. From a contemporary reference in Rivers, South Carolina, page 57, it appears that this war was in full progress in 1757.

2. Margry, quoted in Gatschet, Creek Migration Legend, I, pp. 16, 87, 1884.

3. Wasash, French Ouasage, corrupted by the Americans into Osage.]

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danced over some Osage scalps sent by their relatives in the west as trophies of a recent victory.

Other old Cherokee names for western tribes which can not be identified are Tayûñ'ksï, the untranslatable name of a tribe described simply as living in the West; Tsuniya'tigä, "Naked people," described as living in the far West; Gûn'-tsuskwa'`lï, "Short-arrows," who lived in the far West, and were small, but great fighters; Yûñ'wini'giskï, "Man-eaters," a hostile tribe west or north, possibly the cannibal Atakapa or Tonkawa, of Louisiana or Texas. Their relations with the tribes with which they have become acquainted since the removal to Indian Territory do not come within the scope of this paper.

Next: 106. The Giants From The West