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122. Local Legends Of North Carolina

Owing chiefly to the fact that the Cherokee still occupy western North Carolina, the existing local legends for that section are more numerous than for all the rest of their ancient territory. For the more important legends see the stories: Agân-unitsi's Search for the Uktena, Atagâ'hï, Hemp-carrier, Herbert's Spring, Käna'sta, The Great Leech of Tlanusi'yï, The Great Yellow-jacket ' The Nûñnë'hï, The Raid on Tïkwali'tsï, The Removed Townhouses, The Spirit Defenders of Nïkwäsï', The Uw`tsûñ'ta, Tsul`kälû', Tsuwe'nähï, The U`tlûñ'tä.

AKWË`TI'YÏ: A spot on Tuckasegee river, in Jackson county, between Dick's creek and the upper end of Cowee tunnel. According to tradition there was a dangerous water monster in the river there. The meaning of the name is lost.

ATSI'LA-WA'Ï: "Fire's relative," a peak, sometimes spoken of as Rattlesnake knob, east of Oconaluftee river and about 2 miles northeast of Cherokee or Yellow Hill, in Swain county. So called from a tradition that a ball of fire was once seen to fly through the air from

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the direction of Highlands, in Macon county, and alight upon this mountain. The Indians believe it to have been an ulûñsû'tï (see number 50), which its owner had kept in a hiding place upon the summit, from which, after his death, it issued nightly to search for him.

BLACK ROCK: A very high bald peak toward the head of Scott's creek, northeast of Webster, on the line of Jackson and Haywood counties. Either this peak or the adjacent Jones knob, of equal height, is known to the Cherokee as Ûñ'wädâ-tsu`gilasûñ', "Where the storehouse was taken off," from a large flat rock, supported by four other rocks, so as to resemble a storehouse (ûñwädâ'lï) raised on poles, which was formerly in prominent view upon the summit until thrown down by lightning some fifty years ago.

BUFFALO CREEK, WEST: A tributary of Cheowa river, in Graham county. The Cherokee name is Yûnsâ'ï, "Buffalo place," from a tradition that a buffalo formerly lived under the water at its mouth (see Tsuta'tsinasûñ'yï).

CHEOWA MAXIMUM: A bald mountain at the head of Cheowa river, on the line between Graham and Macon counties. This and the adjoining peak, Swim bald, are together called Sehwate'yï, "Hornet place," from a monster hornet, which, according to tradition, formerly had its nest there, and could be seen flying about the tree tops or sunning itself on the bald spots, and which was so fierce that it drove away every one who came near the mountain. It finally disappeared.

DÄKWÂ'Ï: "Däkwä' place," in French Broad river, about 6 miles above Warm Springs, in Madison county, and 30 miles below Asheville. A däkwä' or monster fish is said to have lived in the stream at that point.

DA'`NAWA-(A) SA'`TSÛÑYÏ: "War crossing," a ford in Cheowa river about 3 miles below Robbinsville, in Graham county. A hostile war party from the North, probably Shawano or Iroquois, after having killed a man on Cheowa, was pursued and crossed the river at this place.

DATLE'YÄSTA'Ï: "Where they fell down," on Tuckasegee river, at the bend above Webster, in Jackson county, where was formerly the old town of Gänsâ'gï (Conasauga). Two large uktenas, twined about each other as though in combat, were once seen to lift themselves from a deep hole in the river there and fall back into the water.

DÂTSI'YÏ: "Dâtsï place," just above Eagle creek, on Little Tennessee river, between Graham and Swain counties. So called from a traditional water monster of that name, said to have lived in a deep hole in the stream.

DEGAL`GÛÑ'YÏ: "Where they are piled up," a series of cairns on both sides of the trail down the south side of Cheowa river, in Graham county. They extend along the trail for several miles, from below Santeetla creek nearly to Slick Rock creek, on the Tennessee line (the

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first being just above Disgâ'gisti'yï, q. v.), and probably mark the site of an ancient battle. One at least, nearly off Yellow creek, is reputed to be the grave of a Cherokee killed by the enemy. Every passing Indian throws an additional stone upon each heap, believing that some misfortune will befall him should he neglect this duty. Other cairns are on the west side of Slick Rock creek about a mile from Little Tennessee river, and others south of Robbinsville, near where the trail crosses the ridge to Valleytown, in Cherokee county.

DIDA'SKASTI'YÏ: "Where they were afraid of each other," a spot on the east side of Little Tennessee river, near the mouth of Alarka creek, in Swain county. A ball game once arranged to take place there, before the Removal, between rival teams from Qualla and Valleytown, was abandoned on account of the mutual fear of the two parties.

DISGÂ'GISTI'YÏ: "Where they gnaw," a spot where the trail down the south side of Cheowa river crosses a small branch about half way between Cockram creek and Yellow creek, in Graham county. Indians passing gnaw the twigs from the laurel bushes here, in the belief that if they should fail to do so they will encounter some misfortune before crossing the next. ridge. Near by is a cairn to which each also adds a stone (see Degal`gûñ'yï).

DUDUÑ'LËKSÛÑ'YÏ: "Where its legs were broken off," a spot on the east side of Tuckasegee river, opposite the mouth of Cullowhee river, a few miles above Webster, in Jackson county. The name suggests a tradition, which appears to be lost.

DULASTÛÑ'YÏ: "Potsherd place," a former settlement on Nottely river, in Cherokee county, near the Georgia line. A half-breed Cherokee ball captain who formerly lived there, John Butler or Tsan-uga'sïtä (Sour John), having been defeated in a ball game; said, in contempt of his men, that they were of no more use than broken pots.

DUNIDÛ'LALÛÑYÏ: "Where they made arrows," on Straight creek, a bead-stream of Oconaluftee river, near Cataluchee peak, in Swain county. A Shawano war party coming against the Cherokee, after having crossed the Smoky mountains, halted there to prepare arrows.

FRENCH BROAD RIVER: A magazine writer states that the Indians called this stream "the racing river." This is only partially correct. The Cherokee have no name for the river as a whole, but the district through which it flows about Asheville is called by them Un-ta'kiyasti'yï, "Where they race." The name of the city they translate as Kâsdu'yï, "Ashes place."

GAKATI'YÏ: "Place of setting free," a south bend in Tuckasegee river about 3 miles above Bryson City, in Swain county. It is sometimes put in the plural form, Diga'katiyï, "Place of setting them free." In one of their old wars the Cherokee generously released some prisoners there.

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GATUTI'YÏ: "Town-building place," near the head of Santeetla creek, southwest from Robbinsville, in Graham county. High up on the slopes of the neighboring mountain, Stratton bald, is a wide "bench," where the people once started to build a settlement, but were frightened off by a strange noise, which they thought was made by an uktena.

GI`LÏ'-DINËHÛÑ'YÏ: "Where the dogs live," a deep place in Oconaluftee river, Swain county, a short distance above Yellow Hill (Cherokee) and just below the mound. It is so named from a tradition that two "red dogs" were once seen there playing on the bank. They were supposed to live under the water.

GISEHÛÑ'YÏ: "Where the Female lives," on Tuckasegee river, about 2 miles above Bryson City, Swain county. There is a tradition that some supernatural "white people" were seen there washing clothes in the river and hanging them out upon the bank to dry. They were probably supposed to be the family of the Agis'-e'gwa, or "Great Female," a spirit invoked by the conjurers.

GREGORY BALD: A high peak of the Great Smoky mountains on the western border of Swain county, adjoining Tennessee. The Cherokee call it Tsistu'yï, "Rabbit place." Here the rabbits had their townhouse and here lived their chief, the Great Rabbit, and in the old times the people could see him. He was as large as a deer, and all the little rabbits were subject to him.

JOANNA BALD: A bald mountain near the head of Valley river, on the line between Graham and Cherokee counties. Called Diyâ'häli'yï, "Lizard place," from a traditional great lizard, with glistening throat, which used to haunt the place and was frequently seen sunning itself on the rocky slopes.

JUTACULLA OLD FIELDS: A bald spot of perhaps a hundred acres on the slope of Tennessee bald (Tsul`kälû' Tsunegûñ'yï), at the extreme bead of Tuckasegee river, in Jackson county, on the ridge from which the lines of Haywood, Jackson, and Transylvania counties diverge. The giant Tsul`kälû', or Jutaculla, as the name is corrupted by the whites, had his residence in the mountain (see story), and according to local legend among the whites, said to be derived from the Indians, this bald spot was a clearing which he made for a farm. Some distance farther to the west, on the north bank of Cany fork, about 1 mile above Moses creek and perhaps 10 miles above Webster, in the same county, is the Jutaculla rock, a large soapstone slab covered with rude carvings, which, according to the same tradition, are scratches made by the giant in jumping from his farm on the mountain to the creek below.

JUTACULLA ROCK: See Jutaculla old fields.

KÂL-DETSI'YÛÑYÏ: "Where the bones are," a ravine on the north side of Cheowa river, just above the mouth of East Buffalo creek, in Graham county. In the old time two Cherokee were killed here by

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the enemy, and their fate was unknown until, long afterward, their friends found their bones scattered about in the ravine.

NANTAHALA: A river and ridge of very steep mountains in Macon county, the name being a corruption of Nûñ'däye'`lï, applied to a former settlement about the mouth of Briertown creek, the townhouse being on the west side of the river, about the present Jarretts. The word means "middle sun, i.e., "midday sun," from nûñdä', "sun, and aye'`lï, "middle," and refers to the fact that in places along the stream the high cliffs shut out the direct light of the sun until nearly noon. From a false idea that it is derived from unûtï, "milk," it has been fancifully rendered, "Center of a woman's breast," "Maiden's bosom," etc. The valley was the legendary haunt of the Uw`tsûñ'ta (see number 45). As illustrating the steepness of the cliffs along the ,stream it was said of a noted hunter, Tsasta'wï, who lived in the old town, that he used to stand on the top of the bluff overlooking the settlement and throw down upon the roof of his house the liver of the freshly killed deer, so that his wife would have it cooked and waiting for him by the time he got down the mountain.

NUGÄTSA'NÏ: A ridge below Yellow Hill (Cherokee), on Oconaluftee river, in Swain county, said to be a resort of the Nûñnë'hï fairies. The word is an archaic form denoting a high ridge with a long, gradual slope.

QUALLA: A post-office and former trading station in Jackson county, on the border of the present East Cherokee reservation, hence sometimes called the Qualla reservation. The Cherokee form is Kwalï, or Kwalûyï in the locative. According to Captain Terrell, the former trader at that place, it was named from Kwalï, i.e., Polly, an old Indian woman who lived there some sixty years ago.

SÄLIGU'GÏ: "Turtle place," a deep hole in Oconaluftee river, about half a mile below Adams creek, near Whittier, in Swain county, said to be the resort of a monster turtle.

SKWAN'-DIGÛ`GÛÑ'YÏ: For Askwan'-digû`gûñ'yï, "Where the Spaniard is in the water," on Soco creek, just above the entrance of Wright's creek, in Jackson county. According to tradition a party of Spaniards advancing into the mountains was attacked here by the Cherokee, who threw one of them (dead?) into the stream.

SOCO GAP: Ähälu'na, Ä'hälunûñ'yï, or Uni'hälu'na, "Ambush," or "Where they ambushed"; at the bead of Soco creek, on the line between Swain and Haywood counties. The trail from Pigeon river crosses this gap, and in the old times the Cherokee were accustomed to keep a lookout here for the approach of enemies from the north. On the occasion which gave it the name, they ambushed here, just below the gap, on the Haywood side, a large party of invading Shawano, and killed all but one, whose ears they cut off, after which,

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according to a common custom, they released him to carry the news back to his people.

STANDING INDIAN: A high bald peak at the extreme head of Nantahala river, in Macon county. The name is a rendering of the Cherokee name, Yûñ'wï-tsulenûñ'yï "Where the man stood" (originally Yû'ñwï-dïkatâgûñ'yï, "Where the man stands"), given to it on account of a peculiarly shaped rock formerly jutting out from the bald summit, but now broken off. As the old memory faded, a tradition grew up of a mysterious being once seen standing upon the mountain top.

STEKOA: A spot on Tuckasegee river, just above Whittier, in Swain county, better known as the Thomas farm, from its being the former residence of Colonel W. H. Thomas, for a long time the agent of the East Cherokee. The correct form is Stikâ'yï, the name of an ancient settlement at the place, as also of another on a creek of the same name in Rabun county, Georgia. The word has been incorrectly rendered "little grease," from usdi'ga or usdi', "little," and ka'ï, "grease" or "oil," but the true meaning is lost.

SWANNANOA: A river joining the French Broad at Asheville, and the gap in the Blue ridge at its head. A magazine writer has translated this name "the beautiful." The word, however, is a corruption of Suwa'li-nûñnâ'(-hï) "Suwali trail," the Cherokee name, not of the stream, but of the trail crossing the gap toward the country of the Ani'-Suwa'lï or Cheraw (see number 104, "The Eastern Tribes").


TSI'SKWUNSDI'-ADSISTI'YÏ: "Where they killed Little-bird," a place near the head of West Buffalo creek, southwest of Robbinsville, in Graham county. A trail crosses the ridge near this place, which takes its name from a man who was killed here by a hostile war party in the old fighting days.

TSU'DINÛÑTI'YÏ: "Throwing down place," the site of a former settlement in a bend on the west side of Nantahala river, just within the limits of Macon county. So called from a tradition that a Cherokee pursued by the enemy threw away his equipment there.

TSUKILÛÑNÛÑ'YÏ: "Where he alighted," two small bald spots on the side of the mountain at the head of Little Snowbird creek, southwest of Robbinsville, in Graham county. A mysterious being, having the form of a giant, with head blazing like the sun, was once seen to fly through the air, alight at this place, and stand for some time looking out over the landscape. It then flew away, and when the people came afterward to look, they found the herbage burned from the ground where it had stood. They do not know who it was, but some think it may have been the Sun.

TSULÂ'SINÛÑ'YÏ: "Where the footprint is," on Tuckasegee river, about a mile above Deep creek, in Swain county. From a rock now

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blasted out to make way for the railroad, on which were impressions said to have been the footprints of the giant Tsul`kälû' (see story) and a deer.

TSUNDA`NILTI'YÏ: "Where they demanded the debt from him," a fine camping ground, on the north side of Little Santeetla creek, about half way up, west from Robbinsville, Graham county. Here a hunter once killed a deer, which the others o f the party demanded in payment of a debt due them. The Cherokee commonly give the creek the same name.

TSÛTA'GA UWEYÛÑ'Ï: "Chicken creek," an extreme eastern head-stream of Nantahala river, entering about 4 miles above Clear branch, in Macon county. So called from a story that some hunters camping there for the night once heard a noise as of chickens constantly crowing upon a high rock farther up the stream.

TSUTA'TSINÂSÛÑ'YÏ: "Where it eddies," a deep hole at the mouth of Cockram creek of Cheowa river, in Graham county, where is an eddy said to be caused by a buffalo which lives under the water at this spot, and which anciently lived at the mouth of West Buffalo creek, farther up the river.

TUSQUITTEE BALD: A bald mountain at the head of Tusquittee creek, eastward from Hayesville, in Clay county. The Cherokee name is Tsuwä'-uniyetsûñ'yï, "Where the water-dogs laughed," the water-dog of the southern Alleghenies, sometimes also called mud-puppy or hell-bender, being a large amphibious lizard or salamander of the genus Menopoma, frequenting muddy waters. According to the story, a hunter once crossing over the mountain in a very dry season, heard voices, and creeping silently toward the place from which the sound proceeded, peeped over a rock and saw two water-dogs walking together on their hind legs along the trail and talking as they went. Their pond had dried up and they were on the way over to Nantahala river. As he listened one said to the other, "Where's the water? I'm so thirsty that my apron (gills) hangs down," and then both water-dogs laughed.

UKTE'NA-TSUGANÛÑ'TATSÛÑ'YÏ: "Where the uktena got fastened," a spot on Tuckasegee river, about 2 miles above Deep creek, near Bryson City, in Swain county. There is a tradition that an uktena, trying to make his way upstream, became fastened here, and in his struggles pried up some large rocks now lying in the bed of the river, and left deep scratches upon other rocks along the bank.

UKTE'NA-UTANSI'NASTÛÑ'YÏ: "Where the uktena crawled," a large rock on the Hyatt farm, on the north bank of Tuckasegee river, about four miles above Bryson City, in Swain county. In the rock bed of the stream and along the rocks on the side are wavy depressions said to have been made by an uktena in going up the river.

UNTLASGÂSTI'YÏ: "Where they scratched," at the head of Hyatt creek, of Valley river, in Cherokee county. According to hunting

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tradition, every animal on arriving at this spot was accustomed to scratch the ground like a turkey.

VENGEANCE CREEK: A south tributary of Valley river, in Cherokee county. So called by the first settlers from an old Indian woman who lived there and whom they nicknamed "Vengeance," on account of her cross looks. The Cherokee call the district Gänsa`ti'yï, "Robbing place," from their having robbed a trader there in the Revolution.

WAYA GAP: A gap in the Nantahala mountains, in Macon county, where the trail crosses from Laurel creek of Nantahala river to Cartoogaja creek of the Little Tennessee. The Cherokee call it A`tâhi'ta, "Shouting place." For the tradition see number 13. It was the, scene of a stubborn encounter in the Revolution (see page 49). The name Waya appears to be from the Cherokee wä'`ya, "wolf."

WEBSTER: The county seat of Jackson county, on Tuckasegee river. Known to the Cherokee as Unadanti'yï, "Where they conjured." The name properly belongs to a gap 3 miles east of Webster, on the trail going up Scotts creek. According to tradition, a war party of Shawano, coming from the direction of Pigeon river, halted here to "make medicine" against the Cherokee, but while thus engaged were, surprised by the latter, who came up from behind and killed several, including the conjurer.

YÂ'NÛ-DINËHÛÑ'YÏ: "Where the bears live," on Oconaluftee river, about a mile above its junction with Tuckasegee, in Swain county. A family of "water bears" is said to live at the bottom of the river in a deep hole at this point.

YÂ'NÛ-U'NÄTAWASTI'YÏ: "Where the bears wash," a small pond of very cold, purple water, which has no outlet and is now nearly dried up, in a gap of the Great Smoky mountains, at the extreme head of Raven fork of Oconaluftee, in Swain county. It was said to be a favorite bear wallow, and according to some accounts its waters had the same virtues ascribed to those of Atagâ'hï (see number 69).

YAWÂ'Ï: "Yawa place," a spot on the south side of Yellow creek of Cheowa river, in Graham county, about a mile above the trail crossing near the mouth of the creek. The legend is that a mysterious personage, apparently a human being, formerly haunted a round knob near there, and was sometimes seen walking about the top of the knob and crying, Yawâ! Yawâ'! while the sound of invisible guns came from the hill, so that the people were afraid to go near it.

Next: 123. Local Legends Of South Carolina