29 May 2013

The term "Scotch-Irish"

Two of the most famous Irishmen of Scottish descent are former MP (Member of Parliament), former IRA (Irish Republican Army) Volunteer, and Long Kesh prison hunger striker Bobby Sands, and current president of Sinn Fein and SF deputy to the Irish parliament from Co. Louth, former MP, and former OC (Officer Commanding) of the IRA’s Northern Command, as well as my very distant cousin, Gerry Adams.

Not exactly what comes to mind when one hears the term “Scotch-Irish”, or “Scots-Irish” as most latter day proponents of the phrase and the idea now write.  A reason often given for the change is that Scotch comes from a bottle while Scots don’t, but Scots almost always use the word “whisky” (no “e”) when discussing the beverage rather than the other word.

Bobby was descended from an English family which migrated to the Lowlands of Scotland in the early 1400’s before relocating to the northern Irish province of Ulster in the 1600’s.  Gerry descends from some of the MacAdams of Galloway, a sept of the notorious Clan Gregor, who likewise crossed west over the Irish Sea to Ulster during the Plantations.  According to Gerry’s bio he is related to the political Adams family of the early United States which produced the country’s second and sixth presidents, as are the Adams from whom I am descended that were among the first settlers of the original Warren County in Tennessee.

Of course, the term “Scots-Irish” refers to those in America while their counterparts in Northern Ireland most often use the term “Ulster Scots” to describe themselves.  The problem in both cases is that those referred to are often more English-Irish, Welsh-Irish, Dutch-Irish, Flemish-Irish, etc., than they are Scots-Irish or Ulster Scots.

In my grammar school years, I grew up thinking of myself as Scotch-Irish.  This is what I was told when I asked, in spite of the fact that I was also told that the Hicks and the Buchanans were Dutch.  The Hamiltons were said to be English, and we knew from research done by Uncle Dick that the Stewarts are of Scottish origin. 

Uncle Dick liked to translate the Scottish royal motto, “Nemo me impune lacessit” as “Don’t let the bastards get you”, but the motto literally translates as “No one provokes me with impunity”.  In Latin, Uncle Dick’s English translation would actually be “Non illegitimi ite”.

Later I learned from cursory research that the Hamiltons are from Scotland; research, by the way, inspired by the miniseries “Roots”.  I found the same origin for the Buchanans, and that the Hicks were originally from England.  Further research after by an admission of my grandfather that my putative Hamilton great-grandfather was actually a step-great-grandfather of sorts led me to the knowledge that my true ancestors (by DNA) were MacConroys from Co. Galway in the western Ireland province of Connacht, nearly all of whom anglicized their name to King even in the old country.

But that realization came more than two decades later, and in the meantime I had thought of myself as Scottish-American.  When I saw the 1995 movie “Braveheart”, I cried when Wallace was hanged, drawn, and quartered, loving the movie so much that I forgave its numerous historical inaccuracies.  I even put “Scottish-American” as my ethnic identity on the long census form in 2000, which caused a major spat with my then girlfriend from Co. Clare.

Speaking of inaccuracies, the actual William Wallace wouldn’t have worn a kilt any more than Abolhassan Banisadr wore women’s clothing while escaping from the Islamic Republic of Iran ahead of the regime’s assassins in 1981, as those in power (including many “reformists”) accused him of doing at the time.  Kilts weren’t even developed until the 1500’s, over two centuries after Wallace’s execution. 

Three decades later, the former president of Iran did don a hijab in support of student activist Majid Tavakoli in December 2009 when the regime tried to shame Majid by parading him before TV cameras dressed in women’s clothing.  It was part of the international “I Am Majid” campaign in which I also took part that later morphed into a “Men In Hijab” campaign in support of equal rights for women in Iran.

Partially inspired by the Braveheart movie, I joined the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) in 1997, the year of the 500th anniversary of Wallace’s and Andrew Murray’s victory against the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.  The SNP now forms the government in the devolved Scotland.  I stayed a member until membership was discontinued for all non-UK citizens.  By the time that happened, though, I was a member of the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement (SRSM), which left SNP to join the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) at around the same time.

After a lot of research during the decade and a half following my return from the Philippines in 1992, the realization hit me:  I’m not Scottish-American at all, but Irish-American, no matter how many of the families from which I descend originated in Scotland before migrating to Ireland.  Nearly all my European ancestors came to this hemisphere and to this continent from the Emerald Isle.  Where their ancestors had been before Ireland is irrelevant; here they were considered Irish-American.  They came in two waves, first, in the Great Migrations of the 18th century, and, second, in the migrations of the 1840’s during the Great Irish (Potato) Famine.

Being Irish-American rather than Scottish-American does not mean that I have to give up being proud of the Scottish heritage my ancestors brought with them to Ireland, however.  Nor does it mean I have to give up activity on behalf of Scottish independence.

Until the 1840’s, nearly everyone descended from ancestors from Ireland considered their family Irish, if American.  For example, Doc Holliday (upon whom Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell based Rhett Butler), descended from Irish Presbyterians, considered himself every bit as much Irish as did his cousin and first love, Mattie Holliday, descended from Irish Catholics, who later became Sister Mary Melody (upon whom Mitchell, cousin to both, based Melanie Hamilton).

Irish Protestants formed the backbone of the rebellion in America that ultimately became a revolution to set up a “new order for the ages”.  While referred to on very rare occasions as “Scotch-Irish”, these Patriots most often called “ Irish Protestants” or “Irish Presbyterians” made up anywhere from half to three-quarters of Patriot forces, just as they made up around two-thirds of the immigrants from Ireland in the Great Migrations of the 18th century.

Immigrants from Scotland directly, Scottish-Americans, in particular those Highlanders sentenced to penal “transportation” into indentured servitude in the New World after the Jacobite Risings of the first half of the 18th century (1708, 1715, 1719, 1745), were paradoxically more inclined to be Loyalists during the Revolution.  And this was in spite of overtures by Alexander Hamilton’s circle to Bonnie Prince Charlie and other Jacobites in Europe.

Take John McDonald and Daniel Ross, for example, along with John and Henry Stuart, Alexander Cameron, Alexander Macgillivray, and William Mackintosh, all of whom fought alongside the Cherokee and Creek allied with the British during the war and then the Spanish in the war’s aftermath.

Back in the mother country, by the way, it was Irish Protestants (two Anglicans and nine Presbyterians) who founded the Society of United Irishmen under the mentorship of English-born Thomas Paine, the first organization of the Irish republicanism to which Bobby Sands and Gerry Adams are heirs.

Irish-Americans happily and proudly called themselves Irish within the context of being American (vis-à-vis English-American, German-American, Dutch-American, etc.) regardless of their ethnic origin within the Irish context until the poor, despondent, starving Irish fleeing the Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840’s began flooding into America’s northern ports-of-entry.  Seeking to distance themselves from “these” Irish, the descendants of more temporally distant arrivals began calling themselves “Scotch-Irish”.  But the term stayed in the North until early in the next century.

Meanwhile, the planter aristocracy which dominated the ante-bellum South became mired in the affectation of itself as the nobility in Walter Scott’s various historical romances.  Given this influence, the same aristocracy leaned toward the idea that they were Scottish.  That’s how the largest post-bellum paramilitary group resisting Reconstruction came to be called the Ku Klux KLAN.  Its organization and practice had more to do with secret fraternities, though, than with anything Scottish, the sole connection being the third part of the name.

Only in the early 20th century did people in the South pick up the term Scotch-Irish.  Southern Baptist minister Thomas Dixon’s highly popular Reconstruction trilogy and the plays adapted from its three novels were then sweeping the region, and the country.  To Dixon’s trilogy belong the novels The Leopard’s Spots: A Romance of the White Man’s Burden (1902), The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klu Klan (1905), and The Traitor: A Story of the Fall of the Invisible Empire (1907). 

The trilogy’s central book became a hugely popular play that pioneering film-maker D. W. Griffith turned into the 1915 ground-breaking epic “The Birth of a Nation”.  The film amplified many of the myths originating with the novel, such as cross-burning, the use of white robes, and the idea that the KKK was an altruistic group of latter day “knights” (in the actual organization ordinary members were called “ghouls”) fighting for justice against outside oppressors.  Its protagonists were the Scottish-origin Cameron family of South Carolina.

Released in February that year, the movie helped inspire the organization of the anti-Jewish Knights of Mary Phagan.  Phagan was a thirteen-year old mill worker found strangled and raped in an isolated part of the factory in which she worked in 1913.  A factory superintendent, Leo Frank, a Jewish-American born in Texas whose family had come there from Brooklyn, New York, was accused of the crime.

Aware of the books and plays popularity, Georgia politician and former Representative Thomas Watson, who as a leader of the Populist Party had previously campaigned for cooperation between poor whites and poor blacks against the wealthy elite, began crying for a return of the Ku Klux Klan.  The case and attacks on Frank as a Jew led, in turn, to the formation of the Anti-Defamation League of B’Nai Brith. 

Prominent Chattanooga attorney Lewis Shepherd, who had earlier taken part in the defense of Ed Johnson (lynched from the Walnut Street Bridge in 1906), took part in Frank’s legal defense, by the way.  Adolph Ochs, our city’s former resident native who published The Chattanooga Times before moving to New York City to take over The New York Times, became Frank’s staunchest defender in the press.

The Knights of Mary Phagan kidnapped Frank from Milledgeville Prison and took him to Marietta for his lynching 16 August 1915.  Three months later, they met on top of Stone Mountain outside of Atlanta and burned a cross in imitation of Griffith’s film.  On Thanksgiving, they fired up another as they inaugurated the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, with a transplanted Indiana native, William J. Simmons, as their leader.

It was in this time period and with this background that the term “Scotch-Irish” came into widespread use here in the South.  The Knights of the KKK soon spread throughout the South and then the rest of the country, and even across our northern border into Canada with the organization of the Royal Riders of the Red Robe.  “Scotch-Irish” in the South meant white, Protestant, non-Catholic, non-Jewish, native-born, prohibitionist, and Christian Dominionist, the same way the term “Anglo-Saxon” was used in the North at the time.

Dixon, it should be pointed out, was highly offended by the new organization, with its anti-Jewish and anti-Catholic positions and publicly repudiated it.  Griffith, taken aback by what his movie inspired, released the even more elaborate and more expensive four-part “Intolerance” in 1916.  He became one of the four founders of United Artists (along with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and Mary Pickford) in 1919.

The term “Scotch-Irish”, or rather “Scots-Irish”, no longer, or at least only rarely, has such a racist connotation any longer but it is still not very accurate.  For example, David Crockett, the former Tennessee Congressman who died at the Alamo, is often called Scots-Irish but his ancestors before Ireland were actually French Hugenots.  Like my Hicks and Tittle and Case ancestors who came to America from Ulster and are often mistakenly called Scots-Irish but arrived in Ireland directly from northern England.  In any case, the term only has real meaning only in the context of Ireland, where the currently preferred term is “Ulster Scots”, often simply a codeword for Protestant (vis-a-vis Catholic). 

By contrast, descendants of the Irish who flooded into Glasgow during its industrial heyday are, accurately, called Irish-Scots.  Such as the famous ardent Scottish nationalist Sean Connery, for example.  Or the Edinburgh native who became a hero to the working people of Scotland, Ireland, and America and ultimately died for the cause of Irish independence, James Connolly.

The current popular ethnic buzzword (or phrase) carrying the same connotations as the early 20th century use of the term “Scotch-Irish” is “Anglo-Celtic”, a euphemism with even less real concrete meaning than “Scotch-Irish”.

Handy freethought definitions

agnosticism - philosophical view that that the truth of certain ideas, such as the existence of deity, is unknown and/or unknowable
strict agnosticism holds the view that any ultimate reality (such as "God") is unknown and probably unknowable
empirical agnosticism holds the question to be unknown at present but not necessarily unknowable
apathetic agnosticism holds that the question is meaningless because there are no consequences either way
model agnosticism believes the question is not verifiable but that rational model can be achieved.

anticlericalism - opposition to involvment of clergy in other spheres of public life, especially politics; also, opposition to clerical authority within a religion by members of that religion, especially that of the hierarchy of the religion

antitheism - direct opposition to theism

apatheism - the position that the existence or nonexistence of god(s) is not important to one's daily life.

atheism - lack of belief in deity or deities, or disbelief in theism (by the strict definition of "theism").
implicit (weak, negative, soft, agnostic) atheism is the disbelief in the existence of deities.
explicit (strong, positive, hard, gnostic) atheism is the denial of any and all deity, or of one or more deities in particular.
agnostic atheism argues that the existence of deities is unknowable, that such knowledge is unimportant or irrelevant, and therefore refraining from making absolute claims of their existence of nonexistence is the best course.

deism - a system of thought advocating natural religion, emphasizing morality, and denying the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe
pandeism - combines pantheism with a deistic view of the divine
panendeism - combines panentheism with a deistic view of the divine

disbelief - mental rejection of something as untrue; refusal or reluctance to believe

freethought - unorthodox attitudes or beliefs, specifically deism (18th century)

humanism - (1) devotion to the humanities; (2) humanitarianism; (3) a doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on human interests or values; especially, a philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual's dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason

ignosticism - the position that the existence or non-existence of a deity or deities is meaningless because it has no verifiable consequences and should therefore be ignored. Also called theological noncognitivism.

materialism - belief that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter, and that the only or the highest values or objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material progress.

naturalism - belief that scientific laws are adequate to account for all phenomena

nonbelief - lack, absence, or reverse of religious belief

nontheism - lack of belief in a personal deity

rationalism - reliance on reason as the basis for establishment of religious truth; a theory that reason is in itself a source of knowledge superior to and independent of sense perceptions; or a view that reason and experience rather than the nonrational are the fundamental criteria in the solution of problems

secular humanism - humanistic philosophy viewed as a nontheistic religion antagonistic to traditional religion

secularism - belief that religion and the state should be completely separate, with neither the state interferring in religion nor religion interferring in the state

skepticism - attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object; doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain; the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism characteristic of skeptics; or doubt concerning basic religious principles (as immortality, providence, and revelation)

theism - belief in the existence of a deity or deities, or, more strictly, belief in the existence of a deity or deities viewed as the creative source of man and the world who transcend(s) yet is/are immanent in the world
monotheism - belief in a single deity
eutheism - belief that the universe and its creator are both inherently good
dystheism - belief that the proponderance of evil in the universe makes eutheistic belief implausible
maltheism - belief that the universe and its creator are both inherently evil
monism - belief that everything is essentially one essence
dualism - belief that everything is essentially two opposing essences
pluralism - belief in many varied essences
dualism - a belief in a deity of good opposed by an equal or nearly equal deity of evil
polytheism - belief in many deities
monolatry - belief that there are several dieties but only one that should be worshipped
henotheism - belief in one supreme deity while recognizing the existence of other deities
kathenotheism - belief that there are several deities who alternate as the supreme being
panentheism - belief that deity contains the universe, and is also something greater
pantheism - belief that equates deity with the universe and everything in it; also, worship of all deities of different creeds, cults, or peoples indifferently; also, toleration of worship of all deities
transtheism - belief that deity trascends the universe yet is immanent within it

unbelief - incredulity or skepticism, especially in matters of religious faith; lack of faith or belief in religious matters (c. 11th century)

unitarianism - denial of the Christian doctrine of the trinity

universalism - doctrine that each person can, must, and will find their own way to salvation, liberation, enlightment, etc.

26 May 2013

Victory Parade (poem)

(This poem was written at the Refugee Processing Center in Morong, Bataan, Philippines, in the summer of 1991.)

Stand and cheer, jump and shout
America is great again
Shower the streets with your confetti
Throw your yellow ribbons
See the conquering hero come
Our hometown heroes returned from abroad
Bringing the laurels and the gold
From the victory we’ve won
Don’t worry about “collateral damage”
Or the Kurdish and Shiite refugees
Whom we’ve betrayed
Rejoice that our new world order is safe
And America is free at last
From the ghost of Viet Name
Blow your horns and bang your drums
Unfurl your flags and hold them high
Bring the kids to the glorious parade
Tell them to be proud of what we’ve done
As the returning champions march
Down the avenue paved
With two hundred thousand
Iraqi bodies

13 May 2013

Tennessee's Indians in the Historical Era

The land now known as the State of Tennessee has been home to numerous American Indian peoples the past several thousand years.  In Southeast Tennessee and the rest of the tri-state area, the first that comes to mind is the Cherokee, while in West Tennessee and northern Mississippi it would probably be the Chickasaw.  In Middle Tennessee, the first to mind might be the Shawnee. 

While it’s true all these were present in the early historical era, none of the three were native to Tennessee nor was the land of the later state exclusive to just these three tribes of the historical era until as late as the mid-17th century.  At that point, the native population in the later state included the tribes or nations of Cherokee, Chickasaw, Shawnee, Chiaha, Koasati, Tuskegee, Kaskinampo, Tali, Natchez, and Yuchi.

At the time of first contact, the Southeast region was dominated by speakers of three language groups, not counting the abundant population in the territory of the current state of Florida: the Muskogean family, the Algonquin family, and the Siouan family. There were also language isolates such as the Yuchi, the Tuskegee, and the Natchez.  Speakers of Iroquoian family languages (Cherokee, Tuscarora, Nottoway, Meherrin) did not appear in the South until the first half of the 17th century. 


Paleolithic era

In North America, this covered the period from 18,000-8000 BCE.

Archaic era

In North America, this covered the period from 8000-1000 BCE.

Woodland era

The Woodland era is divided into three periods:  Early Woodland (1000 BCE-1 CE), Middle Woodland (1-500 CE), and Late Woodland (500-1000).

Mound complexes during the Woodland period served strictly ceremonial purposes and were almost never inhabited.  They were central to groups of hamlets and villages.  Hunting, gathering, and small-scale horticulture fed inhabitants. 

The greatest site of the entire Woodland era is the Pinson Mounds site in Madison County of West Tennessee.  Dating from the Middle Woodland period (1-500 CE), the site was purely ceremonial, without permanent habitation.  There are seventeen mounds and an earthen enclosure.  Saul’s Mound, the central feature of the entire complex, appears to have been a platform mound more for ceremonial purposes than burial.  It is the second highest aboriginal mound or pyramid in North America. 

The Old Stone Fort in Manchester in Coffee County, is our state’s other archaeological park and dates from the same period, though of entirely different construction.  Located on the peninsula formed by the confluence of the Duck and Little Duck Rivers, its earthen and stone walls are four to six feet high, and there are no mounds.

Another site in the local area, now destroyed, was the Tunacunnhee Mounds in what is now Trenton in Dade County, Georgia.  Rare for this region, the mounds were composed entirely of stone.  There is another group of mounds in the same county, the Hooker Mounds.

The Late Woodland period (500-1000) in Hamilton County was the most important phase of the Woodland period not only because that was its most populous phase, but because it developed its own cultural complex which spread to other regions in the Southeast, called the Hamilton Phase of the greater Hopewell Culture.

A handful of sites in the eastern U.S. demonstrate the in situ transition between the Woodland period and Mississippian periods.  The land where Heritage Landing now lies was one such site before construction of the townhouses there now.  Its former inhabitants crossed the river and became the founders of the substantial Mississippian site at Citico.

Mississippi era

The Mississippi era (900-1600) is divided into three periods:  Early Mississippi (900-1200), Classic (or Middle) Mississippi (1200-1400), and Late Mississippi (1400-1600), the latter including first contact with the Spanish conquistadors of La Florida.

During the Mississippi era, the population grew exponentially largely due to advances in agriculture and introduction of maize.  Social structures became more complex and stratified.  Villages became towns which were palisaded. 

Burial mounds still existed but were less important, and were included inside towns.  The newer, larger platform mounds, or pyramids, replaced them in importance and dominated each of the towns.  Generally, there was one large platform mound per town, but some few had more than one, as was the case in the Chattanooga region at Hiwassee Island, Citico at the mouth of the same-named creek, and the north end of Long Island in Marion County, Tennessee.

In East Tennessee, the archaeological complex from the Early to early Classic Mississippi Period is called the Hiwassee Island Phase.

During the Classic Mississippi period, the towns of North Georgia, Southeast and East Tennessee, and Northeast Alabama were dominated by the paramount chiefdom at the Etowah Mounds site.  De Soto’s chroniclers called the abandoned town of Talimachusi, its inhabitants, the Itawa, being much reduced and relocated several miles downriver. 

The complex of buildings and ceremonial objects and other cultural features in East Tennessee and North Georgia during this Classic Mississippi period was called the Dallas Phase, after the Dallas (Yarnell) site at the later Harrison.  The Dallas Phase continued in some places well into the Late Mississippi period, including first contact.

The corresponding complex in Middle Tennessee in the Cumberland Basin during the Classic Mississippi period is called the Thurston Phase.  The Thurston Phase’s most prominent towns were the ones that stood at Mound Bottom site and Pack site in on the Harpeth River in Cheatham County.  The Thurston Phase vanished along with the rest of the Middle Mississippian Culture around 1450. 

The Middle Mississippian Culture of which the Thurston Phase is part extended over the Lower Ohio, Middle Mississippi, and Cumberland Valleys.  The center of this larger culture was at Cahokia, Illinois, home to the largest earthen mound, or pyramid, north of Mesoamerica, Monks Mound, which stands a hundred feet high and contains a greater volume than another other pyramid in the Western Hemisphere.

In West Tennessee, the cultural complex that included the people at the archaeological site of Chucalissa near Memphis during the Classic Mississippi period is called the Walls Phase.

The Southern Appalachian Mississippian Culture covered Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Eastern Kentucky and East Tennessee.  It was dominated by the rivalry between the paramount chiefdom at Etowah and the one at Moundville in Alabama (home to twenty-nine platform mounds).  Other paramount chiefdoms in Southern Appalachian Mississippian Culture were that at Cofitachequi (aka Kasihta) and at Ocmulgee.

The Hiwassee Island Phase and the Dallas Phase, by the way, arose along the line where the Middle Mississippian met the Southern Appalachian Mississippian.

With the final collapse of Itawa, the town of Coosa rose up in its place.  Coosa was located at the Little Egypt site which the Cherokee had called Coosawattee, or Old Coosa Place, now under Carter’s Lake.  It was one of the two most prominent chiefdoms in the region when De Soto’s expedition invaded in 1540.  In later historical times, the inhabitants of Coosa relocated to North Alabama and merged with the Abihka town of the Creek Confederacy.

The Mouse Creek Phase, both successive to and contemporary with the Dallas Phase, was marked by burials around the family dwelling and the notable absence of platform mounds, as well as a generally more egalitarian culture than its Dallas Phase predecessor.  Mouse Creek is not the result of invasion and replacement but of in situ development adapting to circumstances, the same way the Woodland era developed in situ into the Mississippi era.  Mouse Creek sites are found in the Hiwassee Valley and in Hamilton County.

First Contact

The first Europeans to encounter the Indians of Tennessee, of course, were the Spanish would-be conquistadors of the 16th century.  The expedition of Hernando de Soto passed through both ends of Tennessee in 1540 and 1541.  That of Tristan de Luna came northwest in support of their allies from Coosa into the Chattanooga area.  Juan Pardo and his subordinates made at least three expeditions into the interior from the La Florida capital of Santa Elena on Parris Island, South Carolina, 1567-1569.  All three of the Pardo expeditions entered Tennessee, one planting two forts there that lasted eighteen months.

The overwhelming majority of the towns and peoples the Spanish encountered in Tennessee fell under the suzerainty of the paramount chiefdom at Coosa (Coosawattee, Georgia).  They were still in the Late Mississippi stage, dominated by chiefdoms with organized group agriculture, social classes, and the Southern Ceremonial Complex.  With a couple of exceptions, these people were all speakers of Muskogean languages, and part of what archaeologists call the Dallas Phase. 

The various peoples the Spanish encountered remained stable throughout most of the century, not moving until the massive dislocations provoked by increasingly cooler weather of the Little Ice Age that began around 1450, increasing contact with Europeans, the diseases imported with the new arrivals, and the chaotic Beaver Wars which plagued the north from 1609 to 1701.

The easiest way to list the towns and peoples then in East Tennessee is to list them as Spaniards would have encountered them along the routes they travelled from Santa Elena on Parris Island, South Carolina. 

The most important town to the Spanish in the interior was the one on Catawba River which they called Joara, or Xualla.  Though still subject to the paramount chiefdom of Cofitachequi, Joara was the dominant chiefdom for the Piedmont region of North Carolina, which informants to the Spanish called Chelaque, meaning speakers of a different language.  Its people were not those later called by the similar name, Cherokee, but the Siouan-speaking Catawba, specifically the division called Cheraw or Sara.  Pardo established Fort San Juan there in 1567.

In the mountains of northwestern North Carolina, the Spanish encountered a people they knew as the Chisca, who are otherwise known as the Yuchi.  Their territory spread into Upper East Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia.  Among the towns of the Yuchi the Spanish came across in Upper East Tennessee were Guasili and Canasoga, aka Cauchi, as well as Guapere on the upper Watauga River which was destroyed along with Maniateque near Saltville, Virginia, by Spanish soldiers under Hernando Moyano in 1567.   Moyano built a small fort at Cauchi called Fort San Pablo.

The next town/people to which they would have come is Tanasqui, which lay at the confluence of the French Broad and Pigeon Rivers.  Tanasqui, which ultimately gave its name to our state as Tennessee, sat at the northernmost limits of those subject to the paramount chiefdom of Coosa at Coosawattee, Georgia, now under Carters Lake.  Coosa took tribute from almost all of East Tennessee and Northwest Georgia and some of Northeast Alabama.

At Zimmerman’s Island at the mouth of the French Broad River lay the major town of Chiaha, then the dominant chiefdom in East Tennessee, if still subject to Coosa.  The town on the island was also called Olamico.  Moyano built another fort here, called Fort San Pedro.  Both it and Fort San Pablo at Cauchi/Canasoga were destroyed in 1569.

Below Chiaha in the Holston Valley, the town of Coste (Koasati) stood on Bussell’s Island at the mouth of the Little Tennessee River.  Upriver from there, along the Little Tennessee Valley, sat the towns of Satapo (Citico) and Chalahume (Chilhowee).

Beyond the towns in the Little Tennessee Valley, there was the town of Tali, for which many sites in the 16th century have been suggested, including Tellico Plains, Tennessee, but there are also several sites known to have been occupied at the time along the Tennessee River, for example the Late Mississippi site on Hiwassee Island, or perhaps the one at Ledford Island upstream in the Hiwassee River.  If that is the case, Tali would have been the first town they encountered of the Mouse Creek Phase. 

Although the Mouse Creek Phase was first identified along the Hiwassee Valley, it extends over Southeast Tennessee.  Beyond doubt, for instance, is the fact that the towns of Olitifar (Opelika at Audobon Acres), Tasqui at the Citico site in downtown Chattanooga, and Tasquiqui (Tuskegee) at the Hampton Place site on Moccasin Point were all Mouse Creek Phase sites.

{A note about the Citico site in downtown Chattanooga:  In the Middle Mississippi period of 1200-1400 and early in the Late Mississippi period 1400-1500 (though the period lasted itself until 1600), the remarkably large town at the mouth of the Citico Creek dominated all of East Tennessee and some of North Georgia.  Its apex of power and influence was contemporary with that of the town at the Etowah Mounds site.  The people of the latter had migrated several miles downriver by the time of the De Soto expedition, one of whose chroniclers called the site Talimuchisi.}

These people (Olitifar, Tasqui, Tasquiqui) were the same as those called the Napochi by the chief of Coosa when he demanded of De Luna that he and his men accompany his warriors north to put the rebels in their place in 1559.  After the Spanish and their Coosa allies burned Opelika, its inhabitants never returned and very likely relocated to Tasquiqui.  Spelled Tuskegee in English, these people, although subject to the paramount chiefdom at Coosa, spoke a non-Muskogean language, though their occupation of the area may have gone back centuries.

On the opposite end of Tennessee, the Spanish encountered the Quizquiz in the vicinity of present-day Memphis.  Upstream lived the Pacaha, whose chief town was in the vicinity of Turrell, Arkansas (Nodena site), but whose territory straddled the Mississippi River into West Tennessee.  The Pacaha (sometimes mistakenly identified as the Quapaw) were hostile to their neighbors, the Casqui, whose chief town was near Parkin, Arkansas.  The Quizquiz were subject to the paramount chiefdom at Pacaha.

A Time of Great Tribulation

Sociologist Henry F. Dobyns estimates that nearly 145 million people inhabited the Western Hemisphere in 1490.  By 1600, disease, disruption, and drastic climate change left a population of a mere 1.5 million, a drop of 98.97%.  The Valley of Mexico and Central and South America, much more populous and much more exposed, suffered a greater percentage than their cousins in the rest of North America.

The 17th century saw the beginning of new empires trying to get their foot, or more accurately both feet, in the door of the wealth that was North America.  Europeans exported furs, timber, and other goods, and imported people as colonists as the French, the English, the Dutch, the Swedish, the English, and the Scottish joined the Spanish in North America. 

In addition to watching more and more of their people die from strange new diseases against which they had no defense, the native inhabitants fought each other for spoils of trade with the newcomers and over decreasing resources brought about partially by that very trade as well as European colonization and partially by the increasingly severe Little Ice Age.

By 1600, De Soto’s Casqui had shifted to the Lower Tennessee River, which was often called Kaskinampo River after them.

The Beaver Wars began in 1609 when French explorer Samuel de Champlain and his men attacked the Iroquois tribes living along the St. Lawrence River in alliance with the Innu (Montagnais), the Algonquin, and the Wendat (Huron).  The Iroquois, who had by then become the Five Nations (or Haudenosaunee), became sole trading partners of the Dutch in New Netherlands after defeating and displacing the Mahican in 1628. 

Armed with European weaponry courtesy of their Dutch partners, the Iroquois soon began a campaign of conquest in 1638 which altered life on the entire continent.  Many nations were absorbed, destroyed, or dispersed to other regions, usually never to return.  A large part of the blame for this lies with the French, who refused to supply their allies with firearms.  The Ohio Country, Central Great Lakes, and part of the Illinois Country became virtually uninhabited.  The Beaver Wars didn’t end until the Great Peace of Montreal in 1701.

The first victims of the Five Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca) were their fellow Iroquoian-speaking neighbors.  The Wenro, Attiwandaron (Neutral), Susquehannock (Andaste, Conestoga), and Scahentoarrhonon peoples disappeared entirely either by death or absorption into the Five Nations.  The Wendat (Huron) and their neighboring Tionantati (Tobacco, Petun) were so decimated that they merged as the Wyandotte Nation. 

The Erie (Riquéronon, Nation du Chat), originally inhabiting the shore of the lake named for them, were dispersed into small groups, some remaining in the north to be eventually absorbed by the Five Nations, the rest migrating south along with other refugees, where they became the Tuscarora, Nottoway, Meherrin, Westo, and Cherokee.  Their migration took some time, with “Nation du Chat” noted on French maps in the Great Lakes region into the early 18th century.

The Siouan-speaking tribes of the Virginia Piedmont—the Manahoac, Monacan, Tutelo, Saponi, and Occaneechi—were so reduced by disease and warfare peripheral to the Beaver Wars that by the early 18th century they had become one tribe, the Tutelo-Saponi, and migrated north where they were adopted by the Cayuga.

The Siouan-speaking Dhegiha of the Ohio Valley of Kentucky sought refuge westward, crossing the Mississippi River to become the Kaw (Kansa), Omaha, Osage, Ponca, and Quapaw.  Another Siouan-speaking tribe in the Ohio Valley, the Mosopelea (Ofo) turned left when they got to the Mississippi and headed south to join the Biloxi-Tunica.

The Algonquian-speaking Mohican, Lenape (Delaware), and Shawnee were reduced and/or dispersed out of the reach of the Iroquois.   The Beaver Wars shifted from the Ohio Valley to the Illinois Valley, where the advance of the Iroquois was stymied by a coalition of Algonquian-speaking confederacies with the support of the Lakota, then still sedentary agricultural hunter-gatherers in Minnesota.

As of 1625, the tribes on the Tennessee River remained static, at least as far as location.  But that was soon to change.

By 1648, French sources report the Shawnee in the Central Cumberland Basin.  Two of that people’s five bands, the Chillicothe and the Kispoko, were there.  Meanwhile, the largest band, the Hathawekela, moved to the Savannah River, which was named for them (Savannah being an Algonquian word for Southerner).

Since the early 17th century, Iroquoian-speaking refugees had been flooding southward over the Piedmont and Appalachian Mountains, primarily from the Erie (Riquéronon). 

In 1654, the English of Jamestown, with the Pamunkey of the Powhatan Confederacy, attacked a large town of 600-700 warriors of a people they called the “Rechahecrian” in the vicinity of the later Richmond, and lost the battle decisively. 

A couple of years later, in 1656, a group called the “Westo” with many similarities to the “Rechahechrian” settled on the Savannah River and established a trading monopoly with the Province of Carolina, like the Occaneechi then had with Virginia Colony.  A significant part of their trading was in slaves that came from other Indians peoples in the region.

By 1670, the “Rickohakan” dominated the western Carolina Piedmont and mountain areas, as reported by Virginia explorer James Lederer.  These became known as the Cherokee.  The Iroquoian-speakers in eastern North Carolina became the Tuscarora, while those who stayed in Virginia became the Nottoway and the Meherrin.

In 1673, a party sent out from Jamestown to establish a trade link to bypass the Occaneechi, who then held a monopoly over trade with the interior as middle-men, met a party of warriors they called the “Tomahitans”, who took them west to their town over the Appalachian Mountains.  These Tomahitans were clearly Yuchi from several accounts and had by this time shifted from the mountains and Southwest Virginia to the Holston Valley, and likely further. 

The Westo town on the Savannah was destroyed by their Shawnee neighbors in 1680, with the survivors fleeing to refuge on the Chattahoochee among the Creek.  A more inland group on the headwaters of the Savannah known as the Cherokee became the new traders of Indian slaves for the colony of South Carolina.

The Frenchmen Jesuit priest Father Jacques Marquette and trader Louis Joliet became the first men to explore the Mississippi in 1681, going south from New France down to about the middle of the later state of Mississippi.  On his map of their travels, French cartographer Melchisédech Thévenot noted the Aganahali in the Memphis area where the De Soto chroniclers previously noted the Quizquiz.  This could be another name for the latter, survivors soon absorbed by the Chickasaw, or it could be a name for the Chickasaw themselves.

Another French cartographer, Jean-Baptiste-Louis Franquelin, produced a map of the new territory of La Louisiane in 1684 that showed three towns or peoples (Tchalaka, Katowagi, Taligui) on the headstreams of the Tennessee River.  All three are names of other peoples for those now usually called Cherokee, Tchalaka from the Creek, Katowagi from the Shawnee, and Taligui from the Lenape (Delaware).  Perhaps the map’s three separate markers denoted the known thee dialects of the Cherokee language.

Wars and rumors of wars

Certainly by the dawn of the 18th century, the Rechaherian/Richohokan/Cherokee, who had for some time occupied the mountains of the North Carolina-East Tennessee border and the headwaters of the Savannah River, had spread to the Little Tennessee Valley and Tellico River. 

Just as certainly, the Chickasaw had spread from northern Mississippi into southwestern Tennessee, either absorbing or wiping out the Quizquiz/Aganahali.

French maps from the early 18th century, when they were exploring their newly-claimed territory of La Louisiane, show the following on the middle to upper course of the Tennessee:  Chickasaw, Yuchi, Tali, Kaskinampo, Koasati, and Tuskegee.  The same maps show Shawnee villages above those, but these were likely misplaced since the same maps show the Cumberland River bearing the name Shawnee River.

At the turn of the century, the Tuskegee likely remained in their home on Moccasin Point (the Mouse Creek Phase site called Hampton Place), though they may have shifted to Williams Island which for a long time was called Tuskegee Island.  Shortly thereafter, in the second of third decade, they split, one group heading south to the Creek Confederacy and another to the Cherokee along the Little Tennessee River.

The Koasati and the Kaskinampo occupied towns at opposite ends of Long-Island-on-the-Tennessee (Marion County, Tennessee and Jackson County, Alabama), apparently being on good terms.

The Tali at the time were probably on Pine Island, or else on one of the banks on either side.

We know from other contemporary sources that there was a band of Yuchi on the Great Bend of the Tennessee River, just above the Muscle Shoals (which extended roughly from Browns Island eleven miles below Decatur to Florence).  In the Hiwassee Valley, Yuchi occupied Chestowee on South Mouse Creek, Hiwassee Island, Euchee Old Fields in Rhea County, possibly the Mouse Creek site in Roane County, and the later site of Old Tennessee Town in Polk County.

At this time and at least until 1769, the Chickasaw had a town at Ditto Landing in Madison County, Alabama, downstream from Hobbs Island, later known as Chickasaw Old Fields.

According to ethnologist James Mooney, the last “Cherokee” town in the Great Lakes region was destroyed by the Lenape in 1708.  His information came from Cherokee sources.  If true, it is most likely they who built the town of Tomotley on the Little Tennessee River, since the structure of its dwellings is more northern-style longhouse than the other Overhill Towns. 

Early in the century, Cherokee Overhill Towns included Mialoquo (Great Island), Tuskegee, Tomotley, Toqua, Tanasee, Chota, Citico, “Halfway Town”, Chilhowee, and Telassee along the Little Tennessee River, and Great Tellico and Chatuga on the Tellico River.

In the early 1700’s, a large portion of the Hathawekela band of Shawnee, who were then living on the Savannah River, moved from there to join their cousins in the Cumberland Valley.  This additional influx of manpower and resource stress upset the balance of power in the area, so the Chickasaw and the Cherokee formed a loose alliance to drive them out, with hostilities lasting 1710-1715, though some Shawnee remained until 1721. 

Instead of migrating north, one group of the Kispoko Shawnee relocated south to the Great Bend of the Tennessee and the protection of the Chickasaw and Creek.  The parents of the noted warriors Chiksika and Tecumseh were among them.  Chiksika was probably born there, and his brother may have been also.

Induced by two English traders from Charlestown then living on the Little Tennessee River, the Cherokee attacked and destroyed the Yuchi town at the Chestowee site at the mouth of South Mouse Creek in 1714.  French cartographer Guillaume Delisle’s « Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississippi » published in 1718 showed one band of Yuchi on Hiwassee Island and another on the Ohio River, probably refugees. 

We also know from Mooney that Yuchi were living along Cohutta, Chickamauga, and Pinelog Creeks in North Georgia until Removal, probably seeking refuge here at the time.  Meanwhile, the Cherokee occupied Great Hiwassee, Old Tennessee Town, Ocoee, Chestowee, and Amoyee (on Ledford Island).

After the Cherokee of the Lower Towns massacred a Creek peace delegation in Tugaloo town on the river of the same name in 1715, the two peoples began hostilities that lasted until the Battle of Taliwa in North Georgia in 1755.  Naturally, this conflict led the Muskogean-speakers still living on river in East Tennessee to migrate and join what became the Creek Confederacy.  Even the formerly great town of Coosa was abandoned, its people merging with the Abihka.

In 1730, the French and their Choctaw allies destroyed the large town of the Natchez, the last people to maintain the culture of the Mississippi period.  The British-allied Chickasaw took in the majority of the survivors, but a portion took refuge with the Cherokee in the Overhill area, where they established a town on Notchy Creek.  Some Natchez fled as far away as Murphy, North Carolina.

By invitation of the Cherokee in the Overhills, a group from the Piqua band of Shawnee settled on the Cumberland River in 1746 as had their cousins before.  After tolerating their presence for a decade, the Chickasaw began attacking and drove them out in 1756.  The Cumberland River was called the Shawnee River on maps as late as 1763.  The Chickasaw attack on these Shawnee was one of the main irritants which led to the Chickasaw-Cherokee War of 1758-1769.  This is the war which ended at the Battle of Chickasaw Old Fields.

In the meantime, the colony of South Carolina ended its slave trade with the Cherokee in 1748.

The French and the British and their respective Indian allies launched the French and Indian War, which lasted 1754-1763.  The French had a forward outpost in the center of on Long-Island-on-the-Tennessee, between the towns of Koasati and Kaskinampo, and may have also had another, smaller post on the Chickamauga at the later Brainerd Mission.  Their Creek allies, meanwhile, reinhabited their old town of Coosa, in support of the pro-French Cherokee at Tellico and Chatuga.  When the Cherokee entered the war in the connected conflict known as the Anglo-Cherokee War (1758-1761), it led to nearly all the towns in the nation being devastated.

At the close of the French and Indian War, the two towns on Long Island relocated south to the later Larkin’s Landing just below Scottsboro, Alabama, merging as Coosada.

With the outbreak of the American Revolution (1775-1783) and the related conflicts of the Chickamauga Wars (1776-1794) and the Northwest Indian War (1785-1795), Shawnee returned to Tennessee, maintaining a presence of a hundred warriors in the area, at the invitation of their Cherokee allies, who in return sent a hundred warriors north.

After their initial defeat in 1776, the militant Cherokee removed southwest to the Chattanooga area, with the chief town of their reported eleven, “Old Chickamauga Town”, across the South Chickamauga Creek (then called Chickamauga River) from the commissary of British Assistant Superintendent for Southern Indian Affairs John McDonald.  They abandoned all eleven towns in 1782, relocating southwest, with their chief town of Running Water in the vicinity of the current Whiteside, Tennessee, and another at Nickajack, or Shellmound, Tennessee.  Their other towns were in Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama.

When the Cherokee ceased fighting at the end of 1794, the Creek continued on, targeting white settlements mostly in the Cumberland Basin.  This brought them into conflict with the Chickasaw, now allied with the Americans, who in turn earned the wrath of the Creek by joining the American army in the Northwest.  The conflict between the two nations ended in June 1796.  It was the last time native warriors fought in Tennessee until the Civil War, when the Thomas Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders was often the main Confederate force in the Department of East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, which included Western North Carolina.

After the end of the wars, the Shawnee returned north and some of the Cherokee returned to the “Chickamauga towns” in the Chattanooga area.  Besides Chickamauga and Chatanuga along the creek by the same name, there was Toqua at the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek, Opelika in the East Brainerd-Graysville area, Buffalo Town near the present Ringgold, Georgia, Cayoka on Hiwassee Island (later home of John Jolly and Sam Houston), Black Fox in Bradley County, Ooltewah, Sawtee on Laurel (North Chickamauga) Creek, Citico along the creek of the same name, and Tuskegee in Lookout Valley.

The Chickasaw “voluntarily” removed themselves west of the Mississippi in 1837.  They gathered in Chickasaw Bluffs (Memphis, Tennessee), and crossed the river there.

The following year, the Cherokee were rounded up into concentration camps from which they were forcibly removed to Indian Territory.  Their last lands in Tennessee formed the Ocoee District, comprising the land south of the Hiwassee and Tennessee Rivers to the Georgia and Alabama borders in the south and the North Carolina border in the east.  With their departure, the last native culture disappeared from Tennessee.

A list of Tennessee’s tribes or nations


Named on French maps in the early 18th century, these occupied approximately the same area as the occupied by the Quizquiz of De Soto’s chroniclers.


One of the towns encountered by the Spanish in the 16th century, it was probably located in the same place as the later Cherokee town of Citico.  One of the Cherokee towns in the late 17th-18th centuries had the same name, Chilhowee, though it was farther upstream.  The people of the 16th century town may have merged with the Koasati before that group moved downstream.


Once thought to have originated where they were found in the late 17th century, most scholars now believe that the Cherokee were much more recent arrivals, first appearing in the region in the early years of the Beaver Wars in the 17th century.  They have been identified with the Late Qualla Phase which lasted in the Appalachian Summit from 1650 until Removal. 

Today they make up the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the United Keetowah Band of Cherokee Indians, and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.


By 1715, these former inhabitants of the town on Zimmerman’s Island lived with the Upper Creek on the Chattahoochee River.  When the Creek migrated west to Alabama, the Upper Chiaha went with them while the Lower Chiaha headed south and became some of the founders of the Seminole.

They survive today among the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and as the Miccousukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.


In addition to the main group in their initial home in northern Alabama-Mississippi and later in northern Mississippi-Southwest Tennessee, a band known as the Lower Chickasaw lived on the Savannah River from about 1730 to about 1775.

They survive as the Chickasaw Nation.


A confederacy rather than a tribe, this group became home to many peoples formerly living on the upper Tennessee River. 

There were two basic divisions, the Muscogee-speaking Upper Creeks led by the towns of Abihka (which absorbed Coosa) and Tukabatchee and the Hitchiti-speaking Lower Creeks led by the towns of Kasihta (Cofitachequi) and Coweta.  Other primary tribes/towns which made up the Confederacy include: Atasi, Eufaula, Hilibi, Holiwahali, Okchai, Pakana, Wakokai, Fushatchee, Kanhatki, Kealedji, Kolomi, and Wiwohka.

They survive today as the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and as the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, and also in the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma.


By the mid-18th century, these people had merged with the Koasati and were living in the town of Coosada at Larkin’s Landing in Alabama.

For a century or so, the lower Tennessee River, and sometimes its entire length, was called by their name.

Their descendants shared the fate of their Koasati hosts.


By the 1800’s, these people had moved from Coosada at Larkin’s Landing to just below the confluence where the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers become the Alabama River.

They survive today in the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, and the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town in Oklahoma.


At the time of contact, these were the most powerful tribe in the Lower Mississippi Valley with their seat at Emerald Mound and the last to maintain a classic Mississippian culture with the full Southern Ceremonial Complex well into the historical period.  Their descendants survive among the Chickasaw, the Muscogee (Creek), and the Cherokee.


Named thus by the chroniclers of De Soto, this people in the vicinity of Memphis, Tennessee, may be the same as those later called Aganahali on French maps.


Originally at the Dallas Phase site at the later town of Toqua, these people may have died out or may have merged with the Koasati.


Originally one people with the Lenape and the Nanticoke, the Shawnee in historical times found themselves divided into five bands—Chillicothe, Hathawekela, Kispoko, Piqua, Mekoche—some of which found their way south during or as a consequence of the Beaver Wars.

The Chillicothe and Kispoko bands of Shawnee lived in the Central Cumberland Basin from at least 1648 until 1715, with stragglers staying until 1721.  A group of Hathawekela moved there from the Savannah River and stayed for a short time in the early 18th century.  The Piqua band lived there from 1746 to 1756. 

When their main group returned north, one group of the Kispoko moved to the Great Bend of the Tennessee River, where they lived until 1761.  According to turn of the century (19th/20th) archaeologist Clarence B. Moore, another group of Shawnee had previously lived in the Great Bend 1660-1721.

The Hathawakela on the Savannah River relocated to the Chattahoochee in 1717, some later moving to the Tallapoosa while others returned north.  The Piqua lived for a time in the Panhandle of Florida before living next to the Abihka on the Talladega River.  These two Shawnee groups later combined into one.

The Hathawekela, Kispoko, and Piqua merged together as the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma.  There are two other Shawnee tribes in that state, the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and the Shawnee Tribe.  Other Shawnee descendants survive in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and the Sauk and Fox Nation, and among the Seminoles of Florida.


The Tali probably lived on Pine Island and were ultimately absorbed by the Koasati later in the 18th century.


Originally at the confluence of the French Broad and Pigeon Rivers, this town gave its name to our state, as well as a Cherokee town on the Little Tennessee River and another south of the Hiwassee River near the Savannah Ford.  Several scholars have posited that the word is Yuchi, and in their trek southwest from the mountains, the Yuchi may very well have paused in the Little Tennessee Valley.  They certainly inhabited the site on the Hiwassee for a time.


One group of Tuskegee (Tasquiqui) migrated northeast to join the Cherokee of the Overhill Towns on the Little Tennessee River.  Another lived on the island which bore their name and became Williams Island.  This group later migrated south to the Creek Confederacy and had their town first, on the Chattahoochee River near Columbus, Georgia as early as 1685.  Later they moved to the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers.


When first they encountered Europeans, the Yuchi (Chisca, Euchee, Hogohegee, Tomahitans, Tahogalewi, Tahokale, Ani-Yutsi, Tsoyaha) were in Southwestern Virginia-Northeast Tennessee-Western North Carolina, the area often called the Appalachian Summit. 

Their towns at the time included Guasili, Canasoga/Cauchi, Guapere on the upper Watauga River, Maniateque near Saltville, Virginia, and possibly Tanasqui at the confluence of the Freench Broad and Pigeon Rivers.

In the first half of the 17th century, they lived along the Holston River, which was called by a version of their name (Hogohegee) on maps until 1799.  Before the end of that century, the Yuchi were in the Hiwassee Valley and its vicinity, including the later “Old Tennessee Town” of the Cherokee below the Savannah Ford in Polk County, Chestowee at the mouth of South Mouse Creek in Bradley County, Euchee Old Fields in Rhea County (now under Watts Bar Lake), and possibly other sites.

Two traders from South Carolina living among the Cherokee in the Little Tennessee River town of Tanasi, Eleazer Wiggan and Alexander Long, tricked the Cherokee into destroying the Yuchi town about the mouth of South Mouse Creek, which led to a battle at Euchee Old Fields.  That was the extent of the Cherokee-Yuchi War of 1714. 

However, it led to the Yuchi relocating southwest to the Cohutta, upper Chickamauga, and Pinelog Creeks, and to the Tennessee River above Muscle Shoals.  One group of Yuchi lived on the Savannah River approximately 1722-1750 before moving to the Chattahoochee to live among the Creek.  In fact, the Yuchi were one of the most widely dispersed native peoples in North America, with bands reported in dozens of locations.

The Euchee (Yuchi) Tribe of Indians is headquartered in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, and is currently seeking federal recognition.  It has a seat on the board of Indian tribes of the State of Oklahoma.