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Original territory of the Yuchi Tribe

The Yuchi, also spelled Euchee and Uchee, are a Native American Indian tribe previously living in the eastern Tennessee River valley in Tennessee, northern Georgia, and northern Alabama, who now primarily live in the northeastern Oklahoma area. Their own name for themselves is Tsoyaha, meaning "Children of the Sun". Their population plummeted in the 18th century due to foreign diseases and war with the Cherokee. In 2005 there were approximately 3,000 Yuchi people.



The origin of the Yuchi has long been a mystery. The Yuchi language does not closely resemble any other Native American language, suggesting a long period of isolation from other Native Americans of the historic era.

The Big Turtle Dance of the Yuchi people.

European colonial records provide information about the Yuchi dating back to the 17th century. It has been suggested that the Yuchi and the Westo were the same people, but there is debate over this theory. There is strong historical and archaeological evidence for several Yuchi towns of the 18th century. One of the earlier towns to be recorded to colonial records is that of Chestowee in southeastern Tennessee. In 1714, largely instigated by two traders from South Carolina, the Cherokee attacked and destroyed the Yuchi town of Chestowee. The Cherokee were prepared to carry their attacks to the Savannah River Yuchi settlements, but when word that the government of South Carolina did not condone these attacks, the Cherokee held back. The Cherokee destruction of the Yuchi Chestowee marked the emergence of the Cherokee as a major power.[1] Another early Yuchi town existed at Mount Pleasant on the Savannah River in present-day Effingham County, Georgia, from about 1722 to about 1750. A large Yuchi town known as "Uche town" existed on the Chattahoochee River during the middle to late 1700s. It was located near Uche Creek, about 10 miles downriver from the Creek settlement of Coweta Old Town. It was visited by William Bartram in the 1770s, who praised its layout and thriving population. Another Yuchi town existed on Silver Bluff in Aiken County, South Carolina from 1746 to 1751. The Yuchi town known as "Patsiliga" existed on the Flint River in the late 1700s. Possible Yuchi towns may have existed on the Oconee River near Uchee Creek in Wilkinson County, Georgia, and on Brier Creek in Burke County, Georgia or Screven County, Georgia.[2]

In the early 19th century the Yuchi were forcibly removed along with the Muscogee to Oklahoma. Historically, the Yuchi have always been a separate people from other tribes though they have often been grouped with and treated with other people, most importantly, with the Creeks.

A claim has recently been made that a band of the Yuchi lived in the area now known as Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia area, at a town site near the current Saltville, Virginia. This claim by the modern "Remnant Yuchi" Tribe is highly controversial and has caused heated debate due to it's political implications and lack of documented historical proof.

Current status

The distinct culture of the Yuchi is manifest in the arts, such as this flute.

Currently, most Yuchi are of multi-tribal descent. Many are citizens of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, although many are citizens of other tribes, such as the Shawnee or Sauk and Fox. Yuchi people have tried to attain federal recognition from the United States in the last decades of the 20th century but have not been successful thus far, since most Yuchi are enrolled in other tribes. Organizations have striven to be representative tribal governments; however, none have achieved widespread support to date.

Yuchi language

The Yuchi language is a linguistic isolate, not known to be related to any other language. The Yuchi people and language are the subject of a chapter in Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages, a book on endangered languages by Mark Abley. In 2000 the estimated number of fluent Yuchi speakers was 15, but this number dwindled to 7 by 2006.[3] Fears of language extinction might be premature given the fact that young people of the Yuchi tribe have learned the language in recent years and are continuing to do so.[4] There are currently Yuchi language classes being taught in Sapulpa, Oklahoma to help preserve the language. This effort was spearheaded by Richard Grounds and the Euchee Language Project.[5]

Notable Yuchi

See also


  1. ^ Gallay, Alan (2002). The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South 1670-1717. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10193-7.  
  2. ^ * Mount Pleasant. An Eighteenth-Century Yuchi Native American Town, British Trader Outpost, and Military Garrison in Georgia, Lamar Institute Reports
  3. ^ Anderton, Alice, PhD. Status of Indian Languages in Oklahoma. Intertribal Wordpath Society. 2006-2009 (retrieved 7 Feb 2009)
  4. ^ Scientists: Many World Languages Are Dying, Associated Press via Fox News, 2007-09-18. Accessed 2007-09-19.
  5. ^ Anderton, Alice, PhD. Board of Directors. Intertribal Wordpath Society. 2006-2009 (retrieved 7 Feb 2009)


  • Mark Abley Spoken Here : Travels Among Threatened Languages. Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
  • Jason Jackson Yuchi Ceremonial Life: Performance, Meaning, and Tradition in a Contemporary American Indian Community. University of Nebraska Press, 2003.
  • Frank Speck Ethnology of the Yuchi Indians (reprint). University of Nebraska Press, 2004.

External links



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