Saturday, September 3, 2011


Yuchi (Euchean)

In my new book-Doublehead: Last Chickamauga Cherokee Chief, you can read about all the tribes that were part of Doublehead's confederacy.  The Yuchi were occupying the area of north Alabama prior to the first Spanish invaders coming through Alabama. 

Many people in north Alabama are not familiar with one of the most historic tribes to inhabit our area; however, the Yuchi were here at the time Desoto traveled through our part of the country in 1540.  They consider themselves the “First People” and are some of the most pure traditionalists among Indian people.  According to the Journal of Muscle Shoals History, “...the Cherokees were not the first Indians to live at the Muscle Shoals on the Tennessee River.  This honor belongs to the mound builders, who were followed by the Euchees (Yuchi), a tribe having a unique language and no migration legend.  They may have lived at the Shoals in pre-historic times.  The Euchees were probably living at the Shoals when Desoto (1540) came through Alabama and were definitely there in 1700 when discovered by some traveling Canadians... Shortly after they were discovered by the Canadians in 1700, the Euchees departed from the Shoals and moved to the mountainous regions of what is now East Tennessee” (Watts, 1973).  Another contigent of Yuchi migrated south along Black Warriors’ Path and settled near the mouth of Euchee Creek and the Chattahoochee River in present-day Russel County, Alabama.

John R. Swanton in his book, The Indians of the Southeastern United States, shows the Yuchi (Euchees) living along Elk River and the Tennessee River at the mussel shoals in the early 1700’s.  For some reason, part of the Yuchi migrated to the Hiwassee River in east Tennessee and the rest migrated south to the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama-Georgia border.  After fighting the Cherokee in east Tennessee, many of these northern Yuchi also migrated south to the Chattahoochee River Valley; however, a few Yuchi remained in the Tennessee Valley maintaining friendly relations with Doublehead and the lower Cherokee, who sought the alliance of all regional tribes.

According to Tom Hendrix’s book, “If the Legends Fade”, his great great grandmother was Yuchi and was born in the Tennessee Valley about the time Doublehead and his people were controlling the area. “Her name was Te-lah-nay, which means Woman with Dancing Eyes.  She was born above the shoulder bone in the valley of the Tennessee River in the 1800’s.  Her tribe was the Yuchi, and she was my great-great-grandmother” (Hendrix, 2000).  The shoulder bone Hendrix refers to is now under the backwaters of Wilson Lake about midway between Wheeler Dam and Wilson Dam on the Tennessee River.  This shoulder bone is now an underwater island about four to five feet below the backwaters of present-day Wilson Dam, and lies slightly north of the middle of the river and just east of a line drawn from Gargis Hollow to Four Mile Creek.  The underwater island is in the shape of a shoulder blade bone with the small end facing downstream.

 Some of the Yuchi intermarried with the Cherokee and assisted Doublehead in establishing his domain and Indian alliance along the Big Bend.  The Yuchi were considered the “First People” of the Muscle Shoals area of the Tennessee River.  They were known as the "Children of the Sun".  As recorded by Terra Manasco in the book Walking Sipsey (1992), “It was the Uchee, who called themselves the Children of the Sun, who first used this site to Walk the Rainbow.  Inducing themselves into a trance of blue-blackness formed by a series of sacred number patterns, a cord of white light would shoot out from their navels and arc out into the universe.  It was upon this cord that they Walked the Rainbow and visited many worlds.  The symbols carved on Kinlock’s rocks are the magic symbols used in the trance as well as recreations of spirits encountered beyond the Rainbow.”   The Kinlock Rock Shelter was sacred to the Yuchi and Chickamauga and today is still considered sacred by those mixed Indian people that still call north Alabama home. Kinlock was part of Doublehead’s territory located in the Warrior Mountains some 30 miles south of his home on the Muscle Shoals in present-day Lawrence County, Alabama.

If you want to read about the Indian people who helped Doublehead establish his domain in north Alabama, sign up for a copy of the book today.  Just let me know and I will put you on the list to get a copy when it is published.

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