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Yuchi Indians


Introduction

Yuchi (alternate spellings Yuchee, Uchee, Uchi, many others) is a tribe of the Creek Confederacy that once controlled the mouth of the Savannah River before moving upriver to Silver Bluff (Augusta). From Silver Bluff they moved to the vicinity of Ocmulgee Old Fields and the Ogeechee River around 1680, although remnants of the tribe lingered in the Silver Bluff area until 1716. In 1716 almost all members of the Yuchi tribe moved west again to the Chattahoochee River Valley, where they inhabited a site once controlled by the Hitchiti, where they became members of the Creek Confederacy. This site is generally referred to as Yuchi-Town, now within Fort Benning, Alabama. In 1836 they were among the last Creek tribes to be removed from Georgia. It is generally believed they had a language unique from all other tribes in the Creek Confederacy.

Other tribes, such as the Westo, are sometimes grouped with the Yuchi, however, at this time the exact relationship between the two tribes is unknown.

Formation

In 1670 the Yuchi were a small group of Indians located along the Savannah River adjacent to Carolina (it was not yet divided into North and South Carolina). They shared a common area with the Westo, however, most contemporary writing refers to the tribes as distinct. In 1716, following the Creek defeat by South Carolina in the Yamassee War, the Yuchi were forced to move west and chose the Chattahoochee Valley in present-day Muscogee County, Georgia and Russell County, Alabama. It is probable that the village of Yuchi-Town already existed but was uninhabited when the Yuchi moved west. In addition to the Russell Couty site, the Yuchi occupied land on both sides of the Chattahoochee River.

Historical Yuchi-town

First written document referencing the town came in 1716 as well. Diego Peña's papers on his expedition to Apalachee and Apalachicolo mentions Uchi as one of the towns he encountered in the Apalachee province. He also noted the fact that the Yuchi spoke a different language than other Creek tribes.

William Bartram visited Yuchi-Town on his return trip to Georgia. He described it as the "largest, most compact Indian town I ever was; thee habitations are large and neatly built; the walls of the houses are constructed of a wooden frame, then latrhed and plastered inside and out with a reddish well-tempered clay or mortar which gives the appearance of red brick walls..." Bartram continued, talking about the language spoken at Yuchee-Town, "There own national language is altogether or radically different from the Creek or Muscogulge[sic} tongue, and is called the Savanna or Savanuca tongue; I was told by traders that it is the same with, or a dialect of, the Shawanese. They are in confederacy with the Creeks, but do not mix with them..."

Benjamin Hawkins wrote of the Yuchee and Yuchee-Town in 1799 that "these people speak a different tongue different from the Creek." He also noted the visit of Diego Peña in 1716 and states the Yuchi were already settled by this time. Hawkins continues by noting the differences between the Yuchi culture and that of the surrounding Creek culture:
These people are more civil and orderly than their neighbors; their women are more chaste and the men better hunters; they retain all their original customs and have adopted none of the Creeks...They have lately begun to settle out in villages, and are industrious, compared with their neighbors; the men take part in the labors of the women, and are more constant in their attachment to their women, than is usual among red people. The number of gun men is variously estimated; they do not exceed two hundred and fifty.
Twenty years earlier William Bartram had reported 500 gun men.

Yuchi-Town

Before the arrival of the Yuchi Indians in the Chattahoochee River Valley, the area known as Yuchi-Town was inhabited by a Hitchiti-speaking tribe, based on notations made by Spanish missionaries in 1675. They defined the area south of the great falls of the Chattahoochee as the Appalachacola province. In 1679 and 1681 the missionaries attempted to convert area Indians to Christianity without success. In 1689 the Spanish from West Florida under Antonio Matheos, built Fort Apalachacola on the Chattahoochee near Coweta. Many Creek Indians, including most of the original inhabitants of Yuchi-Town abandoned the Chattahoochee River Valley because the Spanish destroyed four towns in an effort to subdue the Indians. These Indians moved to Ocmulgee Old Fields.





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