The Pakana Tribe
We now come to peoples
incorporated in the Muskhogean
confederation which were probably distinct
bodies and yet not certainly possessed of a
peculiar dialect like the Hitchiti, Alabama,
and other tribes of foreign origin already
considered. The Pakana are given by Adair as
one of those people which the Muskogee had
"artfully" induced to incorporate with them,
and he is confirmed as to the main fact by
Stiggins, whose account of them is as
The Puccunnas at this
day are only known by tradition to have been
a distinct people and their ancient town or
habitation is called Puccun Tal ahassee
which is Puccun old town. This ancient town
is in the present Coosa County of this
State [Alabama]. The Au-bih-kas have a
tradition that they were a distinct people
and that they in old times were very
numerous, but do not say whether they were
immigrants or not, or at what time they became
one of the national body. But they say as
they belonged to the national body one and
inseparable there was no distinction made so
that by continual intermarriage with the
other tribes they at length became absorbed
and assimilated with their neighbors
without distinction and no other knowledge
is left regarding them but the name of their ancient habitation. Whether in conversation
they had a separate tongue of their own or
not tradition is silent.1
Not much can be added
to this. There is a tradition among the
modern Creeks that the Pakana separated from
the Abihka, but it is evidently due to the
proximity of the two peoples in ancient
times and the number of intermarriages which
took place between them. Again, an old
Hilibi man told me that this town was
founded by a Wiogufki Indian named Bakna,
who held the first busk in his own yard, and
whose name became attached to the new town.
But Pakana was in existence long before
Wakokai, the mother town of
Wiogufki, and the Pakana town were, however,
located near each other, and to the close
relations thence arising we may attribute
the tradition. It is confusing to find the
name Pakan tallahassee [Påkån talahasi] ("Pakana
old town") used for these people in the very
earliest mention of them, the De Crenay map
of 1733.2 Since we hear shortly afterwards
of a Pakana tribe-distinct from the Pakan
tallahassee, which first settled near Fort
Toulouse and later migrated to Louisiana — a
suggestion is raised whether the Pakan
tallahassee may not have been Muskogee or
other Indians who had occupied a site
abandoned by the Pakana proper. We have
something similar in the case of the
Tukabahchee talla-hassee, who were really an
outsettlement of Okfuskee Indians.3 While
such an interpretation is possible I think
the real fact was that a single tribe split
in two after Fort Toulouse was established,
one part locating near it as a convenient
market. At that time the original body may
have received the name "old town Pakana''
to distinguish them from the emigrants. It
is indeed strange that on the De Crenay map
we find ''old town Pakana" (Pakanatalaché),
but no Pakana.2 Still, this is not
conclusive, for Fort Toulouse had probably
been in existence 18 years when the map was
prepared and the Pakana in its neighborhood
may well have been overlooked. Both bodies
appear in the lists of 1750, 1760,4 and
1761, in which last year William Struthers
and J. Morgan were the officially recognized traders.5 In 1797 the trader was
"John Proctor, a half-breed.''6 The
division known as Pakan tallahassee appears
also in the list of 17387 and those of
Bartram, Swan, and Hawkins, and on the
census rolls of 1832.8 In 1768, or shortly
before, it was burned by the Choctaw.9
Hawkins derives the name "from E-puc-cun-nau,
a may apple, and tal-lau-has-see, old town."
The first word signifies properly "a peach"
— Katabuya is May apple — but it is doubtful whether its
original meaning was related to either. The
name Pakana may have a long antecedent
history and a totally different origin.
It is in the fork of a
creek which gives name to the town; the
creek joins on the left side of Coosau,
forty miles below Coo-sau town.10
After the removal they
settled in the southern part of the Creek
Nation near Hanna, Oklahoma, and have
maintained their square ground in the same
place ever since.
The Pakana who settled
near Fort Toulouse probably never rejoined
their kindred. From a letter written by M. d'Abbadie, governor of Louisiana, April 10,
1764, we know that they emigrated to Red
River at the same time as the Taensa and
Apalachee.11 He calls them "Pakanas des
Alibamons,'' either from the name of the
French post or from the fact that they were
supposed to be related to the Alabama
Indians. The former supposition is, I
believe, correct, since in the census of
1760 we find them classed as " Alybamons,"
not merely with the Koasati and Tuskegee,
but also with the Okchai, some Coosa
Indians, and some Indians called ''Thomapas";
while, on the other hand, the Muklasa,
Tawasa, and part of the Coosa are put among
the ''Talapouches,''13 Indians on Tallapoosa
River. Evidently the classification is
geographical, not linguistic. Later these Pakana settled upon Calcasieu River in
southwestern Louisiana, as shown in the
following account given by Sibley:
Pacanas, are a small
tribe of about thirty men, who live on the
Quelqueshoe [Calcasieu] River, which falls
into the bay between Attakapa and Sabine,
which heads in a prairie, called Cooko
prairie, about forty miles southwest of
Natchitoches. These people are likewise
emigrants from West Florida, about forty
years ago. Their village is about fifty
miles southeast of the Conchattas; are said
to be increasing a little in number; quiet,
peaceable, and friendly people. Their own
language differs from any other, but speak
Still later some or all
of these Pakana united with the Alabama
living in Texas, where they are still
remembered. The last survivor was an old
woman who died many years ago. Her language
was said to be distinct from Alabama, which
would naturally be the case if it was
Stiggins, MS., p. 5.
Plate 5; also
Hamilton, Col. Mobile, p. 190.
See p. 247.
MSS., Ayer Lib.;
Miss. Col. Arch., I, p. 95.
Ga. Col. Docs., VIII, p. 523.
Hawkins in Ga.
Hist. Soc. Colls., IX, p. 169.
MS., Ayer Lib.
Bartram, Travels, p. 461; Schoolcraft,
Ind. Tribes, IV, p. 578; V, p. 262; Ga.
Soc. Colls., III, p. 25; Senate Doc.
512, 23d Cong., 2d sess., IV, pp 285-286.
Trans., MS., Lib. Cong.
- Ga. Hist. Soc.
- Amer. Antiq., XIII, pp. 252-253.
- Miss. Prov. Arch, I,
- Sibley in Annals of
Congress, 9th Cong., 3d sess., 1086
Notes About Book:
Source: Swanton, John R., Early
History of the Creek Indians and Their
Neighbors. Pub. Smithsonian
Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology,
Bulletin 73. Washington, 1922.
Notes about Online Publication: This manuscript has been ocr'd and heavily
edited. Many of the Native American words have been reproduced as clearly as
online publication will allow us, but not all are exactly the way they were in
the original work. The structure of this manuscript has been changed to allow
better online presentation.