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Okchai Tribe

Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Alabama,Florida,Native American | No Comments

Like the Pakana, Adair includes the Okchai among those tribes which had been ”artfully decoyed” to unite with the Muskogee,1 and Milfort says that the Okchai and Tuskegee had sought the protection of the Muskogee after having suffered severely at the hands of hostile Indians. He adds that the former “mounted ten leagues toward the north [of the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers] and fixed their dwelling in a beautiful plain on the bank of a little river.”2 Among some of the living Okchai there seems to be a tradition of this foreign origin, but nowhere do we find evidence that they spoke a diverse language. Their tongue may have been a dialect of Muskogee assimilated to the current speech in very ancient times.

This tribe appears on some of the earliest maps which locate Creek towns, such as that of Popple.3 Their original seats were, as described by Milfort, on the western side of the Coosa some miles above its junction with the Tallapoosa. By 1738, however, a part of them had left that region and moved over upon a branch of Kialaga Creek, an affluent of the Tallapoosa.4 Another portion evidently remained for a time near their old country, since the census of 1761 mentions “Oakchoys opposite the said [i. e., the French] fort.”5

After the cession of Mobile and its dependencies to Great Britain these probably reunited with the main body. Okchai are indeed afterwards spoken of in the neighborhood of the old fort, but they appear to have been in reality Okchaiutci, part of the Alabama, whose history has been given elsewhere.6 The last were probably those ”Okchai” who accompanied the Koasati to the Tombigbee shortly after 1763.7

The Okchai proper are not noted by Bartram except under the general term ”Fish Pond” Indians,8 but appear in the lists of Swan9 and Hawkins10 and in the census rolls of 1832.11 Hawkins has the following description:

Hook-choie; on a creek of that name which joins on the left side of Ki-a-li-jee, three miles below the town and seven miles south of Thlo-tlo-gul-gau. The settlements extend along the creeks; on the margins of which and the hill sides are good oak and hickory, with coarse gravel, all surrounded with pine forest.12

After the emigration they established their square ground on the southern border of the Creek Nation, where it has remained ever since.

A small band is recorded among the Seminoles of northern Florida in 1778.13

Besides Okchaiutci, which was not properly a branch at all, several settlements were given out by this town. The most prominent and probably the most ancient of these was Łåłogålga (“Fish Place”), from which the traders’ name of “Fish Pond” is derived.

Fish Pond” occurs first in Bartram14 but it was often applied to the Okchai Indians generally, and Łåłogålga appears first as a distinct settlement in Swan’s list, 1791.15 Hawkins (1799) describes it thus:

Thlot-lo-gul-gau; from thlot-lo, fish; and ulgau, all; called by the traders fishponds. It is on a small pond-like creek, a branch of Ul-kau-hat-che, which joins Tallapoosa four miles above Oc-fus-kee, on the right side. The town is fourteen miles up the creek; the land about it is open and waving; the soil is dark and gravelly; the general growth of trees is the small hickory; they have reed in the branches.

Hannah Hale resides here. She was taken prisoner from Georgia when about eleven or twelve years old, and married the head man of this town, by whom she has five children. This woman spins and weaves, and has taught two of her daughters to spin; she has labored under many difficulties, yet by her industry has acquired some property. She has one negro boy, a horse or two, sixty cattle, and some hogs; she received the friendly attention of the agent for Indian affairs as soon as he came into the nation. He furnished her with a wheel, loom, and cards; she has an orchard of peach and apple trees. Having made her election at the national council in 1799 to reside in the nation, the agent appointed Hopoithle Haujo to look out for a suitable place for her, to help her to remove to it with her stock, and take care that she receives no insults from the Indians.16

In 1796 the traders stationed there were “John Shirley and Isaac Thomas, the first an American, the latter of German parents.”17

Evidently this is one of the two Fish Pond towns mentioned in the census list of 1832.18 There is a square ground of the name in Oklahoma at the present time, but those who formed it were not direct descendants of the people who formed the old Łåłogålga town. When the removal took place all of the Okchai Indians came together and established one square ground near the present Hanna, Oklahoma. Later, as the result of a fission in the tribe brought about by the Civil War, part moved away and settled near Okemah sometime after 1870. There they revived the old term Łåłogålga, which they have since employed.

Asilanabi was founded later than the first Łåłogålga and was so named because it was first located in a place where Ilex vomitoria was to be gathered. We do not find the name in print until we come to the census rolls of 1832.19 There is a square ground in Oklahoma so called, but, as in the case of Łåłogålga, it has no historical continuity with the older settlement. It is the result of a later fission.

The Okchai living in Oklahoma claim that Potcas hatchee (Hatchet Creek) was a former settlement of theirs which was ”lost.” It was in existence in Hawkins’s time and appears in the census list of 1832.20 The following is Hawkins’s description of it:

Po-chuse-hať-che; from po-thu-so-wau, a hatchet, and hat-che, a creek. This creek joins Coosau, four miles below Puc-cun-tal-lau-has-see, on its right bank; this village is high up the creek, nearly forty miles from its mouth, on a flat bend on the right side of the creek; the settlements extend up and down the creek for a mile. A mile and a half above the settlements there is a large canebrake, three-quarters of a mile through and three or four miles in length.

The land adjoining the settlement is waving and rich, with oak, hickory, and poplar. The branches all have reed; the neighboring lands above these settlements are fine; those below are high, broken hills. It is situated between Hill-au-bee and Woc-co-coie, about ten miles from each town; three miles west of the town there is a small mountain; they have some hogs.21

Probably the remnants of this town finally reunited with the main body. Two other “lost” settlements are also remembered — Tålså håtchi (Tulsa Creek) and Tcahki łåko (broad shallow ford). This last, however, may have been the Okfuskee village of that name, at one time on Chattahoochee River.22


  1. Adair, Hist. Am. Inds., p. 257. 

  2. Milfort, Mémoire, p. 267. 

  3. Plate 4. 

  4. MS., Ayer Lib. 

  5. Ga. Col. Docs. . III, pp. 521-523. 

  6. See pp. 200-201. 

  7. See p. 203. 

  8. Bartram, Travels, p. 462. 

  9. Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, V. p. 262. 

  10. Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., III, p. 25. 

  11. Senate Doc. 512, 23d Cong., 1st sess., IV, pp. 297-298. 

  12. Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., III, p. 37. 

  13. Copy of MS. in Lib. Cong. 

  14. Bartram; Travels, p. 462. 

  15. Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, V, p. 262. 

  16. Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., III, pp. 49-50; IX, p. 170. 

  17. Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., IX, p. 34. 

  18. Senate Doc. 512, 23d Cong., 1st sess., IV, pp. 297-298. 

  19. Senate Doc. 512, 23d Cong., 1st sess., IV, pp. 297-298. 

  20. Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., III, p. 50; Senate Doc. 512, 23d Cong., 1st sess., IV, pp. 284-285. 

  21. Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., III, pp. 50-51. 

  22. See p. 249. 

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