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Wakokai Tribe

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

The readily interpretable nature of this name, which signifies “heron breeding place,” suggests that the Wakokai were not an ancient Creek division; but not sufficient evidence has been found, traditional or other, to suggest an origin from any one of the remaining groups. Notice might be taken in this connection of the river Guacuca (Wakuka) crossed by the De Soto expedition just after leaving the Apalachee country.1 Their first historical appearance is probably on the De Crenay map of 1733, which represents them on Coosa River below the Pakan tallahassee Indians.2 Wakokai is now reckoned as a White town, but was formerly, according to the best informants, on the Red side like Hilibi and Eufaula. The name appears in the lists of 1738, 1750, 1760, and 1761, and in those of Bartram, Swan, and Hawkins.3 The last mentioned gives the following account of its condition in 1799:

Woc-co-coie; from woc-co, a blow-horn, and coie, a nest;4 these birds formerly had their young here. It is on Tote-pauf-cau [Tukpafka, punk used in lighting a fire] creek, a branch of Po-chuse-hat-che, which joins the Coo-eau, below Puc-cun-tal-lau-has-see. The land is very broken, sharp-hilly, and stoney; the bottoms and the fields are on the small bends and narrow strips of the creek; the country, off from the town, is broken.

These people have some horses, hogs, and cattle; the range good; moss, plenty in the creeks, and reed in the branches. Such is the attachment of horses to this moss, or as the traders call it, salt grass, that when they are removed they retain so great a fondness for it that they will attempt, from any distance within the neighboring nations, to return to it.5

Yet in an earlier list of towns, dated 1796, Hawkins does not mention this town, but only its branches, Wiogufki and Tukpafka, of which Wakokai is always said to be the “mother.” The traders are given as John Clark, a Scotchman, and George Smith, an Englishman, respectively.6 There is evidently some confusion, however, since a year later Hawkins gives James Clark as trader at Wakokai and George Smith trader at Wiogufki; the name of James Simmons is added as that of a trader at Wakokai.7 Wiogufki and Tukpafka appear again in the census rolls of 1832,8 from which the older name is wanting for the first time. A very good Hilibi informant told me that the Wiogufki, “muddy stream,” people separated from the Wakokai first and received their name from a creek on which they had established themselves. A log lay across this, which was used by the people as a footlog, and after a time another town grew up on the side of the creek reached by it. In time this log decayed and fell away until it was nothing but punk, but the people of the new village said that, although it had fallen into punk, yet they had crossed upon it, so they took to themselves the name of Tukpafka. Regarding the main fact of relationship between the three, there can be no doubt, however the separation may have taken place. The Tukpafka mentioned here are not to be confounded with those Okfuskee Indians afterwards called Nuyaka.9 (See: Coosa and Their Descendants)

Some of my very best informants among the modem Creek Indians, including Jackson Lewis, now dead but in his lifetime one of the most intelligent among the older men, have told me that Sakapadai was a branch of Eufaula, although later associated with Wiogufki and Tukpafka. One even maintained that Wiogufki itself was a branch of Eufaula. Others, however, assured me with equal emphasis that it had separated from the Wakokai towns, and probability is in their favor, since Benjamin Hawkins, writing in 1797, says that Sakapadai and Wiogufki were ”one fire with Woccocoie.”10 It is, of course, possible that a more remote relationship existed, as suggested above, between the Wakokai towns and Eufaula, and perhaps Hilibi, but the information so far available rather points to relationship having been assumed on the ground of an intimate association in later times between the towns concerned. Jackson Lewis told the following story regarding the origin of this town:

Some Eufaula left their town and tried to establish one of their own, but they were a shiftless people and failed. Afterwards those who passed the place where they had started their village could see old baskets lying about torn to pieces and flattened out. From this circumstance the people of the place came to be called Sakapadai (from saka a basket like a hamper, and padai, ”flattened out”). On account of the failure of their attempt they also came to be called Tallahassee (”Old town” people), and later on Tallahasutci (”Little Old town” people).

Gatschet, however, says that the name “probably refers to water lilies covering the surface of a pond,” the seeds of which were eaten by the natives.11

Footnotes

  1. Bourne, Narr. of De Soto, II, p. 82. 

  2. Plate 5; Hamilton, Col. Mobile, p. 190. 

  3. MSS., Ayer Lib.; Miss. Prov. Arch., I, p. 95; Ga. Col. Docs., VIII, p. 523; Bartram, Travels, p. 462; Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, v, p. 262; Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., III, p. 25. 

  4. See above. 

  5. Hawkins in Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., III, p. 43. 

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

  7. Ibid., p. 169. 

  8. Senate Doc. 512, 23d Cong., 1st sess., IV, pp. 286-292. 

  9. See p. 248. 

  10. Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., IX, p. 170. 

  11. Gatschet in Misc. Colls. Ala. Hist. Soc., I, p. 408. 


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