Collection: Yuchi Indians

Yuchi Population

At the present day the Yuchi are located in the northwestern part of the Creek nation, where they have been since the removal in 1836. They inhabit the well-watered hills in the section known locally as the Cross Timber, a thinly wooded tract running in a general northerly and southerly direction through central Oklahoma, the last extensive frontier of timber on the south-western prairies marking the old boundaries of Oklahoma and Indian Territory. There are in this region three so-called settlements of Yuchi, called respectively Polecat, Sand Creek and Big Pond by the whites. All of these settlements are distributed in a region extending from Polecat Creek to the Deep Fork of the Canadian river. When, however, the term settlement is used for such inhabited districts it is a little misleading because, although the Indians are a little more closely grouped in the three neighborhoods mentioned, they are really scattered over the whole of the Cross Timber country, none of which is thickly settled by them. Their plantations, where they engage in agriculture or in cattle raising, are not in close proximity to each other, except where some passable road and the nearness to good water and arable soil combine to attract them. In such cases there may be a dozen families found within the radius of a mile or so. In some parts of their habitat, however, ten...

Read More

Yuchi Rite of the Emetic

Now that the sun was about at the zenith and the medicines had been steeping in the sun long enough, it was time for the men to take the emetic in accordance with the instructions of the mythical Sun deity who declared that, as long as he rose from the east and beheld his people taking the sacred emetic, he would continue their tribal existence. The first to take the emetic were the town chief and the three other square-ground Chiefs. (See Plate XV, 1.) They were followed by the four square-ground Warriors. Then four more Chiefs and four more Warriors took theirs. They dipped up the medicine with cups, two dipping from each pot. They always walked around the north side of the fire in approaching the pots. Nearly a quart was drunk by each individual. After the first drink the men returned to their respective lodges of rank, and the four Chiefs led again for a second drink in the same order as before. The town chief after this started toward the open space north of the square followed by the rest of the townsmen from the square, and there in the field copious quantities of the medicine were thrown up aided by fingers or weeds. (See Plate XV, 2, also diagram of square.) After a short interval, when all had taken their places in the square...

Read More

Yuchi Religion

In treating other subjects frequent mention has been made, heretofore, of various religious beliefs connected with different phases of life, of the ideas which the Yuchi hold regarding the supernatural realm, and how they maintain their relations with the latter by means of rites and ceremonies. An attempt will now be made to give as many of these beliefs as could be gotten in order to present as clearly as possible an idea of the religious life of the tribe. In the earliest mythological time about which anything at all is known, there existed only a certain realm of water and air called yubahé, ‘in the far heights.’ This expanse was boundless and fiat. It was inhabited by beings who lived in the water and beings who lived in the air. Just what their form was is not known for all, but some of those that are mentioned have animal names and show animal characteristics, such as Crawfish, Buzzard, Panther, Spider, etc. In other respects, however, they behaved much like human beings. That many mythical animals are conceived of as human in form is indicated by the use of the particle go, ‘human,’ with their names. Others, from what We are told, who bore the names of various natural objects had animal forms too. Among these, for instance, are Sun, and Moon. It would seem, apparently, that the interest...

Read More

Yuchi Folklore

Here are a few miscellaneous beliefs which were recorded in regard to the natural, supernatural, and animal world. They are given about as they were told by the Indians. “If a terrapin in his travels walks around a big tree it is a very bad thing for him. He will dry up. That’s why they never do it.” “The thunder or rain kills snakes. When a storm comes up they must all go back into the ground. If they do not, they will be killed. So if they are killing a calf (sic!) or anything, they must leave it as soon as it begins to thunder or rain.” “When wild turkeys gobble the lightning bugs come up out of their crops. They are like little white things (maggots) before they come out.” The stars are all spiders. Regarding the eclipse they say: – “The toad starts to eat up the moon. Then he gets big. The moon diminishes. But we frighten him away and after that the moon recovers and gets big.” One informant stated that thunder and lightning are caused by a great black snake with rattles on its tail. A being named Konsá nonwi’, the meaning ( if which is uncertain, rides on its back. The snake dives in and out of the Water. At each flash of its wet sides there is lightning and when it...

Read More

Yuchi Symbolism of the Town Square

We shall now return again to the subject of the town square because the religious ceremonies to be described in the following pages are inseparably connected with it. The public square-ground, where all civil and religious events of the town take place, has a symbolical significance which is quite important, and comparable in some respects to the altars and shrines of the southwestern and plains tribes. In its ceremonial aspect the town square is symbolically a rainbow. For, according to the myth of the origin of the Yuchi and their cult, as already given, the mother of the Sun took him to the ceremony of the upper world where he was scratched. This took place on the Rainbow, yuεa’, so the present square-ground is called yuεa’, ‘rainbow.’ The officials at the ceremonies are hence called yuεa’hobálen, ‘rainbow or square-ground Chief ‘ and yuεa’hosan‘ba, ‘ rainbow or square-ground Warrior.’ The square might well be termed a rainbow shrine. Another name for the square is sänsän‘, ‘ thoroughly beautiful ‘ or ‘good all over.’ While investigations were being made in regard to the square-ground, the assistant of the town chief brought in a colored representation of it showing how the square looked when it was formally arranged for the ceremonies. This sketch is reproduced in Plate XI. The explanation of the colors is as follows: The whole figure represents the rainbow....

Read More

Yuchi Treatment of Disease

The shaman secretes himself with the medicines, and filling a pot with water, steeps them, all the time blowing into the concoction through a hollow cane. This cane is about two and one-half feet long and has three red ribbons tied on it. (See PI. VII, Fig. 1.) This takes place between the stanzas of the appropriate song. Nearly all of the songs are sung four times, then a long blowing is given the medicine, after which it is thought properly charged with magic power. It is then given to the patient, who drinks it and washes in it, applying it according to the shaman’s advice. The song and ritual is believed to throw the disease into some animal, but not the one causing it. The following are a few of the medicine songs with the corresponding diseases, their symptoms and medicines. Names of medicine songs, according to the creatures believed to cause the diseases Symptoms Medicinal Herbs Deer Swelling, boils Cedar leaves Deer Headache Willow spices (?) Sun Headache Sunflower Young Deer Swollen joints and muscles. Cedar leaves and Deer Potato {Licinaria scariosa). Water Moccasin Swollen cheeks, toothache and sore gums. Dried twigs and leaves. Hog Nausea and indigestion (Hicrocicum species). Water Wolf Nausea, dysentery Sassafras. Snake Hunting Swollen face and limbs Cedar leaves. Little Turtle Coughing, sores on limbs and neck. Wild Cherry bark. Panther  Nausea, gripes...

Read More

Yuchi Mythology

Some of the most important mythologic accounts have been given in the description of religious beliefs and need not be repeated. If the following interpretation of Southern mythology be correct, it would seem that the myths of the Yuchi and the other southeastern tribes belong in one fairly homogeneous group, and that the fundamental myth elements, here somewhat specialized on account of local interests, also belong in the extensive common category widely distributed over the continent. The cosmogonic idea of the Yuchi, and the other tribes of the Southeast, is purely creational, in contrast to the transformational concept of the Algonkian, Siouan, and especially of the tribes of the northwest Pacific coast. The cosmogonic myth type of the Cherokee, Muskogi and Yuchi is, with a few exceptions, as follows: Water is everywhere. The only living creatures are flying beings and water beings. They dispute over existing conditions and some decide to make, a world. They induce Crawfish (Creek, Yuchi) or Beetle (Cherokee) to dive for it. When earth is brought up from the depths of the water, it is made to grow until it becomes the present earth. Buzzard is deputed to fly over, and flatten it, but he tires and so causes roughness in the form of mountains. After this comes the creation of sun, moon and stars for the benefit of the terrestrial creatures. Then follows the...

Read More

Yuchi Indians Culture

In material culture the Yuchi are typical of the, agricultural hunting tribes of the south east Atlantic and Gulf coast area, living formerly in permanent villages surrounded by cultivated fields and always situated conveniently near some stream where fish abounded. Their houses were grouped about a square plot of ground, which was held as sacred, where religious ceremonies and social gatherings took place. The ordinary houses were of the common coast type, covered with bark or mats, but there was, besides, another more complex and permanent sort with sides plastered with clay. They were good potters, manufacturing various forms...

Read More

Yuchi Material Culture

Wood Working. The Yuchi men spend part of their time, when not engaged directly in procuring food, in manufacturing various useful articles out of wood. One form of knife, yanlibo’, ‘knife bent,’ used in whittling such objects, consists of a piece of iron curved at one after the fashion of a farrier’s knife (Fig. 15). The handle part of the metal is bound around with cloth or skin to soften it for the grasp. The wood worker draws the knife towards himself in carving. Thus are made ladles, spoons, and other objects that come in handy about the house....

Read More

Yuchi Fishing

Quite naturally fishing plays an important part in the life of the Yuchi who have almost always lived near streams furnishing fish in abundance. Catfish, cu dj?á, garfish, pike, cu cpá, bass, cu wadá, and many other kinds are eagerly sought for by families and sometimes by whole communities at a time, to vary their diet. We find widely distributed among the people of the Southeast a characteristic method of getting fish by utilizing certain vegetable poisons which are thrown into the water. Among the Yuchi the practice is as follows. During the months of July and August many...

Read More

Yuchi Hunting

Hunting was pursued by the men either singly or in bands. While the attendance upon the crops kept them at home much of the time, there were seasons of comparative idleness during which parties set off on the hunt. The flesh of nearly all the mammals and birds of their habitat was eaten by the Yuchi with the exception of such as were sacred for ceremonial purposes or were protected by some taboo. The chief game animals hunted by them for their flesh were the deer, weeyan’, bison, wedingá, bear, sagee’, raccoon, djatyAn’, opossimi, WAtsagowAn’, rabbit, cádjwané, squirrel, cayá; while those whose skins were chiefly sought after were the panther, weiceAn’, wildcat, poci’, fox, cadeané, wolf, dalá, otter, culané, beaver, cag n’, and skunk, yuseAn’. The flesh of these was also eaten at times. Wild turkeys, wctcea’, quail, spans i’, partridge, ducks, geese and other birds were continually hunted for food. The game animals were believed to be very cunning and wise in knowing how to avoid being captured. So in order to blind their senses, and to over-come their guardian spirits, the magic power of certain song burdens was employed by hunters. Shamans held these formulas in their possession and could be induced to accompany the hunting party to the field to aid in the bewitching of the quarry. Shamans might also teach the formula to some one...

Read More

Yuchi Farming

Although the Yuchi of today are cultivators of the soil, as they were in former times, the manner and method of agriculture has undergone many radical changes since the first contact with Europeans. The modification of this branch of their culture has been so thorough that we can only construct, from survivals and tradition, an idea of its former state. The villages were surrounded by fertile spaces, cleared of timber and other vegetation by burning in dry springtime. These spaces were converted into garden patches where vegetables were sown and tended as they grew up, by a daily but irregularly-timed cultivation. It is not now remembered whether particular parts of the arable ground were the personal property of the individuals or clans. Hawkins states, however, that both men and women labored together; the Yuchi differing in this respect from the Creeks. The old people and children found daily employment in acting as guardians over the growing crops, in driving away crows, blackbirds and other troublesome creatures. In general, the land of the tribe belonged to whosoever occupied or utilized it. The boundaries of fields, plantations and real estate holdings, where encroachment was likely to occur, were marked by upright comer stones with distinguishing signs on them to indicate the claim. A man would simply adopt some optional design or figure as his brand and make this his property mark....

Read More

Yuchi Pipe Making

A large number of tobacco pipes of clay, sacu’yud?c’, ‘earth pipes’ (Fig. 11), were formerly made and used by the Yuchi. The variety in form shown by these pipes indicates that at an earlier time work in clay must have been a rather important activity with them. It seems that pipe making was, and is yet to a limited extent, practiced by the men. Clay is prepared in the manner described before for pots, and made into lengths about an inch in diameter. With a knife, cylinders of various lengths are cut out which are to be bent and...

Read More

Yuchi Pottery

The sedentary life of the Yuchi has given ample opportunity for the development of the art of making pottery. The coiled process is in vogue, but it may be remarked that the modern pots of these Indians are of a rather crude and unfinished form, which is probably traceable to deterioration in later years. The process of manufacture of ordinary pots for domestic use is as follows. A fine consistent clay is selected and washed in a flat vessel to separate all grit and stones from it. Then lumps are rolled between the palms and elongated in the form...

Read More

Yuchi Basket Making

Another handicraft in the seemingly well-rounded industrial life of the Yuchi is basket making. The women possess the knowledge of at least two processes of basket weaving; the checker work and the twilled. The baskets in general are of two sorts. One is a large rough kind made of hickory or oak splints not unlike the ordinary split baskets made by the Algonkian tribes, with handles for carrying. The other kind, in the manufacture of which cane rinds are chiefly employed, is distinctly characteristic of the Southeastern and Gulf area. A collection of Yuchi baskets resembles those of the...

Read More


Free Genealogy Archives

It takes a village to grow a family tree!
Genealogy Update - Keeping you up-to-date!
101 Best Websites 2016

Pin It on Pinterest