Tennessee's Indians in the Historical Era - Part 2 of 5

Thursday, May 16, 2013 - by Chuck Hamilton

First Contact

 

The first Europeans to encounter the Indians of Tennessee, of course, were the Spanish would-be conquistadors of the 16th century.  The expedition of Hernando de Soto passed through both ends of Tennessee in 1540 and 1541.  That of Tristan de Luna came northwest in support of their allies from Coosa into the Chattanooga area.  Juan Pardo and his subordinates made at least three expeditions into the interior from the La Florida capital of Santa Elena on Parris Island, South Carolina, 1567-1569.  All three of the Pardo expeditions entered Tennessee, one planting two forts there that lasted eighteen months.

The overwhelming majority of the towns and peoples the Spanish encountered in Tennessee fell under the suzerainty of the paramount chiefdom at Coosa (Coosawattee, Georgia).  They were still in the Late Mississippi stage, dominated by chiefdoms with organized group agriculture, social classes, and the Southern Ceremonial Complex.  With a couple of exceptions, these people were all speakers of Muskogean languages, and part of what archaeologists call the Dallas Phase. 

The various peoples the Spanish encountered remained stable throughout most of the century, not moving until the massive dislocations provoked by increasingly cooler weather of the Little Ice Age that began around 1450, increasing contact with Europeans, the diseases imported with the new arrivals, and the chaotic Beaver Wars which plagued the north from 1609 to 1701.

The easiest way to list the towns and peoples then in East Tennessee is to list them as Spaniards would have encountered them along the routes they travelled from Santa Elena on Parris Island, South Carolina. 

The most important town to the Spanish in the interior was the one on Catawba River which they called Joara, or Xualla.  Though still subject to the paramount chiefdom of Cofitachequi, Joara was the dominant chiefdom for the Piedmont region of North Carolina, which informants to the Spanish called Chelaque, meaning speakers of a different language.  Its people were not those later called by the similar name, Cherokee, but the Siouan-speaking Catawba, specifically the division called Cheraw or Sara.  Pardo established Fort San Juan there in 1567.

 In the mountains of northwestern North Carolina, the Spanish encountered a people they knew as the Chisca, who are otherwise known as the Yuchi.  Their territory spread into Upper East Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia.  Among the towns of the Yuchi the Spanish came across in Upper East Tennessee were Guasili and Canasoga, aka Cauchi, as well as Guapere on the upper Watauga River which was destroyed along with Maniateque near Saltville, Virginia, by Spanish soldiers under Hernando Moyano in 1567.   Moyano built a small fort at Cauchi called Fort San Pablo.

 The next town/people to which they would have come is Tanasqui, which lay at the confluence of the French Broad and Pigeon Rivers.  Tanasqui, which ultimately gave its name to our state as Tennessee, sat at the northernmost limits of those subject to the paramount chiefdom of Coosa at Coosawattee, Georgia, now under Carters Lake.  Coosa took tribute from almost all of East Tennessee and Northwest Georgia and some of Northeast Alabama.

 At Zimmerman’s Island at the mouth of the French Broad River lay the major town of Chiaha, then the dominant chiefdom in East Tennessee, if still subject to Coosa.  The town on the island was also called Olamico.  Moyano built another fort here, called Fort San Pedro.  Both it and Fort San Pablo at Cauchi/Canasoga were destroyed in 1569.

 Below Chiaha in the Holston Valley, the town of Coste (Koasati) stood on Bussell’s Island at the mouth of the Little Tennessee River.  Upriver from there, along the Little Tennessee Valley, sat the towns of Satapo (Citico) and Chalahume (Chilhowee).

 Beyond the towns in the Little Tennessee Valley, there was the town of Tali, for which many sites in the 16th century have been suggested, including Tellico Plains, Tennessee, but there are also several sites known to have been occupied at the time along the Tennessee River, for example the Late Mississippi site on Hiwassee Island, or perhaps the one at Ledford Island upstream in the Hiwassee River.  If that is the case, Tali would have been the first town they encountered of the Mouse Creek Phase. 

 Although the Mouse Creek Phase was first identified along the Hiwassee Valley, it extends over

Southeast Tennessee.  Beyond doubt, for instance, is the fact that the towns of Olitifar (Opelika at Audobon Acres), Tasqui at the Citico site in downtown Chattanooga, and Tasquiqui (Tuskegee) at the Hampton Place site on Moccasin Point were all Mouse Creek Phase sites.

 {A note about the Citico site in downtown Chattanooga:  In the Middle Mississippi period of 1200-1400 and early in the Late Mississippi period 1400-1500 (though the period lasted itself until 1600), the remarkably large town at the mouth of the Citico Creek dominated all of East Tennessee and some of North Georgia.  Its apex of power and influence was contemporary with that of the town at the Etowah Mounds site.  The people of the latter had migrated several miles downriver by the time of the De Soto expedition, one of whose chroniclers called the site Talimuchisi.}

 These people (Olitifar, Tasqui, Tasquiqui) were the same as those called the Napochi by the chief of Coosa when he demanded of De Luna that he and his men accompany his warriors north to put the rebels in their place in 1559.  After the Spanish and their Coosa allies burned Opelika, its inhabitants never returned and very likely relocated to Tasquiqui.  Spelled Tuskegee in English, these people, although subject to the paramount chiefdom at Coosa, spoke a non-Muskogean language, though their occupation of the area may have gone back centuries.

 On the opposite end of Tennessee, the Spanish encountered the Quizquiz in the vicinity of present-day Memphis.  Upstream lived the Pacaha, whose chief town was in the vicinity of Turrell, Arkansas (Nodena site), but whose territory straddled the Mississippi River into West Tennessee.  The Pacaha (sometimes mistakenly identified as the Quapaw) were hostile to their neighbors, the Casqui, whose chief town was near Parkin, Arkansas.  The Quizquiz were subject to the paramount chiefdom at Pacaha.

 

Chuck Hamilton

<natty4bumpo@gmail.com>


Earl Freudenberg: Remembering Earl Roden, Longtime Farmers Market Fixture

East Tennessee Historical Society Honors Hamilton County Initiative With Award Of Excellence In East Tennessee History

Hamilton County History Scholars To Compete In National Competition


The late Hamilton County Executive Dalton Roberts said one time he always bought his watermelons from Earl Roden at the Farmers Market on E. 11 th Street. Dalton said no one knew fresh produce ... (click for more)

The East Tennessee Historical Society’s annual Awards of Excellence were presented at the organization’s Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, June 7, at the Museum of East Tennessee History in Knoxville. ... (click for more)

Four Hamilton County students who placed first or second in their categories at this year’s Tennessee History Day contest will represent Tennessee at National History Day competition beginning ... (click for more)



Memories

Earl Freudenberg: Remembering Earl Roden, Longtime Farmers Market Fixture

The late Hamilton County Executive Dalton Roberts said one time he always bought his watermelons from Earl Roden at the Farmers Market on E. 11 th Street. Dalton said no one knew fresh produce like Earl and, for many years, the top county official and his parents were regular customers. Mr. Roden passed away Wednesday with his family by his side. His daughter Diane posted on ... (click for more)

East Tennessee Historical Society Honors Hamilton County Initiative With Award Of Excellence In East Tennessee History

The East Tennessee Historical Society’s annual Awards of Excellence were presented at the organization’s Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, June 7, at the Museum of East Tennessee History in Knoxville. Since 1982, the Society has annually recognized individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the preservation, promotion, programming and interpretation of ... (click for more)

Breaking News

2 Juveniles Hurt When They Are Slung Into Anchored Pontoon Boat At Fort Loudon Lake

Two juveniles were injured in a July 4 boating accident that occurred in the Holder Branch area of Fort Loudon Lake near the Cove at Concord Park. At around 1:20 p.m., Frank Talo, 49, of Knoxville, was operating a personal watercraft that was towing an inner tube with two juveniles onboard who were slung into the side of an anchored pontoon boat. One of the injured ... (click for more)

Gas Prices Drop 9.1 Cents In Chattanooga

Average gasoline prices in Chattanooga have fallen 9.1 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $4.24 per gallon on Tuesday, according to GasBuddy's survey of 170 stations in Chattanooga. Prices in Chattanooga are 15.5 cents per gallon lower than a month ago and stand $1.40 higher than a year ago. The price of diesel has fallen 6.3 cents nationally in the past week and stands ... (click for more)

Opinion

Uncovering Chattanooga’s Hidden Gem

Missionary Ridge is Chattanooga's "diamond in the rough" that can spearhead a new era in our city's growth. Way back on Nov. 25, 1863, soldiers under the leadership of General Ulysses S. Grant stormed Missionary Ridge and broke the back of the Confederacy. The Battle of Missionary Ridge demonstrated the superior forces of the industrialized North and gave their soldiers a chance ... (click for more)

Is The Guy With The Gun A Good Guy Or A Bad Guy? - And Response (3)

So we have experienced another mass killing. Recently - on the very day a few gun safety measures were made into law - the Supreme Court in its infinite wisdom said it is okay to open carry your guns. My question is this - if I see a person carry a gun into my grocery store should I worry? How will I know if he is a good guy with a gun or a bad guy with a gun? I guess the ... (click for more)