Onacona Attakullakulla - Little Carpenter, the Peace Chief of the Cherokee, 1699-1797
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 Little Carpenter or Leaning Wood, as he was known to white men, was Supreme Chief of the Cherokee from 1760-1775.

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Little Carpenter, Peace Chief of the Cherokee, 1699-1797

NATIVE NAME: Okoonaka Attakullakulla

ENGLISH NAME: Little Carpenter

ALTERNATE NAMES: Ata'-gul-kalu, Captain Owean Nakan, Leaning Wood, Little Corn Planter, The Civil Chief, The Peace Chief, or White Chief; Chuconnunta, Clogoittah, Prince of Chota; Tathatowe, Tiftowe Truconita, Tommy, Tommy of Tenase; Ukwaneequa and The White Owl. There may be others.

ALTERNATE SPELLINGS: Attakullakulia, Attacullaculla, Attakullaculla, Chugonanta, Chukenata; Occounaco, Ouconaco, Onacona, Ookanaska, Ookeeneka, Oukahakah, Oukounaka

  • Chuconnunta - Warrior
  • Okoonaka or Onacona - White Owl
  • Little Carpenter - He was called The Little Carpenter by the British, because he was small in stature (just a little over 5 foot tall), but astute in negotiating treaties to benefit his people.
  • Leaning Wood - from Atagulkalu. Ata, meaning wood, and galkalu, meaning something or someone leaning.
BIRTHPLACE / DATE: 1699? (could have been as late as 1712), Big Island of the French Broad River, later called Sevier's Island, TN. He first appears in the written records of 1730.

RESIDENCE: According to his son, Turtle At Home, his father was originally a Mishwakihha, one of the divisions of the Nipissing Indians, and had been captured as an infant and adopted by the Cherokees. As a young boy he lived in the Overhill Towns which lay along the banks of the Little Tennessee and Hiwassie rivers. Later, he resided at Tellico, and Chota, E. Indian Nation, TN.

DEATH DATE / LOCATION: 1797, Nacheztown, North Carolina (now part of the state of Tennessee).


MOTHER: Nancy MOYTOY, sister of Connecorte, better known as Old Hop or Standing Turkey, who was the nominal leader of the Cherokees during the 1750's. Her father was Chief Amatoya Moytoy of Chota and her mother was Quatsy, of the Wolf Clan of Tellico.

FATHER:White Owl Raven, was an Algonquin chief.

SIBLINGS: Unknown.

1ST WIFE: Nionne Ollie, of the Paint Clan, daughter of Oconostota
    Nionne Ollie was a Natchez living in a town of refugees from that tribe who had settled among the Overhill Towns on the Little Tennessee River. His wife appears only rarely in the documentary record. In 1758 Attakullakulla wrote Lyttelton, "I desire that you would send me a cloak for my wife," and once he tried to exchange two prisoners for two negro slaves to help her. In a letter dated 1766, she is mentioned, but nothing more.

    In November, 1774 she accompanied him to North Carolina. In Bethabara they both listened to an organ. He had heard many organs but she insited that the lid be removed because she feared a child was trapped inside.
  • Dragging Canoe (first child)
  • Tache - same as Tarchee?
  • Dutsi Tarchee (also known as Dutch), born about 1740. Dutch was the father of Major Ridge and Oowatie. Oowatie, born about 1773, married Susanna Reese.
  • The Badger
  • Little Owl
  • Raven
  • Turtle At Home
  • Alexander Cameron, (an adopted white)
  • John Stuart was a soldier at Fort Loudon who was adopted by Attakullakulla and who later became Superintendent of Indian Affairs.

SIGNIFICANT POSITIONS: Supreme Chief of the Cherokee 1760-1775


In 1730-1735 Attakullakulla went with a small group of other Cherokees to visit London. He was the youngest of the seven who went. At that time he was called Okoonaka, the White Owl, although some English newspapers persisted in calling him Captain Owean Nakan. It is estimated he was in his early twenties when he made this trilp.

The Cherokee Indians delighted the English residents and had their own eyes broadly opened to the attributes and strengths of white civilization. When they returned home, the English traders and officials made the most of this and over the next twenty years carefully cultivated the Cherokees by offering to help whenever the Cherokees needed it.

Attakullakulla was especially responsive and in 1757 he was instrumental in persuading the Governor of South Carolina to construct Fort Loudon to strengthen England's control over the area and to encourage more trade between the Cherokee and the Eastern coastal towns. In addition, Chief Little Carpenter invited several more traders to set up headquarters in Chota and to take Cherokee wives.

White Owl was related to the family from which many Cherokee leaders were drawn and was thus destined for greatness if he showed the mettle to grasp the opportunity which circumstances presented to him. He did, and he became Attakullakulla, whose voice was influential, and often dominated in the councils of the Cherokee Nation for nearly 50 years.

Nancy Ward and Attacullaculla were known as Peace Chiefs. During times of Peace the Chiefs wore white. The war council was composed of additional chiefs that only sat on the council during times of war. During times of war the chiefs wore Red. Thus, the color white symbolized peace and the color red symbolized war.

Attakullakulla was one of the few Cherokee leaders who depended not on words but on actions to secure a following. He commanded respect beacuse of his courage and fighting ability, which he ably demontrated in 1755 by netting five French prisoners in an expedition to the Illinois-Wasbash region, and by leading the unprecedented number of five hundred warriors to a decisive victory at Taliwa over the Creeks, whom they drove out of nothern Georgia.

Most of the modern American History books say Attakullakulla fought with the Americans in the American Revolution. His son, Dragging Canoe fought on the side of the British, with the Chickamagua Cherokees.

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According to his son, Turtle At Home, his father was originally a Mishwakihha, one of the divisions of the Nipissing Indians, and had been captured as an infant and adopted by the Cherokees.

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