Alabama is a Muskogean Indian word meaning "campsite" or "clearing. There is one federally recognized indian tribe in Alabama, eight state recognized Alabama tribes, and several alabama tribes with petitions pending. An Alabama Indian Tribe, Band, or Group is a population of Indian people related to one another by blood through their Indian ancestry, tracing their heritage to an Indian tribe, band, or group indigenous to Alabama. No splinter groups, political factions, communities or groups of any character which separate from the main body of a tribe, band, or group currently recognized by the State of Alabama may be considered for recognition.
(Federal List Last Updated 3/07)
FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED TRIBES
Poarch Band of Creek Indians of Alabama
Creek Confederacy. This name is given to a loose organization which constituted the principal political element in the territory of the present States of Georgia and Alabama from very early times, probably as far back as the period of De Soto. It was built around a dominant tribe, or rather a group of dominant tribes, called
Muskogee. The name Creek early became attached to these people because when they were first known to the Carolina colonists and for a considerable period afterward the body of them which the latter knew best was living upon a river, the present Ocmulgee, called by Europeans "Ocheese Creek."
The Creeks were early divided geographically into two parts, one called Upper Creeks, on the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers; the other, the Lower Creeks, on the lower Chattahoochee and Ocmulgee. The former were also divided at times into the Coosa branch or Abihka and the Tallapoosa branch and the two were called Upper and Middle Creeks respectively.
Bartram (1792) tends to confuse the student by denominating all of the true Creeks "Upper Creeks" and the Seminole "Lower Creeks." The dominant Muskogee gradually gathered about them, and to a certain extent under them, the Apalachicola, Hitchiti, Okmulgee, Sawokli, Chiaha, Osochi, Yuchi, Alabama, Tawasa, Pawokti, Muklasa, Koasati, Tuskegee, a part of the Shawnee, and for a time some Yamasee, not counting broken bands and families from various quarters. The first seven of the above were for the most part among the Lower Creeks, the remainder with the Upper Creeks. (For further information, see the separate tribal names under Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, and also the Creek Confederacy.)
STATE RECOGNIZED TRIBES (Not recognized by the Federal Governemnt)
Cherokees of Northeast Alabama
Alabama Cherokee in General: In the latter part of the eighteenth century some Cherokee worked their way down the Tennessee River as far as Muscle Shoals, constituting the Chickamauga band. They had settlements at Turkeytown on the Coosa, Willstown on Wills Creek, and Coldwater near Tuscumbia, occupied jointly with the Creeks and destroyed by the Whites in 1787. All of their Alabama territory was surrendered in treaties made between 1807 and 1835. (See Tennessee.)
Cherokees of Southeast Alabama. Letter of Intent to Petition 05/27/1988; certified letter returned marked "deceased" 11/5/1997.
United Cherokee ani-Yun-Wiya Nation
Mowa Band of Choctaws
This tribe hunted over and occupied, at least temporarily, parts of southwestern Alabama beyond the Tombigbee. (See Mississippi.)
Cher-O-Creek Intra Tribal Indians
Ma-Chis Lower Alabama Creek Tribe
Star Clan-Muscogee Creek Tribe
Piqua Shawnee Tribe
UNRECOGNIZED / PETITIONING TRIBES
Cherokees of Jackson Co.
Cherokee Nation of Alabama. Letter of Intent to Petition 02/16/1999.
Cherokee River Indian Community. Letter of Intent to Petition 08/03/2000.
Coweta Creek Tribe. Letter of Intent to Petition 2/12/2003.
Eagle Bear Band of Free Cherokees
The Langley Band of the Chickamogee Cherokee Indians of the Southeastern United States. Letter of Intent to Petition 04/20/1994; Postal service certified letter returned 11/5/1997.
Phoenician Cherokee II - Eagle Tribe of Sequoyah. Letter of Intent to Petition 09/18/2001.
Principal Creek Indian Nation East of the Mississippi. Letter of Intent to Petition 11/09/1971. Declined to Acknowledge 06/10/1985 50 FR 14302; certified letter returned "not known" 10/1997.
Wolf Creek Cherokee Tribe, Inc. of Florida. (Alabama and Florida)
FIRST CONTACT TO PRESENT
Agriculture was practiced by Indians such as the Creeks and Cherokee in the east, and the Choctaws and Chickasaws in the west when Spanish explorers arrived. The first known European contact with what would become Alabama occurred in 1519 when Alonso Alvarez de Pineda sailed in Mobile Bay.
Cabeza de Vaca (and possibly Pánfilo de Narvaez) visited Alabama in 1528, and the Spanish did not really explore the area for another two decades, when Hernando de Soto led an expedition into the region about 1540.
The first permanent European settlement in Alabama was founded by the French at Fort Louis de la Mobile in 1702. The British gained control of the area in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris, but had to cede almost all the Alabama region to the U.S. and Spain after the American Revolution.
Between 1805 and 1806, the Choctaw tribes (in western Alabama) and the Chickasaw and Cherokee tribes (in northern Alabama) were forced to cede their land to white settlement. The Creek Indians attempted to ally themselves with other tribes from the North in resistance to white settlement, but were ultimately unsuccessful. As a result, most of the native people of Alabama were resettled in the Oklahoma territory.
PRE-CONTACT ALABAMA TRIBES
Abihka, see Creek Confederacy and Muskogee.
Apalachicola. Very early this tribe lived on the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee Rivers, partly in Alabama. Sometime after 1715 they settled in Russell County, on the Chattahoochee River where they occupied at least two different sites before removing with the rest of the Creeks to the other side of the Mississippi. (See Georgia.)
Atasi. A division or subtribe of the Muskogee.
Chatot. This tribe settled near Mobile after having been driven from Florida and moved to Louisiana about the same time as the Apalachee. (See Florida.)
Chickasaw. The Chickasaw had a few settlements in northwestern Alabama, part of which State was within their hunting territories. At one time they also had a town called Ooe-asa (Wi-aca) among the Upper Creeks. (See Mississippi.)
Eufaula. A division or subtribe of the Muskogee.
Fus-hatchee. A division of the Muskogee.
Hilibi. A division or subtribe of the Muskogee.
Hitchiti. This tribe lived for considerable period close to, and at times within, the present territory of Alabama along its southeastern margin. (See Georgia.)
Kan-hatki. A division of the Muskogee.
Kealedji. A division of the Muskogee.
Koasati. They belonged to the southern section of the Muskhogean linguistic group, and were particularly close to the Alabama.The historic location of the Koasati was just below the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers to from the Alabama and on the east side of the latter, where Coosada Creek and Station still bear the name. (See also Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma.)
Kolomi. A division of the Muskogee. The language of the tribe was closely connected with that of the Choctaw and gave its name to a trade jargon based upon Choctaw or Chickasaw.When the French settled the seacoast of Alabama the Mobile were living on the west side of Mobile River a few miles below the junction of the Alabama and Tombigbee.
When they make their first appearance in history in 1540 the Mobile were between the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers, and on the east side of the former. They do not appear to have gone to Louisiana like so many of the smaller tribes about them and were probably absorbed in the Choctaw Nation.
Muklasa. When we first hear of the Muklasa in 1675 they were in the position above given and remained there until the end of the Creek-American War, when they are said to have emigrated to Florida in a body. Since the Muklasa did not speak Muskogee and their name is from the Koasati, Alabama, or Choctaw language, and since they were near neighbors of the two former, it is evident that they were connected with one or the other of them. They were located onn the south bank of Tallapoosa River in Montgomery County. (See Florida and Oklahoma.)
Muskogee (See Muskgoee)
Napochi. They belonged to the southern division of the Muskhogean proper, and were seemingly nearest to the Choctaw. They were located along the Black Warrior River.
The tribe appears first in the account of an attempt to colonize the Gulf States in 1559 under Don Tristan de Luna. part of his forces being sent inland from Pensacola Bay came to Coosa in 1560 and assisted its people against the Napochi, whom they claimed to have reduced to "allegiance" to the former. After this the Napochi seem to have left the Black Warrior, and we know nothing certain of their fate, but the name was preserved down to very recent times among the Creeks as a war name, and it is probable that they are the Napissa spoken of by Iberville in 1699, as having recently been absorbed into the Chickasaw. Possibly the Acolapissa of Pearl River and the Quinipissa of Louisiana were parts of the same tribe.
Natchez. One section of the Natchez Indians settled among the the Abihka Creeks near Coosa River after 1731 and went to Oklahoma a century later with the rest of the Creeks. (See Mississippi.)
Okchai. A division of the Muskogee.
Okmulgee. A Creek tribe and town of the Hitchiti connection. (See Georgia.)
Osochi. Within recent times the closest connections of this tribe have been with the Chiaha, though their language is said to have been Muskogee, but there is some reason to think that they may have been originally a part of the Timucua. Their best known historic seat was in the great bend of Chattahoochee River, Russell County, Alabama, near the Chiaha.
Early in the eighteenth century they seem to have been living with or near the Apalachicola at the junction of the Chattahoochee and Flint. From what Hawkins (1848) tells us regarding them, we must suppose that they moved up Flint River somewhat later and from there to the Chattahoochee, in the location near the Chiaha above given. They migrated to Oklahoma with the rest of the Lower Creeks, and maintained their separateness in that country for a while but were later absorbed in the general mass of the Creek Population.(See also Georgia and Florida.)
Pakana. A division of the Muskogee.
Pawokti. This tribe moved from Florida to the neighborhood of Mobile along with the Alabama Indians and afterward established a town on the upper course of Alabama River. Still later they were absorbed into the Alabama division of the Creek Confederacy. (See Florida.)
Pilthlako. A division of the Creeks, probably related to the Muskogee, and possibly a division of the Okchai.
Sawokli. The Sawokli belonged to the Muskhogean linguistic stock and to the subdivision called Atcik-hata. (See Apalachicola.) The best known historic location was on Chattahoochee River in the northeastern part of the present Barbour County, Ala. The Sawokli appear to have remained in the same general region until 1706 or 1707, when they were displaced by hostile Indians, probably Creeks. At least part lived for a while on Ocmulgee River and returned to the Chattahoochee, as did the residents of many other Indian towns, about 1715, after which they gradually split up into several settlements but followed the fortunes of the Lower Creeks.(See Florida and Georgia.)
In 1716 a band of Shawnee from Savannah River moved to the Chattahoochee and later to the Tallapoosa, where they remained until early in the nineteenth century. A second band settled near Sylacauga in 1747 and remained there until some time before 1761 when they returned north. (See Tennessee.)
Taensa. This tribe was moved from Louisiana in 1715 and given a location about 2 leagues from the French fort at Mobile, one which had been recently abandoned by the Tawasa, along a watercourse which was named from them Tensaw River. Soon after the cession of Mobile to Great Britain, the Taensa returned to Louisiana. (See Louisiana.)
Tohome. They belonged to the southern branch of the Muskhogean linguistic group, their closest relatives being the Mobile. They were located around MacIntosh's Bluff on the west bank of Tombigbee River, some miles above its junction with the Alabama.
There were two main branches of this tribe, sometimes called the Big Tohome and Little Tohome, but the Little Tohome are known more often as Naniaba, "people dwelling on a hill," or "people of the Forks;" the latter would be because they were where the Alabama and Tombigbee Rivers unite.
Cartographical evidence suggests that the Tohome may once have lived on a creek formerly known as Oke Thome, now contracted into Catoma, which flows into Alabama River a short distance below Montgomery. When first discovered by the Whites, however, they were living at the point above indicated. In the De Luna narratives (1559-60) the Tombigbee River is called "River of the Tome." Iberville learned of this tribe in April 1700, and sent messengers who reached the Tohome village and returned in May. In 1702 he went to see them himself but seems not to have gone beyond the Naniaba.
From this time on Tohome history is identical with that of the Mobile and the two tribes appear usually to have been in alliance although a rupture between them was threatened upon one occasion on account of the murder of a Mobile woman by one of the Tohome. In 1715 a Tohome Indian killed an English trader named Hughes who had come overland from South Carolina, had been apprehended and taken to Mobile by the French and afterward liberated. A bare mention of the tribe occurs in 1763 and again in 1771-72. They and the Mobile probably united ultimately with the Choctaw.
Tukabahchee. One of the four head tribes of the Muskogee.
Tuskegee. The original Tuskegee language is unknown but it was probably affiliated with the Alabama, and hence with the southern branch of Muskhogean.The later and best known location of this tribe was on the point of land between Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers, but in 1685 part of them were on the Chattahoochee River near modern Columbus and the rest were on the upper Tennessee near Long Island. (See also Oklahoma and Tennessee.)
Wakokai. A division or subtribe of the Muskogee.
Wiwohka. A division of the Muskogee made up from several different sources. (See Muskogee.)
Yamasee. There was a band of Yamasee on Mobile Bay shortly after 1715, at the mouth of Deer River, and such a band is entered on maps as late as 1744. It was possibly this same band which appears among the Upper Creeks during the same century and in particular is entered upon the Mitchell map of 1755. Later they seem to have moved across to Chattahoochee River and later to west Florida, where in 1823 they constituted a Seminole town. (See Florida.)
Yuchi. A band of Yuchi seems to have lived at a very early date near Muscle Shoals on Tennessee River, whence they probably moved into east Tennessee. A second body of the same tribe moved from Choctawhatchee River, Fla., to the Tallapoosa before 1760 and established themselves near the Tukabahchee, but they soon disappeared from the historical record. In 1715 the Westo Indians, who I believe to have been Yuchi, settled on the Alabama side of Chattahoochee River, probably on Little Uchee Creek.
The year afterward another band, accompanied by Shawnee and Apalachicola Indians, established themselves farther down, perhaps at the mouth of Cowikee Creek in Barbour County, and not long afterward accompanied the Shawnee to Tallapoosa River. They settled beside the latter and some finally united with them. They seem to have occupied several towns in the neighborhood in succession and there is evidence that a part of them reached the lower Tombigbee.
The main body of Yuchi shifted from the Savannah to Uchee Creek in Russell County between 1729 and 1740 and continued there until the westward migration of the Creek Nation. (See Georgia.)
PRE-HISTORIC CULTURES IN ALABAMA
10,000 BC - 7000 BC - Paleoindian Period. The first inhabitants of the area we now call Alabama were of the Paleo-Indian culture, semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers who lived in caves or in the open countryside around 10,000 years ago. (e.g. Russell Cave in Jackson County and the Stanfield-Worley bluff shelter in Colbert County).
7000 BC - 1000 BC - Archaic Period of Native American hunter-gatherer culture as Indians built temporary dwellings, added shellfish to their diets, and fashioned spear throwers to hunt small game.
2500 BC - 100 BC - Gulf Formational Period of Indian culture with increasing sophistication in ceramic development with tempered pottery.
300 BC - 1000 AD - Woodland Period of permanent houses, embellished pottery, bows and arrows, and maize and squash cultivation.
700 AD - 1300 AD - Mississippian culture features ceremonial mounds (e.g. Moundville, in Hale County), ornate pottery, and sophisticated agriculture.