Cherokee Connections

Melungeons or Cherokee?

Official Site
Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky
Cherokee in Kentucky

John Reed Swanton's Indians of the Southeastern United States
Bulletin 137 of the Bureau of American Ethnology,
Smithsonian Institution, 1946.

Swanton reported that there were three bands of the Yuchi (Uchee or Euchee): a
southern one centered near the present Macon, Georgia; a middle one near the present Talladega, Alabama; and a northern one centered on Newman's Ridge in Hancock County, Tennessee. The northern band were not among the Yuchi forced to relocate in Indian Territory in the 1830s. They were settled on the Qualla Reservation with the Eastern Cherokee band and allowed one representative on the tribal council. All deliberations were in Cherokee, which none of the Yuchi understood (understandable, since Cherokee belongs to the Iroquoian language stock and Yuchi to the Siouan one).

After two years of feeling like strangers among the Cherokees, the Yuchi left and returned to Newman's Ridge.

  American Indian - Karlton Douglas


page 33-34

While seeking mines and exploiting tribes in Appalachia, the Spanish eventually gained an evil reputation among Native Americans, and many conflicts erupted. The Cherokee feared them and knew that if caught by white men, they would be enslaved and forced to work in mines. Near Soco Gap near Cherokee, North Carolina, is a spot called "Skwan-digugunyi' meaning "Where the Spaniard is in the water." It apparently indicates the site of a battle where the dead enemy soldiers were thrown into the river. Survivors among the Spanish soldiers, including many Portuguese men, were captured and held. According to Cherokee legend, the men eventually coupled with tribal women and were isolated from the rest of the nation.
Chief Attakullakulla told the story:

"As a result of a great battle with the Spanish, six soldiers were spared. Over a period of time they achieved a degree of freedom, took Cherokee wives, and adapted their lifestyles as best they could. When the Cherokee began alliances with other European visitors, including the French and English, the descendants of the Latin soldiers were banished into 'the upper reaches of the Pellissippi' to an area known today as the Clinch Mountains, along the Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia borders."

Part of the above was taken from ~James Mooney, **Myths of the Cherokee**, originally published in the 19th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, in 1900, & republished in 1995 by Dover Publications, Inc, NY.    

Weekly Courier Journal

Odd Bits of Character Found amid the
Hills of Eastern Kentucky

Some Scraps of Conversation That Show
Their Peculiar Style of Talk

A Tribe of Indians Which Continues
to Flourish In Floyd County

(Bill Cole - Cherokee Indian Chief)


Hazard, Perry County April 15 --

..."Revenue officers are in great disrepute with all of them and the children are taught to run at the sight of a 'potcutter' and thus the older folks are often given warning by the screams of the youngsters at the sight of a strange man. The children are as wild as rabbits and can scramble over hillsides faster than men can go over them on horseback and hence they often get by the revenue officers where a man would be stopped with a shot.

Near the line between Floyd and Magoffin county, signs of a still caused a search to be made back into the hills. When a quarter of a mile up a ravine a lot of yellow-faced children suddenly appeared under the horses' legs and with shrill squalls of terror sped off to a tiny cabin perched on a big rock.

A woman with a very yellow face came to the door and after piling her youngsters into a box sardine -style informed us that she was Bet - the great-granddaughter of old Bill Cole, the aged Cherokee Indian  chief who died on the same hill ten years before. Cole the head of a tribe of half-breeds and about a hundred and fifty of his people still live on the same ridge. He was 110 years old when he died and his grave is on the highest spur of the mountain where his house still stands. The Indians drink moonshine but have not yet begun to make it and no still was found on old Bill's great-granddaughter's farm.''


The owner was a full-blooded Indian, with keen, black eyes, straight black hair, high cheeks, and a hook nose. He played upon his violin with his fingers instead of a bow, and entertained us with a history of his grandfather, who was a Cherokee chief, and by singing some of the songs of his tribe.



Many of the Malungeons claim to be Cherokee and Portuguese. Where they could have gotten their Portuguese blood is a mystery. The Cherokee is easily enough accounted for, as they claim to have come from North Carolina, and to be a remnant of the tribe that refused to go when the Indians were ordered to the reservation. They are certainly very Indian-like in appearance.



These two, Vardy Collins and Buck Gibson, were the had and source of the Melungeons in Tennessee. With the cunning of their Cherokee Ancestor, they planned and executed a scheme by which they were enabled to "set up for themselves" in the almost unbroken Territory of North Carolina.



The people in this house slept on leaves with an old gray blanket for covering. Yet the master of the house, who claims to be an Indians, and who without doubt, possesses Indian blood, draws a pension of twenty-nine dollars per month. He can neither read nor write, is a lazy fellow, fond of apple brandy and bitter coffee, has a rollicking good time with an old fiddle which he plays with his thumb, and boasts largely of his Cherokee grandfather and his government pension.

The Malungeons believe themselves to be of Cherokee and Portuguese extraction. They cannot account for the Portuguese extraction. They cannot account for the Portuguese blood, but are very bold in declaring themselves a remnant of those tribes, still inhabiting the mountains of North Carolina, which refused to follow the tribes to the Reservation set aside for them.

Cherokee Applications
Gibson - Minor - Mullins
Gibson - Collins - Cole  - Lawson

Hancock County
Cherokee Boundary Line

Carmel Indians?  Brown People of Magoffin
or Cherokee?
Cherokee Census Records

  ~King of The Melungeons~
Micajah Bunch