Melungeons or Cherokee?
Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky
John Reed Swanton's Indians of the
Southeastern United States
Bulletin 137 of the Bureau of American
Smithsonian Institution, 1946.
Swanton reported that there were three bands of the Yuchi (Uchee or
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
MINES MICHAEL S. STEELY
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
GATHERING IN THE 'SHINERS
(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
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.
MELUNGEON TREE AND ITS FOUR BRANCHES
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.
- Minor - Mullins
Collins - Cole - Lawson
Carmel Indians? Brown People of
~King of The Melungeons~
COMMUNITIES OF THE SOUTH
~ ROBERT K. THOMAS