Editor’s Note: This article is part of the multi-part series “Exiled to Indian Country” about the exile of Native Americans.
When the Euchee (often spelled Yuchi) tribe made first contact with the European colonizers, the members were located in settlements in eastern Tennessee, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society.
During the remainder of the 1600s, they traveled to the southeastern United States and established settlements neighboring the Creek Nation in Georgia and Alabama.
The United States did not differentiate the Euchee and the Creek, even though they spoke different languages.
The two tribes were removed from the Southeast in 1830 and were given a land allotment in Oklahoma.
The Euchee settled the northern and northwestern portions of the land, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society. They have been unsuccessful in their efforts to become a federally-recognized tribe independent of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. The tribe is recognized by the state of Oklahoma.
“The Muscogee have always reognized the Yuchi as being their own people,” said Richard Whitman, who uses the Yuchi spelling. “We kept being Yuchi. We have our own ceremonies and our own language.”
Sacred ceremonies and Yuchi traditions are practiced at three ceremonial grounds in eastern Oklahoma, said Brent Deo, afternoon director for elementary classes at the Yuchi Language Project in Sapulpa.
“Our ceremonies are what keep us together as a Yuchi people,” Deo said.
The grant-funded Yuchi Language Project offers classes every day for toddlers through high school students and a community class on Wednesday night for parents and anyone else who wants to study the language, Deo said.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation also has a Euchee Language Department, according to manager Yoney Spencer.