Names of Eastern Cherokee Individuals in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth
From Robert F. Jarretts 1916 "Occoneechee, the Maid of the Mystic Lake"
This compilation copyrighted by Don Chesnut, ©1998
[glossary entries verbatim from Jarrett]
"groundhog-sausage," from agana, groundhog, and
tsistau, "I am pounding it," understood to refer to pounding
meat, etc., in a mortar, after having first crisped it before the fire. A
war chief, noted in the Cherokee war of 1760, and prominent until about the
close of the Revolution, known to the whites as Oconostota. Also the Cherokee
name for Colonel Gideon Morgan of the war of 1812, for Washington Morgan,
his son, of the Civil war, and now for a full-blood upon the reservation,
known to the whites as Morgan Calhoun.
"Rising-fawn." Major George Lowrey, cousin of Sequoya, and assistant chief
of the Cherokee Nation about 1840. Stanley incorrectly makes it
"Keeth-la, or Dog" for gili.
"He throws away the drum" (habitual), from ahuli, drum, and
akwadegu, "I am throwing it away" (round object). The Cherokee
name of John Jolly, a noted chief and adopted father of Samuel Houston, about
the last woman known to be of Natchez decent [sic] and peculiarity [sic]
among the East Cherokee; died about 1890. The name has no apparent meaning.
Annie Axsee Sadayi.
Arch, Johnsee Atsi.
A Cherokee lieutenant in the Confederate service killed in 1862. The
name may be rendered, "Standing in the doorway," but implies that the man
himself is the door or shutter; it has no first person; gataga,
"he is standing"; stuti, a door or shutter; stuhu, a closed
door or passage; stugisti, a key, i.e., something with which
to open the door.
a noted Cherokee chief, recognized by the British government as the head
chief or "emperor" of the Nation, about 1760 and later, and commonly known
to the whites as the Little Carpenter (Little Cornplanter, by mistake, in
Haywood). The name is frequently spelled Atta-kulla-kulla, Ata-kullakulla
or Ata-culculla. It may be rendered "Leaning wood," from
ata, "Wood" and gul kalu, a verb implying that something
long is leaning, without sufficient support, against some other object; it
has no first person form. Bartram describes him as "A man of remarkably small
stature, slender and of a delicate frame, the only instance I saw in the
Nation; but he is a man of superior abilities."
Ata-Kullakullasee Ata-gul kalu.
a chief of the Arkansas Cherokee about 1818, who had originally emigrated
from Tennessee. The name, commonly spelled Tollunteeskee, Taluntiski,
Tallotiskee, Tallotuskee, etc., denotes one who throws some living object
from a place, as an enemy from a precipice.
the Cherokee name of John Arch, one of the earliest native writers in
the Sequoya characters. The word is simply an attempt at the English
Attakullakullasee Ata-gul kalu.
Ax, Anniesee Sadayi.
Ax, Johnsee Itagunahi.
"The Spoiler," from tsiyastihu, "I spoil it" cf.
Uyai, bad. A prominent woman and informant on the East Cherokee
"Swimmer"; literally, "he is swimming," from gayunini,
"I am swimming." A principal priest and informant of the East Cherokee,
died in 1899.
Boudinot, Eliassee Galgina.
Bowl, The; Bowles, Colonelsee Diwali.
Breadth, Thesee Unlita.
Butler, Johnsee Tsan-ugasita.
"Canacaught, the great Conjurer," mentioned as a Lower Cherokee chief
in 1684; possibly kanegwati, the water-moccasin snake.
given as the name of a Lower Chief in 1684; possibly for
Colanneh, Colonasee Kalanu.
a Cherokee woman noted in the Wahnenauhi manuscript as having distinguished
herself by bravery in battle. The proper form may have some connection
with gatunlati, "wild hemp."
for Danawa-gastaya, "Sharp-war," i.e., "Eager-warrior"; a
Cherokee womans name.
an old masculine personal name, of doubtful etymology, but commonly rendered
by the traders "Shoe-boots," possibly referring to some peculiar style
of moccasin or leggin. A chief known to the whites as Shoe-boots is mentioned
in the Revolutionary records. Chief Lloyd Welch,, of the eastern band, was
known in the tribe as Dasi giyagi, and the same name is now used
by the East Cherokee as the equivalent of the name Lloyd.
The Cherokee name of General Stand Watie and of a prominent early western
chief known to the whites as Takatoka. The word is derived from
tsitaga, "I am standing," da nitaga "they are standing
together," and conveys the subtle meaning of two persons standing together
and so closely united in sympathy as to form but one human body.
"he picks them up" (habitually), from tsineu, "I am picking
it up." A Cherokee Union soldier in the Civil War.
"sheaths," or "scabbards"; singular ahyundula, "a gun-sheath,"
or other scabbard. The probably correct form of a name which appears in
Revolutionary documents as "Untoola, or Gum Rod."
"chestnut bread," i.e., a variety of bread having chestnuts, mixed with it.
The Cherokee name of James Blythe, interpreter and agency clerk.
"Bowl," a prominent chief of the western Cherokee, known to the whites
as The Bowl, or Colonel Bowles, killed by the Texans in 1839. The chief mentioned
may have been another of the same name.
a species of frog, appearing very early in spring; the name is intended for
an onomatope. It is the correct form of the name of the chief noted by
McKenney and Hall as "Tooantuh or Spring Frog."
a male deer (buck) or turkey (gobbler); in the first sense the name is sometimes
used also for the large horned beetle (Dynastes tityus). The Indian
name of Elias Boudinot, first Cherokee editor.
"robbing place," from tsinasahunsku, "I am robbing him." ...The
name vengeance was originally a white mans nickname for an old Cherokee
woman, of forbidding aspect, who lived there before the Removal.
a noted western Cherokee, about 1842, known to the whites as Hardmush
or Big-Mush. Gatunwali, from gatu, "bread,"
and unwali, "made into balls or lumps," is a sort of mush or
parched corn meal, made very thick, so that it can be dipped out in lumps
almost of the consistency of bread.
Glass, Thesee Tagwadihi.
A Lower Cherokee chief in 1684; the form cannot be identified.
a Lower Cherokee chief in 1684; the form cannot be identified.
The Cherokee name of the chief John Ross, and for the district named in
his honor, commonly spelled Cooweescoowee. Properly an onomatope for
a large bird said to have been seen formerly at infrequent intervals in the
old Cherokee country, accompanying the migratory wild geese, and described
as resembling a large snipe, with yellow legs and unwebbed feet. In boyhood
John Ross was known as Tsanusdi, "Little John."
Houston, Samuelsee Kalanu.
"Going snake," a Cherokee chief prominet about eighty years ago [ca 1836].
The name properly signifies that the person is "going along in company
with a snake," the verbal part being from the irregular verb
astai, "I am going along with him."
Black-fox; the common red fox in tsula (in Muscogee, chula).
Black-fox was principal chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1810.
Name for "Clear Sky," formerly "Nenetooyah or the Bloody Fellow." The
name appears thus in a document of 1791 as that of a Cherokee chief frequently
mentioned about that period under the name of "Bloody Fellow." In one treaty
it is given as "Eskaqua or Bloody Fellow." Both forms and etymologies
are doubtful, neither form seeming to have any reference either to "sky"
(galunlahi) or "blood" (giga). The first may be
intended for Ik-egwa, "Great day."
the Cherokee name of John Ax.
Jesse Reidsee Tsesi-Skatsi.
John Axsee Itagunahi.
Jolly, Johnsee Anuludegi.
"All-bones," from kalu, bone. A former chief of the
East Cherokee, also known in the tribe as Sawanugi.
"The Raven"; the name was used as a war title in the tribe and appears
in the old documents as Corani (Lower dialect, Karanu) Colonneh, Colona,
etc. It is the Cherokee name for General Samuel Houston or for any person
an East Cherokee woman potter, the daughter of the chief
Yanagunski. The name conveys the idea of lending, from
tsiyatalsta, "I lend it"; agatalsta, "it is lent
a womans name, a Cherokee corruption of Cassie Cockran;
kagamu is also the Cherokee corruption for "cucumber."
Little Carpenter, Little Cornplantersee
a Cherokee chief living with his band in Ohio in 1795. The literal
Cherokee translation of "Long-hair" is Gitlugunahita,
but it is not certain that the English name is a correct rendering of the
Indian form. Cf. Ani-Gilahi.
Lowrey, Major Georgesee Agili.
Mayes, J.B.see Tsawa Gakski.
a Cherokee chief recognized by the English as "emperor" in 1730. Both
the correct form and the meaning of the name are uncertain; the name occurs
again as Moyatoy in a document of 1793; a boy upon the East Cherokee
reservation a few years ago bore the name of Matayi, for which
no meaning can be found or given.
given as the name of a Lower Cherokee chief in 1684. The correct form
and meaning are both uncertain, but the final part seems to be the common
suffix didi, "killer." Cf. Tagwadiahi.
(abbreviated Nunna-dihi) "Pathkiller," literally, "he
kills (habitually) in the path," from nunnahi, path, and
ahihi, "he kills" (habitually); "I am killing,"
tsiihu. A principal chief, about the year 1813. Major
John Ridge was originally known by the same name, but afterward took the
name, Gununda legi, "One who follows the ridge," which the whites
made simply Ridge.
(abbreviated) Nunna-tsunega "white path," from
nunnahi, path, and tsunega, plural of
unega, white; the form is the plural, as is common in Indian
names, and has probably a symbolic reference to the "white" or peaceful paths
spoken of in the opening invocation at the green corn dance. A noted chief
who led the conservative party about 1828.
Old Tasselsee Utsidsata.
Otacite, Otassitesee Outacity.
given as the name of a Cherokee chief in 1684; the form cannot be
given in documents as the name or title of a prominent Cherokee chief
about 1720. It appears also as Otacite, Ottassite, Outassatah, Wootassite
and Wrosetasatow(!), but the form cannot be identified, although it seems
to contain the personal name suffix diha, "killer." Timberlake
says: "There are some other honorary titles among them, conferred in reward
of great actions; the first of which is Outacity or "Man-killer," and
the second Colona or "The Raven."
Reid, Jessesee Tsesi-Skatsi.
Ridge, Major Johnsee
Ross, Johnsee Guwisguwi.
a feminine name, the proper name of the woman known to the whites as Annie
Ax; it cannot be translated.
squirrel; the common gray squirrel; other varieties are kiyu ga, the
ground squirrel, and tewa, the flying squirrel; Salali was
also the name of an East Cherokee inventor who died a few years ago;
Salalanita "Young-squirrels," is a masculine personal name on
"Shawano" (Indian); a masculine personal name upon the East Cherokee
reservation and prominent in the history of the band. See
Ani-Sawanugi and Kalahu.
Seviersee Tsan-usdi [Tsan uga
Shoe-bootssee Dasi giyagi.
a masculine name, commonly written Sequoya, made famous as that of the
inventor of the Cherokee alphabet. The name, which cannot be translated,
is still in use upon the East Cherokee reservation.
Spray, H. W.see Wilsini.
Stand Watiesee Degataga.
"the Chosen One," from asuyeta, "he is chosen,"
gasuyeu, "I am choosing"; the same form, suyeta,
could also mean mixed, from gasuyahu, "I am mixing it." A
masculine name at present borne by a prominent ex-chief and informant upon
the East Cherokee reservation.
(abbreviated Tagwadi) "Catawba-killer," from Atagwa
or Tagwa, Cattawba Indian, and dihihi, "he kills them"
(habitually), from tsiihu, "I kill." An old masculine
name, still in use upon the East Cherokee reservation. It was the proper
name of the chief known to the whites about 1790 as "The Glass," from
a confusion of this name with adaketi, glass, or mirror.
(Utaledanigisi in a dialectic form) variously rendered by the
whites "Hemp-carrier," "Nettle-carrier" or "flax-toter," from
taleta or utaleta, flax (Linum) or richweed
(Pilea pumila), and danigiski, "he carries them"
(habitually). A former prominent chief on Valley river, in Cherokee county,
given as the name of the Cherokee wife of Samuel Houston; the form
cannot be identified.
"Two-heads," fro tali, two, and
tsuska, plural of uska, (his) head. A
Cherokee chief about the year 1800, known to the whites as Doublehead.
Tassel, Oldsee Utsidsata.
"Dutch," also written Tahchee, a western Cherokee chief about 1830.
"Punk-plugged-in," from tawali, punk; the Cherokee
name of a traditional Shawano chief.
Thomas, W.H.see Wil-usdi.
"Field"; the Cherokee name for Lieutenant-Colonel W.W. Stringfield of
Waynesville, NC, one of the officers of the Cherokee contingent in the Thomas
Legion. It is an abbreviated rendering of his proper name.
Chief N.J. Smith of the East Cherokee. The name might be rendered
"Charley-killer," from Tsali, "Charley," and dihi, "killer"
(in composition), but is really a Cherokee equivalent for Jarrett
(Tsaladi), his middle name, by which he was frequently addressed. Cf.
Charley; a Cherokee shot for resisting the troops at the time of
"Sour John"; the Cherokee name for General John Sevier, and also the boy
name of the Chief John ross, afterward known as Guwis-guwi,
q.v. Sikwia, a Cherokee attempt at "Sevier," is a masculine name upon
the East Cherokee reservation.
a noted hunter formerly living upon Nantahala river, in Macon county,
North Carolina; the meaning of the name is doubtful.
Joe Smoker, from Tsawa, "Joe," and gakski, "smoker," from
gagisku, "I am smoking." The Cherokee name for Chief Joel
B. Mayes, of the Cherokee Nation west.
a Cherokee form for the name of General Andrew Jackson.
"Scotch Jesse"; Jesse Reid, present chief of the East Cherokee, so-called
because of mixed Scotch ancestry.
a Cherokee wheelwright, perhaps the first in the Nation to make a
spinning-wheel and loom. The name cannot be analyzed.
"He is dragging a canoe," from tsiyu, canoe (cf.
Tsiyu) otter, and gunsini, "he is dragging it."
"Dragging Canoe," a prominent leader of the hostile Cherokee in the
Revolution. The name appears in documents as Cheucunsene and Kunnesee.
"Big-witch," from atsikili, or tskilu, witch,
owl, and egwa, big; an old man of the East Cherokee, who
died in 1896. Although translated Big-witch by the whites, the name is understood
by the Indians to mean Big-owl, having been originally applied to a white
man living on the same clearing, and noted for his large staring eyes.
"He tries, but fails" (habitually), from
detsinulahunski (q.v.), "I tried, but failed." A former
noted chief among the East Cherokee, commonly known to the whites as Junaluska.
In early life he was called Gulkalaski, a name which denotes something
habitually falling from a leaning position (cf. Ata-gul kalu and Tsul
the terrapin or land tortoise; also the name of a Cherokee chief about
the close of the Revolution. Saligugi, common turtle; soft-shell
a traditional warrior and medicine man of old Itsati; the name
cannot be analyzed.
"White-man killer"; from unega, "white," for
yunwunega, "white person," and dihi, a noun
suffix denoting "killer" ("he kills them" (habitually)). A Cherokee chief,
whose name appears on the documents about 1790.
"(He is) long-winded," an archaic form for the regular word,
gunlita; an old masculine name. A chief about the year 1790,
known to the whites as "The Breath."
"Big-Head," from uska, head; a masculine name, perhaps
the original of the "Bull-head," given by Haywood as the name of a former
noted Cherokee warrior.
"His stomach hangs down," from uskwali, his stomach, and
guta, "it hangs down." A prominent chief of the Revolutionary
period, known to the whites as Hanging-maw.
"Lichen"; another form of utsaleta. A Cherokee chief
of Removal period in 1838.
"Corn-tassel," "Thistle-head," etc. It is used as a masculine name,
and was probably the Cherokee name of the chief of Revolutionary times,
known as "Old Tassel."
a feminine name of doubtful etymology. An expert basket-making woman among
the East Cherokee, who died in 1895. She was known to the whites as Mrs.
Waffordsee Tsuskwanunta. Entry not
Wahnenauhisee Waninahi (below).
a feminine name of uncertain etymology; the Wahnenauhi of the Wahnenauhi
the Cherokee form for Moses.
(different dialect forms)
a Cherokee known to the whites as Washington, the sole survivor of a Removal
tragedy. The name denotes a hollow log (or other cylindrical object)
lying on the ground at a distance; the root of the word is
asita, log, and the w prefix indicates distance.
a prominent old Cherokee, known to the whites as Wachesa, a name which
cannot be translated, who formerly lived on Beaverdam creek of Hiwassee
river, below Murphy, in Cherokee county, N.C. From the fact that the
Unicoi turnpike passed near his place, it was locally known as Wachesa trail.
The Cherokee name for H.W. Spray, agent and superintendent for the East
Cherokee reservation; an adaptation of his middle name, Wilson.
"Little Will," from Wili, Will and usdiga or
usdi, little. The Cherokee name for Colonel W. H. Thomas,
for many years the recognized chief of the eastern band.
"Big-Bear," from yanu, bear, and egwa, great, large.
A prominent chief about the year 1800; the name occurs in treaties as
Yonah, Yohanaqua and Yonahequah.
"the bear drowns him" (habitually), from yanu, bear, and
tsiguniska, "I am drowning him." A noted East Cherokee
chief, known to the whites as Yonaguska or Drowning-bear.
2. An abbreviated treaty form for the name of the chief Yanagwa.
"dangerous man, terrible man"; a traditional leader in the wesward migration