Cavelandia is a region of extraordinarily karst topography across the modern states of Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia, and Georgia. Tens of thousands of caves lie beneath the surface, including Mammoth Cave – the longest in the world. In the Yuchi language, this area is known as S’akabaha, meaning “Cave land.” The Yuchi, who call themselves Tsoyaha, or “Children of the sun,” are one of the original inhabitants of this region. Indeed, “Cavelanders” was once a common appellation for the Yuchi people. Caves were a central part of Yuchean spirituality, and dozens of caves in S’akabaha contain ancient glyphic inscriptions, the most common of which is that of the Tso (the sacred sun symbol). There is little doubt that the Yuchi played a large role in these cave inscriptions. The elder’s traditions describe initiatory rites performed in caves, and the priests often retired to the caves to journey to the lower worlds. Important Yuchi leaders were also often interred in caves after their deaths. These caves are very sacred to the Yuchi, and must be protected.
Map by Woktela D.K. Hackett, Yuchi Tribal Historian, and Jordan Engel