Indigenous Place Names in the Upper Tennessee Valley

Indigenous Protohistoric Place Names in the Upper Tennessee Valley by Woktela D.K. Hackett and Jordan Engel
Indigenous Protohistoric Place Names in the Upper Tennessee Valley by Woktela D.K. Hackett and Jordan Engel

This map details the protohistoric names of Kallamuchee (the Tennessee River), its tributaries, and regional landforms. The area – present-day TN, NC, VA, and KY – is the traditional homeland of the Yuchi people, who call themselves Tsoyaha, or “Children of the sun”.  Except where noted below, most of the names come from Ge’wedene Yudjiha (the Yuchi language).

Map by Woktela D.K. Hackett, Yuchi Tribal Historian, and Jordan Engel

Indigenous Name – “Translation” – English Name
Agiqua (Agikwa) – “Long Tow River” – French Broad River
Canot (Caono) – “Eagle River” – Little River
Euphasee (Yufatse) – “Great Paddle River” – Hiawasee River
Kallamuchee (K’alaw’ayuchi) – “Yuchi Run” – Tennessee River
Hogoheegee (Gugegee) – “Yuchi People” (Lenape origin) – Holston River
Ocoee (Wocoee) – “Canoe Jump” – Ocoee River
Ogeechee (Hohoheegee) – “Yuchi People” (Algonquian origin) – Ogeechee River
Nonachunkeh – “Foot of Mountains River” – Nolichucky River
Pellissippi (Pelecenepi) – “Yonder Drink” – Clinch River
Ptsaliko (Cittico Satico) – “Stand Together as Shield” – Tellico River
Sequatchee (S’akwachi) – “Woodpecker’s Eye” – Sequatchie River
Swannanoah (Xawaeno) – “Snake Spirit” – Swannanoah River
Tanasee (Tanatse) – “Brother Water” – Little Tennessee River
Warioto – (Unknown origin) – Cumberland River
Wataga – “Bass many” – Watauga river
Yudap’athotha – “Great Turtle’s Backbone” – Walden Ridge
Yuk’u – “Great Valley” – Great Appalachian Valley
Yunekgah – “Great Rattlesnake” – 
Appalachian Mountains

Map: Jordan Engel. As always, the Decolonial Atlas’ original media can be reused under the Decolonial Media License 0.1.


One comment

  1. […] #382 The Tennessee River Valley is the ancient home of the Yuchi. When Cahokia declined the Yuchi and Siouan residents dispersed – with the Yuchi moving into the Tennessee River Valley — First the Nashville Basin and then into the Great Valley of the Appalachians. This map preserves the more ancient names used by the Yuchi, Koasati, Tali, &Tuskegee for the rivers and mountains in this ancient homeland. Yuk’u (Great Valley) between the Yunekgah – (Great Rattlesnake Mountains) & the Yudap’athotha – (Great Turtle’s Backbone) was home to several tribes and the cradle where the Green Corn Ceremony was shared among the many Southeastern tribes. This Cosmopolitan region was a major center of the salt economy that sustained this great preColumbian civilization. See:…/indigenous-place-n…/ […]


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