Holiwahali Tribe

The first of all red or war towns among the Upper Creeks to appear in history is Liwahali, or, in the ancient form of the word, Holiwahali, a name which signifies ”to share out or divide war” (holi, war, awahali, to divide out). The explanation of this is given below. At the present time some Creeks say that Hohwahali, Atasi, and Kealedji separated from Tukabahchee in the order given, but this story rather typifies the terms of friendship between them than explains their real origin, though there may be more substantial grounds for the belief in a common origin in the cases of the two latter. Holiwahali, however, goes back to a remote historical period, for there can be little doubt that it is the Ulibahali of Ranjel 1 and the Ullibahali of Elvas. 2 This word might be given an interpretation in the Alabama language, but it is unlikely that any Alabama other than the Tawasa were on Tallapoosa River in De Soto’s time. At any rate the town described by Ranjel and Elvas was on a river and in much the same position as that in which we later find Holiwahali. It was fenced about with palisades, erected and loopholed in the usual Indian manner.

Ranjel speaks of the grapes of this place as of particular excellence, better than any the Spaniards had tasted in Coosa, or farther north. Here it was learned the Indians had planned to attempt to rescue the chief of Coosa, whom De Soto carried along as prisoner, but the Coosa chief commanded them to lay aside their arms, which they did. 3 Of course the Spaniards interpreted this action as that of vassals obeying the commands of their lord, but the relations between the two towns were probably merely of alliance and friendship.

The sergeant major and 200 soldiers sent in search of Coosa by De Luna in 1560 reached this place after a long and toilsome journey. Padilla says:

… On the fiftieth day after their departure from Nanipacna, they discovered, on the banks of a river, several little Indian houses, the sight of which was a very great consolation to those, who in the immense solitude and almost facing starvation, had not seen a human inhabitant of those parts. The biggest river there was called Oli-bahali and had a more numerous population, which , even so, was quite small. In these hamlets they had corn, beans, and calabashes, but their abundance meant almost famine to the state of starvation the Spaniards were in. When the Indians perceived armed Spaniards they feared ill treatment as they had received it in the past, but being reassured, they returned to their houses, and the Spaniards retired outside the villages, thus avoiding frightening them. Through interpreters they communicated with them, giving them clothes in exchange for corn, which to both parties meant a great deal. The Spaniards needed food and found bread by means of these exchanges; the Indians did not wish any money, as they did not know it nor had they appreciated its value at any time since their remotest antiquity. What they value most are clothes and they treasured on this occasion the ribbons and the trinkets of colored beads which the Spaniards gave them. The soldiers were very glad for a rest at that place, although not free from misgivings concerning the Indians. They put out sentinels at night, as much in order to prevent the Indians from harming them, as their own men from going over among the Indians. At least they were all fed and it was necessary to remain at that place for several days, waiting for some of their companions who had remained behind, partly for lack of food and partly on account of illness, and those were the first days since they had left Nanipacna that they really ceased walking. . . .

Although the Indians of Olibahali showed themselves to be friends of the Spaniards, and were at peace with them, they may not have wished so many on account of the impairment to their food staples which they gathered to last them a whole year, and which their guests consumed within a few days. The corn was beginning to give out, and fearing still greater need, which was sure to come at that pace, they resorted to a wary invention to get the Spaniards out of their country. He who says that the Indians are barbarians and lack cunning, does not know them. They have cunning, and the vexations inflicted upon them by the Spaniards have made them more and more skilled with the many opportunities afforded them by the Spaniards. One day just after sunset, the dark of night fast approaching, an Indian arrived at the camp of the Spaniards, who, to judge from his appearance and demeanor, seemed to be a chief: he was accompanied by four other Indians. He carried the emblems of an ambassador, and he stated that he was such, and came from the great province of Coza. He carried in his hand a cane of six palmos 4 in length, adorned at the top with white feathers, which appeared to be those of a heron. It was the custom of the Indians to emphasize their messages of peace by wearing white feathers, their declaration of war by red ones. When the ambassador arrived within sight of the Spaniards, he made his obeisance after his fashion and said that the lord of Coza had sent him in the name of the whole province, offering it to them and thanking them in advance for their inclination to use it, and entreating them that his desires to receive them should not remain unfulfilled; that they should hurry to go there as he offered them those who would guide them and serve them. This Indian was a neighbour of those of Olibahali, and between them they had invented this miserable lie to get the Spaniards, whose main intention was to reach the province of Coza, out of their own territory. As the captains and priests were quite innocent of cunning they were overjoyed by this embassy, although their prudence told them that it might be artfulness on the part of those of Coza to ensnare them some way or other. For that reason their gratefulness, which in the opinion of some was due to such generous offerings, was quite guarded. At first they wished to send a captain with twelve soldiers to thank the lord of Coza for his offerings, but they finally agreed they ought not to separate, but travel all together, moving slowly towards the province of Coza; and upon asking the sham ambassador how many leagues there were to his province, he told them there were twenty. They told him to go and offer their thanks and appreciation for his coming and carry the news that the camp would break up immediately from Olibahali, in answer to the summons received, and soon go to see the lord of Coza.

The ambassador thereupon said that he had orders to guide and serve them, and in order to fulfill all his duties and do likewise what they should order him, he would accompany them one day’s journey and that he would precede them. Thus they all left Olibahali together, and as soon as the ambassador had attained his intention to get them away from that place, he suddenly disappeared, showing himself to be a true Indian, who did not know how to carry to the end the plot he commenced, by bidding good-bye to the Spaniards on his way to Coza, although he was returning to his own country. As we have explained one side of the Indian character, we might just as well explain the other, namely, that although they are ingenious and ready schemers, they lack prudence and perseverance in carrying out the plot. This envoy commenced his scheme quite well, but he was too easily satisfied at merely putting them on the road, and he caused himself to be suspected in their eyes by his sudden disappearance. The prudent Spaniards discovered the truth by making a few investigations. They were not taken aback by the fact that the Indians wished to get rid of them; they were only astonished at having received the invitation that man had brought. Then they continued their journey in search of the land of promise which had been so celebrated by all who had spoken about it. 5

On their return they probably passed through the same place, but nothing is said about it.

On the Lamhatty map is a town called “Cheeawoole” west of a river which appears to be the Flint, and from the spelling this town was probably identical with the one under discussion. 6 It appears in the census list of 1738 as “Yuguale,” 7 in that of 1750 as “Tcouale” 7 in that of 1760 under the name “Telouales,” 8 and in that of 1761 as ”Chewallee,” where it is credited with 35 hunters, and is assigned to the trader James Germany along with Fus-hatchee and Kolomi. 9 In 1797 the traders were James Russel and Abraham M. Mordecai, the latter a Jew. 10 Bartram calls it “Cluale” Swan ”Clewauleys” 11 while in the census enumeration of 1832 it appears as “Clewalla.” 12 Hawkins describes it as follows:

Ho-ith-le-wau-le, from Ho-ith-le, war, and wau-le, to share out or divide. This town had, formerly, the right to declare war; 13 the declaration was sent first to Took-au-bat-che, and thence throughout the nation, and they appointed the rendezvous of the warriors. It is on the right bank of the Tallapoosa, five miles below Aut-tos-see. In descending the river on the left side from Aut-tos-see, is two miles across Ke-bi-hat-che; thence one mile and a half O-fuc-she, and enter the fields of the town; the fields extend down the river for one and one-half miles; the town is on the right bank, on a narrow strip of good land; and back of it, under high red cliffs, are cypress ponds. It borders west on Autoshatche twenty-five feet wide.

These people have some cattle, and a few hogs and houses; they have some settlements up O-fuc-she; the increase of property among them, and the inconvenience attendant on their situation, their settlement being on the right side of the river, and their fields and stock on the left, brought the well-disposed to listen with attention to the plan of civilization, and to comment freely on their bad management. The town divided against itself; the idlers and the ill-disposed remained in the town, and the others moved over the river and fenced their fields. On this side the land is good and level, and the range out from the river good to the sources of O-fuc-she. On the other side, the high broken land comes close to the river. It is broken pine barren, back of that. The situation of the town is low and unhealthy; and this remark applies to all the towns on Tallapoosa, below the falls.

O-fuc-she has its source near Ko-e-ne-cuh, thirty miles from the river, and runs north. It has eight or nine forks, and the land is good on all of them. The growth is oak, hickory, poplar, cherry, persimmon, with cane brakes on the flats and hills. It is a delightful range for stock, and was preserved by the Indians for bears and called the beloved bear-ground. Every town had a reserve of this sort exclusively; but as the cattle increase and the bears decrease, they are hunted in common. This creek is sixty 14 feet wide, has steep banks, and is difficult to cross, when the waters are high.

Kebihatche has its source to the east, and is parallel with Ca-le-be-hat-che; the margins of the creek have rich flats bordering pine forest or post oak hills. 15

If our identification of Ulibahali with this town is correct, the name which it bears would indicate that the Creek confederacy was in existence as far back as the period of De Soto. The fission in the town described by Hawkins was evidently that which resulted in the formation of Laplako, since it is only after this time – namely, in the census list of 1832 16 – that we find Laplako mentioned. According to the story now related a quarrel broke out among the Holiwahali while they were drinking, and afterwards part of them moved away to a creek where a kind of cane grew called lawa. From this they received their present name, a contraction of lawa lako, big lawa. Laplako comprised the more thrifty and energetic part of the population, and they have maintained a dance ground down to the present time, although not a regular square. The Holiwahali proper have maintained neither dance ground nor square.

Swanton, John Reed. Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors. US Government Printing Office. 1902.

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  1. Bourne, Narr. of De Soto, II, p. 113.[]
  2. Bourne, Narr. of De Soto,I, p. 84.[]
  3. Bourne, Narr. of De Soto, I, pp. 84-85; II, pp. 113-114.[]
  4. One “palmo” is about 8 inches.[]
  5. Padilla, Historia, pp. 202-205. Translated by Mrs. F. Bandelier.[]
  6. Amer. Anthrop., n. s. vol. x, p. 570.[]
  7. MSS., Ayer Coll.[][]
  8. Miss. Prov. Arch., I, p. 95.[]
  9. Ga. Col. Docs., VIII, p. 523.[]
  10. Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., IX, p. 168.[]
  11. Bartram, Travels, p. 461; Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, v, p. 262.[]
  12. Senate Doc. 512, 23d Cong., 1st sess., IV, pp. 315-318.[]
  13. This fact is still remembered by some of the older Creek Indians.[]
  14. The Lib. Cong. MS. has “20.”[]
  15. Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., III, pp. 32-33.[]
  16. Senate Doc. 512, 23d Cong., 1st sess., IV, pp. 268-270.[]

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