Sawokli Indians

Sawokli Tribe: Possibly meaning “raccoon people,” in the Hitchiti language, and, while this is not absolutely certain, the okli undoubtedly means “people.”

Sawokli Connections. The Sawokli belonged to the Muskhogean linguistic stock and to the subdivision called Atcik-hata. (See Apalachicola.)

Sawokli Location. The best known historic location was on Chattahoochee River in the northeastern part of the present Barbour County, Ala. (See Florida and Georgia.)

Sawokli Villages

  • Hatchee tcaba, probably on or near Hatchechubbee Creek, in Russell County, Ala.
  • Okawaigi, on Cowikee Creek, in Barbour County, Ala.
  • Okiti-yagani, in Clay County, Ga., not far from Fort Gaines.
  • Sawokli, several different locations, the best known of which is given above.
  • Sawoklutci, on the east bank of the Chattahoochee River, in Stewart County, Ga.
  • Teawokli, probably on Chattahoochee River in the northeastern part of Russell County, Ala.

Sawokli History. When first known to the Spaniards the Sawokli were living on Chattahoochee River below the falls of Columbus, Georgia, on the Alabama side. A Spanish mission, Santa Cruz de Sabacola, was established in one section of the tribe by Bishop Calderón of Cuba in 1675, and missionaries were sent to a larger body among the Creeks in 1679 and again in 1681. Most of the Indians surrounding these latter, however, soon became hostile and those who were Christianized withdrew to the junction of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, where they were settled not far from the newly established Chatot missions. The Sawokli appear to have remained in the same general region until 1706 or 1707, when they were displaced by hostile Indians, probably Creeks. At least part lived for a while on Ocmulgee River and returned to the Chattahoochee, as did the residents of many other Indian towns, about 1715, after which they gradually split up into several settlements but followed the fortunes of the Lower Creeks. In the seventeenth century there a have been a detached body as far west as Yazoo River, since a map that period gives a “Sabougla” town there and the name is preserved to the present day in a creek and post village.

Sawokli Population. In 1738 a Spanish report gives the Sawokli 20 men, evidently an underestimate. In 1750 four settlements are given with more than 50 men, and in 1760 the same number of settlements and 190 men, including perhaps the Tamali, but to these must be added 30 men of Okiti-yakani. In 1761, including the neighboring and probably related villages, they are reported to have had 50 hunters. Hawkins in 1799 gives 20 hunters in Sawoklutci but no figures for the other towns. (See Hawkins, 1848.) In 1821 Young (in Morse, 1822) estimates 150 inhabitants in a town probably identical with this, and, according to the census of 1832-33, there were 187 Indians in Sawokli besides 42 slaves, 157 Indians in Okawaigi, and 106 in Hatcheetcaba; altogether, exclusive of the slaves, 450.

Connection in which. they have become noted.-Sawokla is the name of a small place in Oklahoma, and a branch of this town has had its name incorporated in that of a stream, the Chewokeleehatchee, in Macon County., Ala., and in a post office called Chewacla in Lee County, Ala.

Muskogean, Sawokli,

Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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