Indian Tribes On The Yazoo River

Along the Yazoo river existed a series of towns which seem to have been independent at the time of their discovery, but at a late period, about 1836, were incorporated into the Chicasa people. Some were inhabited by powerful and influential tribes, but it is uncertain whether any of them were of Maskoki lineage and language or not. 1 During the third Naktche-French war, the Yazoo tribes suffered considerably from attacks directed upon them by the Arkansas Indians. The countries along Yazoo river are low and swampy grounds, subject to inundations, especially the narrow strip of land extending between that river and the Mississippi.

The Taensa guide who accompanied Lemoyne d Iberville, up the Yazoo River in March 1699, enumerated the villages seen on its low banks in their succession from southwest to northeast, as follows (Margry IV, 180):

  1. Tonica, four days travel from the Naktche and two days travel from the uppermost town, Thysia. Cf. Tonica, p. 39 sqq.
  2. Ouispe; the Oussipés of Pénicaut.
  3. Opocoulas. They are the Affagoulas, Offogoula, Ouféogoulas or “Dog-People” of the later authors, and in 1784 some of them are mentioned as residing eight miles above Pointe Coupee, on W. bank of Mississippi River.
  4. Taposa; the Tapouchas of Baudry de Loziére.
  5. Chaquesauma. This important tribe, written also Chokeechuma, Chactchioumas, Saques’húma, etc., are the Saquechuma visited by a detachment of de Soto’s army in their walled town (1540). The name signifies “red crabs.” Cf. Adair, History, p. 352: “Tahre hache (Tallahatchi), 2 which lower down is called Chokchooma River, as that nation made their first settlements there, after they came on the other side of Mississippi. . . . The Chicasaw, Choktah and also the Chokchooma, who in process of time were forced by war to settle between the two former nations, came together from the west as one family,” etc. Cf. B. Romans, p. 315. Crab, crawfish is sóktchu in Creek, sáktchi in Hitchiti.
  6. Outapa; called Epitoupa, Ibitoupas in other documents.
  7. Thysia; at six days canoe travel (forty-two leagues) from the Naktche. They are the Tihiou of Dan. Coxe (1741).

Pénicaut, who accompanied d’Iberville in this expedition, gives an account of the Yazoo villages, which differs in some respects from the above: Going up the river of the Yazoux for four leagues, there are found on the right the villages inhabited by six savage nations, called “les Yasoux, les Offogoulas, les Tonicas, les Coroas, les Ouitoupas et les Oussipés.” A French priest had already fixed himself in one of the villages for their conversion. 3

D’Iberville was also informed that the Chicasa and the Napissas formed a union, and that the villages of both were standing close to each other. The term Napissa, in Cha’hta naⁿpissa, means spy, sentinel, watcher, and corresponds in signification to Akolapissa, name of a tribe between Mobile Bay and New Orleans, q. v. Compare also the Napochies, who, at the time of Tristan de Luna’s visit, warred with the Coca (or Kusa, on Coosa river?): “Coças tenian guerra con los Napochies”; Barcia, Ensayo, p. 37.

D. Coxe, Carolana, p. 10, gives the Yazoo towns in the following order: The lowest is Yassaues or Yassa (Yazoo), then Tounica, Kouroua, Samboukia, Tihiou, Epitoupa. Their enumeration by Baudry de Loziére, 1802, is as follows: “Yazoos, Offogoulas, Coroas are united, and live on Yazoo river in one village; strength, 120 men. Chacchioumas, Ibitoupas, Tapouchas in one settlement on Upper Yazoo River, forty leagues from the above.”

Another Yazoo tribe, mentioned at a later period as confederated with the Chicasa are the Tchúla, Chola or “Foxes.”

Yazoo is not a Cha’hta word, although the Cha’hta had a “clan” of that name: Yā’sho ókla, Yáshukla, as I am informed by Gov. Allen Wright. 4 T. Jefferys (I, 144) reports the Yazoos to be the allies of the “Cherokees, who are under the protection of Great Britain.” He also states that the French post was three leagues from the mouth of Yazoo river, close to a village inhabited by a medley of Yazoo, Couroas and Ofogoula Indians, and mentions the tribes in the following order (I, 163): “Yazoo Indians, about 100 huts; further up, Coroas, about 40 huts; Chactioumas or “red lobsters”, about 50 huts, on same river; Oufé-ouglas, about 60 huts; Tapoussas, not over 25 huts.”Citations:

  1. I have treated of some of these tribes (Tonica, Koroa) in separate articles. Moncachtape said to du Pratz, that the Yazoo Indians regarded the Chicasa as their elders, “since from them came the language of the country.”[]
  2. A large northern affluent of Yazoo river, in northern parts of Mississippi State.[]
  3. Cf. Margry V, 401 and Note.[]
  4. Cf. article on Yuchi, p. 24.[]


Gatschet, Albert S. A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians. Pub. D.G. Brinton, Philadelphia, 1884.

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