1818 Early's Map

Sawokli Tribe

The earliest home of the Sawokli of which we have any indication was upon or near the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, probably in the neighborhood of Choctawhatchee Bay. Thus Barcia refers to “the Provinces of Pancacola, Sabacola, and others, upon the ports and bays of the Gulf of Mexico,” 1 and the position above given agrees very well with that assigned to them, under the name “Sowoolla,” upon the Lamhatty map. 2

In a letter written in the year 1680 Gov. Cabrera of Florida says:

The Cazique Saucola, distant forty leagues from Apalache, came [to the Apalache missions] and three monks went [back] with him, but with no results. 3

Fray Francisco Gutierrez de Vera, writing May 19, 1681, from this new province, is naturally more optimistic than Cabrera, who was by no means favorable to the missionaries. He says:

Thirty adults have been baptized in two months, including the head chief and two sons, and his stepfather, and now, on knowing the prayers, his mother will be also, the casique governador, his wife, and three children, and a grandson who has no family, five sons of the principal enixa two henixas, and other leading men with their wives and families. 3

Holmanns Map of 1759
The name Sawolki appears on Holmanns Map of 1759 as Chalaqui

The enixa or henixa was of course the heniha or “second man” of the Creeks. This reference shows that the customs of the Sawokli were even then similar to those of the Creeks proper.

The Sawokli mission was evidently stopped shortly afterwards by those influences which had brought the Apalachicola mission to a premature end, particularly the hostile attitude of the English.

I have ventured a guess that this was one of the three ”nations” carried off by hostile Indians in 1706. 4 At any rate, the next we hear of them they are living among the Lower Creeks. They are mentioned, without being definitely located, in a Spanish letter of 1717. 5

Moll Map of 1720
The Sawokli Tribe is located on the west bank of the Ocmulgee River in the 1720 Moll Map as Sowagle

The map of 1733 shows a town called “Chaouakale” on the west bank of the Chattahoochee, and another, “Chaogouloux,” eastward of the Flint (pl. 5). It seems probable that part of the tribe at least settled first near Ocmulgee River, because on the Moll map of 1720 they are placed on the west bank of a southern affluent of that stream. The name appears in a few later maps — for instance, the Homann map of 1759 — but none of these, except the De Crenay map above mentioned, shows a Sawokli town on the Chattahoochee until 1795, when it appears between the Apalachicola town and the mouth of the Flint. This is repeated on some subsequent maps.

However, there is every reason to believe that they had been on Chattahoochee River ever since the Yamasee war. They appear in the Spanish enumeration of 1738 and the French estimates of 1750 and 1760. 6 In 1761 the Sawokli trading house was owned by Crook & Co. 7 Sawokli occurs also in the lists of Creek towns given by Bartram, 8 Swan, 9 and Hawkins. 10 Some of these contain a big and a little Sawokli, and Hawkins gives the following description of the two as they existed in his time:

Sau-woo-ge-lo is six miles below O-co-nee, on the right bank of the river [the Chattahoochee], a new settlement in the open pine forest. Below this, for four and a half miles, the land is flat on the river, and much of it in the bend is good for corn. Here We-lau-ne, (yellow water) a fine flowing creek, joins the river; and still lower, Co-wag-gee, (partridge), 11 a creek sixty yards wide at its mouth. Its source is in the ridge dividing its waters from Ko-e-ne-cuh, Choc-tan hatche and Telague hache; 12 they have some settlements in this neighborhood, on good land.

Sau-woog-e-loo-che is two miles above Sau-woo-ge-lo, on the left bank of the river, in oaky woods, which extend back one mile to the pine forest; they have about twenty families, and plant in the bends of the river; they have a few cattle. 13

Besides the Big and Little Sawokli which Hawkins describes there was at a very early date a northern branch living in the neighborhood of the Kasihta and Coweta. In a Spanish document dated 1738 this seems to be called “Tamaxle Nuevo” and is represented as the northernmost of the Lower Creek towns, 14 but it is usually known by a variant of the tribal name now under discussion, although the initial consonant is sometimes ch rather than s. One of the two names given above as appearing on the De Crenay map evidently refers to this band, but which is uncertain. In the Spanish census of 1750 it occurs again in the distorted form ”Couacalé,” 14 and in the French census of 1760 it is spelled “Chaouaklé” and placed between Kasihta and Coweta. 15 Finally, one of my best Indian informants — a man who was born in the country of the Lower Creeks in Alabama — remembered that there were two distinct towns called Sawokli and Tcawokli, both of which he believed to belong to the Hitchiti group. This latter probably gave its name to a branch of Uphapee Creek called Chewockeleehatchee Creek, which in turn furnished the designation for a body of Tulsa who had nothing to do with the Sawokli tribe. 16 If we may trust the census of 1832, a village inhabited by Kasihta bore the same name. 17

The towns of Okawaigi (or Kawaigi) and Okiti-yagani are said to have branched off from the Sawokli. The former is probably one of the Sawokli towns which appear in the French census. The latter is evidently the “Oeyakbe” of the same list, 15 and the “Weupkees” of the census of 1761, 18 in which the name has been translated into Muskogee, Oiyakpi, ”water (or river) fork.” Manuel Garcia, a Spanish officer sent against the adventurer Bowles, mentions it in the grossly distorted form ”Hogue ôhotehanne.” 19 Okawaigi and Okiti-yakani are both in Hitchiti, the first signifying ”Place to get water,” and the second “Zigzag stream land.” They are in the census list of 1832 along with still another Sawokli off branch called Hatchee tcaba [Hatci tcaba] 20 which is to be distinguished carefully from an Upper Creek town of the same name, a branch of Kealedji. 21 After accompanying the other Creeks west the Sawokli soon gave up their independent busk ground and united with the Hitchiti. Their descendants are living near Okmulgee, the former capital of the Creek Nation in the west.Citations:

  1. Barcia, La Florida, p. 324.[]
  2. Amer. Anttirop., n. s. vol. x, p. 571.[]
  3. Lowery, MSS.[][]
  4. Amer. Anthrop., n. s. vol. x, p. 568.[]
  5. Serrano y Sanz, Doc. Hist., p. 228.[]
  6. MS., Aver Coll.; Miss. Prov. Arch., I, p. 96.[]
  7. Ga. Col. Docs., VIII, pp. 522-524.[]
  8. Bartram, Travels, p. 462.[]
  9. Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, v, p. 262.[]
  10. Ga. Hist. See. Colls., III, p. 25.[]
  11. “Partridge” is probably a mistranslation, the name being a contraction of Okawaigi (see below).[]
  12. The words “Choc-tan hatche and Telague hache” are wanting in the MS. in the Library of Congress.[]
  13. Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., III, pp. 65-66.[]
  14. MS. In Ayer Coll., Newberry Lib. This document incidentally serves as an additional argument for the Uitchiti connection of the Tamati Indians.”[][]
  15. Miss. Prov. Arch., I, p. 96.[][]
  16. See p. 245.[]
  17. See p. 225.[]
  18. Ga. Col. Docs., VIII, 522.[]
  19. Copy of MS. in Ayer Coll., Newberry Library.[]
  20. Sen. Doc. 512, 23d Cong., 1st sess., pp. 342-344; Ala. Hist. Soc. Misc. Colls., 1, p. 396.[]
  21. See p. 272.[]

History, Sawokli,

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

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