Tamathli Indians

Tamathli Tribe. The name is possibly related to that of a Creek clan with the Hitchiti plural ending, in which case it would refer to “flying creatures,” such as birds.

Tamathli Connections. Tamathli belonged to the Atsik-hata group in the Creek Confederation.

Tamathli Location. The historic seats of the Tamathli were in southwestern Georgia and neighboring parts of Florida.

Tamathli History. It is believed that we have our first mention of the Tamathli in the Toa or Toalli of the De Soto narratives. When De Soto passed through Georgia in 1540, it is believed that this tribe was living at Pine Island in Daugherty County. They may have been connected with the Altamaha Yamasee living between Ocmulgee and Oconee Rivers whose name sometimes appears in the form Tama. They afterward drifted into Florida and were established in a mission called La Purificaci6n de la Tama on January 27, 1675, by Bishop Calderon of Cuba, in the Apalachee country 1 league from San Luis. In a mission list dated 1680 appears the name of another mission, Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria de in Tama. The Tamathli suffered the same fate as the Apalachee in general when the latter were at-tacked by Moore in 1704. At least part of these Indians afterward moved to the neighborhood of St. Augustine, where another mission was established for them, but this was attacked by the Creeks on November 1, 1725, while mass was being celebrated. Many Indians were killed and the remainder moved to other missions. In 1738 we hear of a “Tamaxle nuevo,” as the northernmost Lower Creek settlement and a southern division called “Old Tamathle,” and are informed that “in the town of Tamasle in Apalachee [i. e., Old Tamathle] there were some Catholic and pagan families.” We hear again of these Tamathli Indians from Benjamin Hawkins (1848), writing in 1799, who sets them down as one of the tribes entering into the formation of the Florida Seminole. A town of the same name also appears in the Cherokee country “on Valley River, a few miles above Murphy, about the present Tomatola, in Cherokee County, N. C.” The name cannot be interpreted in Cherokee and there may once have been a northern division of the Tamathli.

Tamathli Population. The Spanish census dated 1738 enters Old Tamathli, with 12 men, and New Tamathli with 26, but the latter probably was in the main a Sawokli settlement. The French estimate of 1750 entered only the former town with 10 men. In Young’s enumeration of Seminole towns (in Morse, 1822) this is given a total population of 220.


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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