Apalachi Indian Tribe

Editor’s Note: Apalachi is a derivative of Apalachee, so the following information is referencing the Apalachee Indians.

The Hitchiti, Mikasuki and Apalachi languages form a dialectic group distinct from Creek and the western dialects, and the people speaking them must once have had a common origin. The proper names Apalachi and Apalatchúkli are now extinct as tribal names, but are of very ancient date. The auriferous ledges of the Cheroki country were said to be within “the extreme confines of the Apalachi province” (Fontanedo, 1559), and the Apalachi found by Narvaez was fifteen days march north of Aute, 1 a roadstead or harbor on the Gulf of Mexico, though the Indians had stated to him that it lay at a distance of nine days travel only. The “province” of Apalachi probably included the upper part or the whole of the Chatahuchi river basin, and on account of the ending -okla in Apalatchúkla, its origin must be sought in the Cha’hta or Hitchiti dialect. Rev. Byington explains it by helping people, allies, in the Cha’hta apālātchi okla, but the original form of the name is Apalaχtchi ókli, not apálatchi; -χtchi is a Hitchiti suffix of adjectives, and apálui in that dialect means on the other side of. Hence the adjective apalaχtchi: “those {people ókli) on the other side, shore or river.

The town of Apalachi, on Apalache bay, must be kept clearly distinct from the town of Apalachicola, or Apalatchúkla, about fifty miles further west, on the river then called by the same name.

Apalachi town was north of Apalachi bay, the principal port of which is now St. Marks. This was probably the place after which “Apalache provincia” was named in de Soto’s time; Biedma, one of his historians, states (in Smith, Docum. ined., I, 48. 49), that “this province was divided by a river from the country east of it, having Aguile as frontiers town. Apalachi has many towns and produces much food, and (the Indians) call this land visited by us Yustaga.” This river was probably the St. Mark’s river. Both names are also distinguished as belonging to separate communities in Margry IV, 96. 117 (1699) and IV, 309. The western “Palachees” are laid down on the map in Dan. Coxe, Carolana, on Chatahuchi river, the eastern “Palachees” on a river in the northeast angle of the Gulf of Mexico; north of the latter are the Tommachees (Timucua). At present, a northwestern affluent of Okoni River, in Upper Georgia, is called Apalache River.

Apalatchúkla, a name originally belonging to a tribe, was in early times transferred to the river, now Chatahuchi, and from this to all the towns of the Lower Creeks. An instance of this is given by L. d’Iberville, who states (Margry IV, 594. 595) that in 1701 a difficulty arose between the Apalachicolys and the Apalachis on account of depredations committed; that the Spanish call those Indians Apalachicolys, the French Conchaques, and that they counted about 2000 families an equal number of men being ascribed to the Apalachis, who were under Spanish rule.

The name of the tribe and town was Apalatchúkla, also written Pallachucla, Palachicola. This town was on the western bank of Chatahuchi River, 1½ miles below Chiaha. In early times its tribe was the most important among the Lower Creeks, adverse to warfare, a “peace or white town,” and called by the people Tálua ‘láko, Great Town. Like the town Apalachi, the inhabitants of this town spoke a dialect resembling Hitchiti very closely. Apalachicola River is now the name of Chatahuchi River below its junction with the Flint River. More about this town in the: List of Creek Settlements.

Later in the sixteenth century the boundary between the Timucua and the Apalachi lands is stated to have been on or near the Vacissa River; Ibitachuco or Black Lake being the eastern Apalachi boundary, the westernmost town of the Timucua being Asile (Ausile, Oxilla).

In 1638 the Indians of Apalachi made war against the Spanish colonists. Although the governor of Florida had but few troops to oppose, he marched against them and daunted their aggressiveness (sobervia) by forcing them to a disastrous retreat and following them into their own country (Barcia, Ensayo, p. 203).

In 1688 a number of Apalachi chiefs (caciques) addressed a letter of complaint to Charles the Second, king of Spain (†1700), concerning the exactions to which their former governors had subjected them, and other topics relating to their actual condition. The towns mentioned in the letter are San Luis de Apalachi, Ibitachuco, Pattali, Santa Cruz, Talpatqui, Vasisa, San Marcos. The original, with its Spanish translation, was reproduced in a facsimile edition in 1860 by Buckingham Smith (fol.) and other documents written in Apalachi are preserved in the archives of Havana, the seat of the archbishopric, to which Apalachi and all the other settlements comprised within the diocese of St. Helena belonged.

Christianized Apalachis, who had been frequently raided by Alibamu Indians, fled in 1705 to the French colony at Mobile, where Governor de Bienville gave them lands and grain-seed to settle between the Mobilian and Tohome tribe; cf. Pénicaut in Margry V, 461. 485, where their religious festivals and other customs are described. Like the Apalachis, the tribe of the heathen Taouachas had quitted the Spanish territory for being harassed by the Alibamu, and fled southwest to the French, who settled them on Mobile river, one league above the Apalachis (1710; in Margry V, 485-487). Some Cha’hta refugees had been settled at the “Anse des Chactas,” on Mobile Bay, the year preceding. In the nineteenth century the last remnants of the Apalachi tribe were living on the Bayou Rapide, in Louisiana, and about A. D. 1815 counted fourteen families.Citations:

  1. Perhaps from the Hitchiti term a-útilis “I build or kindle afire.”[]

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

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