Yuchi Population

At the present day the Yuchi are located in the northwestern part of the Creek nation, where they have been since the removal in 1836. They inhabit the well-watered hills in the section known locally as the Cross Timber, a thinly wooded tract running in a general northerly and southerly direction through central Oklahoma, the last extensive frontier of timber on the south-western prairies marking the old boundaries of Oklahoma and Indian Territory. There are in this region three so-called settlements of Yuchi, called respectively Polecat, Sand Creek and Big Pond by the whites. All of these settlements are distributed in a region extending from Polecat Creek to the Deep Fork of the Canadian river. When, however, the term settlement is used for such inhabited districts it is a little misleading because, although the Indians are a little more closely grouped in the three neighborhoods mentioned, they are really scattered over the whole of the Cross Timber country, none of which is thickly settled by them. Their plantations, where they engage in agriculture or in cattle raising, are not in close proximity to each other, except where some passable road and the nearness to good water and arable soil combine to attract them. In such cases there may be a dozen families found within the radius of a mile or so. In some parts of their habitat, however, ten or twelve miles of forest and prairie affording good cover for game may be traversed without passing a plantation. Thus, according to their own accounts as well as those of their neighbors the Creeks, the Yuchi were accustomed to live in their old homes in Georgia and Alabama.

It is a very difficult matter at present to estimate the number of the Yuchi on account of their scattered condition. As no separate classification is made for them in the government census they are counted as Creeks. Their numbers, however, can hardly exceed five hundred. They are apparently most numerous in the vicinity of Polecat Creek. The other neighborhoods are somewhat less populous but are regarded as being a little more conservative.

Despite the fact that three settlements are recognized by themselves and their neighbors, the Yuchi constitute only a single town in the eyes of the Creeks. The latter, as is well known, had a national convention in which delegates were received from all the towns and tribes of the confederacy. Accordingly, the Yuchi, as one of the confederated town-tribes, had the privilege of sending one representative to the House of Kings and four to the House of Warriors, as they called the two political assemblies of the Creek Nation at Muscogee. This convention met once a year until 1906 and was a modified and modernized survival of the form of assembly held in the old days by the tribes constituting the Muskogian alliance. These bodies met irregularly to consider questions which arose between them, as a loosely united league, and the United States Government or other tribes. If the numerical strength of the tribe recorded by Bartram in 1791 and Hawkins in 1798-99 can be regarded as approximately correct the Yuchi must now be on the decrease. Bartram thought there were 500 gun men, and Hawkins stated, only a few years later, that there were 250 gun men. In any case, granting the existence of inaccuracies in both estimates, it is safe to conclude that the numbers of the Yuchi, like the other surviving tribes of the Southeast, have dwindled slightly in the last hundred years. Numerical comparisons of this sort between past and present are, however, of very little value, as can be seen from the wide discrepancies in the early estimates.


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