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Yuchi Indian Fact Sheet

Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Yuchis for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students and teachers to visit our main Yuchi website for in-depth information about the tribe, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with Yuchi pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages.




    Yuchi Tribe

How do you pronounce the word "Yuchi"? What does it mean?
Yuchi is pronounced "YOO-chee." It came from the Seminole name for the tribe, which meant "from far away." It is sometimes spelled Euchee, Uchi, or Uchee instead.

Where do the Yuchis live?
The Yuchi tribe was originally located in Tennessee and Kentucky. Most Yuchis were forced to move to Oklahoma in the 1800's, and their descendants still live in Oklahoma today.

How is the Yuchi Indian nation organized?
The Yuchi tribe is not federally recognized by the United States. That means the Yuchis don't have a reservation or their own government. Instead, the US government considers them part of the Creek tribe. However, the Yuchi people still maintain their own identity separate from the Creeks.

What language do the Yuchis speak?
Most Yuchi people speak English today. Some older people also speak their native Yuchi language. Yuchi is a language isolate, which is a unique language that is not clearly related to any other known language. If you'd like to know an easy Wiyot word, "sahngahley'" (pronounced similar to san-gah-lay) is a friendly greeting. You can also read a Yuchi picture glossary here.

Today Yuchi is an endangered language because most children aren't learning it anymore. However, some Yuchi people are working to keep their language alive.

What was Yuchi culture like in the past? What is it like now?
Here is a link to the Euchee Tribe of Oklahoma, where you can learn about the Yuchi people past and present.

How do Yuchi Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?
They do the same things any children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Yuchi children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian children had more chores and less time to play, just like early colonists' children. But they did have dolls, toys, and games to play, such as a hoop game where kids tried to throw a dart through a moving hoop. Yuchi mothers, like many Native Americans, traditionally carried their babies in cradleboards on their backs--a custom which many American parents have adopted now.

What were men and women's roles in the Yuchi tribe?
Yuchi men were hunters and sometimes went to war to protect their families. Yuchi women were farmers and also did most of the child care and cooking. Both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine. In the past, the chief was always a man, but today a Yuchi woman can participate in government too.

What were Yuchi homes like in the past?
The Yuchis lived in villages of houses arranged around a central square where dances and gatherings were held. Sometimes they built walls around their villages to protect them from attack. Yuchi houses were made of clay packed onto a wooden frame. Here are some pictures of American Indian houses like the ones Yuchi Indians used. Today, Yuchis live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.

What was Yuchi clothing like? Did they wear feather headdresses and face paint?
Yuchi men wore a breechcloth, sometimes with leather leggings to protect their legs, and women wore wraparound skirts made from deerskin or woven fiber. Both genders wore moccasins on their feet. Shirts were not necessary in Yuchi culture, but men and women both wore poncho-style mantles in cool weather. In colonial times, the Yuchis adapted European costume into their own characteristic style, including calico shirts and dresses and cloth turbans. Here is a webpage with pictures of traditional Yuchi dress, and here are some photographs and links about Indian clothes in general.

The Yuchis didn't wear feather war bonnets like the Sioux. Yuchi men usually shaved their heads except for a single scalplock, and sometimes they would also wear a porcupine roach. (These headdresses were made of porcupine hair, not their sharp quills!) Yuchi women often tied their hair up on top of their heads with strings of beads. Important Yuchi men tattooed themselves with special tribal designs in honor of their accomplishments, and the Yuchis often painted their faces and bodies bright colors during battles and festivals.

Today, some Yuchi people still wear moccasins or a ribbon shirt, but they wear modern clothes like jeans instead of breechcloths... and they only wear roaches in their hair on special occasions like a dance.

What was Yuchi transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?
Yes--the Yuchi Indians made long dugout canoes from hollowed-out logs. Here is a website with pictures of different kinds of Indian boats. Over land, the Yuchi tribe used dogs as pack animals. (There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe.) Today, of course, Yuchi people also use cars... and non-native people also use canoes.

What was Yuchi food like in the days before supermarkets?
The Yuchi were farming people. Yuchi women harvested crops of corn, beans, and squash. Yuchi men hunted for deer, buffalo, and small game and went fishing in the rivers. Yuchi Indian dishes included cornbread, soups, and stews. Here is a website with more information about Indian food.

What were Yuchi weapons and tools like in the past?
Yuchi hunters used bows and arrows and blowguns. Yuchi fishermen used fishing spears and basket traps. In war, Yuchi men fired their bows or fought with tomahawks and war clubs. Here is a website of pictures and information about Indian weapons.

What are Yuchi arts and crafts like?
The Yuchis were known for their pottery and rivercane baskets. Later, they began to practice other crafts such as Indian beadwork.

What kinds of stories do the Yuchis tell?
There are lots of traditional Yuchi legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the Yuchi Indian culture. Here is a story about the origin of the Yuchi tribe. Here's a website where you can read more about Yuchi mythology.

What about Yuchi religion?
Religions are too complicated and culturally sensitive to describe appropriately in only a few simple sentences, and we strongly want to avoid misleading anybody. You can visit this site to learn more about Yuchi rituals or this site about Native American religion in general.

Can you recommend a good book for me to read?
You may enjoy The Wonderful Sky Boat, a collection of traditional tales from several Southeasten tribes including the Yuchi. You could also read If the Legends Fade, which is the biography of a Yuchi girl in the 1830's by one of her descendants. You can also browse through our reading list of recommended American Indian books in general.

How do I cite your website in my bibliography?
You will need to ask your teacher for the format he or she wants you to use. The authors' names are Laura Redish and Orrin Lewis and the title of our site is Native Languages of the Americas. We are a nonprofit educational organization working to preserve and protect Native American languages and culture. You can learn more about our organization here. Our website was first created in 1998 and last updated in 2013.

Thanks for your interest in the Yuchi Indian people and their language!

Learn More About The Yuchi Tribe

Yuchi Indian Tribe
An overview of the Yuchi Indians, their language and history.

Yuchi Language Resources
Yuchi Indian language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Yuchi Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Yuchi tribe past and present.

Yuchi Words
Yuchi Indian vocabulary lists.



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