At the time of first European contract, the Yuchi people lived in what is now central central Tennessee. In 1541, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto described them as a powerful tribe known as the as Uchi, that also associated with the Chisca tribe.
Both historical and archaeological evidence exists documenting several Yuchi towns of the 18th century. Among these was Chestowee in southeastern Tennessee. In 1714, instigated by two fur traders from South Carolina, the Cherokee attacked and destroyed Chestowee. The Cherokee were prepared to carry their attacks further to Yuchi settlements on the Savannah River, but the colonial government of South Carolina did not condone the attacks. The Cherokee held back. The Cherokee destruction of Chestowee marked their emergence as a major power in the Southeast.
Yuchi towns were also documented in Georgia and South Carolina, as the tribe had migrated there to escape pressure from the Cherokee. "Mount Pleasant" was noted as being on the Savannah River in present-day Effingham County, Georgia, from about 1722 to about 1750. To take advantage of trade, the British established a trading post and small military garrison there, which they called Mount Pleasant.
"Euchee Town" (also called Uche Town), a large settlement on the Chattahoochee River, was documented from the middle to late 18th century. It was located near Euchee (or Uche) Creek about ten miles downriver from the Muscogee Creek settlement of Coweta Old Town. The naturalist William Bartram visited Euchee Town in 1778, and in his letters ranked it as the largest and most compact Indian town he had ever encountered, with large, well-built houses.
US Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins also visited the town and described the Yuchi as "more orderly and industrious" than the other tribes of the Creek Confederacy. The Yuchi began to move on, some into Florida, and during the Creek War of 1813–1814, many joined the Red Sticks party, traditionalists opposed to the Creek of the Lower Towns. Euchee Town decayed. The tribe became one of the poorest of the Creek communities, at the same time gaining a bad reputation. The archaeological site of the town, designated a National Historic Landmark, is within the boundaries of present-day Fort Benning, Georgia.
Colonists noted Patsiliga on the Flint River in the late 18th century. Other Yuchi settlements may have been those on the Oconee River near Uchee Creek in Wilkinson County, Georgia, and on Brier Creek in Burke County, Georgia or Screven County, Georgia. A Yuchi town was sited at present-day Silver Bluff in Aiken County, South Carolina from 1746 to 1751.
During the 18th century, the Yuchi consistently allied with the British, with whom they traded deer hides and Indian slaves. Yuchi population plummeted in the 18th century due to Eurasian infectious diseases, to which they had no immunity, and to war with the Cherokee, who were moving into their territory and were much more powerful. After the American Revolution, Yuchi people maintained close relations with the Creek Confederacy. Some Yuchi migrated south to Florida along with the Creek, where they became part of the newly formed Seminole people.
In the 1830s, the US government forcibly removed the Yuchi, along with the Muscogee Creek, from Alabama and Georgia to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma). The Yuchi settled in the north and northwestern parts of the Creek Nation. Three towns which the Yuchi established in the 19th century continue today: Duck Creek, Polecat, and Sand Creek.
The Muscogee, also known as the Mvskoke, Creek and the Muscogee Creek Confederacy, are a related group of Indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands. Mvskoke (English: /məˈskoʊɡi/; Mvskoke [maskóːkî]) is their autonym. Their original homelands are in what now comprises southern Tennessee, all of Alabama, western Georgia and part of northern Florida.
Most of the original population of the Muscogee people were forcibly relocated from their native lands in the 1830s during the Trail of Tears to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Some Muscogee fled European encroachment in 1797 and 1804 to establish two small tribal territories that continue to exist today in Louisiana and Texas. Another small branch of the Muscogee Creek Confederacy managed to remain in Alabama and is now known as the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
A large population of Muscogee people moved into Florida between roughly 1767 and 1821 and these people intermarried with local tribes to become the Seminole people, thereby establishing a separate identity from the Creek Confederacy. Muscogee people in these waves of migration into Florida were fleeing conflict and encroachment by European settlers. The great majority of Seminoles were also later forcibly relocated to Oklahoma, where they reside today, although the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida remain in Florida.
The respective languages of all of these modern day branches, bands, and tribes, except one, are all closely related variants called Muscogee, Mvskoke and Hitchiti-Mikasuki, all of which belong to the Eastern Muskogean branch of the Muscogean language family. All of these languages are, for the most part, mutually intelligible. The Yuchi people today are part of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation but their Yuchi language is a linguistic isolate, unrelated to any other language.
The ancestors of Muscogee people were part of the Mississippian Ideological Interaction Sphere, who between AD 800 and AD 1600 built complex cities and surrounding networks of satellite towns (suburbs) centered around massive earthwork mounds, some of which had physical footprints larger than the Egyptian pyramids. Some Mississippian city populations may have been larger than later colonial European-American cities. Muscogee Creeks are associated with such multi-mound centers such as the Ocmulgee, Etowah Indian Mounds, and Moundville sites. Mississippian societies were based on organized agriculture, transcontinental trade, copper metalwork, artisanship, hunting, and religion. Early Spanish explorers encountered ancestors of the Muscogee when they visited Mississippian-culture chiefdoms in the Southeast in the mid-16th century.
The Muscogee were the first Native Americans officially considered by the early United States government to be "civilized" under George Washington's civilization plan. In the 19th century, the Muscogee were known as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes," because they were said to have integrated numerous cultural and technological practices of their more recent European American neighbors. In fact, Muscogee confederated town networks were already based on an (at minimum) 900-year-old history of complex and well-organized farming and town layouts.
Influenced by Tenskwatawa's interpretations of the 1811 comet and the New Madrid earthquakes, the Upper Towns of the Muscogee, supported by the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, actively resisted European-American encroachment. Internal divisions with the Lower Towns led to the Red Stick War (Creek War, 1813–1814). Begun as a civil war within Muscogee factions, it enmeshed the Northern Creek Bands in the War of 1812 against the United States while the Southern Creeks remained US allies. General Andrew Jackson then seized the opportunity to use the rebellion as an excuse to make war against all Muscogee people once the northern Creek rebellion had been put down with the aid of southern Creeks. The result was a weakening of the Muscogee Creek Confederacy and the forced cession of Muscogee lands to the US.
During Indian Removal of the 1830s, most of the Muscogee Confederacy were forcibly relocated to Indian Territory. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Kialegee Tribal Town, and Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, all based in Oklahoma, are federally recognized tribes, as are the Poarch Band of Creek Indians of Alabama, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas. Seminole people today are part of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, Seminole Tribe of Florida, and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.