People will fight over the origin of a name. History records the stories of the winners. In the Tennessee Valley, the Yuchi lost, and their story was pounded underfoot during the Trail of Tears.

Water laps through rock and tickles my toes. It carries the stories of those who came before me.

tennessee river natchez trace yuchi

I can’t stand on the shore of the Tennessee River
without thinking of the Yuchi.

Like many Native American tribes, no one knows the origin of the Yuchi. Nomads, they wandered from the shores of Carolina, across Georgia swamps and into the Tennessee River Valley. Centuries ago, they fought Hernando De Soto and his conquistadors along the Natchez Trace. They sided with the British in most conflicts, a loyalty that cost them their land.

tennessee river natchez trace john coffee

President Andrew Jackson never forgot
whose side the Yuchi took.

He ordered John Coffee, one of his ablest generals from the Battle of New Orleans, to eradicate the natives from the Natchez Trace region. Thousands of people packed what they could carry and left the land of their ancestors. Destination: Oklahoma. Tears singed a gouge in the landscape, as they looked back and longed for home.

tennessee river natchez trace

Under threat of execution,
the Yuchi could never return.

Forever, they were banished from the land they named. Is it ironic that the word Tennessee is Yuchi for

the people who lived here before we came?


Colbert Ferry is located near milepost 327.3 on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Follow the signs to the bicycle-only camping area with picnic tables, grills and fire rings, plus enjoy the new restroom facility.

TLF masthead NWMY masthead

“I highly recommend that no one travel
the venerable Natchez Trace
without reading this first!” – Carla, Amazon Reviewer

Get your copies of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis and Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace by heading to my