The Secret History of the Tokah-re

Also known as the Toccoa, Togaria, TocaE, Tokahle, Tugaloo, Tocqua, Tuckasegee or Tuckabatchee

Part Four of the Forgotten Peoples of the Southern Highlands

by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner

This Muskogee dialect-speaking ethnic group was first recorded in 1567 as TocaE by Juan de la Bandera, notary for the Juan Pardo Expeditions in the Carolinas.  An orata (village chief) of the TocaE first visited a village in the South Carolina upcountry, where Pardo was staying.  Later, the Pardo Expedition passed through a TokaE village on the west side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  De la Bandera provided no cultural or architectural information about them.

In the late 17th century, they were encountered in northeastern Tennessee by French explorers and called the Togaria.  Also, in the late 17th century, traders and explorers, based on the South Carolina coast, encountered members of this tribe in the extreme northwestern corner of present-day South Carolina and called them Tokee.  Again, very little information about them was recorded.

The Cherokees called this people the Dugale or the Tokoa, which 18th century British settlers in Georgia wrote down as Tugaloo and Toccoa.  The Toccoa also lived in extreme North-Central Georgia along what Georgians called the Toccoa River.  There is also a Toccoa River in extreme northeast Georgia.

In general, anthropologists and academicians in the Southeast have given no thought or investigative attention to the Tokah-re . . . which is their real name.  If they had bothered to translate the various names for this tribe, we would have a very different explanation of the peopling of the Lower Southeast today.  Instead, “someone” in academia decided that TocaE was another name for the Cherokee, so that is what students at Western Carolina University are being taught.

Academicians, anthropologists, historians and even Oklahoma Creeks are totally unaware that the TocaE of Juan Pardo’s time are the same people as the Tokasee, who moved to Florida and joined the Seminoles and the Tuckabachees, who dominated the Creek Confederacy in the mid-1700s.  The tribal name does survive in the Muskogee language as an adjective, however.  Absolutely, no one in Muskogee Creek Nation knows why . . . that includes the Linguistics professors at the University of Oklahoma.


We are going to “reverse engineer” the French name for the Tokee, Togaria, to translate the original words.  Keep in mind, what was mentioned in an earlier article of this series.  The ancestors of the Creeks and Uchees rolled their R’s so much that Europeans typically wrote the R as an L.  It was Anglo-Americans, who created the written Muskogee Creek language, so we see that tendency in the spelling of Muskogee today. Creek students in Oklahoma were told how to write their language with European letters.

Also, Muskogee-speakers use a guttural K sound that English-speakers typically wrote down as a G. Thus, when people in the Province of Georgia in the 1750s began hearing the word Maskoke as the new name for the Creeks, they wrote it as Muskogee or Muskhogy.

This De L’Isle Map was based on French exploration of Tennessee’s rivers.

Togaria– This is the Latinized name for a tribe in Northeastern Tennessee. First, we remove the Latin “-a” and get Toga.   The name becomes Toka-re . . . same name as the tribe in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Carolinas and Georgia, plus the suffix “re”, which the Muskogee Creeks were told to write as an “le.” Thus, we end up with Tokare.

Now, we know that Muskogee Creeks write this word as tokahle and to them, it means “freckled or spotted.”  So, why did the word for tribe in the Blue Ridge Mountains become the Muskogee word for “freckled?”  We will get to that latter . . . but will spell the tribal name, Tokah-re.

I already knew the answer, but telephoned the lovely secretary at the Consulate of the Republic of Ireland in Atlanta. I asked her, “What does Tokah-re” mean in Gaelic?  No brainer . . . it means “Principal Kingdom or Nation.”  Another version of the word, Tokah-ge, means “Principal Tribe.”  

There is a collective gasp among readers.  They realize that even “ge” – that good ole fashion suffix for tribe in Muskogee, Cherokee, Shawnee, Delaware, Iroquois and Algonquian is also a Irish and Scottish Gaelic word.  The mythical world of the Bering Land Bridge brought ‘em all is collapsing into the Bering Sea.

As I continue to analyze the names of the Southern Highland tribes, you are going to see more of this shocking information.  Multiple non-Siberian ethnic groups were represented. If you are Southeastern Native American . . . including the Cherokees . . . that commercial DNA test you took is meaningless unless the lab has a means of determining WHEN you ancestry came to include Sami, Finnish, Irish-Scottish, Anglisk (Old English), Basque, Iberian, Scandinavia, Karelian and Polynesian DNA.  That’s right, one of the tribal members of the Creek Confederacy had a name that could only be translated by an Archaic English dictionary!  Those unexpected genes could have arrived on a boat landing in Savannah or Charleston, after the United States gained its independence, but also could have arrived thousands of years ago.

TocaE – This Spanish ethnic name combines Tokah with the Itza Maya suffix or prefix, which means, “principal,” when applied to towns or villages.  Thus, TocaE was the capital of the Tokahre.

Toccoa – Toccoa is the name of two rivers and a city in northern Georgia.  It is derived from Tokah-koa, which combines the Gaelic root word with the Arawak suffix for “people or tribe.”

Tocqua or Tokwa – This was a Overhill Cherokee village on the Little Tennessee River.  Tennessee and North Carolina academicians say that Tokwa is an ancient Cherokee work, whose meaning has been lost. South Carolina academicians say it is a Siouan tribal name.  Tokwa is merely the Cherokee pronunciation of Toccoa.

Tuckasegee – This river’s name is the Anglicization of the Cherokee pronunciation of the Muskogee words Tokah-si-ke . . . which mean Principal – Descendants of – People or Tribe.

Tocasee – This was a tribal name that first appeared in Southeast Georgia.  They later moved down into the lake country of Northeast Florida and became important members of the Seminole Alliance. It is the Anglicization of the Muskogee word Tokahsi, which means “Principal – descendants of.”

Tuckabatchee – Tuckabatchee is the Anglicization of the Muskogee word, Tokahpa-si, which means, “Tokah-place of-descendants of. “  Alabama academicians assume in all their books and professional papers that Tuckabatchee was always on the Tallapoosa River in Alabama.  Not so.

If you look at the maps and check contemporary accounts, Tuckabatchee moved to their ancestral town site on the Chattahoochee River in 1776.  It is a large town site, which had at least three large mounds until bulldozed in the 1960s to build the Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park.  Tuckabatchee remained on the Chattahoochee River until their land was ceded by the Creek Confederacy in 1821. During that period, the former town site in Alabama was labeled “Old Fields.” Probably, the original town on the Chattahoochee River was named Tokahpa.  “Pa” is the Itza Maya word that means “living place of.”

This 1812 US Army map clearly shows Tuckabatchee in Georgia.

Who exactly were the Tokah-re?

Beginning with Juan de la Bandera, we know that Europeans perceived them as being American Indians. However, there are no descriptions of their appearance, architecture, language or cultural traditions until the founding of Savannah in 1733 . . . and then we are talking about Tuckabatchee, not the original people met by Spanish and French explorers in the 1500s. Georgia Colonial Secretary Thomas Christie (1735) and US Indian Agent Benjamin Hawkins (1795) described the Tuckabatchee as American Indians, but being unusually tall and brawny.  Creek men and Upper Creek women tended to be much taller than Europeans, but on the lanky side.  The Tuckabatchee warriors were built like professional football players.  They did note that the complexion of Tuckabatchee Creeks tended to be lighter than many Creeks.  Brown . . . even reddish-brown hair was not uncommon among them. 

It was common for both Tuckabatchee men and women to be freckled.  That is the source of the Creek word for “freckled.”  It originally applied to the Tuckabatchee and Tokasee peoples within the Creek Confederacy.  Without precise genetic tests of Pre-Columbian Tokah-re DNA, there is nothing more we can say without being completely in the realm of speculation.

Now you know!


  1. Very interesting! It’s a gift to have the knowledge of knowing different languages, ability with words and their meaning. I am sure if others had that our history books would be written differently. I have also heard of different accounts of red haired/ Irish people migrating here prior to Columbus and mixing with the natives., just not in a scale as we saw after 1492. The freckles and red hair tend to be a strong gene. Our kids are like a rainbow that inherited traits from both our families and three of them have freckles, minus the red hair or light complexion. I tell them they were given stars.

    Liked by 2 people

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