Person:Dragging Canoe (1)

Facts and Events
Name[2] Dragging Canoe
Unknown[1][2] Tsi'yu- gunsini
Alt Name[1] Cui Canacina
Gender Male
Birth? 1734 or 1738 Overhill Settlement, Monroe County, TennesseeCherokee Nation East
Death? 1 Mar 1792 Lookout Mountain, Tennessee
Reference Number? Q5304956?
Burial? Running Water, Marion, Tennessee, USAHistoric Markers of Marion County Marker 2B - 5
Image:Long Boone Cumberland--thin.jpg
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Tsiyu Gansini (ᏥᏳ ᎦᏅᏏᏂ), "He is dragging his canoe", known to whites as Dragging Canoe (often misspelled Dragon Canoe in records; lived from c. 1738 until 29 February 1792) was a Cherokee war chief who led a band of Cherokee against colonists and United States settlers in the Upper South.

Beginning during the American Revolution, his forces were sometimes joined by Upper Muskogee, Chickasaw, Shawnee, and Indians from other tribes/nations, along with British Loyalists, French and Spanish agents. The series of conflicts, lasting for a decade after the American Revolutionary War, were known as Chickamauga Wars. Dragging Canoe became the pre-eminent war leader among the Indians of the Southeast of his time. He served as principal chief of the Lower Cherokee from 1777 until his death in 1792, when he was succeeded by his pick, John Watts.

extracted 14 March 2008


Dragging Canoe (c. 1738 – March 1, 1792) was an American Indian war leader who led a dissident band of young Cherokees against the United States in the American Revolutionary War.

Son of Attakullakulla ("Little Carpenter" in English), who was part Shawnee, and a mother who was a Natchez living in a town of refugees from that tribes who had settled among the Overhill Towns on the Little Tennessee River, he contracted smallpox at a young age, which left his face pock-marked. According to Cherokee legend, his name is derived from an incident in his early childhood in which he attempted to prove his readiness to go on the warpath by hauling a canoe, the attempt resulting in him only being able to drag it. </table>

He did later get his chance to take part in war, initially against the Shawnee and Muskogee (later his two closest allies), but he gained his first real taste in the Anglo-Cherokee War (1759-1761), along with prior forays into the Ohio country as well. In the aftermath of this war, he became one of the most vocal opponents of encroachment by settlers from the British colonies onto Indian, especially Cherokee, land. Eventually he became chief of Great Island Town (Amoyeli Egwa in Cherokee, written Mialaquo by the British) on the Little Tennessee.[4] [5]

When the Cherokee opted to join in the fighting of the American Revolution on the side of the British, Dragging Canoe was at the head of one of the major attacks. After his father and Oconostota refused to continue further after the wholesale destruction of the Cherokee Middle (Hill), Valley, and Lower Towns, Dragging Canoe led a band out of the towns of the Overhill Cherokee to the area surrounding Chickamauga River (South Chickamauga Creek) in the Chattanooga area, where they established eleven towns, including the one named Chickamauga across river from place where the British commissary John McDonald had set up shop, doing so on the advice of Alexander Cameron, the British agent to the Cherokee. From this location, frontiersmen gave his group the name the Chickamauga. After the Chickamauga towns were destroyed a second time in 1782, they moved down the Tennessee River to the "Five Lower Towns" below the obstructions of the Tennessee River Gorge: Running Water (now Whiteside), Nickajack (near the cave of the same name), Long Island (on the Tennessee River), Crow Town (at the mouth of Crow Creek), and Lookout Mountain Town (at the site of the current Trenton, Georgia). From Running Water, Dragging Canoe led attacks on white settlements all over the American Southeast, especially against the colonial settlements on the Holston, Watauga, and Nolichucky Rivers in East Tennessee, and the Cumberland River settlements in Middle Tennessee (after 1780), sometimes raiding into Kentucky and Virginia as well. His brothers Tachee, Little Owl, The Badger, The Raven, and Turtle-at-Home are known to have taken part in his wars as well.


Dragging Canoe died March 1, 1792, from exhaustion or an apparent heart attack after dancing all night celebrating the recent conclusion of alliance with the Muskogee and the Choctaw, despite a failed similar mission to the Chickasaw, from whence he had just returned, plus a recent victory by a Chickamauga war band on the Cumberland River settlements. He is considered by many to be the most significant leader of the Southeast, and provided a significant role model for the younger Tecumseh, who was a member of a band of Shawnee living with the "Chickamaugas" and taking part in their wars.

Historic Markers

Tennessee Historic Markers of Marion County Marker 2B - 5 Running Water Town - 700 yards southeast, troops under Major Ore defeated the Chickamauga Cherokees under the half-breed John Watts and destroyed their town, Tuskigagee, on Sept. 13, 1794. The town was in the pass in the distance. Dragging Canoe, the great chief, is buried near there. - Tennessee Historical Commission

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Dragging Canoe, in Native American Indian Tribes, 26 Feb 2009.

    Biography of Tsi'yu-gunsini - Dragging Canoe, Chickamaugas Chief

  2. 2.0 2.1 Tsi'yu-gunsini - Canoe (tsi'yu), He is Dragging It (gunsini).
    Dragging Canoe - According to Cherokee legend, his name is derived from an incident in his early childhood in which he attempted to prove his readiness to go on the warpath by hauling a canoe, but he was only able to drag it.
  3.   Chief Dragging Canoe, Greatest Cherokee Chief in History by Martha Peveto (Includes a descendency chart.)
  4. Chesnut, Don. "Eastern Cherokee Place Names;" transcribed and recompiled from Jarrett, R. F., 1916, "Occoneechee--The Maid of the Mystic Lake." New York, The Shakespeare Press. Amaye'l-e'gwa is Cherokee for "Great island," from amaye'li, island (from ama', water, and aye'li, "in the middle") and e'gwa, great. A former Cherokee settlement on Little Tennessee river, at Big island, a short distance below the mouth of Tellico, in Monroe county, Tenn. Timberlake writes it Mialaquo, while Bartram spells it Nilaque. Not to be confounded with Long-Island town below Chattanooga. Source reference accessed by BobC on 30 July 2009.
  5. Conley, Robert J. The Cherokee Nation: A History, University of New Mexico Press (2008), page 62; as accessed at Google Books by BobC on 30 July 2009.

Link to the Cherokee Heritage Project Page