Attakullakulla Cherokee
Privacy Level: Open (White)

Attakullakulla Cherokee (abt. 1708 - 1778)

Attakullakulla [uncertain] "Okoonaka, White Owl, Little Carpenter" Cherokee
Born about in Cherokee Nation (East)map
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Husband of — married about 1735 in Cherokee Nation (East)map
Descendants descendants
Died in Cherokee Nation (East)map
Profile last modified | Created 21 Jun 2017 | Last significant change: 5 Jan 2021
17:19: Kathie (Parks) Forbes removed Wurtagua (Attakullakulla) Watts (1756-1860) as a child of Attakullakulla Cherokee (abt.1708-1778). [Thank Kathie for this]
This page has been accessed 1,532 times.
Image:Kulla-1.jpg Image:Moytoy-212.jpg
Attakullakulla Cherokee was a Native American member of the Cherokee tribe.
Join: Native Americans Project
Discuss: native_americans


Attakullakulla, or the Little Carpenter, was one of the most important Cherokee chiefs of the 18th century. He was probably born between 1700 and 1710 on the Big Island of the French Broad River (later known as Sevier’s Island) and was a member of the Wolf (Ani-wa-ya) Clan.[1]

One son said that his father was adopted as an infant, but this is not supported by any other account.[2]

His mother was apparently a sister of the chief known as “Old Hop” and his father was probably also a chief. In a late-in-life speech, Old Hop was recorded as saying "It is true that Willenawah and the Little Carpenter are my nephews..." [3] Willenawah and Killaque were either his brothers or his cousins. Attakullakulla was also recorded as the uncle of Nancy Ward. [Note that exact relationships are uncertain since ‘uncle’ could mean either the mother’s biological brother or simply an older man of her clan.] [4]

His wife’s name is unknown, but there are several historical references to her. She accompanied him to North Carolina in 1774, where the couple listened to an organ in a church. Attakullakulla was familiar with the instrument, but his wife insisted on seeing the workings as she feared a person was captive inside it.[5]

Attakullakulla had four known sons, Dragging Canoe, Little Owl, The Badger, and Turtle-at-home. Dragging Canoe also became a famous chief. The [possibly apochryphal] story is told that Attakullalulla’s young son asked to accompany his father on a raid. Attakullakulla told the boy he was too young but that when he was strong enough to carry a canoe with the other men he could come with them. Not long after the war party set out, the boy was seen to be following them, dragging a canoe, and thus he received his adult name.

In 1730 as a young man known then as “Oukah naco” or Little Owl, Attakullakulla was one of seven Cherokee men who went to London with Sir Alexander Cuming.[6] We have some idea what he looked like because artist Joshua Reynolds made engravings showing the group. Attakullakulla and the other men signed a “Treaty of Peace and Friendship” with the English while in London. They returned home in October, 1730. Several years after his return home he was taken captive by Ottawa Indians, supporters of the French, and remained with them for several years[7] After his release and return to the Nation he became more influential and by 1755 was accepted as the main spokesman for the Cherokee.[8]

Attakullakulla was known for his diplomatic skills (some suggest that he was called “Little Carpenter” for his ability to forge agreements), negotiating with the British, the various colonial governments, other Indian nations, and the Americans. He befriended John Stuart who became the British Indian Agent for the south, adopting him as a brother and saving his life after the defeat of Fort Loudon in 1760. In 1768 he travelled to Fort Stanwix, New York to help negotiate a peace with the northern tribes. In addition to the London treaty of 1730 he was a signer of many treaties including Hard Labour (1768), Lochaber (1770), Sycamore Shoals (1775), and Long Island (1777). With the exception of one brief period during the American Revolution, Attakullakulla supported the British his entire life.

During the Revolutionary War, Attakullakulla was one of a party of elder Cherokee leaders who ceded lands to Virginia, contrary to the wishes of younger warriors. Attakullakulla's son, Dragging Canoe, the Chickamauga Cherokee leader during the Cherokee-American wars, split with his father during this time. The last record of Attakullakulla is a letter written in 1778 by him pledging support to the British. The actual date and place of his death are unrecorded. [9] He was succeeded as First Beloved Man by Oconostota.[10]

Notes from the family genealogy files of Philip Lee Smith:

Attakullakulla, a Cherokee warrior and statesman—known to the English as The Little Carpenter, because his name meant "wood leaning up" and therefore suggested house-building—became the most prominent Cherokee of the third quarter of the eighteenth century. Of prestigious birth, he was destined to high position from youth and on maturity was chosen to the office of second or right-hand man, the executive arm to the first man or priestly Ulustuli of the Overhill Cherokees and hence of the Cherokee nation. His home was at Tuskeegee on the Little Tennessee, a few miles from Chota, the Cherokee capital, in present Monroe County, Tenn. (North Carolina at that time). Attakullakulla first appears in the records at about age thirty, when he was one of six Cherokee ambassadors chosen in 1730 to go to England to make a treaty of trade and alliance. In 1739 he was captured by the Caughnawagas (Canadian Iroquois) and carried to Canada, where he was adopted into the family of the principal Caughnawaga chief. In Canada he became acquainted with French officers, traders, and priests and met the French governor. He developed an awareness of the Iroquois tactic of playing the French against the English to obtain security and trade concessions. Cherokee security and a plentiful trade were to be his lifetime objectives after he returned to the Cherokee country as a result of the 1742 Cherokee peace with the Iroquois."[11]


  1. Kelly, James. “Notable Persons in Cherokee History: Attakullakulla” in Journal of Cherokee Studies, Winter, 1978 p. 3, citing William Tatham and J.G.M. Ramsay
  2. Klinck and Talman, eds. The Journal of Major John Norton 1816. The Champlain Society, Toronto, 1970, p. 42
  3. Brown, John. P. “Old Frontiers.” Southern Publishers, Kingsport, TN. 1938.
  4. Kelly, p.3
  5. Kelly, p. 27
  6. Williams, Samuel C. “The Journal of Sir Alexander Cuming,” in Early Travels in the Tennessee Country. The Watauga Press, Johnson City, TN, 1928. pp. 115-123, and others
  7. Corkran, David H., The Cherokee Frontier. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1962. p. 43
  8. Hoig, Stanley. The Cherokees and their Chiefs. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, 1998. p. 25
  9. Kelly, et al
  10. Wikipedia Attakullakulla
  11. Corkran, D. H. “Attakullakulla.” NCPedia, The University of North Carolina Press, 1979.

See also:

  • Brown, John P. Old Frontiers. Southern Publishers Inc., Kingsport, TN. 1938. Chapters 1-14
  • Corkran, David H. The Cherokee Frontier. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1962
  • Hoig, Stanley. The Cherokees and their Chiefs. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, 1998. Chapters 1-6
  • "Attakullakulla." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 5 Dec 2018. Web. 31 Jan 2019. link.

More Genealogy Tools

Sponsored Search

Is Attakullakulla your ancestor? Please don't go away!
 star icon Login to collaborate or comment, or
 star icon contact private message private message private message private message private message private message private message private message a profile manager, or
 star icon ask our community of genealogists a question.
Sponsored Search by

No known carriers of Attakullakulla's DNA have taken a DNA test.

Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.

Sponsored by Ancestry ®

Family History Search.


Enter a grandparent's name. Just one grandparent can lead you to many discoveries.

Comments: 34

Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.
Attakullakulla-11 and Cherokee-53 appear to represent the same person because: Same person, no LNAB so tribe name is used
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Attakullakulla has a profile already. Please merge.
posted on Cherokee-223 (merged) by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Cherokee-223 and Cherokee-53 appear to represent the same person because: Clear duplicate, same man.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Looks like we never moved forward with this. Let me see if I can move this along.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Cherokee-60 and Cherokee-53 appear to represent the same person because: There is only one Attakullakulla in Cherokee history, these should be merged into one correct profile.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Can we merge this unsourced and mythical person into the reall Attakullakulla, Cherokee-60?
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
I think that makes sense and the resulting bio can be edited to say that the profile may represent more than one wife and also include the "Nionne" story as a possibility.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Kathie, Thanks. So then we should change Moytoy-90 to LNAB Cherokee (with first name Unknown) and merge the Ollie's into that profile. Any final objections from other profile managers?
posted by Jillaine Smith
Names of any wife or wives unknown. I’ve been trying to find the “Nionne Ollie” source other than Internet junk with no luck. Norton’s Journal, which is given as the source in numerous places, does not mention any wife or wives at all. Norton actually stayed with one of Attacullaculla’s sons but his mother was never mentioned.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Making progress. Now we need to deal with his spouse. There are three profiles attached as spouse, two of which are clearly dupes. The narrative implies only one spouse and her name is not known. Is there any evidence of a second spouse? if not, one of them (the Moytoy LNAB?) needs changing to Unknown Cherokee (right, Kathie?) and the other two merged into that one.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Attakullakulla’s mother is unknown, she should be removed.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
Unknown-374231 and Cherokee-60 appear to represent the same person because: There is only one Cherokee person named Attakullakulla. Please merge the “ Unknown” profile with the real person.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes
I have removed "Susan Hiwassie" as the wife of Attakullakulla. She came in with a merge and cannot be his wife since she died before he was born.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes

C  >  Cherokee  >  Attakullakulla Cherokee

Categories: Cherokee Wolf Clan | Cherokee Chiefs | Cherokee