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Born c. 1708
Died c. 1777
Residence Chota
Nationality Cherokee
Title First Beloved Man
Predecessor Standing Turkey
Successor Oconostota

Attakullakulla (Cherokee, Ata-gul' kalu; often called Little Carpenter by the English) (circa 1708–1778) was an influential Cherokee leader and the tribe's First Beloved Man, serving from 1761 to around 1775. His son was Dragging Canoe, a leader of the Chickamauga Cherokee.


According to the anthropologist James Mooney, Attakullakulla's Cherokee name could be translated "leaning wood", from ada meaning "wood", and gulkalu, a verb that implies something long, leaning against some other object. His name "Little Carpenter" derived from the English meaning of his Cherokee name along with a reference to his physical stature.

Early life[edit]

Attakullakulla is believed to have been born in the territory of the Overhill Cherokee, in what is now East Tennessee, sometime in the early 1700s.[1] However, his son, Turtle-at-Home, once stated he was born to a sub-tribe of the Algonquian-speaking Nipissing to the north, and was captured as an infant during a raid and adopted by a minor Cherokee leader, making him a member of the Cherokee.[2] He married Nionne Ollie, a Natchez captive adopted as the daughter of his cousin, Oconostota. The marriage was permissible because they were of different clans; he was Wolf Clan and she was Paint Clan.[citation needed]

Cherokee warrior[edit]

He was a member of the Cherokee delegation that traveled to England in 1730. In 1736, he rejected the advances of the French, who had sent emissaries to the Overhill Cherokee. Three or four years later, he was captured by the Ottawa, allies of the French, who held him captive in Quebec until 1748. Upon his return, he became one of the Cherokees' leading diplomats and an adviser to the Beloved Man of Chota.

Anglo-Cherokee conflict[edit]

Main article: Anglo–Cherokee War

In May 1759, following a series of violent confrontations between colonists and Cherokee, Attakullakulla joined a delegation that went to Charleston to try to negotiate with South Carolina authorities for peace. The colonial governor, William Henry Lyttleton, seized the delegates as hostages until the Cherokee responsible for killing white settlers were surrendered. Having raised an expeditionary force of 1700 men, Lyttleton set out for Fort Prince George, with the hostages in tow, and arrived on December 9, 1759.

Freed soon after, Attakullakulla returned to Fort Prince George to negotiate for peace, but his efforts were thwarted by his hawkish father-in-law, Oconostota. Prior to his return to the fort, the Cherokee had given up two prisoners and had successfully negotiated the release of several of the hostages, including Oconostota. However, a vengeful Oconostota had subsequently lured a Lt. Richard Coytmore out of the fort; by waving a bridle over his head. He then incited Cherokee warriors hiding in the woods to shoot and kill Coytmore. The garrison in the fort retaliated with the execution of all the remaining Cherokee hostages, setting off a cycle of hostilities between the Cherokee and Anglo-Americans that continued for several more years.[3]

Family and death[edit]

Attakullakulla's son was Dragging Canoe, the Chickamauga Cherokee leader during the Cherokee-American wars.

Attakullakulla is believed to have died in 1775–1777. He was succeeded as First Beloved Man by Oconostota.


  1. ^ Gerald Schroedl, "Attakullakulla," Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Retrieved: 17 December 2013.
  2. ^ Klink and Talman, The Journal of Major John Norton, p. 42
  3. ^ Oliphant, John; Peace and War on the Anglo-Cherokee Frontier, 1756-1763; LSU Press; 2001; pp. 72-78 and 110-111.


  • Entry from the Tennessee Encyclopedia
  • Kelly, James C. "Notable Persons in Cherokee History: Attakullakulla." Journal of Cherokee Studies 3:1 (Winter 1978), 2-34.
  • Klink, Karl, and James Talman, ed. The Journal of Major John Norton. (Toronto: Champlain Society, 1970).
  • Mooney, James. "Myths of the Cherokee" (1900, reprint 1995).
  • Litton, Gaston L. "The Principal Chiefs of the Cherokee Nation", Chronicles of Oklahoma 15:3 (September 1937), 253-270 (retrieved August 18, 2006).

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Standing Turkey
First Beloved Man
Succeeded by