The Euchee Butterfly Farm was established in 2013 by the heirs of Neosho Parthena Brown, a Native American woman of Euchee and Creek descent, on the original 160 acre allotment deeded to her in 1899 by the United States Government. It is one of the last intact allotments in Oklahoma and stands as a reminder of the tragic history of what was once known as Indian Territory.
Neosho was the daughter of Samuel W. Brown, Chief of the Euchee Tribe. The Euchees, also known as the Yuchis, are one of the most mysterious and ancient cultures in North America. Historical records show that when the Cherokee and Creek people first arrived in the southeastern United States, the Euchee were already well-established. When asked where they originated, the Euchees would answer, “We come from far away. We are Children of the Sun.” Adding to the mystery was their strange and completely unique language which bears no resemblance in vocabulary or linguistic structure to any other language in the world, and is today preserved by just five remaining fluent native speakers. In the late 1700s, some of the Euchee bands joined the Muscogee (Creek) Confederacy, comprised of 48 other autonomous tribal towns, each maintaining political autonomy and distinct land holdings. Euchee people were considered as one town within the Confederacy, and to this day they are still federally recognized as Muscogee (Creek) citizens.
At its height, the Muscogee Confederacy spanned much of the southeastern United States. Early ancestors of the Muscogee constructed magnificent earthen pyramids in elaborate ceremonial complexes, and later the Muscogee built expansive towns within what are now Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. However, the Indian Removal Act of 1830, championed by President Andrew Jackson, resulted in the forced removal of the southeastern tribes from their homes, an ethnic cleansing and genocide that later came to be called the Trail of Tears. Many tribal members did not survive the harsh conditions and starvation rations of the forced relocation, and some estimates put the death rate as high as 60% on the brutal march. Those that did survive were guaranteed by treaty that Indian Territory, in what is now eastern Oklahoma, would be divided into sovereign nations belonging to and controlled by the respective tribal governments.
In 1887, Congress passed the Dawes Act, which began the process of dismantling tribal autonomy and collective ownership of the sovereign lands that comprised Indian Territory, a process that culminated in 1907 with the creation of the state of Oklahoma. The Dawes Act proved to be almost as devastating for the tribes as the Indian Removal Act had been half a century earlier. A portion of the lands were allotted to enrolled tribal members, but without the protection afforded by collective tribal ownership the allottees were incredibly vulnerable to land theft, in the form of swindling, exploitation or even murder by the white settlers moving into the area. Since many of the tribal members didn’t speak English, they were unable to navigate the legal system in order to keep and protect their land, and it is now commonly accepted by many historians that this was the intent of the Dawes Act.
The Euchee Butterfly Farm owes its existence to the strength and perseverance of Neosho Parthena Brown. The land it sits on was her 160 acre allotment, and despite years of economic hardship during the Great Depression and later as a widow, she preserved the land as her most important legacy. Today we honor her sacrifices and courage at the Euchee Butterfly Farm by using her land to help Muscogee citizens find economic independence in a transformation almost as remarkable as that of our butterflies. The land that was once meant to dismantle the Muscogee Nation is now being used to rebuild the lives of its citizens.
To learn more about the Euchee/Yuchi Language Project, which is working to preserve our language and culture, please click here.
Samuel W. Brown Sr.
Euchee "Yuchi" Chief: 1867 - 1916
Original Application for Allotment