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Kentucky Tribes

Kentucky's Recognized Tribes

There are no federally recognized tribes in Kentucky. There are two with state recognition.

State-Recognized Tribes

There is no formal state-recognition program in Kenucky, however, there has been recognition granted by a govenor and by the General Assembly.

Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky
P.O. Box 1750
Henderson, KY 42419
Phone (502) 695-7974
State Recognized by proclamation in 1893 and again by Governor Fletcher on Nov. 20, 2006.

Ridgetop Shawnee Tribe of Indians
Recognized by the State House of the Kentucky General Assembly in 2009 under HJR-15


Early Tribes

Cherokee. The Cherokee claimed some land in southeastern Kentucky and traces of culture of Cherokee type are said to be found in archeological remains along the upper course of the Cumberland, but no permanent Cherokee settlement is known to have existed in historic times within this State.

Chickasaw. The westernmost end of Kentucky was claimed by the Chickasaw, and at a very early period they had a settlement on the lower course of Tennessee River, either in Kentucky or Tennessee.

Mosopelea. This tribe may have lived within the boundaries of Kentucky for a brief time, perhaps at the mouth of the Cumberland River, when they were on their way from Ohio to the lower Mississippi.

Shawnee. The Shawnee had more to do with Kentucky in early times than any other tribe, but maintained few villages in the State for a long period. Their more permanent settlements were farther south about NAsheville. At one Shawnee town, located for a short time near Lexington, Ky., the noted Shawnee chief, Blackhoof, was born. The tribe crossed and recrossed the State several times in its history and used it still more frequently as a hunting ground.

Yuchi. According to some early maps, the Yuchi had a town in this State on a river which appears to be identical with Green River.

1Extract from "The Indian Tribes of North America" by John R. Swanton, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 145-1953, [726 pages-Smithsonian Institution], (pp. 229-230)

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