Son of Attakullakulla ("Little Carpenter" in English), who was part Shawnee and part Nipissing, 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.
Dragging Canoe 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 River.
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 of the Overhill Cherokee out of the towns to the area surrounding Chickamauga River (South Chickamauga Creek) in the Chattanooga area, where they established eleven towns in 1777, including the one later referred to as "Old Chickamauga Town" 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 Cherokee, and later called them the Lower Cherokee.
After the Chickamauga towns were destroyed a second time in 1782, Dragging Canoe's band moved down the Tennessee River to the "Five Lower Towns" area 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 Little Owl, The Badger, 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 Native Americans 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 Chickamauga/Lower Cherokee and taking part in their wars.
Chief Dragging Canoe - Another Article
For seventeen years, Dragging Canoe led a war trail against settlements in Georgia, Virginia, and the Carolinas. The militia of these states retaliated by destroying Indian crops and more than 50 Cherokee towns. The old chiefs wanted peace, but Dragging Canoe wanted to continue the fight. He and his followers built new settlements in Georgia and became known as the Chicamaugans. This die-hard band of Chicamaugans conducted guerrilla raids, leaving a trail of scalps, murdered victims, and ruined crops. In 1777 Dragging Canoe killed a man named David Crockett, his wife and several of his children. Two of David's sons, Joseph and James, were taken prisoner and kept for 17 years. Another son, John, married and had nine children. The fifth of these was named Davey Crockett, after his murdered grandfather. This is the Davey Crockett who fought alongside Andrew Jackson in the Creek War of 1813, became a U.S. Senator, and later died a hero at the Alamo.