ᎠᎽᏥ is Armuchee in Cherokee

When I tell people I grew up in East Armuchee, they almost inevitably say, “Ar-what?” If you spell it out for them, they say, “Ar-MU-chee?” It’s hard to make people understand the way we say it: Ar-MUR-chee. Yes, it’s weird, I know that. But it’s the way we say it. It’s like how in New York we say “How-stun” Street instead of “Hew-stun” like the city in Texas. If you say “Hew-stun Street” in NYC, we’ll look at you as if you have three heads, just like if you say “Ar-MU-chee” back home.

Armuchee (ᎠᎽᏥ) is a Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ) word. Cherokee is an endangered language, but tech companies are doing their part to help preserve this valuable part of our world heritage. You can use Cherokee on your iPhone  or search Google with the language (Murph; Google). Despite this, no one knows precisely what “Armuchee” means. There are various interpretations, including “land of beautiful flowers” and “much water” or “much fish” (Armuchee). In the words of Larry Salmon, “perhaps the real meaning was lost on the Trail of Tears” (Salmon).

The Armuchee valleys are not to be confused with the town of Armuchee, Georgia. The Armuchee Valleys are in Walker County (and creep slightly into Chattooga County at the southern end). Armuchee, Georgia, is in Floyd County. Even locals get the two confused. I’ve often told northwest Georgians that I grew up in East Armuchee, and they immediately say, “Oh, just north of Rome, right?” That’s just how far into the countryside East Armuchee is. Most people who don’t live there don’t even know it exists.

My roots in East Armuchee are at least eight generations deep. John H. Cavender, my 5th great grandfather, lived his last decades in that fertile valley and died there 5 Jan 1879. Though a New Yorker I may be, East Armuchee is still home.

Learn more about East Armuchee and beyond in the Jordan’s Journey book and on this blog.


Armuchee Middle School website. Web. Accessed 27 Dec 2011.

Google search now supports Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ).” The Official Google Blog, 25 Mar 2011. Web. Accessed 27 Dec 2011.

Murph, Darren. “Apple Bringing Cherokee Language Support to iPhone and iPad.” Engadget, 27 Dec 2010. Web. Accessed 27 Dec 2011.

Salmon, Larry. “Armuchee: A Brief Capsule of a Long and Colorful History.” Web. Accessed 27 Dec 2011.

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