The Legend of Issaqueena Falls

Issaqueena Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in Stumphouse Tunnel Park. A legend accompanies the waterfall which tells the story of a Native American woman who betrays her tribe to protect a white settlement and then fakes her death at the falls.

There are several iterations of the Issaqueena legend, though they all generally follow the same format. Issaqueena, whose name likely comes from the Choctaw word "isi-okhina" which means "deer creek," was a young Native American woman living in what is now Pickens County. Most versions of the legend say that Issaqueena, who is occasionally called Cateechee, fell in love with a white settler, but learned that her tribe was planning a surprise attack on a white encampment. In an attempt to warn the settlers, Issaqueena set out on horseback, naming the landmarks she passed for the distance she had traveled. Issaqueena successfully warned the settlers, but when her tribe learned of her betrayal they swore to hunt her down. They chased her to what is now Issaqueena Falls where she pretended to plunge to her death, but actually hid on a ledge under the fall. Assuming she had died, her tribe gave up the hunt and Issaqueena lived out the rest of her days.

Though there is no evidence that Issaqueena was ever a real person, it is clear from the sheer number of locations named after this story that it has been a pillar of upstate folklore for decades. Not only are many trails, churches, neighborhoods, and natural landmarks named either "Issaqueena" or "Cateechee."

While not many actual Native American legends still exist in the folklore of the upstate due to the forced removal of large numbers of Cherokee, Choctaw, Catawba, and and other peoples, the legend of Issaqueena Falls does show that the presence of Native Americans in the upstate has made an impact on the folklore of the area. However, it also highlights the way that upstate folklore tends to present an idealized view of the white settlers who entered the area.