The Mayas In North America “Thing” . . . a new quiz series


 Dr. Román Piňa-Chan, Archaeologist (1920-2001)
Director – Museo Nacional de Antropologia (Mexico)

The Mayas In North America Thing - Part 1

In 2012 a controversy was raging in the media, concerning a previously little known archaeological zone in the Georgia Mountains,named the Track Rock Terrace Complex. In December 2011, an article in the Examiner announced that the stone ruins were probably built by Itza Maya immigrants. It had several million readers around the world and was covered briefly by television networks in the United States and Europe. However, that publicity was followed by a news blackout in Georgia newspapers and TV stations that only briefly mentioned opposition to the concept and never mentioned any of the national television programs that were filmed about the Mayas In Georgia controversy. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, former Director of the Museo Nacional de Antropoligia in Mexico City and later, Director of the Institutio de Antropologia E Historia, was fond of using the Socratic Method of teaching, which uses questions rather than lectures to impart learning. See how well you would do, if Dr. Piňa-Chan was teaching a class on the "Mayas In North America Thing." In Part One we travel to Mexico to learn about some of its pertinent cultural history.
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Chicora . . . Looking for Love In All the Wrong Places

Forgotten Peoples of the Southeastern United States: Part Two

The segregation of Caucasian historians, anthropologists and archaeologists from the indigenous peoples that they claim to be experts on, has been a fatal flaw of these professions from the very beginning of their existence in the Southeast. Mid-20th century academicians started off on the wrong track by not knowing the languages spoken by the indigenous peoples. Speculations of one generation became the flawed assumptions of the next. Successful doctoral level research was defined by the number of late 20th century authority figures, quoted and endorsed. This problem is still as bad as ever.

In April of 2014, the Mercer University Department of History sponsored a symposium entitled, “Excavating the Native South.” In promoting the event, Mercer Online News provided the following description: “The area that is now Middle Georgia has been inhabited for thousands of years. Generations of indigenous people lived here, and built enormous mounds and massive cities. Native Americans were forcibly removed to make way for cotton plantations, but their legacy and their descendants remain. This symposium will explore Native Americans’ role in the South’s history and culture, said Dr. David A. Davis, assistant professor of English at Mercer and organizer of the symposium.”

Not one Native American descendant from Georgia was invited to speak. In fact, only one of the speakers was even a Caucasian born in Georgia. When the call for speakers went out in the previous year, I sent Dr. Davis a list of “card carrying” Choctaw, Creek and Seminole persons in the Southeast, who held PhD’s in Anthropology. None were invited to speak. I offered myself, Savannah River Euchee Principal Chief Lonzando Langley, plus several other “card carrying” Native Americans in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina to speak on the topic of Native American traditions among contemporary Southeastern families. None of us were invited.

Poet Janet McAdams, a professor at Kenyon College in Ohio, has some Alabama Creek heritage and minimal Native American physical features. She was invited to read her poetry for 50 minutes. There is no need to say anything else about this particular issue. The record speaks for itself.

The lost province of Chicora

In 1520, Francisco Gordillo and Pedro de Quejo commanded a two ship, covert slave raid onto the South Atlantic Coast. The earlier explorations of Don Juan Ponce de Leon had made the Spanish in Santo Domingo aware that there was a large island or mainland to the northwest. While being friendly with some provinces such as Duhare (Tuhali), they tricked about 80 men and women from the province of Chicora into coming aboard their ships to see the superiority of Spanish civilization.

Half of the hapless captives drowned when one of the ships sank on the way back to Santo Domingo. Many of the survivors died of starvation, disease and heartbreak in the other ship. The bishop in Santo Domingo immediately ordered the few survivors freed, but they were not returned to their homes. Instead they became paid house servants and laborers for the Spanish elite.

One particularly bright young man, whom the Spanish named Francisco, caught the attention of church authorities. He was given the education of a Spanish hidalgo and worked as an assistant to Don Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón, both in Santo Domingo and in Spain. Church officials aspired that he become ordained or at least be a lay brother, who could translate Native languages into Spanish. The young man became known as Don Francisco de Chicora.

Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón took Francisco along in 1526, when he led 600+ colonists in an attempt to found the first Spanish colony on the coast of North America. However, Francisco escaped when the fleet neared his homeland. The fleet sailed farther south before landing on an island to found the ill-fated Colonia San Miguel de Gualdape.

There is chronic debate among historians and archaeologists about the location of this colony. The descriptions of its environs match the mouth of the Altamaha River in Georgia. However, the recorded distance southward, traveled by De Ayllón’s fleet from the known location of Chicora near the Santee River of South Carolina, places the location of the failed colony near Charleston Bay. There has been many an argument on the subject at archaeological conferences. In recent years, Sapelo Island, GA has been the favored location of the colony, even though it does not jive with Chicora’s assumed location.

Wikipedia tells the reader: “The Chicora tribe was a small Native American tribe of the Pee Dee area in northeastern South Carolina, ranging to the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. Scholars consider them a Catawban group, likely to have spoken a Siouan language.”

Wikipedia also tells us that: “In 1526 Franciso de Chicora accompanied another Spanish expedition to North America. When the party reached land at the Santee River, he escaped and rejoined his people.”

Many anthropology textbooks, plus Wikipedia tell us that Chicora was another name for the Cheraw People in extreme northeastern South Carolina. Wikipedia adds: “Remnants of the tribe are centered in Conway, South Carolina and are seeking official recognition by the state.“

Today, there is a Chicora Archaeological Foundation in Columbia, SC. In the region around Myrtle Beach and Georgetown, SC, one can find public schools, automobile dealerships, restaurants, a Boy Scout regional organization, subdivisions and a environmental conservation group named Chicora . . . but no Injuns by that name either today. They are assumed to have been extinct by the time English-speaking colonists arrived on the scene in 1670.

But wait a minute . . . nowhere in any book from the 1500s, are there rivers named the Pee Dee and the Santee. The placement of Chicora in northeastern South Carolina was made by a South Carolina historian about 250 years after Francisco de Chicora’s lifetime. What justification did that historian of long ago have for locating Chicora near the Santee River of South Carolina? Since then, scholars have built a stack of cards, whose foundation is that very questionable assumption.

Duh-h-h . . . How could they make such a mistake?

In the summer of 1562, a barque filled with colonists from Charlesfort in Port Royal Sound, SC sailed southward past present day Kiawah Island to enter the mouth of the Savannah River. They were greeted by the Chicola emissaries then sailed up the river about 16 miles farther to meet with the King of Chicola at his island capital of Chikoli. Chikoli was most likely the sophisticated ceremonial complex known today as the Irene Mound Complex. It was destroyed during World War II to build docks for the Georgia Ports Authority.

The place name Chicola, Chicoli or Chikili appeared on most maps of Southeastern North America throughout the late 1500s and most of the1600s – always shown to be a major town on the lower Savannah River. After Charleston was settled in 1674, English-authored maps began to show the same town as being named Palachicola, Palachucola or Pollachucola.  Do you see the “Chicola” in the name?

In his memoirs, written prior to his death in 1574, Captain Rene de Laudonnière, commander of Fort Caroline, specifically equated Chicola with Chicora. These statements are on pages 29-30 of Three Voyages by Charles Bennett.

The famous French captain’s statement is a no-brainer for most Southeastern Native Americans. We know that many tribes spoke something like an “L” sound for the European R, while others spoke something like an “R” sound for the European letter “L.” This common knowledge never seeped into academia, evidently.

By the time that South Carolina was settled, Chikoli had moved upstream on both sides of the Savannah River to Screven County, GA and Allendale County, SC. The mikko of Chikoli was the author of The Migration Legend of the Creek People, but he had grown up in Northeast Georgia near where I live today, in the Province of Apalache. Palachicola continued to be on the maps as Palachicola until the American Revolution. After a horrific smallpox epidemic in 1745, most of the Apalache citizens of Chikola moved westward to the Flint River or back to Northeast Georgia. The Euchee residents either continued to live in remote hamlets or else moved up the Savannah River, near present day Augusta, GA.

Given the zealously enforced policy by historians and anthropologists of not considering the direct input of Native American descendants, the omission of the L and R switch is understandable. However, in the case of Chicora-Chicola equivalency, there is really no excuse at all.

That information was written by Monsieur de Laudonnière  a highly educated French naval officer, who visited Chicora-Chicola in 1562 and has been published in books since 1578. One can only assume that in the 437 years since then, many a student or young professor has read De Laudonnière’s account, but lacked the intestinal fortitude to publicly state, “The presumed location of Chicora in northeastern South Carolina was always nonsense. “

Probable appearance of the Irene Ceremonial Complex - Savannah, GA
Probable appearance of the Irene Ceremonial Complex – Savannah, GA

Washington Redskins management is in a gully that it can’t escape

Editorial Opinion

The Lone Ranger and Tonto were in desperate circumstances. They were crouched in a gully surrounded on all sides hostile Natives. Their horses had run off. Their ammunition was almost gone. The Lone Ranger exclaimed to Tonto, “Tonto, we are trapped. Savage redskins block all the paths out of the canyon. What are we going to do?” 

Tonto responded, “What do you mean by WE . . .  kimo sabe?”

The ownership of the Washington Redskins professional football organization is indeed in a gully, surrounded on all sides by increasing numbers of critics. Their team name was always a racial slur, equivalent to denigrating appellations such as the Washington Honkies or the Washington Sambos. The management’s continued obstinacy to widespread demands to end something that was always wrong, is inexplicable. The tidal wave of criticism will only increase and there is only one possible outcome.

There are many alternative names for this football team that would honor the heritage of Native Americans. That is not the problem.

The problem is that the management of the Washington franchise has forgotten that ALL of their income is derived from the American public. The team is not a feudal kingdom that would exist, whether or not, anyone came to watch their games. They prosper at the discretion of the people of the Washington, DC Area. The government of Washington, DC and the football fans paid for their stadium. The American taxpayers paid for the roads and transit lines that bring fans to their stadiums. Viewers of television advertisements add to the management’s coffers.

There is arrogance that has pervaded portions of corporate America and certain “talking heads” on television. They have forgotten that their income is directly derived from the commonwealth of the people. The consumers, who support the affluence of professional athletes and management, DO have a right to demand that the team names are reflective of societal values.

The current attitude of the Washington Redskins management reminds me of an economics professor, who I had in graduate school at Georgia State University. He was fond of saying, “In a perfect world there would be no employees or customers, just profits to be divided up between management and the stockholders.”

Growing list of official opposition to a repugnant name

On April 18, 2015 the Organization of American Historians passed the following resolution: “The OAH adds its voice to the growing demands by Native American organizations, our sister disciplines, and conscientious people of all ethnic backgrounds, to change the name and logo of the Washington “Redskins.”

OAH is the nation’s leading organization of scholars of U.S. history. Its members know that history is relevant to the present. In this case continued use of a term that has become a racial slur can no longer be tolerated. Its use converts living peoples into mascots and shows contempt for an important continuing element of our national population.

On May 2, 2015, the American Studies Association (ASA) joined American Anthropological Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Sociological Association, the Linguistic Society of America, the Organization of American Historians, and many native organizations, institutions, and individuals in calling for the Washington Redskins to immediately change the team’s racist logo and name.

The decision came by a unanimous vote of the ASA executive committee on May 2, 2015. The ASA, as a leading site of scholarship on indigeniety, on racism, on settler colonialism, and on sport, and as an organization based in Washington, D.C. deplores the continuation the harmful nickname and images associated with the team.

Some window dressing is needed elsewhere

The other Native American names seen among sports teams are not inherently racist slurs. There is nothing denigrating about calling a team the Chieftains, Braves or Warriors. The team name of “Indians” right now is not politically correct, but it was never a racial slur. What has been insulting in the past were the logos and marketing images produced by these teams that were cartoonish and historically inaccurate.

However, if the teams with Native American names desire to keep their traditions, they might well pay a visit to the campus of the Florida State University Seminoles. The FSU Athletic Department has worked closely with the Seminole People to insure that persons from all ethnic backgrounds can take pride in the accomplishments of their outstanding university.

News Flash! Original copy of “The Migration Legend of the Creek People” Rediscovered

The Apalache Foundation received a momentous email from the United Kingdom this morning.   Incredibly significant documents, assumed lost for 280 years, have been rediscovered.  This achievement was made possible with the assistance of the staff at Clarence House, the residence of HRH Prince Charles.

The original documents sent by Governor James Edward Oglethorpe to King George I in June 1735 that describe a meeting with the leaders of the Creek Confederacy in Savannah, have been found near London.  The meeting established formal diplomatic and trade relations between Great Britain and the Creeks, but its significance is much, much more.  Governor Oglethorpe was presented with a bison calf velum that narrated the migration legend of the Kashita . . . written in the Apalache writing system.  The velum was read by Mikko Chikilili of Palachikola and translated to the assembled leaders of Georgia by Mary Musgrove.

Governor Oglethorpe informed the King that the Creeks were very different than any other tribe encountered in North America. He said that they were the descendants of a great civilization and should be treated as equals in all things by the British government. As proof that the Creeks were truly civilized,  Oglethorpe sent the king a sample of their writing system with an English translation.  It was a complete writing system that could convey past, present and future tenses.  The English translation is eight pages long.

Contemporary anthropologists have refused to classify the Muskogean mound builders as civilized because “they were illiterate.”   All history books state that Native Americans were illiterate until Sequoyah invented the Cherokee syllabary.  These documents will prove them the wrong.

The documents are currently being photographed in England in order to produce high resolution images for researchers in the Apalache Foundation.  More articles on this discovery will follow.

The Mysterious Origin of the Real Sequoyah Syllabary

Native American Brainfood

It’s a dirty little secret that very few people know and even fewer are willing to discuss publicly. Even the author of the Wikipedia article on Sequoyah didn’t know this secret.

The Cherokee Syllabary used today . . . commonly known as the Sequoyah Syllabary . . . was actually created in 1827 by Cherokee Phoenix Editor, Elias Boudinot and the Rev. Samuel Worcester. As can be seen below, there are some similarities between the original syllabary and the one used today, but original system was far more similar to the Aramaic alphabets of eastern Turkey and the Caucasus Region. Many of Sequoyah’s letters are identical to a form of Georgian used in the late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance. We will explain the significance of that later.

Of course, the true genius of George Gist or Sequoyah was the design of a system to ascribe each sound in the Cherokee language to an abstract symbol.  Wherever he got the inspiration for those symbols, they were most likely from an alphabet, not a syllabary . . . so there was probably no relation between his symbols and the original sounds that they portrayed.


Handwritten Georgian script from the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s is virtually identical to the original Sequoyah writing system.   Obviously,  at somewhere and sometime, George Gist came in contact with someone, who was a refugee from that region.

Almost everything that you read today about this man is the product of campfire tales, hearsay, academic conjecture or mythology. When added up, all these stories are quite incongruous, but few historians have had the guts to say so. As historian John B. Davis wrote, there were very few primary documents describing facts of Sequoyah’s life. Currently, we only know that he was probably born between 1760 and 1776.

He was a real man, though. George Gist was listed on the muster roll of the Indian Regiment, commanded by Brig. Gen. William McIntosh at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. In contradiction, most stories about Gist simultaneously state that throughout his life he had a chronically swollen knee, which prevented him from hunting or doing farm chores. So how could he march 200 miles to fight in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend?

In 1825, the General Council of the Cherokee Nation presented George Gist with a silver medal inscribed “for his ingenuity in the invention of the Cherokee Alphabet.” He really did create the Cherokee Syllabary.

Gist was supposedly born at Tuskegee on the Little Tennessee River. It is not clear if it was the Tuskegee in Tennessee or the Tuskegee in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. He supposedly never knew his father. At an early age, his mother opened up a trading post near where the Sequoyah Museum is now located.

There is a prevailing story that he left home at age 15 to join the Chickamauga Cherokee warriors, which is validated circumstantially. We do know that in 1793 he ended up in the company of some of the prominent Chickamauga Cherokees such as Major Ridge, Charles Hicks, Uwatie and the Vann Brothers. They fled to Pine Log, GA after their disastrous defeat at the Battle of Etowah Cliffs. Gist continued to live in Pine Log and make silverware for his new friends, until around 1799, when the Ridges set up a plantation on Oothlooga Creek at what is not the border between Bartow and Gordon Counties, GA. Gist is believed to have moved on to Turkeytown, AL where Principal Chief Pathkiller was based.

Sequoyah also often signed the silverware and silver bowls that he created for the Cherokee elite, such as the Vann’s, Hick’s and Ridge’s. That fact leads to the never addressed question, “How in the heck did he learn how to be a master silversmith?” All of his life up to 1800 seems to be accounted for. He either was a fatherless boy, living with his mother at a trading post, fighting a fierce guerilla war in the mountains of eastern Tennessee or making silverware in Pine Log, GA. Articles about Sequoyah state vaguely that he came in contact with white men and learned how to work silver from them, even though he didn’t know English. However, during that period he was trying to kill the white men and they were trying to kill him. Very few English-speaking white men would have known how to work silver anyway.

Wuteh or Wutah is an African name

Google Wuteh or Wutah and you get one Cherokee name and 24 pages of names from West Africa. Wuteh and Wutah were very common names for African slaves, kidnapped from Ghana, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast.  That fact has great significance. Wutah means “fire.”   It is also both the name of a Voodoo goddess and a type of Voodoo priestess.

The current story about George Gist’s mother, Wutah, just does not hold water either. Supposedly she was a young, poor Cherokee woman with a half blood illegitimate child, who only spoke Cherokee. However, in the late 20th century, she became Cherokee nobility . . . supposedly being the niece, sister or cousin of several famous Cherokee chiefs of the late 1700s. If she was from such royalty, many Cherokee men would have sought to have her as a wife. However, she never married, or list according to legend, she never married.

Suddenly, while single and not being able to speak English, Wutah had the capital and mathematical skills to set up a trading post near the Cherokee metropolis of Chote. Who built and paid for the trading post? Where did Wutah get the money to buy goods from white traders to sell to the Cherokees? By this time the deer skin trade was dead and the fur-bearing animals were near extinction in the Southern Highlands.

There is also the matter of Sequoyah’s name. According to tradition, Sequoyah was actually a last name or nickname used by his mother. Not wanting to have a white man’s name, he adopted his mother’s alternate name. In phonetic Cherokee, it is Si-kwo-ya.  For decades, scholars have vainly tried to find some Cherokee meaning to the word.  All they came up with, was that part of the word, Sequoyah, is similar to the whole Cherokee word for “pig,”

Whenever transliterating Itsate Creek words, Cherokees changed a Itsate “ku” or “ko” to “kwo.” Muskogee Creeks pronounce a “k” sound in a manner very similar to a Cherokee “g.” During the 1700s, sikuya was the Itsate Creek word for a slave or war captive. Was Wuteh of African descent and actually the slave of the owner of the trading post? Alternatively, she could have been captured in a raid. This would explain why she never remarried.

North Carolina Cherokees and the Cherokee syllabary

There is another dirty little secret about Sequoyah that tourists are not told. The leaders of more progressive Overhill Cherokees in Northwest Georgia immediately saw the cultural value of the Sequoyah Syllabary. The more conservative Cherokees in the North Carolina Mountains did not.

Sequoyah and his wife were kidnapped by North Carolina Cherokees and hauled off to the valley, where the Qualla Cherokee Reservation is now located. Both were convicted of witchcraft and  sentenced to death by slow torture. The torture consisted of day after day having bones broken, fingers cut off and ears cut off.

When he learned about the travesty occurring in North Carolina, Sequoyah’s good friend, John Ridge, led a troop of Georgia Cherokee Lighthorse Police to rescue him and his wife. The North Carolina Cherokees had already cut off some fingers and an ear, plus broken his leg. This was the source of his lameness, not a childhood affliction.

Even the Cherokee syllabary created by Elias Boudinot was little known among the North Carolina Cherokees until the late 20th century. When I was a consultant to the Qualla Reservation Housing Authority in 1976, it was just being introduced to the reservation, primarily for tourist promotion purposes. None of the tribal officials, whom I worked with could read it.

The Anatolian-Caucasian Mountain connection

It is obvious that at some point in his life, the real Sequoyah was exposed to the writing systems used by the Christian Anatolians, Armenians, Georgians and Circassians. This exposure was not necessarily from a book. His original symbols are almost identical to the handwriting of the region.

During the 1500s and 1600s, millions of Christians in eastern Turkey, the Caucasian Mountains and northern Mesopotamia were either killed, enslaved or exiled by their Muslim overlords. Until that time Christians were almost the sole occupants of the region and represented over 1/3 of the population of the Ottoman Empire. They were scattered across the face of the earth. Some ended up in northeastern Tennessee.

In 1673, Virginians James Needham and Gabriel Arthur journeyed to Eastern Tennessee in order to set up trading relations with the Muskogean tribes there. “Edited” versions of this story changed the names of these tribes to “Cherokees,” but the word Cherokee was never mentioned in the original journal. In northeastern Tennessee, they visited a town built of brick that had a Armenian style church in it. Nearby was a town, built of wood, inhabited by Africans. Forty-five years later, the first European map to mention the Cherokee Indians, showed their villages located in the exact same locale, where Needham and Arthur found the Christian and African towns. There must be a connection.

Somewhere in the forgotten Early Colonial Period history of Tennessee there must have been a community or at least individuals, who remembered the writing system of the Caucasus Region in the late 1700s. Somehow, George Gist was exposed to that writing system. It is also the most likely situation, where he learned how to be a silver smith. Sequoyah was indeed an important historical figure, wrapped in mystery.

The Elate: A Native American Alliance Erased from History

Forgotten Peoples of the Southeastern United States: Part One

Today’s article starts a series that will be continued throughout the year. You will be learning about the forgotten indigenous peoples of Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, western Maryland, western Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. The complete research report, upon which this particular article is based, along with references, may be read in Access Genealogy: “The History of the Etowah River Valley.”

In 1492, throughout the southeastern portion of North America there were regions, densely populated with indigenous ethnic groups, whose names are missing or barely mentioned in contemporary history and anthropology books. That some even existed, we only know from their earthworks and town sites. Others were visited by the 16th and 17th century European explorers, but no longer visible when English colonists began taking permanent possession of the landscape. Still others figured quite prominently in the colonial archives of Spain, France and Great Britain, but were intentionally erased from the history books by the Great Britain, after it won control of eastern North America at the end of the Seven Years War, or by the fledgling United States, when their lands were in the way of settlers.

For many persons in the United States, Native American history might be interesting, but not very relevant to the 21st century. The indigenous population of North America declined by at least 90% during the Colonial Period, because of the arrival of immigrants from the Eastern Hemisphere. Today, those citizens, officially defined as American Indians, Alaska Natives and Hawaiian Natives by the federal government, represent about .9% of the population of the United States. Those who are mixed race, but have significant indigenous ancestry represent about 2% of the population. The percentage of Americans with any Native American heritage has never been estimated, but it is probably a much larger figure. Nevertheless, from a statistical perspective indigenous Americans are not politically significant.

1984 began in 1492

As I researched the Colonial archives in an attempt to develop a more accurate understanding of the Southeast’s Native American history, I stumbled upon one Machiavellian scheme after another that was intentionally carried out by governments and scholars in the past to alter the public’s perception of reality. These schemes began as soon as Europeans first made contact with the Western Hemisphere’s indigenous peoples. Distortion of the present became the distortion of history in our contemporary literature.

These Machiavellian schemes and distortion of facts are still going on . . . and perhaps are even more effective because of the replicative nature of the internet. Fabricated history and archaeology are perceived by some as tools for political propaganda . . . or at the least, the means for promoting one’s own academic career. That is exactly why the study of Native American history in the Southeast is so relevant. By knowing what was done in the past to alter the political majority’s perceptions of reality, the reader will be better able discern such fudging when it occurs in the present.

Two towns and a battle that never existed

During the five year period, that I did research and built town models for the Muscogee-Creek Nation, I initially assumed that every book, written by a famous anthropologist or historian, and published by a university press, was completely accurate. However, as I became more knowledgeable on the subject, I began to discern glaring errors in the interpretation of architecture and town plans.

Even while an architecture student and much more so as professional, I had been an eyewitness to instances of anthropology professors behaving badly . . . the most notorious being when certain professors were bribed to loop the Hernando de Soto Expedition northward through Asheville, NC.  At the time, I was the Executive Director of the Asheville-Buncombe County Historic Resources Commission, but neither I nor the State Archaeologist Office had any part in the scheme.

The big paradigm for me was in 2008, when a team of history and law professors from the University of Oklahoma meticulously researched the Colonial Archives of South Carolina and Georgia. Among many amazing discoveries found in the long ignored records of the past, they discovered that the Battle of Taliwa never occurred, the Creek town of Taliwa never existed and that the Cherokees were defeated catastrophically in late 1754, permanently ending the 40 year long Creek-Cherokee War.

1755-Mitchell-deserted1755 Map of North America by John Mitchell

In fact, the Koweta Creek army marching through North Carolina at the time had burned a third of all Cherokee villages and executed 32 Cherokee chiefs. They would have exterminated the Cherokees as a people had not the British government heavy-handedly intervened, because the Cherokees were needed to fight the French-allied Indians in western Virginia.

TaliwaSignThis historical marker is pure fiction.

And yet . . . there is a play currently being performed in Downtown Nashville, TN that glorifies these events that never occurred. Such is the nature of our times. Also, a legion of history books treat these events as facts. Propaganda has become reality and reassertion of factual history is a threat to the “natural order of things.”

Many reports and books by Georgia archaeologists from 1939 to 2010 mention that the Cherokee town of Long Swamp Creek was built by the Cherokees in 1755 at the location of Taliwa to cement their great victory in conquering all of North Georgia . . . including some by the archaeologist, who publicly stated in 2012 that “This Maya thing is a bunch of crap.

In late 2006, the Georgia Department of Transportation issued a national press release stating that a planned archaeological dig on the edge of Archaeological Zone 9Ck1 near Ball Ground “was going to prove that the Cherokees had been in Georgia for 1000 years.” That particular town site had been earlier excavated by the famous archaeologists, Robert Wauchope and Arthur Kelly. It was found to be a satellite town and contemporary of Etowah Mounds.

After GDOT commissioner, Gina Abraham, was put on the hot seat by the newly formed People of One Fire, she eventually wrote a letter explaining that the archaeologist, who had recently moved to Georgia from Illinois to supervise the 9CK1 excavation, had confused her project location with the Cherokee village of Long Swamp Creek, which was a mile away. Say what-t-t?  Someone with a PhD in Anthropology can’t read a map?

Go to the website of the Marble Valley Historical Society, the official historic preservation group of Pickens County, GA. It will tell you that “Long Swamp Creek was an important Cherokee town from the early 1700s.” Never mind that elsewhere in the website, you are told that the Cherokees conquered all of North Georgia in 1755 by capturing a Creek town at that same location. Say what-t-t?

It gets better. The author of the History of Pickens County, Luke Tate, clearly stated in 1935 that the Cherokee village of Long Swamp Creek never existed. A special grand jury was convened to examine and verify the accuracy of Tate’s book. Early settlers saw the ruins of a long-abandoned Proto-Creek town (archaeological site 9Ck1) and assumed that it was a historical Cherokee village.

In 1890, while writing down children’s bedtime stories in North Carolina, told to him by the Swimmer,  Smithsonian ethnologist, James Mooney, elaborated on the frontier folklore relating to Taliwa and Long Swamp Creek. He gave the tall tales from an eccentric, uneducated source the veracity of factual history. His books on the Cherokees  gave this ethnocentric, provincial version of another state’s history credibility. Mooney is squarely to blame for most of the inaccurate Native American history that now appears on state historical markers and history books in the Southern Applachians. Why Georgia academicians have never challenged Mooney’s statements, we will never know.

The Swimmer was an old man with a reputation for telling tall tales in the Qualla Cherokee community. Most of the history, myths and legends he told Mooney don’t even square with Cherokee tradition. He never visited any of the famous archaeological sites such as the Track Rock Gap, Etowah Mounds and Long Swamp Creek in Georgia, or the Peachtree Mound in North Carolina, yet this eccentric Cherokee’s fictional stories about their origin has been taken as the gospel truth by contemporary archaeologists in North Carolina and Georgia, while the highly educated descendants of the Muskogean peoples, who actually built these structures . . . well, you remember what happened in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Such is the nature of times.

Picking up the pieces

It was obvious that most everything that is currently published by university presses about the Southern Appalachians between 1500 and 1776, except the actual words of the De Soto and Pardo Chronicles, is horse manure . . . but how could one explain the ethnic situation in the region in the early 1800s?  Dr. Joshua Piker, a member of the University of Oklahoma team in 2008, advised me to stop using the statements in contemporary anthropology books as factual history and instead go to the original eyewitness sources. That I did.

The more I dug into the colonial archives, the less anything jived with the history I was taught in high school. We are told by the State of North Carolina and the Eastern Band of Cherokees that the Cherokees have lived in North Carolina for 10,000 years, yet I found French maps from the late 1600s that said that the Creeks and Shawnees occupied the region. I found numerous eyewitness accounts of Spanish Sephardic colonists in the Appalachians throughout the 1600s.

I found a stone inscription at 5,800 feet in the Smoky Mountains that memorialized a Jewish wedding on September 15, 1615. I found that about 85% of the Native American place names in the North Carolina Mountains are either Creek or Itza Maya words. I found a Creek legend that stated that a branch of the Creeks had destroyed the Track Rock terrace complex, while migrating from the Smoky Mountains to the Georgia Piedmont. Its occupants were NOT Muskogee Creeks and pre-dated their arrival.

I found that the earliest map of the Cherokee Nation in Georgia labeled the main town in the Nacoochee Valley, Nocosee, and Yonah Mountain as Nocosee Mountain . . . that’s the Anglicization of the Creek word, nokose, for bear. Only the later maps used the Cherokee mispronunciation of the word . . . Nogoochee . . . which became Nacoochee.

We are told by history books and archaeologists that the Georgia Mountains composed an uninhabited no-man’s land until after the American Revolution. That is not true. I found several accounts by Indian traders and government officials that mentioned thriving villages in the region. Their names were either Itsate Creek or from a language that was neither Muskogean nor Cherokee. Most of these names never appeared on the lists of villages in the Cherokee Alliance or Creek Confederacy.

Several colonial archives specifically stated that the southern boundary of the Cherokee Nation was roughly the North Carolina-Georgia line westward to the Hiwassee River, and then the Hiwassee Valley through western North Carolina and Tennessee. During the First Anglo-Cherokee War, on June 27, 1760, an invading British Army was attacked and severely defeated when it entered the southern boundary of the Cherokee Nation at Itsate (Echoee) Pass. That’s at the North Carolina-Georgia State Line.

Maps showed the territory of the Creek Confederacy to include all of Tennessee and western North Carolina, south of the Hiwassee River and the portion of North Georgia, drained by the Conasauga, Coosawattee and Etowah Rivers. That left a huge chunk of land east of Coosa Bald Mountain and north of the source of the Apalachee River that was owned by somebody else other than the Muskogee Creeks and ethnic Cherokees.

I also stumbled onto something else very odd. In 1818, Native American villages with Creek names in Habersham and White Counties (NE Georgia Mountains) sold 2000 acres of land to a consortium of families from Burke County, NC. Another cluster of villages with Creek names in what is now the Alpharetta area of Fulton County, GA sold their land that year to DeKalb County. Both groups of villages then moved southwestward into the territory of the Creek Confederacy.

At that time, neither the Cherokee nor Muskogee-Creek leadership would have been allowed any village to sell tribal lands to private individuals or state governments. Their chiefs would have been executed. Tribal land could only be ceded via treaties with the United States.

The answer to the riddle came from three sources, the memoirs of Colonel Andrew Pickens, the Treaty of Hopewell Plantation and account of a federal official traveling through the new Cherokee Nation in Georgia. Most of the Native American villages that they described have been erased from the history books.

Battle of Long Swamp Creek: In the last battle of the American Revolution on October 22, 1783, a small army of Patriot Mounted Militia, under the command of Col. Andrew Pickens and Major Elijah Clarke, attacked the camp of Cherokee Chief Sour Mush and his 50+ member band, near Long Swamp Creek in present day, Nelson, GA. The Patriots were looking for the Tory Cavalry Company, commanded by Lt. Col. Thomas Waters, who had been driven out of Augusta, GA on June 6, 1781. Since then, Waters’ band of Tories had been ravaging farmsteads and murdering civilians on the Georgia frontier.

Chief Sour Mush was banished from the Cherokee Nation in 1777 because he refused to comply with a peace treaty with the United States. His band was allowed to settle on lands within the territory of an Indian alliance that Colonel Pickens called “the Elady.” The Elady were essentially “tenants at will” of the Koweta Creeks, but the Koweta Creeks had little interest in the Northeast Georgia Mountains because most of the game was gone. Elady is the Anglicization of the Itsate Creek word, Elate, which means “Foothill People.”

Sour Mush surrendered quickly and then told him where the camp of Lt. Col. Waters was. Waters was married to a relative of Sour Mush. Many of the Tories had Indian wives with them. Official local history says that the Patriots killed or executed all of the Tories. That is not true. Waters and most of his men escaped up the Etowah River and settled at its headwaters, where I live. Many of their mixed-heritage descendants still live in this region. My cabin is on Waters Road.

Three days later, the Patriots traveled to the Elate (Elady) town of Salakoa, where they met with the 12 town chiefs of the Elate Alliance – not the Cherokee Nation.  A provisional peace treaty was signed in which the Elate gave away all of the lands of the Apalache and Talasee Creeks in the Northeast Georgia Piedmont, but none of their own in the mountains.

In December, Andrew Pickens invited leaders of the Creek Confederacy to attend a treaty conference at his plantation, Hopewell. The national Creek leaders refused to attend, since under the Articles of Confederation, they could only negotiate with representatives of the national government. Eight Creek town mikkos (chiefs) from Northeast Georgia did attend.  Six, including my gggg-grandfather, refused to sign the treaty, but Fat King and Quiet King were persuaded to sign , while drunk. Congress refused to ratify this treaty because it was not made between leaders of the Creek and American national governments.

Pickens then invited the Elate chiefs to his plantation, who did sign the treaty. They expanded the treaty to include even more Creek Confederacy land being taken, but none of theirs. It is interesting that the Elate chiefs, except for Sour Mush, had Creek, Spanish and English names.

It is important to note that although all “Cherokee History” web sites call the Treaty of Hopewell a Cherokee treaty. It was NOT. In fact, the treaty confirmed the boundary between the Elate and the Cherokees to still be the North Carolina-Georgia state line. Nevertheless, Congress refused to ratify this treaty on the same grounds that is was not made between leaders of national governments.

Pickens then invited leaders of the Cherokee, Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations to his plantation, in the company of agents officially representing Congress. The general terms of the treaties with these tribes were worked out, but the formal presentation and signing of these treaties occurred in Augusta, GA in 1785. The Elate chiefs continued to sign treaties with the United States as a separate political entity.

In the 1785 Treaty of Augusta, the United States gave the Cherokee Nation, the Creek lands in northwestern Georgia solely as hunting grounds. They would not be allowed to live there.  The southern boundary of this territory was the Etowah River, but excluded the Creek sacred lands around Etowah Mounds on the north side.  The commissioners new that the much more powerful Creek Confederacy would attack the Cherokees, if they found Cherokee hunters shedding blood at Etowah Mounds.   In the Creek version of the Treaty of Augusta, the Creeks only ceded a small strip of land between the headwaters of the Chattahoochee and Savannah Rivers.

1790 – Colonel Marinus Willett’s journey through North Georgia:
It would not be until 1790 that the Creek Confederacy realized that Northern Georgia had been stolen from them by Georgians representing the United States. The Creek Confederacy then declared war on Georgia. In short, the Cherokees were given North Georgia in a Machiavellian land swindle, they did not conquer it.

The center of power of the Creek Confederacy had shifted to Pensacola, Florida because half-blood Principal Chief Alexander McGillivray had moved there. The Hitchiti speaking Creeks of northern and eastern Georgia deeply resented McGillivray’s dictatorial behavior and domination of the confederacy by Muskogee speakers. They and the Elate cut separate deals with the United States at the 1785 treaty conference and pocketed the land payments themselves, rather than passing the money on to McGillivray.

Furious, McGillivray dispatched Upper Creek war parties with close ties to the Chickamauga Cherokees to raid Itsate Creek and Elate farms in North Georgia. However, the North Georgia Creeks had always had a tradition of intermarrying with their white neighbors in order to maintain peaceful relations. Many white farmsteads were attacked also, resulting in a bloody guerilla war between the Upper Creeks in what is now Alabama and the Georgia militia. Ironically, many of the Chickamauga Cherokee villages were now in Georgia, but their war was with the Tennessee Militia.

In order to avert a major war between the Upper Creeks and the United States, Colonel Marinus Willitt was asked by Congress to negotiate a peace with the Upper Creeks, in what was then Georgia, but now Northeast Alabama.  Willitt traveled from Hopewell Plantation in extreme NW South Carolina all the way across North Georgia.  He mentioned several newly established village along the Etowah River with Itsate Creek names.  They were Elate, Itsate-speaking villages, who wanted to get as far from the Cherokees as possible.  These villages all disappeared from the maps of Cherokee lands after the southern boundary was extended southward to Kennesaw Mountain in 1794.

Willett was able to convince the Upper Creeks that an attack on the State of Georgia now meant an attack on the United States.   Most Upper Creek chiefs henceforth refused to obey McGillivray’s orders to attack Northeast Georgia farmsteads and tensions cooled down . . . for awhile.

Vast numbers of Overhill Cherokee refugees began squatting on the “Northwest Georgia hunting lands” after the 1785. This was not anticipated by the Georgia land swindlers and they immediately complained to the federal government about it. In 1802, the State of Georgia was promised by the federal government in writing that all Cherokees would soon be removed from the state’s boundaries.

The current propaganda and Trail of Tears film being distributed by the federally recognized Cherokee tribes calls Northwest Georgia, “the ancient land of the Great Cherokee Nation for hundreds of years.” This is horse manure. That region was an official Cherokee reserve from 1794 until 1836. Prior to 1794 the Georgia Cherokees were illegal land squatters. In fact, most of the original Cherokees in North Georgia were renegade bands at war with the United States, such as the one headed by Sour Mush or the wives of Tory bushwhackers.

After 1802, Cherokee leaders were formally urged to relocate their people to Alabama. This is why the principal chief, Pathkiller, was based in Turkeytown, Alabama. The construction of a Cherokee National capital at New Echota in 1825 was specifically designed to thwart the federal government’s promise to move all the Cherokees to Alabama.  The Cherokees were shrewdly creating “accomplished facts” to counter the legal agreement with Georgia in federal courts.

The Cherokees were not indigenous to Georgia and the State of Georgia never agreed to allow them settle there permanently.  This fact is never told in current literature.  The myth of the Battle of Taliwa was created by Elias Boudinot in 1827 in order to make readers of the Cherokee Phoenix think that Cherokees had “conquered all of North Georgia” prior to the existence of the United States.  Boudinot concealed the existence of the Elate and lied on depositions presented to the US Supreme Court.  He also repeatedly published false affidavits in his newspapers, stating that the Cherokees had lived on the Etowah River since the early 1700s.

There is something else most readers won’t know and Cherokees won’t tell you.  The “Sequoyah” Syllabary used today was created by Elias Boudinot and the Rev. Samuel Worcester in 1827.  Sequoyah probably never saw it.  His syllabary contains letters that are almost identical to the Late Medieval script used by Circassian, Armenian and Eastern Anatolian Christians in the Middle East.  Now you figure that mystery out!   The Cherokee syllabary was almost unknown to North Carolina Cherokees until they were taught it in the late 20th century.

By 1794, the Elate were a powerless minority that was now being labeled “Cherokees,” even though most spoke a Creek language. In the 1794 Treaty of Philadelphia with the Cherokees, the Elate were not even represented. Over the strenuous objections of Georgians, Northwest Georgia was given as a permanent home to the Cherokee Nation by the federal government. Most of the Elate and remaining Itsate Creeks lands were given to Georgia. From then on, the Elate ceased to exist as a distinct American Indian polity in the eyes of the United States government.

Outraged at being made landless by the bullying of the Cherokees, Creek Confederacy, Georgians and United States, the Elate and Itsate Creeks in Northeast Georgia either elected to assimilate with their white neighbors, move to Northwest Alabama or else move to Florida. That is why there was a “Cherokee” town named Ellijay in present day Gilmer County, GA – containing families with Spanish and English names – and a “Seminole” town named Ellijay in the Florida Everglades, also containing families with Spanish and English names.

Don’t believe everything you read in either tourist brochures or in the history books. A lot of folks wrote history with a hidden agenda. The truth is out there somewhere.

Most “fantasies” described by 17th century French author have been confirmed

Update from the Apalache Foundation

Those of you, who have read The Apalache Chronicles probably were somewhat skeptical about the man-made wonders, which Charles de Rocherfort described as being erected by the Apalache Civilization. So far Apalache sites have been identified in North Georgia, eastern  Alabama, northwestern South Carolina, eastern Kentucky, northeastern West Virginia and Northwestern Virginia.

The most common criticism is that if such things existed, surely archaeologists would have found them by now.   Why most archaeologists ignored these ruins, I can’t answer.  However, professional archaeologists Robert Wauchope (1939),  Phillip White (1951) and Pat Garrow (1990s) did try to bring to their profession’s attention, some of the ruins. They were ostracized for their efforts and bitterly attacked by some factions within anthropology, who can only conceive the Southeastern indigenous peoples as primitive societies.  However, none of these gentlemen were aware of the scale of these forgotten ruins.  The number of sites are mind-boggling and their numbers are growing .

At the present time, we cannot discuss the details and specific locations of most of these sites.  Appropriate local and state officials are aware of them.  Steps are being taken to assure their protection.

I can say though that we have found the probable location of Melilot in the mie-1600s, “Apalache” – the last capital of the Apalache Kingdom in the late 1600s, plus the mountaintop ruins, described in the 1658 engraving above.  Just last week, the huge cave, described by De Rochefort  to be near this astronomical observatory was also found.    It is over 200 feet deep and up to 25 feet high inside.

You can visit one site mentioned by De Rochefort.  It is the cave temple under a waterfall.  Those ruins are at De Soto Falls State Park (Alabama) which is near the Alabama-Georgia state line.  The park is east of Fort Payne, AL and west of Lafayette, GA.

The Apalache Chronicles is published by Ancient Cypress Press out of Fort Lauderdale, FL and can be ordered online.

Maya scholars describe frequent trips to Southeastern United States

James Rhodes is a member of the Kaweta Creek Tribe, a Viet Nam veteran and a human being deeply involved with improving relations between Viet Nam and the United States.  He has recently returned from southern Mexico, where he met with Maya leaders and historians.  Here is what he wrote us today:

“We have just returned rom the Mayan capital in southern Mexico and provide to you the following information which we hope will be shared with many….forgive my haste, in 36 hours I am departing for Vietnam.”

“Unlike previous trips to this region, we met actual Mayans and Mayan historians who actually were informed…even on tours they are informing the tourist “during periods of unrest or crisis SOME MAYANS FLED TO ALABAMA (and other regions here) FOR SAFETY” It is also reported that those Mayans who fled interacted with the CREEKs…. so it looks like Richard Thornton’s “crazy ideas” are finally being accepted as factual historical accounts.”

Recently announced stone architecture complex in Chambers County, Alabama to be described at April 19, 2015 lecture

Teresa Paglione, a cultural resources specialist with National Resources Conservation Services (US Department of Agriculture) in Opelika, Alabama, will give a lecture entitled “The LaFayette Ceremonial Stone Complex: An Unexpected Discovery of a Prehistoric Stone Row and Stones Piles in Chambers County,” on April 19, 2015 at 2:00 PM CDT or 3:00 PM EDT at the Valley, Alabama Library. The library is located at 3419 20th Ave. Valley, AL 36854 (334)768-2050 – The lecture is sponsored by the Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society, which draws members from Troup and Harris Counties in Georgia and Chambers County in Alabama.

Description of this event by the CVHS

About a decade ago a member of The Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society Board of Directors followed a clue found in printed material in the Cobb Memorial Archives to rediscover a mysterious site of stones long ignored and almost forgotten by the inhabitants of Chambers County. The Board member with family made lengthy treks through cottonmouth infested swamps to reach and walk over the undisturbed site. In the nineteenth century this odd array of stones covering acres of land next to a creek was approachable by field roads and was visited by picnic parties of school children and families.
Since the rediscovery of the site, the CVHS Board has identified the landowner and secured permission for access to the sight for purposes of study and documentation.

Teresa Paglione, as a professional archeologist, was asked by the Board to provide leadership in documentation of the site. The landowner is committed to protecting the site because of its unique value in understanding the history of Chambers County and this region. The location of the site and name of the owner will not be publicized and access to the site is made by permission of owner through CVHS officers. A rattlesnake has been observed in the stones.

The LaFayette Ceremonial Stone Complex consists of a single massive linear stone row in somewhat of a crescent shape-with both ends leading downhill to a creek. Across from this linear stone work and the creek are at least 49 stone piles. Archaeologists are certain that Native Americans erected these stone works, but when they were constructed is not easily documented. Dozens of these works have been identified in North Alabama.

The LaFayette Ceremonial Complex is the largest known work of this type so far south in the topography of our state. This stone work and site date from perhaps a thousand or more years ago. The historic Native Americans would have recognized these ancient sacred sites, given them names and may have contributed to the works. Teresa will describe the LaFayette Ceremonial Site and the work to date in the effort to document the large site and its stone works.

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