Select Page

1701 French map labels Western North Carolina . . . Land of the Shawnee!

1701 French map labels Western North Carolina . . . Land of the Shawnee!

The map above is a section of a map of the new province of Louisiana and was drawn by Royal Cartographer,  Guillaume de Lisle in 1701.

During the 1680s and 1690s,  expeditions manned by French Marines, Indian traders and surveyors thoroughly traveled the rivers in the interior of the Southeast.   They established a fort on Bussell Island, Tennessee, where the Little Tennessee River joins the Tennessee River.  They located the ancestors of the Cherokees in southern West Virginia, when they were named the Tiononteticaga (Cave Dwellers.)  Almost all Southeastern tribes, other than the Creeks, have names for the Cherokees that mean “Cave Dwellers.”

The entire length of the Upper Tennessee River was lined with Proto-Creek towns.  The French named the Upper Tennessee River the Caskenampo River, which means “Many Warriors” in Koasati.  The remainder of the Tennessee River was named the Callimaco River, which is an Itza Maya word meaning “House of the King.”   In bold letters,  Western North Carolina was labeled “Pays de Chaouanons,” which means Land of the Shawnee.

The French Broad River received its name because of being explored and claimed by the French.  A huge Shawnee town was located in present day central Metro Asheville in what is now called Biltmore Village.  However, in recent years Asheville has billed itself as “Ancient Heart of the Cherokee Nation.”

The French fort was still there in 1715, when John Beresford drew the map below of the Southeast.  However, between 1701 and 1715 there were stark ethnic changes in the Southern Highlands.  Beresford’s map was the first European document to mention the Cherokee Indians.  In 1715, they were located along the Holston and Nolichucky Rivers in extreme northeastern Tennessee.  They also occupied 10 villages in extreme northwestern South Carolina.



Some tourist brochures mention  a Cherokee legend, which tells us that a few Shawnee villages were given sanctuary in Western North Carolina by the Cherokees.  They were soon kicked out for being ungrateful guests.  Amazingly, many white academicians in the Southeast have replicated this malarkey in their dissertations, anthropology books and archeological reports without fact checking it.   Obviously, the Shawnee where there first and perhaps they gave refuge to some Cherokee villages before they were driven out by their guests.

This article is followed by a more lengthy article on the Native American history of Tennessee.  Both articles are in response to a letter sent to the People of One Fire by a high school history teacher, who lives in the Knoxville, Tennessee Metro Area.




The following two tabs change content below.
Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Richard, my 3x Great Grandfather Micajah Revels was born in the area of this article, Tallassee. I have seen on earliest maps the same I believe to be Tali, and on later maps Tallashatchie. I searched your website but could find no articles mentioning Tallassee or variant spellings. This location was an Indigenous village up to the dispersion and Trail of Tears. Could you tell us anything you might know about this village and its history. Thanks much.

    • Yes, I have written articles on Talassee and Tuskeegee – including the pinpointing of their locations. I mentioned them when I was going down the Little Tennessee River in a series of articles last year. In fact, while homeless in 2010, I lived in a tent at various locations near Tuskeegee and Tallasee, plus camped on the actual sites of those towns. Tali was at the confluence of the Tellico River and the Little Tennessee. Talasi means “offspring (satellite village) of Tali and was located at the confluence of the
      Cheoah River and the Little Tennessee River. Tvskeki (Tuskegee) was at the confluence of Tuskeegee Creek and the Little Tennessee River. Chiaha was on an island just downstream from the confluence of the Little Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers. Fortunately, ERSI GIS imagery had a satellite image of this island, when Fontana Lake happened to be drained down. The three mounds of Chiaha can still be seen in the photographs.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to POOF via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this website and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 809 other subscribers

The Information World is changing!

People of One Fire needs your help to evolve with it.

We are now celebrating the 11th year of the People of One Fire. In that time, we have seen a radical change in the way people receive information. The magazine industry has almost died. Printed newspapers are on life support. Ezines, such as POOF, replaced printed books as the primary means to present new knowledge. Now the media is shifting to videos, animated films of ancient towns, Youtube and three dimensional holograph images.

During the past six years, a privately owned business has generously subsidized my research as I virtually traveled along the coast lines and rivers of the Southeast. That will end in December 2017. I desperately need to find a means to keep our research self-supporting with advertising from a broader range of viewers. Creation of animated architectural history films for POOF and a People of One Fire Youtube Channel appears to be the way. To do this I will need to acquire state-of-art software and video hardware, which I can not afford with my very limited income. Several of you know personally that I live a very modest lifestyle. If you can help with this endeavor, it will be greatly appreciated.

Support Us!

Richard Thornton . . . the truth is out there somewhere!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!