Select Page

A Big Pot of Bubbling Brunswick Stew


In addition to the multiple migrations from various parts of Mexico that are solidly part of Chitimacha, Apalachee, Alabama, Creek, Seminole and Miccosukee traditions, the evidence has become overwhelming that there were cultural and population exchanges between southeastern North America and northwestern South America, several periods during the past 6,000 years. During some eras, it appears to have been two-way traffic.

Keyword: Satipo

Putting the “Anthro” back into Southeastern Anthropology

The current state of Southeastern Indigenous anthropology in regard to cultural history, architecture, ethnology and linguistics is absolutely appalling. Academia knows so little that it doesn’t even know what it doesn’t know. The Southeastern Native American peoples are viewed as they were at the onset of the American Revolution – with the exception that the Southern Shawnees, Yuchi and Alabama seemed to have been erased entirely. It is mythical world created by bureaucrats, in which a minimum of 15,000 years of history are conformed to the perspective of the legal relationships between modern federally recognized tribes and the US Department of the Interior.

Over and over again, I find dissertations and archeological reports that reference John Swanton from the early 20th century as their sole ethnological references. It is obvious that Southeastern anthropologists decided around 1947 that the “anthro” part of their professional title was no longer relevant. It would be sufficient to quote Swanton.

Swanton was a nationally respected ethnologist at the Smithsonian Institute during the first half of the 20th century.  He presented himself as the nation’s leading expert on the Southeastern Indians. He accumulated hundreds of Colonial Era eyewitness documents that are very useful in research. However, Swanton assumed that the names, political relationships and locations of indigenous groups in 1776 were the same as they were in 1540. Unfortunately, he also took upon himself to attempt the translations of Muskogean place names. Few of his translations are completely accurate. Most are farces that could not have been made with a Native language dictionary. His descriptions of tribal structures and relationships between internal divisions generally correspond to the period immediately prior to forced removal.

Take a look at archaeological reports produced in the UK, Ireland or Mexico. You can view the Mexican reports at the UNAH English website. Next, read some of the archaeological reports and dissertations about Native American town sites in the Southeastern United States.

You will immediately see a big difference. Mexican, Irish, English and British archaeologists present their discoveries as the continuing story of their nation. They devote the majority of the space in the reports to who lived there, how they lived and why they chose that particular spot to live. They expound on how these particular ancestors contributed to their society today – even if we are talking about primitive camp sites from 10,000 years ago.


The South American evidence becomes a growing snowball

From the very beginning, People of One Fire researchers never had any theory that we wanted to prove. We just wanted the facts, whatever they were. We followed the evidence, wherever it took us . . . no matter if the facts conflicted with what everyone else thought was Southeastern North America’s history. We did not consider contemporary speculations, even if endorsed by an academic peer review committee, as being facts.

This approach is comparable to the creation of a comprehensive plan for a city or a region. The planners assemble as many facts and variables as possible into a rational, three dimensional framework. The facts and variables are then interpolated to obtain as complete an understanding as possible of the past, so the future development of the city or county may be planned.

For over a decade, since reading the chronicles of the Juan Pardo Expedition, something has been bothering me. All of the town names in the mountains and western South Carolina are either Muskogean or Maya words. However, Pardo’s notario, Juan de la Bandero, listed town names that can also be found in Cuba, Colombia, Peru or Brazil. I knew that during the last Ice Age, Florida’s shoreline was about 100 miles farther out than today. However, what were South American town names doing in South Carolina?  If anywhere, shouldn’t they be in Florida?

The Native American DNA Survey

The South American connection was completely unanticipated. In early 2012, we solicited DNA test results from as many Southeastern Native American descendents as possible. This was in no way a statistically significant random survey. Consider the survey more like scattering Green Giant Niblets corn to see how many fish are in a pond.

As expected, Maya and northern Mexican DNA test markers showed up in many Creek and Seminole descendants – particularly those whose ancestry was known to be in Georgia. They also showed up in Towns County, GA (east of Track Rock Gap) and in card-carrying Cherokees living in Cherokee County, NC – five miles north of Track Rock Gap in Georgia.

South American DNA test markers also showed up in Towns County, GA.  Some of the test subjects were 25% South American, even though the federal government had classified them as Cherokees.  Our initial response was that since the Itza were not true Mayas, they may have originated in South America.

The DNA results only confirmed what we knew from the Early Colonial Maps. In the higher mountains of Georgia and western North Carolina, there were many Itza place names and numerous towns literally named Itsate. There were four standard Maya glyphs on Boulder Six of the Track Rock Petroglyphs and also several on the Judaculla Rock. Most of the Itsate words having to do with architecture, agriculture, political offices, writing and trade were either Itza or Totonac words. Etchete and Hichiti are merely the Anglicizatons of Istate (Ĭt : jzhȁ : tē.)

However, people whose Native ancestry was from regions such as western Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, eastern Tennessee and a county isolated by mountains in North Georgia were also showing up with substantial South American DNA test markers. In fact, the “Towns County, GA Indians” have some of the highest percentage of Asiatic (Native American) DNA in the Southeast . . . 12.5 times the percentage of the median Cherokee living on the North Carolina Reservation.

The South American DNA seemed to be a fluke. What we thought to be the Indigenous history of the Southeast seemed so different than what we thought was the Indigenous history of South America, there couldn’t possibly be a cultural connection between the two hemispheres.  Could there?

I really didn’t know what to do with the genetic information. Most of my time in 2013 and 2014 was spent in research on Early Colonial European architecture and history for writing four books. However, in the process of researching colonial history, I stumbled upon even more surprising evidence.

The Kingdom of Apalache

In the summer of 2013, Marylyn Rae stumbled online upon an obscure book in the “Fantasy and Utopia” bin at the Brown University Library. Written in 1658, by the Reverend Charles de Rochefort, it described a small expedition to North Georgia in 1653, led by a prominent planter on Barbados, Richard Briggstock.

Royalist Barbados was under siege by the Commonwealth Navy. Apparently, Briggstock visited the Apalache Kingdom to determine the feasibility of moving to an English-French Protestant-Sephardic Jewish colony named Melilot.

While the commoners of the Kingdom of Apalache were described as what we would immediately recognize as Colonial Period proto-Creeks and Yuchi, the Apalache elite lived in separate communities. Their words, cultural traditions and clothing were very South American. We were puzzled at first because the Apalache priests were called Joanos by De Rochefort. Then I realized that in 17th century alphabets, joanos, would be pronounced Huanos – the eastern Peruvian name of a priest of the sun deity.

The elite wore colorful tunics and gowns that looked just like the Creek and Seminole long shirts. They also wore strange cone shaped hats that looked like they belonged in the orient.  Marilyn and I wondered if these strange hats had been some artist’s fantasy.

The Apalache Culture in North Georgia appeared to be a continuance of the Swift Creek Culture.  During the first two periods of the Mississippian Culture, it was subordinate to the Itsate’s at Etowah Mounds and in the mountains. However, the Late Mississippian Lamar Culture seems to represent a resurgence of Apalache culture and power.

At the time, I considered the South American cultural traits of the Apalache elite a curious isolate in the Southeast. Somehow the ancestors of these people had traveled from eastern Peru to North Georgia at some time in the past for some unknown reason.

(Read The Apalache Chronicles by Marilyn Rae and Richard Thornton for more info on Apalache Culture)

Daniel Bigman’s rediscovery of round houses at Ocmulgee

In 2012, Daniel Bigman used remote electromagnetic sensing techniques to study the acropolis area at Ocmulgee National Monument. He rediscovered what Dr. Arthur Kelly always knew. Ocmulgee was founded by a people, who built large conical houses with center post supports. This is a typical house style in northern and eastern Peru plus several sections of Colombia and Venezuela and the Central Highlands of Cuba. Kelly was the supervising archaeologist during the WPA funded excavation of Ocmulgee in the mid-1930s.

Kelly, who was from eastern Texas,  assumed that Ocmulgee had been founded by Caddo People because the Caddo built smaller sized center post houses and lived in eastern Texas. The archaeologists, who followed Kelly, believed that Ocmulgee had been founded by people from Cahokia, while the Swift Creek Culture before it had been founded by people from New England – both immigrant peoples coming from safely above the Mason-Dixon Line.

This was a pattern that can be discerned for many of the archaeologists, who moved to the Lower Southeast from elsewhere in the mid-to-late 20th century.   They were prone to locate the origin of advanced Southeastern indigenous cultures wherever these archaeologists either grew up or studied anthropology.   It was if they were subliminally viewing their own personas as extensions of the past.   However, Kelly matured and soon began to look to Mesoamerica for the origins of the Mississippian Period mound-building cultures.

While Kelly was away in Chaco Canyon, NM, the Caddo Myth Busting in the Piedmont archaeologists team concealed the presence of round houses in the first phase of Ocmulgee’s occupation and misled generations of anthropologists and visitors to think that the first occupants of Ocmulgee built post-ditch rectangular houses. The Totonacs, Itza Mayas, Georgia Creeks and Florida Miccosukee’s call that style of house a chiki . . . but to address that threatening issue would require re-mobilization of the Maya Myth Busting in the Mountains archaeologists team . . . so we will just leave that at bay.

The Cahokians In Georgia proponents assumed that the mounds in Cahokia were much older than those in Ocmulgee, hence they wanted the last form of housing in Cahokia to match the first form in Ocmulgee . . . hence the deception. We now know that the major mounds at Ocmulgee predate those at Cahokia by at least 150 years, but thanks to Dr. Bergman, we also know that those mounds were begun by people building South American or Cuban Highland style houses. That fact is a game changer. There were many more game-changers to come.


In 2014, while searching for alternative sites for Fort Caroline, I paid closer attention to the names of Native American towns on the Georgia coast, and later elsewhere in the Southeast. Just like South Carolina there were many towns and villages on the late 16th and early 17th century maps that appeared to have South American names – either Arawak, Tupi or some other language. One of the most, frequently mentioned towns was Satipo, located on a peninsula between the outlets of the Satilla and Little Satilla Rivers – about 30 miles south of Fort Caroline – which makes a Florida location for the colony impossible. Other villages nearby had names such as Satiqui, Tupiqui and Satikoa. The root word, Sati, must have some significance, but it did not appear to be a Muskogean word.

Then I remembered that Juan Pardo had visited a town named Satipo in the Southern Appalachians. Archaeologists believe that it was one and the same as the 17th century town of Satikoa – koa being the Arawak word for people. I figured that “po” must mean “people” or “place of” in some other language. “Po, pa and pas” mean “place of” in Itza. The Anglicization of Satikoa’s name after the Cherokees took control of the area changed Satikoa to Siticoa, Citico and finally, Citigo. While looking up Satipo in Wikipedia, I was astonished to see: Provincia de Satipo – Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre.

Satipo is an ancient province on the eastern slopes of the Andes in Peru, whose western landscape looks just like the Southern Appalachians. The eastern section of the province looks like the coastal forests of Georgia.

The name of Satipo comes from the Asháninka language word (Easter Peru) – Ai-satibo-ki, meaning “those people who arrived”, a term used to refer to the Asháninka settlers who came to colonize a new region. The Asháninka language has been tentatively grouped with Arawak. However, the Arawak languages of the Andes and Upper Amazon Basin would be generally incomprehensible to Arawaks in the Caribbean Basin. It is interesting that the Asháninka use “ke” or “ki” as a suffix for “people” just like the Muskogee Creeks. None of the other Creek and Muskogean tribes use this suffix.

Santee is an indigenous synonym for Sati. That means that originally, the Santee People of South Carolina were probably also immigrants from Peru.

I began surveying the Spanish language articles on the indigenous peoples of this province. Almost immediately I found photos and images of Conibo People wearing the same clothing and hats that were seen on Apalache elite in North Georgia in 1653. Conibo means “Fish People” in their Panoan language. The name of their kindred people, the Shipibo, means “Monkey People.”

The traditional tattoos, clothing patterns and stamped pottery of the Conibo People are identical to the patterns on Swift Creek pottery in Georgia. Swift Creek style pottery was being made in Peru several hundred years before it appeared in the Peach State. It was an outgrowth of the wooden paddles carved to make ornate tattoos, which the Conibo apparently learned from Polynesian immigrants to Peru.

Still today, a Conibo village chief is called an orata. In the Pardo Chronicles, village chiefs in South Carolina were called orata. Captain René de Laudonnière called the village chiefs up the May River a ways, orata. It is not a Timucuan term. That is one of the many reasons that I became convinced in 2014 that Fort Caroline was built in Georgia.

De Laudonnière called the High Kings at the mouth of the May River, Paracus-ti (Paracus People.) A hundred years later, Charles de Rochefort called the High King of Apalache in North Georgia, the Paracus-ti. Paracus was the ethnic name of the people, who built the animal effigies in the Nazca Plain. The lines were built by the Nazca People, who followed them. The Paracus abandoned the Nazca Plain at about the same time that Swift Creek pottery appeared in Georgia.  They were replaced by the Moche Culture.

The Paracus were the first people in the Western Hemisphere to flatten the foreheads of infants. They also practiced mummification from a very early date. The elite of the Apalache in Georgia were also mummified.

Still today, a central component of indigenous ritual life in the Upper Amazon Basin and Satipo Province is the drinking a tea called the Sacred Black Drink, brewed from a South American cousin of the Yaupon Holly.  The Conibo and the Creek had the same word for this family of hollies.  It is Asi. The original name of Osabaw Island, Georgia was Asi-bo . . . Yaupon Holly People. In 1568, Captain Dominique de Gourgues was taken to a Sacred Black Drink ceremonial ground on the south end of Ossabaw Island.

Shipibo art is similar to Conibo art except that it utilizes angular geometric forms like Napier Style pottery. Napier Style pottery appeared in Georgia about five hundred years after Swift Creek.

Both the root words, Koni and Shipi appear in place names in the interior of the Southeast. Konihitee Creek (Place of the Koni People in Creek) flows near Track Rock Gap. Shipi-sippi (Shipi River) was the original name of the Holston River in NE Tennessee. The same maps show the Chiska living near the Shipi River.

A major indigenous town in northwestern South Carolina that was visited by Juan Pardo, was named Conas.  There was also a Conas in Peru, which was a major cultural center.

The most feared warriors of Satipo Province were the Chiska Oni. They were identical in appearance to the Chiska of eastern Tennessee and the Southern Appalachians. The appearance of the Chiskas in North and South America were identical. They both wore those strange conical straw hats.

That leads us to the suspicion that Missi-ssippi is also a Panoan word and that at least some of the advanced provinces along the Mississippi River were of Peruvian origin. The style gorget that shows two warriors with cone shaped hats can be found in North Georgia, Tennessee, western Kentucky and eastern Missouri, near Cahokia Mounds. However, the gorget also contains some Itza Maya symbols. Apparently, the “Mississippian” Cultural Tradition represented the blending of Indigenous, South American and Itza Maya traditions.

The pot of Brunswick stew

Brunswick stew developed from the Creek tradition of keeping a pot of hunters stew bubbling in a Topah sofke hute (hospitality hut) in the center of a village. Hunters and gardeners would throw in all manner of game meat and vegetables, whose flavors would mix to create what was essentially the same as Brunswick stew today.

That is the image of Southeastern Native American history, which is emerging. Bands of people from diverse regions of eastern North America, northern Mexico, Mesoamerica, the Caribbean Basin and northwestern South America migrated to the region. Some ethnic groups had more influence than others. The provinces in the Southeast were the result of varying mixtures of these culturally diverse groups. In many cases, the elite of a province were originally a different culture than the commoners. It could well be that the societal chaos caused by plagues spreading through the Southeast’s interior resulted into the Commoners and Elite becoming two separate tribes. This certainly seems to be the case of the Miccosukees and Hitchiti-speaking branches of the Seminoles.

Northern Louisiana saw the advent of mound-building in the Americas around 3,500 BC at Watson Brake. About 5oo years later, effigy mounds were being constructed on the coastal plain of Peru. Pottery appeared in eastern Georgia about the same time that it appeared in Colombia. Shell rings appeared first on the Georgia coast about the same time as the pottery farther inland then gradually appeared farther and farther south until they were on the coast of Colombia. About the same time that the shell rings were abandoned on Sapelo Island, construction began on a massive effigy mound at Poverty Point and the Zoque (Olmec Civilization) appeared on the coast of Mexico, introducing pottery-making to eastern Mexico.  Georgia had pottery for about 1,000 years before eastern Mexico did.   Around 1600 BC large conical mounds were being constructed in northern Louisiana. Both conical and ceremonial platform mounds were being built in Peru.

Around 100 AD, the Moche Civilization began rising among several independent provinces in Peru. The Moche Culture built many earthen pyramids. Simultaneously, Swift Creek Culture communities began building large pyramidal mounds in northwest and southwest Georgia. About the time that the Moche Culture collapsed in Peru; Palenque in the Chiapas Highlands was incinerated by massive volcanic eruption; Napier and Woodstock pottery styles appeared in central and north Georgia, while around 850 AD South American style houses appeared on the Ocmulgee River at the Macon Plateau.

This appears to be the last time that there were chronological associations between events in the Lower Southeast and Peru. From then on, all chronological associations appear to be between Mesoamerica and the Southeast.

Tobacco, maize, beans and some varieties of squash appeared first in Mesoamerica or Peru then somehow reached North America. How movements northward of these crops relate to the chronologically associated events in Peru, Mesoamerica and Southeastern North America, has yet to be determined.

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.

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 808 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!