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Another surprising cultural connection between today’s Kaw Nation and the Kusa People of 1540

Another surprising cultural connection between today’s Kaw Nation and the Kusa People of 1540

 

The director of the Kaw Nation Museum in Oklahoma contacted People of One Fire with another surprising cultural connection between the traditions of the Kaw Nation today and the Province of Kusa, visited by the Hernando de Soto Expedition in 1540 AD.  Several of the village names, mentioned by the De Soto Chronicles for locations along the Upper Coosa River and in Northwest Georgia cannot be translated with either Muskogee-Creek or Itsate-Creek dictionaries.  They may well be Kansa (Kaw) words.

Spanish chroniclers wrote that in each major town of the Kusa Province,  a large timber was erected in the center of town plaza.  On top of it was a large bird nest, woven from river cane and a realistic wooden eagle with wings outspread. 

The Kaw Nation today has only two clans . . . the White Eagle Clan and the Black Eagle Clan.  Their two names Kaw and Kanza mean Wind and South Wind respectively, but they do not have a Wind Clan like the Creeks and Seminoles. 

On the other hand . . . Kaw is the Itza Maya and Itzate Creek word for eagle.  So it appears that the Kansa (Kanza) in Northeast Alabama and Northwest Georgia had duplicate meanings for their name.  

The Kaw Nation Museum Director is sending the People of One Fire a Kaw dictionary to see if it can translate some village names in Alabama and NW Georgia, which have evaded us.

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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.

4 Comments

  1. markveale@hotmail.com'

    Richard, When does the Kaw Nation (Kusa) believe they migrated to the South and from what direction? If they are the Kusa (Coosa) people of N.W Georgia perhaps they remember the “Paracussis” Nobles of the Apalacha Kingdom (as spelled by Mr. Briggstock). The Tokah (Tokee) people of 1775 living in Tuskabatchi should be remembered by them as well… as that town had a large wood pole in the town plaza that the Tokah Creeks say was there before them. The symbol in the hands of these the Kansas Natives is found in many Maya artworks. What does that symbol mean to them? Thanks for the articles.

    https://i.pinimg.com/736x/ab/49/1a/ab491ad4b2968f3c844bafc23c53d229.jpg

    Reply
    • Hey Mark

      They vaguely remember migrating from east to west . . . but like a lot of tribes, the period when about 95% of the people died from European plagues caused the survivors to have cultural amnesia. The Director of their museum is sending me a history of the tribe. I will know more after it arrives and I have a chance to read it.

      Reply
      • markveale@hotmail.com'

        Thanks Richard, The cultural practice of erecting a “wood pole with a bird nest on top” was also noted in South England (Cornwall) during the tin mining days which are believed to have started 2150 BC. That date is a preceded by the Native people that built the Sea port of Savanna by over a thousand years.

        Reply
        • Now THAT is amazing Sir Mark! Do you do research 24 hours a day? LOL So there are even more cultural connections between the British Isles and the Southeast.

          Reply

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