Apalache Vs. Apalachee
We are getting a whole bunch of emails from readers, all containing the same questions. Readers are confused about the difference between the words, Apalache versus Apalachee – and their relation to the Track Rock Terrace Complex. Hope this note answers your questions.
Apalachee is the name that the Spaniards gave to the Muskogeans of the Florida Panhandle. According to Charles Rochefort, these people called themselves the Alachua. They traded regularly with the real Apalache, but had a different language, government and religion.
The cultural descriptions of Rochefort indicate that Apalache was the name of the original Creek Confederacy. The “kingdom” of Apalache also included the western North Carolina Mountains, but did not include the coastal area of Georgia, which this book (1665) said was still occupied by Caribbean peoples. The Caribbean peoples initially invaded all the way into the North Carolina Mountains, but now they were a minority in the Piedmont and mountains, and vassals of the Muskogeans.
There was a “national” language for the Apalache “kingdom” which appears to be Itsate (Hitchti) Creek. However, Rochefort stated that among the provinces of Apalache were peoples speaking many dialects and more than one language.
Apalache’s capital was originally somewhere in the vicinity of Ocmulgee National Monument (Macon,GA) but when Caribbean peoples invaded from the south, the capital was moved northward twice. The “religious capital” in the 1600s was in the Nottely River Valley near Brasstown Bald Mountain, GA. The Nacoochee Valley was also considered sacred to these early Creek Indians. It is about 21 miles SE of Track Rock Gap.
There were two complexes of stone structures in the Capital of Apalache. The elite lived in stone structure complexes on the sides of the mountains. Spaniards from Santa Elena, who traded with the Apalache, called the older stone structure complex, Copal. Rochfort said that the priests in the stone temple on the side of a mountain burned incense there. The oldest temple complex faced the Winter Solstice Sunset. That is the Track Rock Terrace Complex. The second temple complex faced the sunrise of the Summer Solstice. The location of the Summer Solstice complex is being kept a secret for obvious reasons. We have also identified several small stone terrace complexes in the Georgia Mountains.
The town along the river where the commoners lived was called Melilot by the French Huguenots and was attacked by the Kashita in the Migration Legend of the Kashita People (incorrectly called “Creek People” by este-hatka.) The commoners lived in rectangular post-ditch wattle & daub houses. The elite’s clothing and lifestyles seem very Mesoamerican, while Rochefort’s description of the commoners sounds identical to that of the Creek Indians when first encountered by British colonists in the late 1600s. In fact, all of the descriptions of culture, architecture and clothing in this book seem 100% accurate for the Creek Indians at the time of European Contact.
Cherokee legend has it that the Cherokees destroyed the capital of Apalache after stealing two ruby eyes from a serpent idol in a mountain top temple. However, according to Rochefort, by the 1660s, the capital of Apalache was practicing a monotheistic religion that mixed Jewish, Protestant and Native customs. Tis quite odd that in December 2012 the North Carolina Cherokees claimed to have built the same structures that their own legends say they destroyed. What the USFS says about the matter is totally irrelevant.
Hope that clears up the confusion, until we can get a more complete description published.
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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.
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