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Appalachian Deerskin Trade – 1646

Over specialization by historians in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida caused researchers to miss the evidence that the Spanish continued to maintain interest in colonizing the Southern Highlands and that European colonists were living there throughout the 1600s.

The Spanish established the Appalachian Deerskin Trade in 1646 & Actual boundary between the Creeks and Cherokees in the early 1700s

Marilyn Rae and I are finishing up our book on the Northeast Georgia Mountains and Piedmont during the 1600s and 1700s. We expect it to be published in mid-October 2013 in time for a presentation of our research in the Atlanta Area on October 22. Statements made in several late 20th Century books, Wikipedia Encyclopedia and the New Georgia Encyclopedia that the Spanish never entered the Southern Highlands after the Juan Pardo Expedition are totally false.

By the way, Marilyn is a direct descendant of the last hereditary principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Pathkiller. What we are trying to accomplish is the creation of accurate Southeastern history, not more propaganda.

Summary of Appalachian Deerskin Trade

va-tn-ga-flmapIn 1587 English scholar Richard Hakluyt obtained depositions from two former residents of Santa Elena (SC) that described numerous trade expeditions to Nacoochee Valley-Dahlonega, GA area between 1567 and 1585. The Spanish government concealed these trading activities from England and France. France knew about them anyway, because there were Frenchmen living in northern Georgia at the time.

In 1646 Governor Benito Ruíz de Salazar Vallecilla established a trading post on the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River in the Nacoochee Valley of northeastern Georgia. The village that developed around it was called Apalache on the 1693 Morden map. It appears to be approximately where Sautee, GA and the Kenimer Mound are located. A polyglot community of gold miners occupied Apalache in addition to their Native spouses and mestizo’s. Based on some information obtained while I was the planning/historic preservation consultant for the City of Smyrna, GA, I strongly suspect that there was another Spanish trading post in the vicinity of the Standing Peachtree Mound (Creek) Village on the Chattahoochee River. Fort Peachtree was built at that location in the early 1800s.

The purpose of the Apalache trading post was to initiate the deerskin trade with the Native Americans living in the Southern Highlands.

A pack mule trail was constructed between St. Augustine, San Mateo on the St. Johns River, present day Waycross, present day Dublin, present day Athens and the Nacoochee Valley. It was later extended to the Tennessee River and probably the Holston River. According to Charles de Rochefort, the Spanish also built a Catholic mission next to the trading post in the Nacoochee Valley, but to date, we cannot find any record of it.

The Spanish trade route, known as the La Cota Trail, was still in use in the late 1700s. The extension of the trail between the Nacoochee Valley and the Tennessee River was then known as the Unicoi Trail. In North Carolina, it is also known as the Joe Brown Turnpike; in Tennessee, the Unicoi Turnpike.

The Woods-Arthur Expedition in 1674 visited a Spanish speaking town in northeastern Tennessee, probably at the confluence of the Holston and French Broad Rivers, where the Tennessee begins. Gabriel Arthur did not mention the word Cherokee in his report, but in the early 1990s a UNC history professor changed the name of a Creek tribe in NE Tennessee to Cherokee in a version that was included his book.

The 1684 Franquelin Map, available at the Library of Congress shows the general route of the La Cota Trail. The map states in French that Koasati, Kusate, Shawnee and Yuchi from the Southern Highlands went to St. Augustine to trade.

We have extensive linguistic and cultural evidence that the people living in northeast Georgia prior to the Revolution were not ethnic Cherokees, but rather Europeans and mestizos of Sephardic Jewish, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Dutch ancestry. They spoke a language that mixed Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic and Dutch.

The Westos and Rickohockens were Dutch mestizos who spoke a language that mixed Dutch with Virginia Indian words. Weste and Rickohocken are Dutch words. Several of the geographical place name in Northeast Georgia that have been presumed to be Cherokee, are actually Dutch words and have no meaning in Cherokee.

Ethnic Cherokees flowed into the Great Appalachian Valley of northwest Georgia by the thousands after 1785. They generally bypassed the rugged mountain ranges in North-central and Northeast Georgia. Pockets of Creeks and Yuchi’s continued to live in these mountains along with the descendants of the Mediterranean gold miners. It is pretty safe to say that most Georgia Mountain families that label themselves to be Cherokee descent are for the most part, Creek, Semitic and Iberian in ancestry. That is why their ancestors were able to avoid the Trail of Tears.

The Sephardic Jews, Arabs, Christian Anatolians, Sardinians, etc in the Appalachians, who didn’t intermarry so much with indigenous people as to consider themselves American Indians, presented themselves to the Anglo-Celtic newcomers as Svart duits (Black Dutch.) Their descendants can be found almost anywhere, but are concentrated now in the hilly country south of the Tennessee River in northwestern Alabama. Many of those in NW Alabama during the late 20th Century began calling themselves “Echota Clan Cherokees.”

Boundary between Creeks and Cherokees in Georgia

The 1725 John Herbert Map of South Carolina denotes two villages in the Nacoochee Valley that were members of the new Cherokee Alliance named Chote and Naguchee. Three more of these allied villages on the Tallulah River, were named Sokeli, Tecone, and Carasare. Sokeli is South Carolina Muskogean. Tecone is Iberian. Carasare is Sardinian.

In 1725 a Kusate (Upper Creek) army burned the town of Quanasee near present day Hayesville, NC. This army probably also burned the Cherokee villages in the Nacoochee Valley. From 1732 to 1763 no European map shows a Cherokee village being located in Georgia. At some time during that period a large, fortified Kusate town was established at the confluence of Coosa Creek and the Nottely River in present day Union County, GA. The Kusa’s never left that section of Union County and some of their descendants live there today. Theoretically, these families are eligible for Federal recognition.

It is clear that from about 1732 until the end of the French and Indian War, the SC-NC line, now the GA-NC line was the southern boundary of the Cherokee Nation. This is why the Battle of Itsate (Echoee) Pass was fought at the GA-NC line between Franklin, NC and Dillard, GA. The British Army was entering Cherokee Territory at that point. However, most of the Creeks in northern Georgia were concentrated west, south or east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. During the 40 years of the Creek-Cherokee War, the northern slopes of the Georgia Mountains remained a dangerous no-mans land.

From 1763 until 1785 the Cherokees were allotted a small strip of land in the northeastern corner of Georgia. It western boundary was the top of Brasstown Bald Mountain. Its southern boundary ran through what is now Yonah Mountain in White County, GA and Clarksville, GA in Habersham County. A fort and trading post in Clarksville guarded the Creek-Cherokee frontier until 1818, when the Creeks ceded all their remaining lands in northeast Georgia.

During that period, a couple of small “Cherokee” villages were established in the Nacoochee Valley; Sautee and Noguchee. Another village, called Walasiyi (Place of the Frogs) was established east of Blood Mountain. It is not known if their occupants were ethnic Cherokees or mestizos. However, immediately south of the Nacoochee Valley in the 1770s the most southerly Cherokee band went by an Arabic name that means “nobility” and had Jewish, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch personal names. Their horses had Arabic names.

During the late 1820s after the Cherokee Nation sued the State of Georgia in the Supreme Court, its attorneys and the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper repeatedly issued stories that the Cherokees had won all of northern Georgia in a battle fought in 1754. In fact, the Cherokee Nation catastrophically lost its 40 year war with the Creeks that same year. Thirty-two Cherokee chiefs from North Carolina were executed by the army from the Creek town of Koweta. The Cherokee town of Quanasee was captured by a group of Creek teenage girls on a lark, who were following their boyfriends around North Carolina.

All the tall tales about the Battle of Taliwa, the Battle of Blood Mountain, the teenage heroine Nancy Ward, the great stickball game where the Cherokees won all of northern Georgia, and the ridiculous story about Track Rock Gap being the graves of thousand of Creek warriors killed when the Cherokees conquered all of northern Georgia, are pure political propaganda created by Elias Boudinot and Company. They were concocted to mitigate Georgia’s legal claim that the Cherokees were not indigenous to the state. Of course, during that same period, Georgia’s politicians kicked out the state’s indigenous Creek and Yuchi residents with equal disdain. Never trust a politician!

Obviously, the State of Georgia has a secret history.

And now you know!

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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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