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BBC News . . . the Geechees of South Carolina and Georgia

BBC News . . . the Geechees of South Carolina and Georgia


This is an interesting report from BBC Overseas News on the Gullah-Geechee People of the South Atlantic Coast.   The British reporter completely missed their Uchee-Creek connection, however.   Both words are derived from Creek words.  Ogeechee was a powerful Uchee province along the Ogeechee River of Georgia.  Gullah is derived from the Creek word, Wahale, which means “Southerners.”   Their language includes several key Creek and Uchee words, which academicians have labeled African words, “whose meaning have been lost.”  Some of their traditions are also Muskogean, not African.  Several bi-racial or tri-racial communities on the South Carolina coast have organized themselves into tribes with Creek names.  Some are recognized by the state government.  Others are not.  The People of One Fire has consistently supported the efforts of these other tribes to be state recognized.   We feel certain that if their members had been Caucasian and Native American, they would have been recognized many years ago.

One has to remember that South Carolina planters intentionally cross-bred Native American women with African men.  Books were published to guide newly minted planters on “slave breeding and management.”   It makes one want to vomit when you read these books, which treat Native Americans and Africans like cattle or sheep.   Twenty percent of the total population of the South Carolina Low Country in 1710 were Native American slaves.

To read this article, cut and paste:

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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.



    Thank you for all you do for our family’s of today and tomorrow! Always in search of our people.

    • You are quite welcome. Just paying back for the many wonderful opportunities others have given me.


    Wow, I did not know this about the planters. In my next book (fiction) I was thinking of including a subplot with a slave who had married a Lenni Lenape woman (also a slave, since I knew there were some). This is the 1750s (Doing the French and Indian War time period–want to include a Shawnee point of view.) Thanks for your research, although sometimes I think it gets me in trouble, leading me into rabbit trails! Like, what do you think of the Basque civilization? Looked at someone’s DNA analysis who should be a lot like me (Scots-Irish, some Native American) and he had more Basque in him than Scots! And then I read that Basque fishermen brought cod to Europe before Columbus. Hmmm.

    • Uchee from Georgia are also showing up with significant Basque DNA markers. Keep in mind that what the DNA tests tell you is that you share ancestors with the Basques, not that you are part Basque per se. That sort of DNA probably represents aboriginal occupants of Europe.


        makes sense.

    • I think several of those “Guide to being a wealthy planter” books are online.


    Mr. Thornton: Thank you for touching on the subject of “Slave-Breeding” between Africans & Native Americans as a specific colonial/plantation business strategy so-to-speak . . . I’ve been looking for information on this unique history & have only found two books to address it with any substance thus far . . . My 2nd GGM was named Santy & I suspect she may be named after an ancestor from the SE . . . I’ve read/been told the general practice was to bring slaves from South Carolina into Georgia . . . Consequently, my genealogical research indicates some interesting movement for these SE relatives of mine . . . This matter, combined with where I find them documented to reside in the 1800s, frequent “admixture” & spotty/inaccessible documentation in general, leads me to suspect a significant African-n8v reproductive pattern that may indicate exactly what you’ve addressed above . . . I’m not at all surprised by the obscurity/omission encountered in this line of research, but I’m determined to see it through . . . Thank you again

    • Yes, slavery was illegal in Georgia until 1752. When Georgia did legalize slavery, it was only for African American slaves. Native American slaves were illegal . . . per demands of the Creek Confederacy. However, in reality many of the “African” slaves were as much as 90% Native American. This is especially true for the region around Sparta and Greenville, GA


        Mr Thornton: Can you please suggest sources to confirm your statement that, “the “African” slaves were as much as 90% Native American. This is especially true for the region around Sparta and Greenville, GA”(?) . . . I’d greatly appreciate any source or POC to look further into this matter as I’m trying to compile information on my genealogy in the area as we’ve discussed

        • Very simple . . . Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina passed laws in 1752, which stated that if slave was as little as 1/64th African, he or she was classified as 100% African and therefor subject to the Slave Codes. By the time of the Civil War, there were many slaves still around who were mostly Native American and Caucasian.


    Mr. Thornton: Thank you for the input . . . I’ve found relatives in Talbot, Warren & Clayton (to name a few locations) through my paternal GF from early 1900 & back through early 1800 for others . . . For some reason I’ve not yet sussed out, my paternal GGF moved to Pasco, FL during the last few decades of his life . . . I’m increasingly intrigued as I look further into this branch of my family & the history of SE Ancestry from “ground zero” up to the early 1900s


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