Chiaha . . . how THAT myth was created by the De Soto profs
At exactly the same time that the Joara Myth was created, another one got started by the same group of professors behaving badly. Now most references tell you that after De Soto toured the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, he paddled downstream in his Mad River Voyager Canoe to Zimmerman Island, Tennessee, which the reference will tell you was the site of Chiaha.
Wikipedia will then tell you that Chiaha means “highlanders” in Creek. By that time, it’s three strikes and Wikipedia (and academia) are OUT!
“Highlanders” in Creek is “Hilwalsi”. We will tell you the real meaning of Chiaha later on. It will blow your mind.
Zimmerman Island, Tennessee (Archaeological Site 46JE 2) is at the lower end of the French Broad River just downstream from where it passes through a gorge and the North Carolina State Line. Downstream it enters the Tennessee River Flood Plain. It did have a mound, which was excavated in 1942. According to North Carolina state archaeologists, who I worked with in Asheville, the island was abandoned around 1400-1500 AD, at the same time all the other towns in the Lower French Broad River Valley were abandoned.
Please read the Joara article first so you will understand how the professors used highway maps to chart the path of De Soto. Something I didn’t tell you in that article was this . . . I found a professional paper online, which was written by one of the De Soto Team professors. He stated that they did not use the eyewitness account of Captain Juan Pardo’s expeditions because . . . and I quote . . . the author, Juan dela Bandera was “geographically confused.” The reason that Don Juan was “geographically confused” was that in 1568, he did not describe the same routes for his commander, Juan Pardo, that the late 20th century professors decided in advance were the routes for Captain Pardo. OMG! And you wonder why have so much contempt for these academicians?
We know more about Chiaha than any other Pre-European Conquest town visited by the Spanish. The reason is that De Soto went there and Pardo went there twice. Between the two of them, we have lots of info in order to locate the town. Here it is:
- Chiaha and Kofitvchiki (Cofitachequi if you are indigenous language challenged) were the only two towns definitely visited by both De Soto and Pardo.
- Chiaha was described as a town on a long island in the high mountains. Three mountain rivers came together with the main river just upstream from this island. Downstream the main river entered a deep gorge. At the other end of the gorge were the towns of Tali and Saticoa.
- Upstream from Chiaha were small villages named Conesagua and Conestee. *They are both Itsate Creek words, but the good professors described them as “ancient Cherokees words, whose meanings have been lost.“
- The De Soto Chroniclers stated that all along the rivers leading to Chiaha were cultivated fields of salvia.
- The DeSoto Chroniclers stated that Chiaha was the only province that they visited in which the people raised domestic honey bees and ate honey.*
- Shortly after leaving Chiaha and heading south back to Santa Elena, Juan Pardo’s company entered a deep gorge where they found silver ore.
*Academicians have always ignored this statement because it is well known fact that the Mayas were the only people in the Americas to domesticate an indigenous honey bee. If there were honey bees in the Southern Appalachians then that means there were Mayas in the Southern Appalachians and therefore, the good professors would have to start looking for tasty crow recipes after being so obnoxious in 2012.
- The homeland of the Itza Mayas was Chiapas. Chiapas means “Place of the Salvia” in Itza Maya.
- The Spanish said that the people of Chiaha cultivated salvia along the mountain rivers.
- In Itza Maya, Chiaha means “Salvia River.” Hernando de Soto and Juan Pardo made contact with descendants of Itza Maya immigrants.
- Case closed.
- There are no mountain rivers coming together upstream from Zimmerman Island.
- There is no deep gorge downstream from Zimmerman Island. It was flood plain, but now is the TVA’s Lake Douglas.
- Tali was definitely on the Little Tennessee River. Saticoa was near the confluence of the Little Tennessee River and Citigo Creek,
- John Herbert’s 1725 Map of South Carolina show villages named Conesagua and Conestee on the Little Tennessee River, downstream from Franklin, NC and upstream from Fontana Lake.
- Upstream from a large island in Bryson City, NC the Oconalufetee, Tuckasegee and Nantahala Rivers join the Little Tennessee River.
- Downstream from that island, the Little Tennessee River enters a deep gorge that continues all the way into Tennessee.
- Nantahala Gorge is immediately south of the island in Bryson City. There are silver ore deposits in the gorge and evidence of 16th or 17th century Spanish (or Sephardic) silver mines.
- Also downstream in Graham County, NC are the Cheoah Mountains and the Cheoah River. A retired Florida archaeologist found many 16th century Spanish artifacts near the confluence of the Cheoah and Little Tennessee Rivers. He thinks that this was the site of Pardo’s fort, but it may have been a De Soto campsite.
During the winter of 2010, Roger Kennedy was sending me checks to live on while I camped out in the Smokies and Nantahala Mountains in search of De Soto’s and Pardo’s actual route. We were going to co-write a book on the subject. Since he was a highly respected historian, past director of the National Museum of American History and past director of the National Park Service, such a book would have permanently shut up the professors behaving badly.
Unfortunately, just about the same time that I stumbled upon the Track Rock ruins, Roger’s cancer came back suddenly with a vengeance and he died on September 30, 2011. So the observations that I recorded while in the North Carolina and Tennessee Mountains remain just that. At the present time, I don’t have the prestige to take on all the references in the world.
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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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