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Choctaw, Chickasaw, Alabama and Itsate word for water shared with Australoid-Melanesian-Polynesian peoples of the Pacific Basin

Choctaw, Chickasaw, Alabama and Itsate word for water shared with Australoid-Melanesian-Polynesian  peoples of the Pacific Basin


Over a decade ago,  the Native American researchers, professors and professionals, who formed the People of One Fire, had become convinced that academicians in the United States and Canada has created a grossly simplistic history of the Americas. Their disciplines had become so fossilized that it was necessary for us to strike out on our own, in alliance with geneticists throughout the world and anthropologists from outside North America, to get to the truth.  For example,  anthropologists in Mexico and Peru don’t hesitate to discuss the movements of many peoples throughout the Americas AND the early presence of Polynesians, Melonesians and  Austronesians in their lands. Such topics invite fierce ostracism from North American anthropologists and can end a professor’s career.

In recent POOF articles, we have surprised you with the fact that the Algonquians, Cherokees, Muskogee-Creeks and MODERN DAY IRISH GAELIC SPEAKERS use the same word for “people or tribe”. . . ge or gi.  On the other hand, the Itsate Creeks, who once predominated in Georgia, southeastern Tennessee and western North Carolina use the Itza Maya word, “te or ti” for people/tribe.  On the other hand,  Muskogee Creeks and Uchee use the word “ue” for water. It is the same word for water used formerly by Pre-Celtic peoples on the Atlantic Coast of Europe.  It is source of the modern French word for water, eau.  This has led me to theorize that the Muskogee language developed in the mountainous region between Franklin, NC and Asheville, NC,  where Chickasaw immigrants would have mixed both with  Shawnees and descendants of Bronze Age immigrants. 

Proto-Polynesians and western Polynesians today, use the word, wai, for water and wasa for ocean.   Wai is very close to the Muskogee Creek words for water,  ue and we.   Panoan speakers in South America use the word, waka, for water.

North of Asheville, the North Carolina Mountains were formerly occupied by the Water-re People,  which means “Water People” among the archaic languages spoken in Holland, Friesland, Slesvik and Jutland. The same word in modern Scandinavian would be Vaten-rik.  In response to the devastating loss of population due to European diseases and Rickohocken Slave Raids, the Wataree “Indians” moved southward into South Carolina and westward into northeastern Tennessee. They were known as the Watau-gi by the Cherokees.

People of One Fire member, Urisahatu, has done more research on the word for water.  He also provided POOF readers with a fascinating web site that will enable you to do your own linguistic research.


From Urisahatu . . . “The following could be interesting for your research on the word Oka meaning water.”

There is a website called ASJP – Automated Similarity Judgment Program. It’s a language database.

When you visit the website; click the tab ‘Meanings’ choose and click ‘water’. Now type a word for water in the ‘word’ search field.
The following words ‘ogo’, ‘oko’ and ‘oke’ means water.
When you take a closer look at the origin of the languages/dialects of these wordlists you will notice that most are found in Island Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea and even Australia.
Others include countries in north- and south America such as Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.

Examples for similar words like Oka meaning water in Island Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, north- and South America:


ogo – Australia (Kunjen – Pama Nyungan), Papua New Guinea (Waruna), Sulawesi (Boano)
ogo’na – Sulawesi (Boano)
ogo dan – New Ireland (Oceanic)
dh~eth~ogana – Australia (Yorta Yorta – Pama Nyungan)


oko – Peru (Orejon – Tucanoan), Ecuador (Secoya – Tucanoan)
okoa – Papua New Guinea (Are), Colombia (Tanimuca; Yahuna – Tucanoan)
hokoa – Colombia (Yahuna – Tucanoan)
Yokowa – Papua New Guinea (Ghayavi)


oke – Moluccas (Galela), Southeast North America (Mobilian Jargon Mississippi Valley – Choctaw / Muskogean) *
okere – Moluccas (Loda)  Note that the Loda-Moluca word combines the Oceanic word for water with the Pre-Gaelic Irish suffix for “people or tribe.”    Thus okere means “Water Tribe.

*The website is not quite right.  The Choctaw, Chickasaw, Alabama and Itsate Creek word is oka, not oke.  Oke is a grammatical form of the word, when applied to a river or lake’s name . . .  e.g.  Okefenokee Swamp and Lake Okeechobee. (Editor’s Note)



Links: (Meaning water)

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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.



    Richard T., Thank you for including the research info on the presence of Australoid, Melanesian and Polynesian words in your POOF article. It is good to see an explanation for the grammatical form of the word Oka / Oke.

    Hopefully other researchers are willing to take a closer look in the presence of Oceanic people (Australoids, Melanesians and Polynesians) in the Americas.
    It would be interesting to see if the Oceanic and (some) native American languages and dialects are genetically related or at least some words adopted into the native American languages and dialects by cultural and or other form of exchange.
    An extensive DNA research in (lower-)southeast north America will also help to determine if some native southeast north American tribes are genetically related to Oceanic peoples.

    Additional info:

    It is known ;to linguists and others who are interested in languages; that the letter ‘h’ becomes ‘s’, and the letter ‘w’ becomes ‘v’ in various Austronesian (including Polynesian) languages.

    Hawai’i, Havai’i
    Sawai , Savai’i

    Hawai’i or Hawaiki is the legendery homeland of many Polynesians.

    mahin – masin = salt, salty (also sea and or ocean in some languages and dialects)
    tahi – tasi = sea

    When we examine the word ‘wai’ meaning water (also river) the Proto Malayo-Polyesian languages give various forms for wai.

    Examples: wahi, wahir, wahig

    The change from ‘h’ to ‘s’ will give the form ‘wasi’ and ‘wasir’. Here you can see that the Proto Malayo-Polynesian ‘wahir'(wasir) and ‘wasser’ from the Austrian alps languages / dialects are very similar.

    With the finding of 40,000 year old skeleton in China now known as Tianyuan Man who inherited Australoid DNA and the finding of ancient a 35,000 year old European from Goyet Caves in Belgium sharing DNA with Tianyuan Man, it does seem plausible that some Proto-Malayo-Polynesian or perhaps Proto-Austronesian words have survived in various European languages.
    My theory is that a Proto-Austronesian language evolved from a mixture of an Australoid and East-Asian language in mainland East Asia in the south China region. While some Australoids inherited Denisovan DNA (re-)migrated to Papua, Australia and nearby islands (Island Southeast Asia and Oceania) others stayed on the Asian mainland migrating westwards through Central Asia, Siberia, mainland Europe towards the western European shores mixing with various other people along the way resulting in the so-called dark-/black skinned Europeans.


    Richard, That’s one beautiful Boat that the Polynesians created and we can only wonder what type of boats that the other Native peoples used to get here over 100,000 years ago. I suppose they all had different designs but mostly doubled hulled for Sea fairing at first…fast enough for whale and tuna hunting. Already some indication of towns found in Antarctica by advanced radar which seems to be noted in Native lore of some of the Native peoples living on a island connected to America’s ancient past. These sound and word connections you and your friends have found are connecting the dots to many seaport people around the Earth.
    I have noticed a connection with the “Is” spelling of words from the Mississippi river to the Delta of Egypt in many cities. A sea fairing sound connection with the original name of the Yuchi “Uisce”. Yes the Uisce were one of the Sea fairing groups of people….Thanks again for your Wisdom.


    I have thought about a possibile explanation for Austronesian-like languages which Malayo-Polynesian, Polynesian etc. are a part of to be found in the speech / languages of ;seemingly; non-related peoples.
    That thought process made me have to adjust my theory. What if a form of Austronesian language was a trade language which at some point in time became a world / trade language to some extent just like English, French, Spannish etc. are world / trade languages today.
    There are many genetically non-related or at least very distant related people speaking English without ever having seen a real English man/woman in their life. Languages and words can travel far and wide.

    Yes, It’s critical thinking and it shouldn’t be denied. Ancient cultures and the interactions between different cultures are very facinating. Still; An extensive genetic research would give the best definative conclusion (or more questions) wether seemingly non-related people who have similar vocabularies ;words in their languages and dialects; are in fact genetically related to eachother or not.

    On another note: I have done more research in the various forms of water in Austronesian languages and found something of interest and importance.

    In various word lists including ones you can find on the ASJP database website; I have found the words ‘we’; ‘uwe’ and ‘ue’ meaning water which is basically the same as the Muskogee Creek and Uchee word ‘ue’ and ‘we’. Yet again, most are found in the languages and dialects in Island Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea and Australia.


    we – Moluccas (Dawera Daweloor), East Timor (Tetun), Papua New Guinea/South Halmahera (Ambel), Sumba Island (Baliledo), Australia (Buan – Gunwinygic), Vanuatu (Dakaka Baiap – Oceanic)



    uwe – Sulawesi (Kamaru; Topoiyo; Wotu – Malayo-Polynesian)
    uwer – Papua New Guinea (Uruangirin)
    duwe – Solomon Islands (Nea Nooli – Oceanic)
    kauwe – Australia (Kaurna – Pama Nyungan-Yura)

    Other wordlists not from ASJP database give the following similar words meaning water:

    owe – Vanuatu (Avava – Oceanic)
    o-we – Vanuatu (Katbol – Oceanic)
    o-wei – Vanuatu (Timbembe- Oceanic)
    nu-wei – Vanuatu (Nāti – Oceanic)
    nu-wai – Vanuatu (Maii – Oceanic)

    The word ‘we’ is clearly related to ‘wei’ from ‘wai’ (proto forms ‘wahi’, ‘wahir’, ‘wahig’).

    I also found similar word order forms for words meaning sea:

    Tahi, Tai

    ni-tahi – Vanuatu (Loniel – Oceanic)
    ne-tehi – Vanuatu (Iarkei – Oceanic)
    n-tai – Vanuatu (Maii – Oceanic)

    Although all these various forms are from Vanuatu there are many other languages on other islands (archipelagos) with the same or similar words as the Vanuatu examples.
    In various Austronesian languages the letter ‘t’ changes to ‘k’; for example: Tahiti – Kahiki; Tane – Kane; Matua – Makua.
    The words Tahi and Tai meaning sea becomes Kahi and Kai. I found at least one example which could link the Austronesian / Oceanic and the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Alabama, Itsate words for sea (ocean?) together.

    mokahi – Sulawesi (Kaisabu; Wasambua (west Buton) – Malayo-Polynesian)

    Although I have not found any other examples of the Sulawesi word form yet, forms like ‘o-kai’ and ‘o-ka’ could be expected in other Austronesian languages and dialects.
    It seems like the Austronesian ;in this case Malayo-Polynesian and Oceanic; words ‘o-we’ / ‘owe’ and ‘mokahi’ (mo-kahi) which is probably the proto-word for ‘o-kai’ and ‘o-ka’/’oka’ could be the origin for the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Alabama and Itsate words ‘ue’/’we’ meaning water and ‘oka’ originally meaning sea (ocean?).



    ue – Papua New Guinea (Wiru), Sulawesi (Sedoa; Sindue Tawaili; Moma – Malayo Polynesian)
    lue – Solomon Islands (Nambakaengo Malo – Oceanic)
    kue – Papua New Guinea (Amgotro)


    The word ‘waka’ meaning water used in the Panoan language is the same as the Ainu (most if not all dialects) word for water. Furthermore the Australian ‘wak’ also meaning water could be related. If so, It would clearly show a Pacific coastal migration from Australia through the Island chain of East Asia into the Americas.



    Having gone through ASJP database a couple times I have found more similar words related to ‘uwe’ meaning water.


    Yuluwa – Australia (Gangulida – Tangkic)
    mbuwa – Papua New Guinea / Rossel Island (Yeletnye)
    buwahi – Philippines (Inabaknon – Malayo-Polynesian)
    uwai – Sulawesi (Kiha; Mehalaan; Lemolang; Mandar; Rampi – Malayo-Polynesian)
    uwae – Sulawesi (Buginese – Malayo-Polynesian)


    I have also gone through the Hawaiian English – English Hawaiian dictionary to search for similar words related to ‘mokahi’ meaning sea.
    Sure enough I found similar words in the Hawaiian-Polynesian language although it has a different meaning.
    The words in question are ‘Makai’, ‘i kai’ and ‘o kai’ meaning seaward / towards the sea (‘o kai’ also means ‘of the sea’).
    Another word ‘ōkaikai’ have the meanings of strong sea, rough sea or raging sea.

    The Hawaiian words for seaward/towards the sea are of particular interest.
    In the Proto-Austrnesian and Malayo-Polynesian languages the word ‘lahud’ (laud; laut; lau) orginally have the meanings ‘seaward’, ‘towards the sea’, ‘downhill’ and ‘downstream’.
    Over time these words also include to have the (additional) meaning ‘sea’.
    Examples: laut Banda (Banda Sea); laut Timor (Timor Sea); laut Sulawesi (Sulawesi Sea); orang laut (Sea People – ‘orang’ means people; person).

    Here you can see and conclude that the Sulawesi (Malayo-Polynesian) word ‘mokahi’ (mo-kahi) meaning ‘sea’ and the Hawai’i (Polynesian) word ‘makai’ (ma-kai) meaning ‘seaward’ had a similar evolution (additional meaning) like ‘lahud’ (laut).
    Having located and identified these words we can also conclude that the Hawaiian word ‘o kai’ meaning ‘seaward’ at some point in time also have the aditional meaning ‘sea’.

    It is tempting to say the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Alabama and Istate words ‘ue’/’we’ and ‘oka’/’oke’ are realated to the Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian, Oceanic – Melanesian, Polynesian) ‘uwe’; ‘uwei’; ‘uwai’ (o wai) and ‘o kai’.
    If (when) the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Alabama and Istate words are in fact of Austronesian origin then the words ‘we’ and ‘oka’ originally had different meanings ‘(o-)we’ from ‘o wai’ has the general meaning of ‘water’ while ‘oka’ from ‘o kai’ has the general meaning of ‘sea'(ocean?; seaward?).

    Like I said in previous posts and comments; an extensive genetic / DNA research will give the best conclusion wether the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Alabama and Istate and other native Americans are genetically or only (seemingly) culturally related to Australoid, Melanesian and Polynesian people.

    Hawaiian Dictionary: Hawaiian-English, English-Hawaiian – 1986 – by Mary Kawena Pukui, Samuel H. Elbert

    ASJP Database (Automated Similarity Judgement Program)

    • Very interesting sir. It is not clear to me whether one meant only ocean and the other meant only water in all cases. You see the same confusion in much of South America. Para can mean ocean, water, river, only the headwaters region of the Amazon or “all of the above.”


        Richard T., Perhaps the confusion with these particular words ‘we’ (o wai) and ‘oka’ (o kai) is the result of misinterpretation by the word borrower(s). The word borrower in this case would be the various native Americans who learned to speak or at least use certain Austronesian words in their daily speech. Certain word meanings could get lost in translation.

        An example of confusion and misinterpretation of an Austronesian word ;although hypothetically; is the Chumash (Chumash language from California Channel Islands) word ‘tomol’ (also ‘tomolo’) meaning ‘canoe’. Kathryn A. Klar (linguist) believes the Chumash word ‘tomol’ is of Polynesian origin from the word ‘tumu rakau’ meaning ‘tree’. The proto form of ‘tomol’ is “tomolo’o”.


        Having said that, words can also take on new meanings over time which would mean there is no confusion or misinterpretation at all since the language speaker(s) gave the foreign words a new meaning.
        You and your cousin (Ray, who you spoke about in another post) have Polynesian DNA. That fact can not be denied, yet without more extensive genetic DNA research ;meaning more samples from different tribe members; it’s not enough to say with any certainty that Polynesians (Australoids, Melanesians included) have inhabited Southeastern North America.
        It would also be helpful to know if any Polynesian DNA or other Oceanic related DNA is an old (pre-Columbian) or recent (post-Columbian) admixture if found in native southeast north Americans.

        My personal opinion and theory is that the Australoid, Melanesian and Polynesian people did in fact reached the Americas and inhabited some parts of the Americas in multiple waves in different eras. It is already proven that some South American natives especially those in the Amazon region are genetically related to Oceanian (Australo-Melanesian) people.
        We would have to differentiate the early Australo-Melanesian migration (15,000+ years ago) with the later Austronesian migration (5,000 – 1,000 years ago) primarily Island Southeast Asians and Polynesians which also includes some (mixed?) Australo-Melanesian people who in this case have switched (language shift) from a non-Austronesian language (Papuan and Australian Aboriginal) to an Austronesian based language.

        As I have shown in the provided linguistical data, the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Alabama and Istate words ‘we’ and ‘oka’ are seemingly related to a form of Austronesian language. The question is; how did these Austronesian words end up in native southeastern north American vocabularies?
        I’m leaning more towards a global trade language ;in this case Austronesian based; that once existed perhaps for a couple or more centuries. Some Austronesian (including Australoid, Melanesian, Polynesian) seafarers reached the Americas traded with the locals, exchanged cultural traits, (maritime-)technology and left their genetic markers in some native Americans (tribes).
        One of the trade products would be the kumara (sweet potato) from the westcoast of south America. Incase of the eastcoast of north America it’s not clear what trade products they had to offer unless it wasn’t related to trade at all and maybe related to seeking refuge / a new home.
        If an Austronesian (language based?) people did seek refuge in southeastern north America it’s probably from a (south-)west to east migration route meaning from south-, central- and meso-America across the Caribbean sea some reaching the east shores/coast of north America in the Atlantic ocean.

        The origin of seemingly Austronesian (Polynesian) words like ‘wasa’ and ‘wasir’ from proto Malayo-Polynesian ‘wahir’ meaning water in the Austrian Alps (Europe) is even more complicated but that’s for a different post/article.


    Richard T., I have been trying to find an explanation why the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Alabama, Itsate words ‘ue’/’we’ and ‘oka’/’oke’ have the same meaning of ‘water’.

    If it wasn’t clear yet the polynesian word ‘tai’ and ‘kai’ is the word for ‘sea’.
    In combination with the word ‘ma’ + ‘tai’/’kai’ it has the meaning ‘seaward’/’towards the sea’.
    The word ‘mokahi’ (mo kahi) is the Sulawesi (Malayo-Polynesian) word meaning ‘sea’. This however must have originally meant ‘seaward’/’towards the sea’ like the Hawaiian word ‘ma kai’ (also ‘i kai’ and ‘o kai’).
    Yet the Sulawesi ‘mokahi’ became to mean ‘sea’.

    In the case of the word ‘uwai’ (mowahi?/mo wahi?) and various similar words like ‘owe’, ‘o wei’, ‘nu wai’ etc meaning ‘water’ the original meaning must have been ‘towards the water’ or ‘towards the river’ since ‘wai’ has the general meaning of ‘water’ and additional meaning ‘river’.

    This brings us to the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Alabama, Itsate words ‘ue’/’we’ and ‘oka’/’oke’.
    The proto forms ;if it truly is related to Austronesian; must have been ‘o wai’ (o wei?) with the original meaning ‘towards the water’ and ‘o kai’ (o kei? evolved into ‘oke’?) originally meaning ‘towards the sea’.
    The difference between ‘ue’/’we’ and ‘oka’/’oke’ ;while currently having the same meaning ‘water’; must have been ‘fresh water’ (from the river) and ‘salt water’ (from the sea).

    So why did these words with different meanings end up having the same meaning? An explanation could be the location of the tribes. When people move into the interior land and stay/live there for many generations the word(s) for sea, ocean etc. would lose it’s original meaning ;generations could have come and gone without ever seeing the sea and or ocean; and words like ‘oka’ and ‘oke’ in this case took on a new meaning yet still related to ‘water'(liquid).

    For those who are interested; I have found an interesting book called ‘Marquesan: A Grammar of Space’ by Gabriele H. Cablitz (2006)
    On page 487 and 488 you can read on the word use of ‘ma tai’ (makai/ma kai in Hawaiian; lettershift ‘t’ to ‘k’) meaning seaward.


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