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Connection between Tulsa, OK Auburn, AL and Tallapossa, GA

The Connection between Tulsa, OK, Auburn, AL and Tallapoosa, GA
There were things that your grandmother didn’t tell you!

Southern Highlands Study Research Update: The burial customs of the Apalache in the Georgia Mountains were virtually identical to those of several Andean cultures and very different from those of the Creeks and their mound-building ancestors. The biggest surprise was that they practiced mummification and displayed their elite cadavers in clothing for months, just like the Incas, Moche and several primeval Peruvian cultures. OMG!

When historic preservation architects take on the restoration of a building or the reconstruction of fortifications and ancient towns, months of research may take place before the first line is drawn on a computer. Such was the case in the preparation for designing the Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We wanted to know more about the Native Americans who founded Tulsa. Where was their home in the Southeast? Was that town originally somewhere else? Who were their ancestors? The answers will probably surprise you.

Lucv Pokv Tvlse

Tulsa, Oklahoma was founded by members of the Lucv Pokv Tvlse Tribal Town. In English, the word means, “Place where the turtles sit.” In Upper Creek, it is pronounced Lü : cha( : Po- : kä : Täl : she(. Its last location was in present day Lee County, Alabama, which is 5 miles (9 km) south of the Auburn University campus. The present day town of Loachapoka, AL was originally composed of those Creeks, who elected to continue living on allotments. However, since several men in Lucv Pokv Tvlse had participated in the 1836 Creek War, most of its residents were treated as hostiles and deported to the Indian Territory.

Less you think the folks in this town were savages, they were not. They had been given allotments of land in 1832 and declared to be citizens of the State of Alabama. They were sophisticated farmers and herdsmen. Almost immediately after the Creek families took possession of their allotment farms, squatters, real estate speculators and crooked politicians began using armed thugs to steal livestock and carry out illegal evictions. Being homeless, the Creek families were soon hungry and desperate. If anybody was uncivilized, it was the bands of white hoodlums who stole Creek property and murdered Creek families with impunity. The State of Alabama did virtually nothing to protect its Creek citizens.

General Winfield Scott commanded federal troops that entered East Central Alabama and protected the hoodlums from the victims of their crimes. The Creek men and their families were treated as criminals even though they were the original crime victims. They were put in chains and held at Fort Mitchell then forcibly marched to the Indian Territory. Only those Creek families who could prove that they had no relatives involved in the hostilities between the Creeks and the hoodlums were allowed to stay on their allotments.

The survivors of Lucv Pokv Tvlse’s Trail of Tears met under a post oak tree on a terrace overlooking the Arkansas River. Here they elected a new tribal town government and laid out their community. That community today is Tulsa, OK. The place where they met is Council Oak Park.

The Historical Connotation of Tvlse

Tvlse is an Upper Creek word that means “offspring of Tula.” Tula is the Itza Maya and Itsate Creek word for a town and the probable original name of the Teotihuacan near Mexico City. We found contemporary accounts from the early 1800s which stated that the use of Tvlse in a Creek town’s name ascribed special status. It meant that the citizens of that town were descended from the great province of Kvse (Coosa.)

That information whetted our interest. It meant that Lucv Pokv was originally in northwestern Georgia and had a Mesoamerican pedigree. The town might have been in the province controlled by Kvse, the word, Tula, meant that originally it was in the ancient province controlled by the great town at Etowah Mounds.

We found an earlier location of Lucv Pokv on the Tallapoosa River in Randolph County, Alabama on the Tallapoosa River, opposite the mouth of Corn House Creek, and below Wellborne’s Ferry. However, that was only a temporary location in the tumultuous period after the American Revolution. An even earlier location was in Polk County, GA on a tributary of the Tallapoosa River, about 21 miles southeast of Etowah Mounds. Its original location was probably in western Bartow County, GA along the Etowah River.

Historical Connotation of Tallapoosa

Alabamans think of the Tallapoosa River as “their” river, but it actually begins on the south slope of an extension of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia, not too far from Etowah Mounds. The word is derived from the Mvskoke word, Tvlwa Posa, which means “Town Grandmother.” This suggests that the original Muskogee-Creek villages in the Southeast were along this river.

Official histories in Georgia, of course, state that Tallapoosa is a Cherokee word, whose meaning has been lost, OR the Choctaw word for “powdered rock.” The Choctaw explanation comes from a University of Mississippi professor’s book about a century ago that divided all of the Southeast’s anglicized Native American place names into either Cherokee, Choctaw or Catawba derivations.

How about them thar apples?

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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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