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The Cusabo of South Carolina

What were South American words doing in the South Carolina Low Country?

I was shocked when reading the opening pages of Captain René de Laudonniére’s “Trois Voyages.” The French explorer stated that the Native peoples around Port Royal Sound in present day South Carolina worshiped a deity named Toya, but also celebrated the Green Corn Festival at the Summer Solstice. Toya was a sun god worshiped in South America and by the Calusa Indians . . . who supposedly only lived in the southern tip of Florida. Just south of the Savannah River in the Wahale (Southerners) country of Georgia’s Coastal Plain, the French recorded an ethnic smörgasbård of standard Tupi-Guarani, Quechua, Muskogean, Arawak and Maya village names. They even saw cinchona (quinine) trees being cultivated along the Altamaha River. What in the world was going on back then?

The ethnic name Cusabo first appears in European archives about the same time that the Colony of Carolina was settled in 1674. Most South Carolinians remember them as tribe that once lived on the coast of the state. However, actually it was an alliance formed from several remnant provinces in the region between Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA. Members of this confederacy included the Asepo (Ashepoo,) Combahe, Kusaw (Coushaw~Coosoe,) Edisto, Etiwa (Etowah,) Eutaw, Kiowa (Keowee,) Sokee (Soque,) Stono, Wando, Wapoo and Wimbee. A band of the Natchez also settled in the Cusabo region in the 1740s. They Cusabo were also known as the Settlement Indians, because some of them continued to live among the South Carolina colonists into the mid-1700s.

The names of several members of the Cusabo Alliance appear in the earliest colonial archives. The French Huguenots at Charlesfort in Port Royal Sound mention “King Audesta,” ”King Macou,” “King Aresto,” and “King Ouede.” It is not clear if these are personal names or ethnic names. The High King of the region northeast of Port Royal Sound was named Chiquola by the French. Later Spanish colonists named his territory Chicora. French maps of Florida François show the Ashipou, Cousau and Etiwau living inland from Charleston Bay along the Ashely and Cooper Rivers.

The Spanish settled Port Royal Sound in 1566 after massacring the French colonists on the South Atlantic Coast in 1565. Initially, the local Natives, who they called Edisto and Oresto, cooperated. However, as the Spanish steadily tried to manipulate and force them into serfdom, they rebelled. The town of Santa Elena was burned and colonists were driven out in 1576. The Spanish returned in 1578 and punished the rebelling tribes. A smaller settlement was rebuilt, but it was permanently abandoned in 1587.

Little is known about the events along the South Carolina coast between 1587 and 1674. Anthropologists believe that horrific plagues swept through the Southeast, decreasing the population by as much as 90%. Along the coast, the effects of the plagues came much earlier. European ships would occasionally send landing parties to trade with coastal tribes, but leave behind deadly microbes.

The creation of the Colony of Carolina in 1659 marked the beginning of the end for South Carolina’s Native Americans. One of the Lord Proprietors of the planned colony was Sir William Berkeley, the newly reinstated Governor of Virginia. After packing the House of Burgesses with Royalist planters, Berkeley in 1660 pushed through bills which, for the first time in English history, institutionalized human slavery. Native Americans and Africans, who had been classified as bond servants, were now in perpetual slavery for all generations in the future. The Colony of Virginia also gave the Rickohocken Indians firearms and a contract to deliver as many Native American slaves as possible. Much of the new colony of Carolina was depopulated before the first British colonists arrived.

The Cusabo Alliance cooperated with early British settlers in the Low Country. They provided wild game and fish to the colonists in return for manufactured goods. As slavery became more prevalent in coastal plantations, the Cusabo functioned as slave catchers. Colonial authorities intentionally promoted hostility between the Cusabo and Africans so that they would not join forces. However, the archives are not clear as to what relationship the Cusabo had with Native American slaves. In 1710, twenty percent of the population of the Charleston Colony was Native American slaves, while forty percent was African slaves.

The Cusabo was the only Native Americans who initially supported the Carolina colonists when the Yamasee Alliance attacked colonists in 1715. After the ultimate British victory in 1717, many Cusabo relocated to the Chattahoochee River and joined the Creek Confederacy. Their name appears on maps until the mid-1700s. Other Cusabo continued to live in the Low Country in remote, swampy locations, where they essentially became invisible to government authorities.

Members of Cusabo Alliance Remain a Partial Mystery

Beginning with the work of the famous ethnologist, John Swanton, in the early 1900s, ethnological discussions of the Cusabo project a sense of great confusion by academicians. Only a handful of Cusabo words, recorded by European explorers and colonists, survive. Ethnologists failed to realize that the members of the Cusabo alliance were originally different ethnic groups, and so tried to discern a single language spoken by all the Cusabos. What one sees today, when the subject of the Cusabos is mentioned at all, is an attempt to fit them into the mold of a modern federally recognized tribe. Ethnologists compare the handful of surviving words from a dozen different provinces and try to match them with Muskogee-Creek, Catawba, Cherokee, Lenape (Delaware) or Iroquois.

An early colonial document stated that five of the member tribes of the Cusabo spoke a common language, but could that language actually been a trade jargon? The Yamasee Alliance used Yama (Mobile Indian language) as a trade jargon, while the Creek Confederacy used Mvskoke as a trade jargon. Each alliance was actually composed of several ethnic groups.

Much of the confusion can be traced to the assumption by anthropologists that Native Americans pronounced the ethnic names given them by Europeans exactly like contemporary alphabetic letters are pronounced in English. The English “bo” was actually closer to “po.” The English “ba” (as in Catawba) was actually “pa.” Both are Itza Maya and Itsate-Creek suffixes for “place of” or territory. The real name of the Catawba Indians was Katvpa (Kataapa on Georgia maps.) An internal “s” was pronounced “sh” by Eastern Muskogeans, while an external “s” was a “zjh” sound like in southern Mexico. Many “t’s” in Anglicized tribal names were actually pronounced closer to the sound of a “d.”

Someone in the past decided that the “bo” or “bou” suffix in South Carolina Indian names meant “river.” However, they never could figure out what language “bo” or “bou” came from. Someone else decided that the Westo’s were really Yuchi. Thus, the full name of late 17th century slave raiders, Westebo or Westobou was translated as Yuchi River. Weste or westo is a Muskogean adjective for “scraggly hair” that was applied by the Creeks as a pejorative name for the Rickohockens, who wore long, unkempt hair. Westepo means “Territory of the Rickohockens” in Itsate-Creek.

Let’s take a look at tribal names

Asipo (Ashipoo, Ashibou, Osebaw) – This is a Coastal Itsate name meaning “Yaupon Holly Territory.” Their original base was obviously on Ossabaw Island, immediately south of Savannah. They were Itsate Muskogeans, who spoke a hybrid language with many Mesoamerican words. Interestingly enough, early British settlers knew that Ossabaw meant “place of the Yaupon Holly,” but late 20th century scholars couldn’t figure out how the Muskogee-Creek equivalent of “place where the yaupon holly grows” could become Ossabaw. Muskogee can be very different than Itsate.

Combahee, Kampahechee, Kvmpahe – This province was located around Beaufort Sound when the first European explorers entered coastal South Carolina. Most died out or moved away during the 1600s. They are believed by anthropologists to have been a Muskogean tribe allied with the Cousaw.

Cousa, Coushaw, Coosa – This tribe was a branch of the Georgia Kusa, who settled in South Carolina. Their late 17th century presence in South Carolina might explain the cultural ties between the province where Kofitachiki was located and the capital of Kusa in NW Georgia.

Cusabo (Kusapo) – The name of the late 17th alliance has alternative interpretations. In Itsate, Kusapo literally means “Territory of the Kusa.” Kusa was actually pronounced Koushaw, so that makes sense. However, as will be seen below, there were peoples in South Carolina and Georgia with South American or Caribbean roots. Caçabi (Cashabe) is the Taino word for cassava bread. Kusa is the Quechua word for “good.” So Kusapo could be a hybrid word meaning, “Territory of the Good (People,)” This also makes sense because the title of many of the kings along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts was “parakusa,” which is of Peruvian origin. It means “water – good.”

Etiwa, Eutaw (Etalwa) – These are obviously Anglicized versions of a major division of the Creek People, the Etalwa. Etowah, NC near the SC line was originally called Etalwa. It was a Creek town.

Edisto and Oresto – These people worshiped a deity named Toya. Their king was called a parakusa. Their roots are obviously in South America. They probably were Calusas, who moved north sometime in the past. In fact, one of the kings that René de Laudonniére encountered inland from the Atlantic Coast was name Calusa. The “to” suffix probably means “people” or “territory” but cannot be translated with either a contemporary Quechua or a Tupi-Guarani dictionary. The “to” may be derived from the Itza Maya and Itsate Creek suffix “te,” which means “people.”

Keowa, Kiowa, Kiule, Keowee – There was a small branch of this ethnic group living on Kiawah Island until around 1678. This Muskogean tribe was primarily located in northeast Georgia and the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in present day South Carolina. Their mother town was located at a cluster of mounds on the Oconee River near present day Watkinsville, GA. Most moved to Wetumka, AL and became known as the Kiale-ke. One town helped form the original Chorakee Alliance in NW South Carolina in 1693. Coastal Kiawa Indians were given a reserve on the Combahee River in 1743,

Sokee, Soque, Joki, Joqui, Jocasee, Soco – This ethnic group once was one the most powerful provinces in present day South Carolina. They dominated the region around the headwaters of the Savannah River. Early English explorers noted that they had many advanced cultural characteristics that today would be labeled Mesoamerican. These included the flattening of foreheads. Their name was pronounced exactly like that of the Zoque in Mexico. This fact may, or may not, be significant. No Sokee words are known to survive, although they may be some of the town names mentioned by Juan Pardo.

Because they lived in large towns, the Sokee were severely debilitated by European plagues and then by English-sponsored slave raiders. By the late 1600s most became allied with the Cusabo and eventually moved with them to present day Alabama, joining the Creek Confederacy. Some remained in NE Georgia and North Carolina, while others migrated to the Tennessee Valley and joined the Overhill Cherokees. The last, ethnically distinct, Sokee town lasted until 1818 at the eastern end of the Nacoochee Valley, where Clarkesville, GA now stands.

Stono – The Stono were originally located on the southwest side of Charleston Bay and on Johns Island. Possibly, their real name was Este-ono. Little is known about them, other than they were culturally associated with the Cousa and Etiwa Indians. They are presumed to have been Muskogean. Their few survivors eventually joined the Creek Confederacy.

Wando – This Native American group lived along the Cooper and Wando Rivers, northwest of Charleston Bay. There real name was probably Oue-an-to, meaning roughly, “swamp water people” in Muskogean. They may or may not have been true Muskogeans, even though they were allied with definite proto-Creek tribes to the south. Ceramics found along the Cooper and Wando Rivers suggest that the Wando have been in South Carolina at least 1200 years. They may be indigenous Siouans, who fully absorbed Muskogean culture when Muskogeans moved into the region. Alternatively, they may represent the first wave of Muskogeans to arrive in South Carolina.

Wapoo (Ouepo) – This was an extremely small Muskogean tribe living on the west side of Charleston Bay. There name would mean “Place of Water” in a Coastal Itsate Creek dialect. Little is known about them other than that they joined the Cusabo Alliance.

Wambee (Wampe) – This is another forgotten small tribe of Natives, allied with the Cousa and later, the Cusabo, who disappeared in the 1700s. The river that they lived along was originally called the Coosahatchee, so the probably is high that they were either Muskogeans or had absorbed Muskogean culture via a Muskogean elite. Little else is known about them.

The archives of early French and Spanish explorers suggest that South Carolina was once the home to some of North America’s most advanced indigenous peoples. There was obviously a broad diversity of ethnic groups. Unfortunately, their populations were almost wiped out by the time that English settlers arrived on the scene. Undoubtedly, South Carolina’s archaeologists, ethnologists and historians have many decades more work to go before their rich Native American cultural heritage is fully understood.

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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.



    Loch er Ha jo and Loch a ha ( maybe also Loch a la) are two names I need translated from the Creek. Can you help me?

    • Those must be Anglicized names taken from a list of Creek men, written down by government officials The word in Mvskoke is Loco-harjo
      Turtle Frenzied

      Harjo was a war title that referred to a warrior, who fought with such frenzy in battle that he seemed temporarily crazy.


        I noticed Loch er Harjo as the name of a Creek translator in Arkansas. If these were translated, what do you suppose the names mean? Loch er Harjo (? ? friezied warrior ) Was Osceola the Creek anglicized name? bc some of these names show up with Osceola’s name.


    This information is invaluable! I am on the journey to understand who my ancestors are. So much information on Native people in South Carolina starts with the Spanish.
    Thank you for your diligence????

    Sue Rock


      Silly girl Sue Rock–Our history ends with De-Soto. Thank god that we are Human Beings who can trace our roots through a genetic connection and not written ( and usually bastardized) word.


    Richard Thornton,
    Furthering our previous conversation, I found the word “la” is water. Is this correct? Also, if you combine these words together would the first part Loch “la” with Harjo mean Warrior something water? How would you say “falling water” in Creek?

    • La is not water in the Creek or Cherokee languages, but apparently that syllable is part of one of the words for water among some Arawak peoples in South America.


    Why havent you made any mention of the Escamacu people of St Helena Island?

    • They may have had another name, but were not on the list of villages that later relocated to the Creek Confederacy. Nothing much is known about them. The matter is worsened by the fact that academicians got it all wrong about the ethnic identities of the others. Cusabo or Coçapoy is a Panoan word from eastern Peru. It means Strong (elite) – place of. Edisto is the Europeanization of a Uchee word that means “Uchee People.” The Guale did not speak a Muskogean language. Someone speculated that without asking a Creek scholar to check out their surviving words. The Gringo approach to anthropology is based on accepting the opinion of authority figures within the profession as facts then citing them as the proof of a fact. So in the case of the Escamacu there is no information at all other than they composed a small village in 1563. Being that I was not there and have no time machine, there is nothing I can say. Sorry.

      When reading the academic papers on the South Carolina coastal tribes, it is very difficult to discern facts from speculations of authority figures.


        “Other Cusabo continued to live in the Low Country in remote, swampy locations, where they essentially became invisible to government authorities.” Yep, these are the Escamacu… my people of St. Helena Island. We are now considered Gullah/Geechee, the descendants of African slaves, but I do not believe that narrative. The culture thrives but paper genocide removed our rightful place in the story of Turtle Island. I believe that our ancestors were indeed Mayan and perhaps Taíno. I have read that our patois is Arawakan. My elders never mentioned slavery, just trade, and contracts. My grandfather specifically said, “After the war, the white people up and left and we took back our land.”

        • Peruvian . . . Southern Arawaks and Panoan . . . perhaps some Mayan mixed in. The native words recorded by the French in Port Royal Sound were Panoan words from Satipo Province, Peru. The South Carolina planters intentionally “bred” African men to Native American women to get offspring, who could take the cold weather better. It is a horrific thought, but actually happened. Bet you would find that the traditional dances and music of your people also had a strong South American influence.


            Shannon E Porter and Richard T., Since you both mention Mayan, perhaps Escamacu could be a corruption of Itzamako (Itza-Mako?). Just a thought.


            Richard and Urisahatu I will have to study more about my maternal genealogy. My matrilineal line is most definitely Indian… one look and its obvious (hair texture, facial features, bone structure). Mom’s father’s line? Not sure, but they were land rich. I think that Peru makes sense, actually and I will look into Itza-Mako. Conch shells were very important to my grandmother along with other practices/traditions that seem common to South Americans. The Indian slave trade was far more pronounced than what is given reference to, in my opinion, and I am aware of our Sierra Leone connection (that they took some of us there to create Freetown) but it does not tell the entire story. Aware of the Mayan migration North as well. Still on my journey. Thank you both. 🙂

          • The use of conk shells in rituals is very typical of the Panoan Peoples of Peru. Take a look at the paintings and engravings of the South Atlantic Coast peoples by Jacques Le Moynes and Teodor de Bry. They were of peoples living around Port Royal Sound, SC and mouth he Altamaha River in Georgia. You will see many conk shells.


            We spell it conk, too. I’m saditty, lol.


    Wapo would mean “Having many rivers” in Taíno. Just saying could be connection.


    Richard, do you know the history of Toxawa and Keowa (two towns in northwest South Carolina) in what is now the “Toxaway Keowee State Park”? Also curious what knowledge you may have on the history of the Cheoah Ranger Park area a little northwest in the Nantahala area between the years 1816-1830?

    • Toxawe is the Creek word for a outdoor kitchen shed. The Kiawa Creeks were an offshoot of the Okoni Creeks and had their capital in present day Watkinsville, GA on the Oconee River. Their three mounds still stand. Their descendants are members of the Kialeki Tribal Town in Oklahoma. Most Georgia Creek provinces established colonies in the mountains to assure access to resources only found in the mountains. I am very familiar with Cheoah Ranger Park in Graham County, NC. While camped out in Graham in the winter and spring of 2010, I often exercised my dogs there. I assume that some Cherokees lived there between 1816 and 1830.


    By the way, one of the first Cherokee Chiefs to interact with the English through Governor Philip Ludwell of Carolina in 1684 was named Adigellagitchi. I was able to break his name down as Adyghe-Gella-Gitchi. Adyghe is what Cherkessians (Circassians) call themselves. Gella is an ancient Anatolian-Phoenician word meaning “Golden Haired” and Gitchi is an Algonquian word for the “Great Spirit” or “Sun God”. I’m fairly certain at this point that the Cherokee began as a tri-racial creole tribe comprised of Powhatan male warriors under the command of Opechanacanough, 20 Ndongo (African) warrior women related to Queen Nzinga dropped off in Jamestown by a Dutch Pirate named Jope, and 30 Cherkessian (Circassian) women freed by the Ndongo women during the 1622 massacre of Jamestown. They became the Rickahockans (spelling) during the Powhatan-Virginia wars of Opechanacanough and the English began referring to them by a French word “Chouraqui/Cherokee” in 1684. Toxawa and Keowee were the first two towns the English recorded the “Cherokee” controlling in the south when they met to establish trade in animal skins and furs.

    Nine years later 20 Cherokee chiefs returned to Charles Town furious because Coosa and Esau (English spelling of two tribes) attacked their towns and took over 30 women as slaves, selling them to the Spanish. The English agreed to purchase future slaves from them and gave them 20 horses. The Cherokee requested very specific merchandise from a Sephardic Jewish merchant who operated the Charles Town slave market. He was able to acquire them: 20 traditional Circassian swords, feathered fur hats, and robes. Within 18 years later the English Governor Robert Johnson of South Carolina took a census of the Cherokee in South and North Carolina and estimated they possessed 30 towns with a population of atleast 11,000 and over 4,000 warriors with horses. The Cherokee he took the census from informed him that they were only the Lower Cherokee. When Johnson asked about the others he was informed that there are three other groups of Cherokee to the north and each had larger numbers than the Lower Cherokee. The largest group was led by a mysterious individual the French called “Le Carpentier” (The Carpenter). I believe Le Carpentier was Moytoy of Tellico who King George II ended up crowning as the Emperor of the Cherokee in 1730 through Sir Alexander Cumming. There is a very strong reason to believe that he was a direct male descendant of the English-French family “Carpenter/Carpentier” through his male line. Verifying this is proving to be very difficult as it seems Thomas Carpenter’s father had ties to the India Trading Company and the Cherokee Moytoy family may have been very early conspirators allied to the East India Trading Company whose flag became the “Sons of Liberty” flag, 13 Colonies flag, and then the United States flag.

    There is a reason so many white people wanna claim Cherokee. Most of them have no clue what that reason is but I believe it is rooted in the Cherkessian women referred to as “Circassian Beauties” all over the world. That’s why it’s always a “Cherokee Princess” because many of the Cherkessian women were royal concubines. Some of them rose to extraordinary heights because of their unusual beauty. Voltaire and Lord Byron wrote about them:

    Some went off dearly; fifteen hundred dollars
    For one Circassian, a sweet girl, were given,
    Warranted virgin. Beauty’s brightest colours
    Had decked her out in all the hues of heaven.
    Her sale sent home some disappointed bawlers,
    Who bade on till the hundreds reached the eleven,
    But when the offer went beyond, they knew
    ‘Twas for the Sultan, and at once withdrew.
    – Don Juan, canto IV, verse 114

    “More exquisite beauty has never been found among the daughters of man. Green or blue shimmering eyes and long, light hair, pale skin of translucent white color, blemish free as the finest porcelain, thin waists, slender body structures, and very good-looking hands and feet. They stand erect and move sensuously, speak softly and touch softly. To observe them unknowingly is a great blessing for they appear like great cats, fierce and yet feminine. The Abyssinian women detest them, envious because a Sultan would trade his entire harem of the darker skinned for a single Cherkess.”
    – Ayşe Osmanoğlu, Babam Abdülhamid

    • Very interesting! I have never seen this information before. You do know that the original Sequoyah Syllabary was almost identical to Medieval Circassian Script? Sequoyah probably never saw the syllabary that bears his name today.


        Some of the symbols, for sure. Many modern languages have been influenced by the Phoenicians. The writing of Sequoyah (or George Gist, son of Nathaniel Gist and Verde Sequeyra) was well known to the Ta’wodi Clan of the Cherokee and used by the Chickamauga during the war from 1775-1794. European settlers found it everywhere written on trees and referred to it as “Devil Scratches.” If you look at the original letter for “Ma” in the script Sequoyah actually used (not the Moravian revision under Elias Boudinot) you’ll notice the symbol is an inverted mirrored form of the ancient Phoenician symbol for “Ma.” The Phoenicians and the Cherokee both use the word “Ama” for water and the symbol. Sequoyah wrote it with the “A” looking like a cursive “fs” and then the “ma” symbol.

        The Cherokee history is much more interesting than that ol’ “Indian tribe encounters Europeans and loses everything” trope. It’s far older and much richer than folks claiming they’re Cherokee because they wanna be Injuns realize. If you trace the religion of the Cherokee (the Kituwa religion) it goes clear back to Abraham and earlier than that into ancient Sumeria. The fact that Sumerians called the Owl “Uku/Ukuku” and so do Cherokee makes the connection obvious. The Ani prefix connection ties the Cherokee to Anatolia and the oldest known human city (Gobekli Tepi). If the identity is rooted in the Kituwa sacred fire religion it makes the “Cherokee” history just the most recent chapter of a very ancient lineage. One of the oldest continuous religions on earth. And folks are trading it in for Christianity. That’s something I don’t understand. Jesus was cool. His teachings were on point. Incorporate him into the Kituwa tradition but don’t throw out something thousands of years older and replace it with a watered down Roman reworking of a Jewish Nazarene sect. My view. I could be wrong.

        Everybody knows about Abraham’s wives Sarah and Hagar because the Jews and Muslims been squabbling over their inheritance through them since Abraham bust those two nuts. They forget about Abraham’s third wife Keturah and the six sons and one daughter she bore him. Any Jewish rabbi worth his title can tell you that Jews are well aware of Keturah and her offspring. Racists Jewish orthodox rabbis refer to them as sorcerers the same way Christians called the Kituwa Adawehi “conjurors” and “witches.”


    Richard T. and Shannon E Porter, The following on the possible origin of the Escamacu will be of much interest to you.
    Perhaps an idea to make a separate article/post on the origin of the (mysterious) Escamacu.

    Additional Research / Information on the possible origin of the Escamacu of Saint Helena Island (South Carolina).

    Eventhough I have found a possible origin of the word/name Escamacu in the Quechua language in the Peruvian and Bolivian Andean (Andes) mountains, I still wasn’t satisfied with the word “Jach’a Mallku” or “Hatch’a Maiku”. The “Jach’a” or “Hatch’a” doesn’t sound right compared to “Esca” the first part of the word/name Escamacu.
    There must be another word in Quechua resembling “Esca” so therefor I continued my research. In doing so I realized that the word “Mallku” or “Maiku” is actually a word from the Aymara language.

    Quote from wikipedia (Mallku):
    “Mallku is a title roughly translating as “prince” or “leader” in the Aymara language of South America. They recognise an Apu Mallku as their “supreme leader” or “king”.”

    Quotes from wikipedia (Apu Mallku):
    “Apu Mallku is an Aymara title meaning “supreme leader” or “king” conferred on a Mallku or “prince”.”
    “The Apu Mallku’s mandate is to oversee the vast network of Ayllus, an ancient Andean system of governing councils that predates even the Inca empire. It appears that the mandate of the Apu Mallku was initially restricted to the Collasuyu (the traditional Aymara lands of Bolivia, parts of Peru and northern Chile)”

    Does this mean that Escamacu was probably derived from a Aymara word and Aymara language? It seems like there is some discussion among linguists wether Aymara and Quechua languages are related or not.

    Quotes from wikipedia (Aymara language):
    “Some linguists have claimed that Aymara is related to its more widely spoken neighbor, Quechua. That claim, however, is disputed. Although there are indeed similarities, like the nearly-identical phonologies, the majority position among linguists today is that the similarities are better explained as areal features rising from prolonged cohabitation, rather than natural genealogical changes that would stem from a common protolanguage.”
    “The ethnonym “Aymara” may be ultimately derived from the name of some group occupying the southern part of what is now the Quechua speaking area of Apurímac.”
    “Regardless, the use of the word “Aymara” as a label for this people was standard practice as early as 1567, as evident from Garci Diez de San Miguel’s report of his inspection of the province of Chucuito (1567, 14; cited in Lafaye 1964). In this document, he uses the term aymaraes to refer to the people.”
    “The language was then called Colla. It is believed that Colla was the name of an Aymara nation at the time of conquest, and later was the southernmost region of the Inca empire Collasuyu.”
    “However, Cerrón Palomino disputes this claim and asserts that Colla were in fact Puquina speakers who were the rulers of Tiwanaku in the first and third centuries (2008:246). This hypothesis suggests that the linguistically-diverse area ruled by the Puquina came to adopt Aymara languages in their southern region.”

    Here you can see that language is always changing. The language a people speak today can be totally different to the language of the past and or future. A good example is the USA; many people from all over the world (Asians, Europeans, Africans etc.) have migrated to the USA many generations ago and their offspring (current generation) only speak and understand English while recent immigrants retain their native language and often influences the English language by introducing foreign words from their native languages.

    Now there are some very interesting connections that can be made between the people of the Andes (Andean mountains) in South America and Saint Helena Island and the Escamacu in South Carolina/Southeast North America.
    The word/name “Colla” is mentioned by linguists and researchers of the people of Tiwanaku which is directly south of Lake Titicaca (Titikaka). In fact, “Colla” is also spelled “Kulla”/”Kholla”, “Qolla” and “Qulla”.

    Quotes from wikipedia (Qulla):
    “The Qulla (Quechuan for south, hispanicized and mixed spellings: Colla, Kolla) are an indigenous people of western Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina living in Jujuy and Salta Provinces.”
    “The Qulla speak Northwest Jujuy Quechua or Qulla, a dialect of South Bolivian Quechua, which is a variety of Southern Quechua, one of the Quechuan languages. The Qulla of the northern Altiplano near Titicaca, however, appear to have originally spoken the Puquina language, also the likely main language of the Tiwanaku culture during the Middle Horizon period.”

    Quotes from wikipedia (Qullasuyu):
    “Qullasuyu (Aymara: Qullasuyu About this soundlisten (help·info) and Quechua, qulla south, Qulla a people, suyu region, part of a territory, each of the four regions which formed the Inca Empire, “southern region”, Hispanicized spellings Collasuyu, Kholla Suyu) was the southeastern provincial region of the Inca Empire.”
    “Qullasuyu is the region of the Qulla and related specifically to the native Qulla Quechuas who primarily resided in areas such as Cochabamba and Potosí. Most Aymara territories which are now largely incorporated into the modern South American states of northern Chile, Argentina, Peru and Bolivia were annexed during the reign of Sapa Inca Huayna Cápac in the sixteenth century.”

    Quotes from wikipedia (Colla Kingdom):
    “The Colla, Qolla or Qulla Kingdom was established in the northwestern basin of the Titicaca, one of the Aymara kingdoms that occupied part of the Collao plateau after the fall of Tiwanaku.”
    “The Qulla were organized into two regions (Quechua and Aymara: Suyu): Urcosuyu (Urco: male, fire) and Umasuyu (Uma: female, water).”
    “Their capital was Hatunqulla, ie “Colla, the Great” located 34 km north of Puno in the Urcusuyu and was ruled by the dynasty of the Zapanas. The capital of the Umasuyu was Azangaro, which depended on Hatunqulla. This form of government based on duality was characteristic of the central Andean societies, in which both parts were complementary but one still ruled over the other, the Inca for example divided their empire and society in Hanan (Quechua: Upper) and Hurin (Quechua: Lower).”
    “Alonso Ramos Gavilan noted: “the Qollas of Titikaka had that famous altar and shrine, was a waka from the puquina qollas and uroqollas”.”
    “Within the realm of the Qulla were three ethnic groups: Aymara, Puquina and Uro (some Uros spoke Puquina and the others Uruquilla). Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala clearly distinguish these ethnic groups and identified them as Qolla to the Aymaras, as Puquina Qolla to the Puquinas and as Uro Qolla to the Uros.”

    When you have read all of the above you will notice that the Colla (Kulla (kholla), Qolla, Qulla) are a mixture of Andean people who originally spoke different languages (Aymara, Quechua, Puquina and Uruquilla).
    Their Colla Kingdom was organized and governed based on duality which is a very important detail which will make sense further on in this research and comment.

    Hatunqulla meaning “Colla the great” was the capital of the Urcusuyu (Urcosuyu). Here “Hatu” or “Hatun” corrosponds with “Jach’a” or “Hatch’a” meaning great. “Hatu”; “Hatch’a”/”Jach’a” clearly is not the origin of “Esca” in Escamacu.
    Yet now knowing that the Colla Kingdom is based on duality I of course had to look into it and read through dictionaries and word lists of Andean languages to find out if there actually is a word meaning duality or at least check the numerals.

    On the website ASJP Database (Automated Similarity Judgement Program) the given word lists for Aymara give the word “paya” and “ph-aya” meaning “two”. The same website has many word lists for at least a dozen Quechua dialects and most (90% +) give the word “iskay” meaning “two”.
    And there it is; “Escamacu” is most likely derived from “Iskay Mallku” / “Iskay Maiku”; the first part “esca” of the word/name “Escamacu” seems to be Quechuan in origin while the second part “macu” seems to be Aymaran in origin which makes sense since in and around lake Titicaca the different Andean people were connected to the Colla Kingdom.
    Now we are able to translate the word/name “Escamacu” or “Iska(y)mallku” (“Iska(y)maiku”). When the interpretation is correct Escamacu means “two leaders(princes; chiefs; kings)” which potentially means a dual kingdom.

    Of course, Colla (Kulla/Kholla, Qulla/Qolla) meaning “south” is very similar to the South Carolina Saint Helena Island’s Gullah.
    The true origin of the word Gullah is still debated.

    Quotes from wikipedia (Gullah):
    “The origin of the word “Gullah” is unclear. Some scholars suggest that it may be cognate with the word “Angola”, where the ancestors of some of the Gullah people likely originated.”
    “Still another possible linguistic source for “Gullah” are the Dyula ethnic group of West Africa, from whom the American Gullah might be partially descended.”
    “The word “Dyula” is pronounced “Gwullah” among members of the Akan ethnic group in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire.”
    “Some scholars have also suggested indigenous American origins for these words. The Spanish named the South Carolina and Georgia coastal region as Guale, after a Native American tribe.”
    ” Sapelo Island, the site of the last Gullah community of Hog Hammock, was also principal place of refuge for Guale people who also fled slavery on the mainland.”

    When taking all the research information into account it does seem to be more likely that the Escamacu (Iska(y)mallku / Iska(y)maiku) were originally an Andean people (Mixed Quencha, Aymara, Puquina and Uru/Uro) from lake Titicaca connected to the Colla Kingdom which its organization and government was based on duality.
    Perhaps the Escamacu were refugees after the fall of either the Colla Kingdom (“Southern” Kingdom?) or after the fall of the Inca Empire. The word “Colla” meaning “south” could either have refered to the Colla Kingdom or the direction from where the Escamacu originated from (the south) which is the Andean mountains in South America which later corrupted into Gullah.

    “The Urcosuyu had the towns of Hatuncolla, Caracoto, Juliaca, Nicasio, Lampa, Cabana, Cabanilla, Mañazo, Ullagachi, Paucarcolla, Capachica and Coata.”
    “The Umasuyu had the towns of Azangaro, Asillo, Arapa, Ayaviri, Saman, Taraco, Caquijana, Chupa, Achaya, Caminaca, Carabuco, Cancara, Moho, Conima, Ancoraimes, Huaycho, Huancasi, Huancané, Achacachi, and Copacabana.
    “Interestingly “Arapa” ;a place with a lake/lagoon with the same name; which is aligned to the island of the Moon (Isla de la Luna) and Suriqui island in lake Titicaca was part of the Colla Kingdom.

    Apu Mallku




    Colla Kingdom (Qolla or Qulla Kingdom)

    Aymara language

    ASJP Database – Automated Similarity Judgement Program
    Aymara – Proto Aymaran – Central Aymara – Southern Aymara

    Quechua – Proto Quenchua – Curva – Quencha Chachapoyas

    Saint Helena Island (South Carolina)


    • Your research sounds reasonable. The Native Americans of Port Royal Sound were definitely of South American origin.


        Hello i am very ibterested in the conveesation about the Escamacu. I live on St Helena and people often fibd old pottery here. Are any of you who are discussing thie escamacu on st helena island also?


          I am Monique. My people are from Orange Grove and Capers. 🙂


            Thank you. I am currently working on an art exhibit that honors the indigenous people of the area. I have been doing my own research and came across this website. I would like to invite anyone interested when my show goes up. It is textiles/painting and my poems all done in the hopes that more people will try to learn more about the original people. thank you all for the important work you are doing to raise awareness about the native people from here. the show will be at the Beaufort Arts Council in April/May


            Sorry that I took so long to respond, school keeps me busy!!! I think that you are doing a wonderful thing Monique!


            Hi Shannon, if you are in the area i would love to meet you and explain what i am trying to do with this exhibit. Im an educator was in the public school system, now i create art that educates about the things that need yo be taught but are not.


      Wow! Thank you Urisahatu!!!


        You are welcome.


    Monique, I am currently in Georgia. Do you have Facebook? Please add me if so.


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