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Descendants of Cahokia’s Elite Identified

The descendants of Cahokia’s elite may have been identified or Kofitvchike (Cofitachequi) was the Muskogee word for Catawba

Almost ten years I ago I laughed my way through a Saturday morning of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference in Charlotte, NC. A session that was supposed to be about 16th century Spanish exploration and colonization in the Carolinas turned into an academic free for all. The folks from North Carolina argued that Cofitachequi was a Cherokee word, while those from South Carolina said it was a Catawba town. Both sides were butchering the Spanish words like they were rednecks from Plum Nelly, Jawja.

Kofitachiki was obviously a Creek word. I swore that I never would go to another SEAC meeting and ran off to Knoxville with a beautiful Colombian archaeologist, named Pilar, who was pretending to be single.

As of today, the laugh is on me . . . but a little bit on South Carolina too. Kofitvchiki was the Muskogee name for the Catawba People back then . . . BUT Catawba is the Anglicization of a Creek word, Katvpa, not a Siouan word. The elite of the Catawba spoke a Creek dialect.

There is more. The 17th century French texts have made it possible to track the Catawba back to their homeland in northwestern Kentucky and to the City of Cahokia.

If you would like to learn the deductive reasoning that made this trivia quiz answer possible.

PS: We now have eyewitness confirmation that the name of the ethnic group that occupied the Upper Tennessee River Valley was Tamahiti. They moved back to SE Georgia right after the Yamasee War then the area was labeled Charaqui. Tamahiti is a Totonac-Itza Maya word that means “Merchant People.” Until around 1785, the name of the Tennessee River was the Kallimako River, which is Itza Maya for “House or throne of the king.”

Any more beautiful Colombian archaeologists out there? I don’t even need to get political asylum!

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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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