Richard Thornton | Jun 3, 2017 | 15
Did Cherokee Religion Originate in the Middle East?
Did traditional Cherokee religion originate in the Middle East?
What your teacher didn’t tell you about Sequoya?
This essay is almost a novella, but it will give you several OMG moments and be very thought provoking.
We are getting some very interesting stories from Cherokee and Creek descendants, who have recently discovered some Sephardic Jewish ancestry. One of their letters will be sent as a separate Brainfood. However, no Chickasaws, Yuchi’s or Shawnees have contacted us. The last eyewitness location where the Spanish Sephardim lived was eastern Tennessee, which was once occupied by the Chickasaw, Yuchi and Shawnee. All of you Cherokee and Creek Adair’s are descended from a woman who was mixed Chickasaw-Jewish ancestry.
Some patterns in the Native-Sephardic descendants are already appearing. All of the Creeks are in one group along with about 1/3 of the Cherokees. Most of this group’s DNA is Scottish/Scandinavian/Irish/English. A relatively small percentage was assigned to the cluster of DNA markers that typify Iberian Sephardic Jews. Their balance is Asiatic – (probably Native American and some Maya). Another Cherokee type has the Northern European DNA but a very significant Mediterranean component typical of Iberian Sephardic Jews. Their Native American DNA component is much smaller than found in the first group. The third Cherokee DNA profile is typical of the North Carolina Reservation and is predominantly Middle Eastern. It is composed of the DNA indicators of the nations that made up the Turkish Empire in the 1500s. The latter two groups have significant levels of European DNA, but very little or NO Asiatic (Native American) DNA.
The Differences between Oklahoma and the Southeast Cherokees
Personally, I have always try to avoid assigning the same personality traits to groups of people, even though I had to take six courses in sociology in graduate school. However, there are noticeable differences between descendants of the Southeastern tribes in Oklahoma and Texas versus those who stayed in the Southeastern homeland. The 180+ years of separation have accentuated the differences because the Oklahoma peoples have somewhat absorbed the cultures of their European and Native neighbors, while the Southeasterners lived dual lives.
Native traditions were both preserved and concealed in the Southeast. In my mother’s family cultural knowledge was passed down on a one to one basis by persons in each generation chosen to be keepers and teachers. Even their siblings did not know of their secret roles.
Western Creeks often wear cowboy hats or baseball caps when participating in tribal events and dances. Southeasterners wear turbans like in the old days. In the Southeast, wearing a baseball cap or cowboy hat in a restaurant or public event is the universal litmus test of being a sikuya . . . a white trash, racist, KKK type.
Southeastern Creeks tend to be social rebels, bull-headed GDI’s or libertarians from 18 decades of being a minority in an oppressive society dominated by a politically conservative plantation aristocracy. Oklahoma Creeks tend to mirror the political values of the mixed-blood Creek planters who first settled the Red and Arkansas River Valleys.
Southeastern Creeks tend to identify strongly with the struggle of African-Americans for equality. Most Southern states had laws specifically discriminating against American Indians until people like Jimmy Carter and Martin Luther King broke down the barriers. We were outraged when some Oklahoma tribes expelled their African-American members. It is all a matter of perspective. One of my great-aunts died horrifically at the age of 16, when she was gang-raped and hung from a tree in Ruckersville, GA by the KKK.
It is the same with the Cherokees. Overall, the Oklahoma and Texas Cherokees reflect the values of the Cherokee Renaissance that occurred in northwest Georgia during the 1820s. They also like to wear cowboy hats in tribal events, but not so many baseball caps.
In North Carolina, a bipolar Cherokee society has evolved. What tourists and white mountaineer neighbors see is a peaceful society that reflects the “Christian” values of the great mixed-blood Cherokee leaders of the early 1800s. Dominant in that era were the Hicks/Adair/Smith/Thompson families (Methodist) – the Bushyhead/Arniche Families (Baptist) – and the Saunders/Vann/Ross families (Presbyterian). When speaking to tourists, North Carolina Cherokees love to talk about the “Creator” as if the Cherokees were always monotheists, little different than Jews or Christians.
The truth is something different. Monotheism first came to the Cherokees when Second Chief Charles Hicks invited Methodist circuit riders to preach at the Natchez-Cherokee village of Pine Log, GA in 1818. That location is now the nation’s oldest Methodist campground.
Traditional Cherokee Religion
The religion of the Cherokees prior to that time was animism, but it was a form of animism that was distinctly different than practiced elsewhere in North America. There was no “Great Spirit.” There is no evidence of an obsession with crop and human fertility as can be seen in traditional Choctaw animism. What one does see is an obsession with unseen spirits that dwelt in fires and springs. The fire spirits were demonic in nature. Their evil powers could be controlled with magic formulas and set against one’s enemies. The water spirits tended to be benign, and were associated with prophecy, healing, reproduction and communication with the dead.
In Cherokee tradition, their people were once dominated by kitani, who were hereditary priests. Contemporary Cherokees are outraged when I tell them this, but both the words kitani and kituwa are Alabama words, derived from the Alabama root verb meaning “to start a fire.” Thus, both the name of one federally recognized branch of the Cherokees and the supposed “mother town” of the North Carolina Cherokees are Alabama (Muskogean) words.
The kitani were supposedly overthrown in a violent revolution and replaced by conjurers. The successful Cherokee revolution against the ani-kitani moved the sacred fire to the center of the council house, where all citizens could stare at the fire. After then the conjurers apparently had the main responsibility of maintaining the fires.
The victors get the right to record history so one wonders if the kitani were really as bad as Cherokee tradition makes them out to be. They could have well been just a Muskogean aristocracy that ruled a Rickohocken majority. However, it is true that in contemporary Alabama language, kitani no longer means a priest of the sacred fire, but a sorcerer! The Cherokee tradition may reflect a multi-ethnic cultural memory.
Conjurers would stare into the fires that burned in Cherokee council houses and claim that the demonic spirits within the fires spoke to them. They would interpret the unintelligible words of a “speaker” in the same manner that “speaking in tongues” is carried out in Pentecostal churches. However, their most important function was their power to summon demonic spirits with special rituals and oral formulas. The demons would be dispatched to attack individual Cherokees and also the tribal enemies of the Cherokees. There is very little difference between Cherokee conjuring and the practices of contemporary satanic cults. This is an important fact to understanding many events of the present era.
It was a Cherokee conjurer, Charity Hague, who in 1717, after being advised to do so by the spirits speaking from the fire, advised Cherokee leaders to kill their Creek guests in Tugaloo and form an alliance with the British. This act of treachery ushered in a 20 year period of dramatic growth in Cherokee military power and territory. It eventually resulted in 1754 with a fourth of the Cherokee villages being destroyed and 32 Cherokee chiefs being executed (some by being burned at the stake for witchcraft) by the Koweta Creeks.
The Alabamas and Creeks had sacred fires burning in their temples, but not in their council houses. The Muskogean sacred fires had the same symbolic meaning as the fire that burned in the Temple in Jerusalem 24 hours a day. They were NOT the denizen of demonic spirits.
There is a big difference between a conjurer-shaman and a Keeper. Currently, some of the Creek men in Oklahoma, who are call themselves keepers are really shamans. The fake keepers do dumb stuff like sprinkling tobacco at the entrances to courthouses to influence court cases. Like their Cherokee counterparts, some also claim to hear voices from sacred fires. They have absorbed the fire-worshiping religion of the Cherokees. We’ll get back to that.
The conjurers dominated Cherokee society during the 1700s, when the military power and territory of the new Cherokee Alliance expanded dramatically. The conjurers proved impotent to stop the smallpox plagues and a series of catastrophic defeats inflicted by the Koweta Creeks in 1754, the British in 1757-63, the American Patriots in 1777 and the Tennessee Militia in 1793. So by 1817 the Cherokees were ripe for accepting the “white man’s religion” because their conjurers had brought them disaster.
Cherokee Conjuring Today
The Cherokee conjurers continued to pass on their practices generation to generation just like Creek Keepers pass on their monotheistic beliefs to each generation. By the way, Keeper is also the title of a priest today in the Samaritan sect of Israel and of all Jewish priests prior to the building of Solomon’s Temple.
The Cherokee shamans sulked in the back coves of the reservation for 140 years until the 1980s when they made an alliance with predominantly white satanic cults, based in Asheville, NC. Just like the alliance with British colonial authorities in 1715, this alliance ushered in a period of dramatic socio-economic changes on the reservation. The families that traditionally led the reservation were cast aside. With the help of occult members placed at high levels in the federal and state bureaucracy, government money flowed into the reservation to build many new tourist attractions.
My ex-wife in Asheville was a member of a feminist cult (black witch coven) that sometimes held rituals on our farm. Several of her “sisters” are now middle level management in the U. S. Forest Service. Another one seduced the general in charge of nerve gas disposal in Alabama and persuaded him to divorce his wife of many years to marry her. I am certain that all of the thousands of dollars of your tax money that was expended in an effort to discredit the premier of America Unearthed on the History Channel can be traced to manipulative actions by my ex’s witchy friends.
The State of North Carolina rewrote Cherokee history to describe them as a mono-ethnic indigenous people, who had always lived in their state. The Cherokees were presented as a master race and invincible warriors, who were the first people to cultivate corn, beans and squash. They were credited with winning many wars that they actually lost. The charade spread across all aspects of Southeastern history. NC Cherokee students are taught that their ancestors “invented” Swift Creek pottery. This new history of the Cherokees permeates Wikipedia and a legion of recently published books.
Between 2001 and 2006 the Russian Mafia bought up most of the commercial establishments on the reservation. Now the majority of shops and restaurants are owned by Russians or Ukrainians, managed by Poles or legal immigrants from former nations of the Warsaw Pact, and manned by Slavic young people on false student visas. It is now very rare to see a Cherokee working in a shop or restaurant.
North Carolina shamans have convinced many of their people that the horrors of the Trail of Tears were their punishment for adopting Christianity. The summoning of demons and belief in supernatural powers is endemic on the reservation. So is bipolar behavior. On several occasions in recent years, I have seen North Carolina Cherokees go into mad rages for no visible reason. I fully realize that many of the readers do not believe in demonic possession, but that sure is what these rages look like. It is a world never seen by tourists, government bureaucrats and academicians who visit the reservation.
The occult and some “bad guys” in the federally bureaucracy broke a bunch of laws in 2009 to insure that I would be homeless and friendless on Christmas Eve. They shared a delusion that I would be a broken man and therefore be vulnerable to embracing their political and religious beliefs. In 2009 Federal law enforcement or national security? employees even contacted people I spoke to on the phone and offered them money to make comments which suggested “that career-wise I was all washed up, so I might as well give up and live in public housing.” These idiots continued to do that a few times this past year. Losing the “Mayas In Georgia thing” kind of burst their bubble, however.
In late February of 2010, I was lured into the North Carolina Mountains so that the Cherokee occultists could envelope me with their schizophrenic nonsense. All along I was just smiling and taking detailed notes. As for living in the woods breaking my spirit . . . “Please don’t throw me in the briar patch!” The North Carolina Cherokee occultists thought that I was a scapegoat given to them for sacrifice by their ultra-right extremist buddies in the federal bureaucracy. In fact, I became a Trojan Horse.
When living in a tent near the Snowbird Cherokee Reservation, I visited the Qualla (main) reservation to do some research. While photographing the details of a Cherokee council house at the Oconaluftee Village, I felt a “dark soul” behind me. I turned around. It was an elderly Cherokee shaman, smiling evilly. I only said, “Osayo!” He turned white as a ghost, however, when he saw my Wind Clan gorget.
The shaman put one hand up to block the view of the Wind Clan symbol and another to block the view of my face. He walked backward out of the Creek square, which the NC Cherokees call “a traditional Cherokee square.” He repeatedly chanted, “What you say is not true” – even though the only thing I said was “hello” in Cherokee. After exiting the square, he RAN all the way out of the Oconaluftee Village.
The Sequoyah Connection
For over a decade, something has really puzzled me. In 1998 I lived in Pine Log, GA where Sequoya created his syllabary . . . or so people think. The official story of Sequoya just does not add up. Sequoya is the Cherokee pronunciation of the Creek word, sikuya . . . which means “excrement” but in 18th century Mvskoke, also meant a “war captive.” Sequoya has no meaning in Cherokee. For one thing, the syllabary he promoted is NOT what Cherokees use today.
Sequoya’s syllabary was almost identical to the letters of a Cyrillic script used by non-Muslims in eastern Turkey and northern Mesopotamia during the Medieval Period. Missionary Samuel Worcester changed those glyphs to one similar to Roman script “so that white Americans would not be threatened by them.” There is substantial evidence that many of the original glyphs were in use by the Chickamauga Cherokees long before Sequoya announced his writing system to the Cherokee leaders. Sequoya was a Chickamauga warrior.
And then there is the witchcraft trial thing . . . Not too long after Sequoya’s syllabary was introduced to the Cherokees in northwest Georgia, a band of Cherokees in North Carolina, living OUTSIDE THE BOUNDARIES OF THE CHEROKEE NATION, abducted Sequoya and his wife. The official story is that this band was under the influence of Christian missionaries. Sequoya and his wife were charged with witchcraft and sentenced to death by slow torture. The couple was well on their way to being tortured to death when rescued by a troop of Georgia Cherokee Lighthorse, led by John Ridge.
The Cherokees, who almost killed Sequoya, appears to be the same band that was lead by Yonaluska. Yonaluska’s band in 1838 was allowed to remain in North Carolina and became the core of the Eastern Band of Cherokees. It is difficult to obtain detailed facts about these events because they are so embarrassing to the North Carolina Cherokees. As soon as the EBC archivists realized that I was smarter than the average bear, they would not release any more information and became obstructive.
The first use of the redesigned Sequoya syllabary was the Christian Bible. Why would North Carolina Christian Cherokees object to the ancient syllabary ascribed to Sequoya and label it “witchcraft?” Had it been first used by sorcerers or conjurers?
Shared Traditions of Fire Worship
And then there is the “fire worshiping” thing . . . The religion that most closely matches Cherokee fire worship is Zoroastrianism that originated in Iran and Bactria (northern Afghanistan). It is an ancient religion with an invisible creator deity and complex beliefs. In essence though, it encourages mankind to live moral lives and do good deeds. It is currently believed by scholars that the “wise men” who came to visit the baby Jesus were Zoroastrian magi.
Water is the ultimate source of wisdom in Zoroastrianism, while their ceremony of staring into fires for long periods produced states of self-hypnosis. The founder of Zarathustra taught that the sacred fires contained the evil spirits of diva (demons) who were associated with war, political power and territorial acquisition. Such fires were maintained by priests within inner sanctums of temples, whose only responsibility was maintaining the fire. Their duties were identical to those of the kitani. By communicating with and confronting the demons in the fire, the worshiper was prepared for starring into a pool, where the wisdom was actually obtained through meditation.
There were heretical sects of Zoroastrianism, some which placed much more emphasis on the manipulation of the diva spirits in the sacred fire. These particular sects were very similar to Cherokee practices.
Once the state religion of Persia and perhaps the first great world religion, Zoroastrianism is now practiced by about 200,000 people. Millions upon millions of Zoroastrians were killed, neutered, enslaved and starved to death by Islam between 680 AD and the early 1800s. The scale of the mass slaughters that survive in Islamic history books are mind-boggling, equivalent to the repetitive acts of barbarism such as the Japanese at Nanking and Manila in World War II. When a Rus (Scandinavian-Slavic) trade ambassador asked a Turkish war lord why he was slaughtering over 250,000 peaceful Christians and Zoroastrians in a newly conquered province, he responded, “Allah commanded us, by the mouth of His Prophet, to extend the dominion of Islam over all nations.”
The Cherokee DNA Project
None of these circumstantial facts and speculations made any sense until DNA Consultants, Inc. announced the results of their comprehensive genetic study of the North Carolina Reservation. This was about the same time that an archaeologist, who studied the Track Rock Terraces in 2001, gave a lecture to an audience at the Fernbank Museum in Atlanta, in which he said that the 150+ stone-walled terraces were built by the Cherokees around 1000 AD as ceremonial platforms.
The Cherokees on the reservation are a predominantly Middle Eastern population. They have as many Egyptian “T” DNA indicators as Coptic Christians and more than most Egyptians. Egyptian Muslims are mixed with the Arabs. They have very high levels of DNA indicators from Turkey, Mesopotamia, the Caucasus, Lebanon and Northern Africa. Most carry DNA indicators from Iberia (Spain and Portugal) and also northern Europe. Most have very little Asiatic (Native American) DNA. Personally, I wonder if the Snowbird Cherokees were tested. They look different than “regular” Cherokees and are called “Moon Faces” by the people on the main reservation. Many Snowbirds look like the Zoque of Mexico.
The DNA profiles superficially make no sense and have sent the geneticists into la-la land. This is because they always assumed the “official” history of the Cherokees, created by the State of North Carolina in 1976, was accurate. However, the DNA evidence directly reinforces the evidence I accumulated during my adventure in western North Carolina in 2010. That spring I also found a stone inscription at 5400 feet above sea level in the Great Smoky Mountains, which memorialized a Jewish wedding on September 15, 1615.
Freed Prisoners of War
During the 1500s and 1600s the Turkish Empire embarked on several massive invasions to conquer the Christian world in the name of their god. In southeastern Europe Turkish armies got as far as Vienna. Turkey was more successful in the Black Sea region where it conquered what are now eastern Turkey, Armenia and Georgia. This is the exact same region that used the Cyrillic script found in Sequoya’s original syllabary. Hundreds of thousands of Christians and Zoroastrians in the conquered regions were either killed or enslaved. Jews were not subject to these actions, but sometimes became senior officers in the Turkish Navy. The young Christian and Zoroastrian men became galley slaves, or if they were “lucky,” Janissary soldiers.
The Kingdom of Spain channeled much of its wealth gained in the New World to fund armies and fleets to oppose the Turks in the Mediterranean and the Protestants in northern Europe. When Spain won a battle against the Turks or European Protestants, the captured combatants – many of whom were not Muslims – were made into galley slaves in the Spanish and Venetian fleets or sent to work on Caribbean sugar plantations. They were treated as infidels and heretics, not eastern Christians and Protestant Christians. Jews were, of course, burned at the stake.
Simultaneously, Sephardic Jewish pirates began operating out of Jamaica, the Bahamas and southern Puerto Rico. This is why both the Roanoke Island and Jamestown expeditions replenished their ships in southern Puerto Rico. The Jewish pirates were allies of the English Navy and French Huguenot privateers.
When they captured a Spanish ship, the Jewish pirates would generally kill the Spanish Catholics but free Protestant, Jewish and Muslim prisoners-of-war. The Jewish pirates’ favorite place to stalk Spanish treasure galleons and galleys was off the coast of northern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. This is why the Spanish government put so much effort into maintaining a Spanish presence on the South Atlantic Coast. It was probably Jewish and French Huguenot pirates who repeatedly sacked the Spanish missions on the coast of Georgia.
So far we have not found any archives that describe Jewish pirates depositing freed prisoners of war on the South Atlantic Coast, but it makes sense. There were obviously no government agencies that the Jewish pirates regularly dispatched reports to. However, there are several documented cases of English ships dropping off freed Turkish galley slaves on the South Atlantic Coast. These freedmen and others that we speculate about, could have made it to the Southern Highlands were they developed small multi-ethnic villages. Their descendants would have been far more resistant to European and Middle Eastern plagues than full-blooded indigenous Americans. Call it selective breeding via pathogens!
In contrast, the sudden disappearance of the entire Sephardic populations of several Spanish colonial cities is well documented. In 1610 the Inquisition suddenly showed up in Cartagena, Colombia. Most of its wealthy Sephardic population escaped before the Crown could seize their wealth and the Inquisition could burn them at the stake. They made their wealth in gold mining. The gold fields in the Georgia Mountains were a logical place for them to seek refuge.
Beyond this point, we are dealing totally in speculation. It is plausible that the freed Turkish prisoners-of-war, who were Zoroastrians, ended up somewhere in the Southern Highlands. A watered down version of their religion could have become the fire worship – conjuring religion of the 18th century Cherokees. It is plausible, but there is no direct evidence at this point.
And now you know, as Tulsa’s favorite son, Paul Harvey, used to say
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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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