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First Contact! Where did the first Maya immigrants live in North America?

First Contact!  Where did the first Maya immigrants live in North America?


Map Above:  The indigenous towns in the Southeastern United States were obviously much more accessible to the Mesoamerican civilizations.  It was far easier to transport people and bulk goods over the ocean than by inland rivers or mountainous land routes.  While archaeologists at the much more distant urban centers of Chaco Canyon and Cahokia Mounds are aggressively searching for and finding cultural connections to Mesoamerica, such as cocoa residue in jars,  archaeologists in Georgia and Florida;  the US Forest Service and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina have expended extensive efforts and funds toward blocking any public knowledge or discussion of the Mesoamerican connections to the Southeast.   This is especially odd, since the original settlers of Savannah, Georgia in the 1730s, observed local Creek and Uchee Indians cultivating cacao trees and pineapple plants!

See Cocoa consumed in Native American towns

The Apalachicola River Delta in Florida;  Lake Okeechobee, Florida; the Florida Keys; Bottle Creek Mounds north of Mobile Bay, Alabama; the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers in Georgia;  what is now Downtown Savannah and Tybee Island, GA are all candidates for where Mesoamericans first lived in North America.  Each location has compelling reasons for being labeled the first location for first contact. It could well be that distinct bands of Mesoamericans journeyed to all these locations.

Unfortunately, without a time machine or any interest among the current crop of Southeastern archaeologists,  the only course of action now is to identify promising places to dig and then sending invitations to archaeologists in other parts of the United States or Latin America to join Muskogean researchers from the Southeast in their quest. 


A Chontal Maya seacraft was about the same size as a Viking longship , but probably faster.

It was never a theory.  It was never a “bunch of crap” as a former president of the Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists publicly stated in 2012. It was not “something pulled out of thin air” as repeatedly stated by South African archaeologist, Johannes Loubser, in his “Maya-myth Busting in the Mountains” lectures during 2012 and 2013.    There is substantial physical, linguistic and genetic evidence of Mesoamerican cultural influence among the Muskogean peoples, despite what has repeatedly been stated in nationally published articles by USFS archaeologist, James Wettstaed.  Wettstaed is a recent transplant from the Northwest, who has exclusively collaborated  with the North Carolina Cherokees, when interpreting Georgia Creek sites.  He was primarily known for studies of American Elk migration patterns prior to moving to Georgia.

mayami-canoeIn an earlier POOF article, we learned that a century ago, the Seminoles in southern Florida openly described themselves as being Mayas.  Many Eastern Creeks and Seminoles grew up being told that they were part Maya. Most Eastern Creeks and Seminoles carry at least some Mesoamerican and/or Peruvian and/or Arawak DNA test markers. Most of the words in Creek languages that are associated with architecture, agriculture, trade and government are Mesoamerican or Panoan (Peru) words . . . including the Creek words for boat.*   All major branches of the Creek Confederacy, except the Uchee, have migration legends that describe journeys by foot or water from lands to the south of the United States.  The Uchee say that they came across the Atlantic and landed at the mouth of the Savannah River.

*The Creek word for a boat is perro.  An Eastern Peruvian word for a boat is piro. Ase is the Creek and Panoan word for “Sacred Black Drink”.  Chiki (house), taube (salt), Iche (corn), talako (bean), mako (leader), hene ahau (sibling of Great Sun) and chilam (write) mean the same in Eastern Creek and Itza Maya.

The Migration Legend of the Itsate (Hitchiti) people states that their ancestors arrived by boat from lands to the south and settled first near a great lake in southern Florida.  They then lived for awhile in a “land of reeds,” but ultimately established roots at where Downtown Savannah is located.  In an earlier article, it was learned that a century ago, the Seminole People of Southern Florida openly described themselves as “Mayas who immigrated to North America to escape famine.”  

The Miccosukee Migration Legend said that their ancestors originated in southern Mexico then walked along the edge of the Gulf of Mexico until they reached what is now Georgia. The languages of the Miccosukee and certain branches of the Mayas are so close that they understand the gist of what each other is saying.  The Kashita Migration Legend said that their ancestors originated at the foot of the Orizaba Volcano in western Vera Cruz and then walked around the edge of the Gulf of Mexico to the Southeastern United States.

Between 1948 and 1968, the nationally respected archaeologist, Arthur Kelly, found artifacts along the Lower Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, which did not seem to “fit” into local artistic traditions.  In early 1969, he made a public announcement in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he had found artifacts that he believed were either made in Mesoamerica or were copies of artifacts made in Mesoamerica.  He was immediately attacked on all sides by many of his professional peers.   He spent the rest of his life as professional pariah in the Southeast.

In October 2012,  the laboratory of the University of Minnesota Department of Earth Sciences found a 100% match between attapulgite from a mine in the State of Georgia and Maya blue stucco from a temple in Palenque, Chiapas that was furnished by the INAH.   It was announced on an internationally broadcast prime time program on the History Channel, the evening of December 21, 2012 . . . the beginning of the new Maya calendar.  The discovery has been completely ignored by all professional anthropological journals in hope that no one will find out. Need we say more.

First, we will have a little geography lesson.

Am Ixchel:  Am Ixchel means “Place of the Goddess Ixchel” in the dialect of Maya spoken by the Chontal Mayas in Tabasco State, Mexico.  The Chontal Maya were the premier mariners of the Americas. Unlike most other branches of the Mayas, the Mayas in Tabasco considered Ixchel to be their most important deity.  Shrines to her were marked by crescent shaped mounds or piles of sea shells.  Of course, crescent mounds are quite common along the Florida Gulf Coast and near Lake Okeechobee.

At the time that the Spanish began exploring Mesoamerica and North America, there were three towns and surrounding provinces on the periphery of the Gulf of Mexico named Am Ixchel (Amichel in Spanish).  They were on the northern tip of Yucatan, Tampico Bay in Tamaulipas State, Mexico and the region between Mobile Bay, Alabama and the Apalachicola Delta in Florida.  The province of the Chakata People corresponded to the Province of Am Ixchel.  See POOF’s recent article on THE CHAKATA.

The three towns, named Am Ixchel formed an equilateral triangle, with the vector between Mobile Bay and the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula being aligned to true North-South.  The vector between Tampico Bay and Mobile Bay, when extended intersects a vector between the ancient  Ladds Mountain Observatory in Cartersville, GA and the mouth of the Apalachicola River.  The point of this intersection is the location of the large town of Patauli (Singer-Moye Mounds).

The Am Ixchel at the northern tip of Yucatan was immediately due south of the mouth of Mobile Bay.  It would have been quite simple for Chontal Maya navigators to maintain a true north course and therefore, not necessary to follow the shore line along Florida


Typical Chontal Maya town on an island in the Usumacinta Delta

Usumacinta River Delta:  The Usumacinta  River was the primary trade corridor for many Maya provinces.  The serpentine channel of the  Usumcinta is a mirror image of the Altamaha River in Georgia.  The distances between the ocean and the Fall Lines of these rivers are almost exactly the same.  At the Fall Line of the Usumacinta was the Maya salt-trading center of Waka, set on a terrace above the river.  At the Fall Line of the Ocmulgee River, a major tributary of the Altamaha, was another town named Waka, which was set on a terrace above the river. That is why one of the members of the Creek Confederacy was named the Wakate or Wakake.

The Chontal Mayas lived on the islands in the marshes of the Usumacinta Delta.  The region today is called Chontalpa, which means “Place of the Chontal.” Over time, they became the most skilled mariners in Mesoamerica and came to dominate its regional trade.  There was little difference in appearance between a Chontal Maya town and a Muskogean town.  Both peoples built pyramidal earthen mounds.  Their houses were identical.  The Chontal Mayas were illiterate and considered barbarians by Classic Period Maya elite.


The Usumacinto River was the primary trade artery to the ocean for many of the most famous Maya cities. They included Waka in Guatemala, plus Palenque, Bonampak, Tonina, Piedras Negras, Pomona, Yaxchilan, Amparo, Anayte, Chiapas, Chinikha and Chinkultic in Mexico.

Candidates for the first Chontal Maya trading centers and Itza Maya colonies

Temple to the Maya goddess Ixchel at Ortona, Florida

Temple to the Maya goddess Ixchel at Ortona, Florida – Ixchel temples always were framed by crescent-shaped earthworks.

(1) Calusa Bay – Lake Okeechobee:  The famous Creek mikko, Tamachichi, had a pure Itza Maya name that means “Trade Dog”.  He told Georgia’s colonial leader, James Edward Oglethorpe, that his ancestors sailed across the ocean from the south and first settled on a large lake in Florida.  This was probably the Calusahatchee River Basin, just south of Lake Okechobee.  Beginning around 450 BC, an advanced culture began developing in this region that is is the oldest definite location where corn was grown in North America.  Between 900 AD and 1150 AD, the population was very dense with dozens of towns connected by canals and earthen causeways.

Tamachichi’s ancestors then moved northward and lived in a swampy land with many reeds.  This may be the headwaters region of the St. Johns River, which contains many lakes and marshes.  An advanced culture of mound builders once lived there during the period from 900 AD to about 1150 AD.  Invaders (Arawaks?) arrived in Florida and so his ancestors paddled northward and settled where Savannah is today.  Tamachichi pointed to a mound on Yamacraw Bluff in Savannah and stated that his ancestors were buried there.


Chontal Maya Figurine

(2) Florida Keys:   The Florida Keys would have been the first landfall north of Cuba.   There are mounds on several of the keys.  Some have been excavated.  However, there has never been a specific effort to identify Chontal Maya type artifacts.  They are not terribly different from the artifacts found on the Lower Chattahoochee River during the Woodland and Early Mississippian Periods (200 AD – 1200 AD).

(3) Mobile Bay – Bottle Creek Mounds:  Mobile Bay is a logical place for Maya traders to have established a base.  Right now, the only known site that resembles a Chontal Maya trading base is Bottle Creek Mounds on a side channel of the Mobile River, just north of Mobile Bay.  However, it has been radiocarbon dated to between 1250 AD and 1550 AD. That’s way too late for Classic Period Maya exploration activities.  The Chontal Maya bases in Tamaulipas State, Mexico (also called Am Ixchel) were abandoned around 1250, when the region was devastated by Chichimec barbarians.   If there was a Classic Period  Maya colony (0 AD – 900 AD) it must have been somewhere else . . . perhaps on the bay itself.

Bottle Creek Mounds, Alabama

Bottle Creek Mounds near Mobile, Alabama was identical in every detail to the large Chontal Maya trading ports along Mexico’s Gulf Coast.

(4) Apalachicola River Delta:  It was proved by the University of Minnesota’s Department of Earth Science in 2012 that for many centuries attapulgite was mined in the Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin of Southwest Georgia.   The confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers becomes the Apalachicola River.  Thus, for certain, Maya sea craft entered the Apalachicola Delta of Florida.  This region is very similar in appearance to the Chontalpa on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico.  Chontal Mayas would have felt right at home there.  It is quite likely that they established at least one village near the mouth of the river.  Below is shown likely locations for Chontal villages.


(5) Lower Chattahoochee and Flint River Basins:  Between 1948 and 1968 the famous Georgia archaeologist, Arthur R. Kelly, found several artifacts in this region, which seemed “out of place.”   They were small bowls, jars, figurines and cylindrical clay seals that were not similar to artifacts he had found in Georgia and Alabama throughout his career.  They were most concentrated along the Flint River, northwest of the town of Attapulgus, GA.  


Mysterious stone building on the Lower Flint River

In 1969,  John S. Pennington of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote an article about Kelly’s discoveries and his theory that these artifacts came from Mesoamerica or were copies of Mesoamerican artifacts.  Kelly’s colleagues in the Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists had a flying fit.  

A stone hoe was mysteriously stolen from the boxes of artifacts from the Mandeville Site at the University of Georgia’s Laboratory of Archaeology . . .  then on a Sunday afternoon in June of 1969, inserted in a mound near Six Flags Over Georgia in Metro Atlanta.  Kelly was charged with stealing the hoe, but later cleared.  Nevertheless, he was sacked from his faculty position and spent the rest of his life as a pariah.  The two student assistants at the archaeology lab at that time are now members of the Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists. 

No one else was ever charged with the crime.  Strangely, the same Georgia archaeologists, who were outraged about Arthur Kelly’s theory that Mesoamericans had visited the Southeast and the supposedly lax security measures at the UGA Laboratory of Archaeology, suddenly wanted the whole matter hushed up after they had ruined Kelly’s reputation on the local evening news.  Atlanta TV stations never followed with news reports, which stated that Arthur Kelly had been cleared of any criminal activities. 

Ironically, it was attapulgite from a mine located between the Flint River and Attapulgus, Georgia which was found in the Maya Blue stucco on a temple in Palenque, Chiapas.   That attapulgite would have been paddled up the Usumacinta River.  Also, near the mouth of the Flint River are the ruins of an oval stone building that was identical to structures built by the Mayas along the Usumacinta River.




Apalachicola-Creek salt making facility on Tybee Island, GA

Creek Indian brine drying facility on Tybee Island, GA   Sketch by Phillip Von Reck in 1737

(6) Tybee Island, Georgia:   Tamachichi’s Migration Legend stated that his ancestors eventually settled where Savannah is todoy, but there is historical and linguistic evidence of a possible early presence of Chontal Mayas on Tybee Island at the mouth of the Savannah River.  Tybee is the Anglicization of the Itza Maya and Itsate Creek (Hitchiti) word for salt, taube.  When Savannah was settled in 1733, the colonists observed Native American buildings and mounds on Tybee Island, associated with the large scale manufacture of salt from sea water. 

The Savannah River is the shortest and straightest route between the ocean and the Southern Appalachians.  The region between the Lower Savannah River and the Ogeechee River was the original homeland of the Uchee (Yuchi) People.  Perhaps their proximity to the mountains is what propelled them to be heavily involved with regional trade.  The Usumacinto River was the primary trade artery to the ocean for many of the most famous Maya cities.  They included Waka in Guatemala, plus Palenque, Bonampak, Tonina, Piedras Negras, Pomona, Yaxchilan, Amparo, Anayte, Chiapas, Chinikha and Chinkultic in what is now Mexico.

Merchant of Jaina Island, Yucatan

Merchant of Jaina Island, Yucatan

Furthermore, the presence of a brine processing facility on an island named with the Itza word for sale is highly significant. The backbone of the wealth made by Chontal and Itza traders in Mesoamerica was the salt trade.  Because of hurricanes, “regular” Mayas did not like to live near the coast. They were usually afraid of the ocean and did not venture very far from the ocean shore.  As a result, vast quantities of salt were transported inland by the Chontal Mayas to meet the needs of exploding urban populations.  The salt was traded for such valuable commodities as jade, cacoa beans, quetzal fevers,  gold, jaguar skins and copal resin.  By the end of the Classic Maya Era in 800 AD, the wealth of the Chontal merchants rivaled that of the kings. 

Beginning when Palenque was incinerated by the El Chichon Volcano around 800 AD,  one Maya city after another collapsed. The last Maya “Long Calendar Date” was carved around 900 AD.  Endemic warfare interfered with trade.  The Chontal Mayas began looking for other markets.  This is probably when they made a concerted effort to establish markets in northeastern Mexico, Cuba and southeastern North America.  It is no accident that a market town was established on a terrace overlooking the Ocmulgee River in Macon at the exact moment in time when Maya civilization was “toast.”   It is probably no accident either that at the same time, the population and sophistication of the towns along the Caloosahatchee River in southern Florida exploded.   A century later, there was a rash of new towns and mountainside terrace complexes in Georgia and Alabama, shortly after the Itzas in Chichen Itza were attacked and subordinated by another ethnic group. 


Unless one asks questions . . . one will never get any answers.










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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.



    Keep going, Richard!
    The Maya are not entirely free from outside settlement.
    Jon Haskell showed me a picture of a small seated figurine with a Mayan headdress, found near Atlanta. The entire headdress is composed of Tartessian letters.
    The Tartessians lived in SW Portugal from 700 BC to about 520 BC, when they were ousted by an aggressive king of Carthage, who was trying to prevent Greeks and anyone else from competing on the Atlantic and western Mediterranean trade routes. The Carthaginian allies were the Etruscans of northern Italy. This policy eventually clashed with Rome.
    Based on Jon’s figurine, the Carthaginians may have sailed to Central America and joined the Mayas, but kept their writing system and language. They were expert navigators and metal smiths. Characteristically, they cremated their dead, For important people, they erected large stone steles with both a figure in the center and writing.around the periphery. These steles also occur in Italy and Greece from the same time period. One in Lemnos commemorates a great warrior chief and smith, who fashioned iron spearheads and trained a generation of smiths. One in Portugal commemorates a great warrior chief and navigator named Iron Jaw who raised and trained a great army, which defeated all the surrounding tribes that attacked them. They made money by supplying food and other necessities to the nearby copper miners in Spain, run by Phoenicians.


    Fascinating and enlightening as always! Thanks!

    • Thank you for your many kind comments and Merry Christmas!


        These articles blow my mind I live in Peebles Ohio 6 miles from Serpent Mound and I never started anything about Native American tribes befor until I moved here. Without even trying I would run into a different artifact everyday and after a while I decided to start investigating investigating led to massive research and I assumed because I live by Serpent Mound that these items were Hopewell forever year now I’ve been trying to get archaeologist to come to my house after showing them pictures of the artifacts and none of them will get back in contact with me I could not understand why I have shell mask I have wooden carvings I have copper figures I have all types of stone carvings I even have a jade bear I did not understand that this can maybe be the mind at best I thought maybe the Hopewell High did some trading with the Mayan but now after reading your article I’m 100% convinced it was the Mayan I even have a little 6 or 7 ft model of one of their boats and did not realize what it was until I just seen the exact same thing and your article this is amazing I really think you should get in touch with me I even have a piece of pottery that is the Mayan Blue and thousands of other artifacts I would hate for all these to go to waste cuz it seems like that’s what they will do hopefully you can help me


    Fascinating! Merry Christmas Richard!


    Langnappe a local Mobile flyer had an article on the bottle creek mounds recently. The name of the paper is suppose to mean “something extra” origin New Orleans. Upon many googles it turns out to be a peruvian word. Thing that make you go hmmmmmmm.

    • H’mm is right. However in Swedish and Norwegian it means “Long nap.” The Peruvian version sounds more exciting. LOL


    Merry Christmas!!! Richard, Your Maya / Itza / Apalacha trade map could be extended to include Colombia and Panama as Colon’s logbook included making contact with at least one Trade ship that had over 200 people on the ship… South of the Yucatan area. Bartram (1775) also noted Native cargo ships still making trips to Cuba from North Florida.. lots of trade contact in the old days.


    Once again, thank you, Richard, for another great article.
    Wishing you a Merry Christmas, and all the best in 2017!


        I recently took a DNA test. I matched ch’ol people of Chiapas. My family is from Alabama. I thought this was crazy until I found out that moundville is up the river from the Whatley area where my family is from. I think this is an excellent article.

        • That’s amazing. The Cho’i people were here in the Nacoochee Valley of NE Georgia too. Their town was called Cho’ite, later Chotee.


    First of all: Happy New Year – All the best wishes for 2017 to everyone.

    This is a great post. I am still amazed on how much there is to be (re-)discovered in the Americas.
    The following quote is in my opinion an important one:

    “The Savannah River is the shortest and straightest route between the ocean and the Southern Appalachians. The region between the Lower Savannah River and the Ogeechee River was the original homeland of the Uchee (Yuchi) People. Perhaps their proximity to the mountains is what propelled them to be heavily involved with regional trade. The Usumacinto River was the primary trade artery to the ocean for many of the most famous Maya cities. They included Waka in Guatemala, plus Palenque, Bonampak, Tonina, Piedras Negras, Pomona, Yaxchilan, Amparo, Anayte, Chiapas, Chinikha and Chinkultic in what is now Mexico.”

    The Uchee is a very important link in my ongoing research on the origin of the Cherokee.
    We all have somewhat come to the conclusion that the Cherokee or atleast their main source population are originally from the Middle-East and Caucasus.
    After establishing the origin of their main source population I have focused on their migration legend.

    The Cherokee migration is said to have started somewhere in the Southwest (New Mexico, Arizona region (Mexico?), migrating northeast through the Great Plains into the Great Lakes region (Eastern Woodlands) where they were eventually pushed south by the Iroguois into the Southeast (Southern Appalachians).
    Although I am aware that many will disagree with my theory; I will share my thoughts and findings:

    Classification Uchee / Yuchi Language:
    “Yuchi is classified as a language isolate, because it is not known to be related to any other language. Various linguists have made claims; however, that the language has a distant relationship with the Siouan family: Sapir in 1921 and 1929, Haas in 1951, and 1964, Elmendorf in 1964, Rudus in 1974, and Crawford in 1979.”

    Pre-Contact Siouan-Catawban + Yuchi Language Maps:

    The Crow Nation – Absaroka / Absarokee

    From the heart of the Crow country: the Crow Indians’ own stories
    by Joseph Medicine Crow – Originally published: 1992

    Early History
    “Most of the Northwest Plains Indians originally came from northeastern North America. They were forced out of their forest and woodland habitat by more numerous and powerful tribes, perhaps the Chippewa, Ojibwa and Cree. The ancestors of the present Crow Indians came from a “Land of Many Lakes,” probably in the headwaters of the Mississippi or farther north in the Winnepa Lake region, in the latter part of the sixteenth century. Legends also refer to an ancient ancestral tribe that once lived in the woodlands of what is now the state of Wisconsin about 1500 A.D.”

    “In Hidatsa language, Absarokee means “Children of the Large-beaked Bird” (absa meaning “large-beaked bird” and rokee meaning “children” or offspring).”

    “Other Indian tribes called these people the “Sharp People,” implying that they were as crafty and alert as the bird absa (probably the raven) for which they were named. In referring to them in the hand-sign language, they would simulate the flapping of bird wings in flight. White men interpreted this sign to mean the bird crow and thus called the tribe the “Crow Indians.”,_Montana
    “The name Absarokee is derived from Apsáalookěi, the name given to the Crow Indian Tribe by the related Hidatsa people with Apsáa meaning “large-beaked bird” and lookěi meaning “children”. Apsáalookěi thus literally means “children of the large-beaked bird”. (The name “Crow” comes from the French gens du corbeaux or “people of the crows” as Apsáalookěi was translated by French fur traders in 1743.)”
    “The name of the tribe, Apsáalooke, meaning “children of the large-beaked bird,” was given to them by the Hidatsa, a neighboring Siouan-speaking tribe.”

    “The early home of the Crow-Hidatsa ancestral tribe was in the Ohio country, near Lake Erie. Driven from there by better armed, aggressive neighbors, they settled for a while south of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba.”

    Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba are located in Canada directly north of Minnesota and North Dakota.

    In my opinion Winnipeg and Winnebago are related.

    Hoocąągra / Winnebago Tribe:

    In the State Wisconsin you have the Hoocąągra, sometimes called “Ho-Chunk” (Hoocąạk) or Wisconsin Winnebago.
    “The Ho-Chunk was the dominant tribe in its territory in the 16th century, with a population estimated at several thousand. Their traditions hold that they have always lived in the area. Ethnologists have speculated that, like some other Siouan peoples, the Ho-Chunk originated along the East Coast and migrated west in ancient times. Perrot wrote that the names given to them by neighboring Algonquian peoples may have referred to their origin near a salt water sea.”

    “The Hoocąągra are a matrilineal indigenous tribe who speak a Siouan language, which they believe to be given to them by their creator, Waxopini Xete (the Great Spirit).”

    “The term “Winnebago” is a term used by the Potawatomi, pronounced as “Winnipego.” Their native name is Ho-Chąąnk (or Hoocąạk), meaning “sacred voice”.

    “Nicholas Perrot was an early 20th-century historian who believed that the Algonquian terms referred to salt-water seas, as these have a distinctive aroma compared with fresh-water lakes. An early Jesuit record says that the name refers to the origin of Le Puans near the salt water seas to the north. Algonquins also called the Winnebago, “the people of the sea.” (A Native people who lived on the shores of Hudson Bay were called by the same name.)”

    “In recent studies, ethnologists have concluded that the Hoocąągra, like the other Siouan-speaking peoples, originated on the east coast of North America and gradually migrated west. Recently, several Hoocąąk elders have claimed that they originated in the Midwest and that they predated the last ice age. The early 20th-century researcher H.R. Holand claimed they originated in Mexico, where they had contact with the Spanish and gained a knowledge of horses. David Lee contends the Hoocąąk were once akin to the Olmec there. His evidence derived from a culture based on corn growing, civilization type, and mound building. This followed the receding ice age. However, Holand cites the records of Jonathan Carver, who lived with the Hoocąągra in 1766–1768. But, contact with the Spanish could have occurred along the Gulf of Mexico or the south Atlantic coast, where other Hoocąąk type tribes originated and lived for centuries. Others suggested that the Hoocąągra originated near saltwater, to explain how mid-western tribes had a knowledge of the Pacific Ocean, which they described as being located where the earth ends and the sun sets into the sea. Generally the Hoocąągra claim that their people have always lived in what is now the north central United States.”

    Note: Their claim to have always lived on the land is almost modern Cherokee-like behaviour.

    Tribal Locations in 1760 Map:

    A Native American Encyclopedia – by Barry M. Pritzker – Originally Published: 1998

    Chapter Six – The Great Plains
    Page 313:
    Crow – Historical Information
    “The Hidatsa-Crow lived originally in the Ohio country. From there, they moved to northern Illinois, through western Minnesota and into the Red River Valley, south of Lake Winnipeg. There they remained for at least several hundred years, beginning around the twelfth or thirteenth century, growing gardens and hunting buffalo. Pressured by newly armed bands of Ojibwas and Crees, the group moved southwest to Devil’s Lake in the mid-sixteenth century and then again towards the upper Missouri River, north of the Mandans, where they continued to hunt and grow corn. In the late seventeeth century, the Crow struck out on their own towards southwestern Montana and northern Wyoming and the vicinity of the Yellowstone, Powder, and Mussellshell Rivers, During this period, they separated into mountain (southern Montana and northern Wyoming) and river (lower Yellowstone region) divisions.”

    Chapter Eight – The Northeast Woodlands
    Page 398:
    “All northeastern Indians but the Siouan Winnebagos spoke either Algonquian or Iroquoian Languages.”
    “The first Mesoamerican influences entered the region about 2000 B.C.E. in the form of pottery and polished stone items.”

    Page 400:
    “Warfare was endemic among most prehistoric Woodland Indians. The Iroquois revered war, although from about 1500 on, give or take 50 years or so, it was reserved for non-natives and tribes outside of the Iroquois League. The ritual torture of captives was common. Some groups also engaged in cannibalism. Both of these activities were associated with sun sacrifice and may show Mesoamerican influences.”

    Great Lakes Map:


    American Crow (Corvus Brachyrhynchos):

    Common Raven (Corvus Corax):

    Keel-billed toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus):

    Distribution and habitat (of the Toucan bird):
    Toucans are native to Southern Mexico, Central America, the northern part of South America, and the Caribbean region.

    As stated above; Apsáalooke (Apsáalookěi or Absaroka) means “children of the large-beaked bird”.
    In my opinion; The Apsáalooke are infact the Winnebago (Winnipeg?, Hoocąągra or Ho-Chunk) or at least related to the Winnebago who seemingly originally came from Southern Mexico or Central America.

    The Winnebago (a given name by the Potawatomi) are theorized to have entered the North American continent from the Eastcoast; probably via the Santee river, Pee Dee river or Cape Fear River perhaps even via the Savannah river or the Ogeechee river. That could explain the supposedly linguistic link between Uchee (Yuchi) and Siouan-Catawban speaking people also explaining why the Siouan languages are found in Virginia, Carolina and Tennessee region.
    In this scenario; The Winnebago migrated through southeastern America into the Southern Appalachian mountains. There they interacted with the Uchee (Yuchi) and migrated north towards the Great Lakes (Ohio, Lake Erie).
    From there they migrated westwards to Lake Michigan; Illinois, Wisconsin perhaps by force from incoming Iroquois; further northwestward migrations through Wisconsin into Minnesota and Lake Winnipeg (Winnipeg is probably the same as Winnibago) Manitoba region.
    The Winnebago were given the name “Apsáalooke” by the Hidatsa probably before they were pushed out by the Ojibwa, Cree tribes into North Dakota ultimately migrating to Montana and Wyoming.

    After reading a lot of information on the Winnebago, Absaroka; looking at various pictures and comparing the beaks of the American Crow and the Common Raven and the possible origin of the Winnebago (Apsáalooke?) in mind; I must come to a temporary conclusion until proven otherwise; that the Apsáa “larged-beaked bird” is not the crow or raven but the Toucan bird or Keel-billed toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus, other Toucan species?).
    Therefore the migration legend of the Cherokee is not their own but an altered version of the migration of the Winnebago (Winnipeg / Absaroka or Absarokee) who are (seemingly) Mesoamerican or Central American in origin.

    Note: The Winnebago could ultimately have entered Southeast North America into the Southern Appalachians region via the Appalachicola river (or atleast reached the Great Lakes region via the Mississippi river).

    This is my theory and should NOT be taken as fact until proven.

    • All that stuff about Uchee being similar to Catawba is horse manure. Some mid-20th century academician made a speculation without knowing a single word of Uchee. Then everybody repeated what he said as factual. I would be very cautious about assuming any of the things you quoted being factual. The only language that I have found to be similar to Uchee is one that was spoken on the western edge of Europe during the Bronze Age, before the Gaelic people arrived.

      Cherokees are constantly making new migration stories to suit the circumstances. If two more people repeat what the first one said, it suddenly becomes sacred Cherokee history.


        Thank you for your reply.
        Atleast we agree that the Cherokee migration legend / stories are false.
        My research now is to find out who’s migration story the Cherokee adopted and altered to legitimatize their right to be called natives who have lived thousands of years in Southern North America.

        The Uchee Catawba connection was maybe too hasty to conclude yet that still leaves the siouan language family on the east coast which could be linked to the Winnebago and possibly the Absarokee who might be of Meso-American or Central American origin.

        The Algonquins also called the Winnebago, “the people of the sea.” Are you familiar with the Algonquin language or do you know anyone who can translate the word Winnebago?
        If the Winnebago (Hoocąągra, Ho-Chunk); truly are are “the people of the sea”; they could be added to the long list of Meso-American, Central American and / or South American people who migrated to North America.


      I’m not so sure about that theory. Lake Winnipeg may in fact have been named for or about the Winnebago/Ho-Chunk, but the vast majority of tribal members lived around Green Bay WI through west-central IL until driven, in the mid-19th century, on FIVE separate Trails of Tears, basically all over WI, MN, IA and I forget where else (my great-great grandfather worked very hard to keep his people out of the middle of the Dakota Wars, where they were deliberately placed as a buffer; he then went to witness the hangings at Mankato, about which I still tremble). As a “reward”, since they were still distrusted and despised (and oh yes, their land was wanted) the tribe were then imprisoned in Ft.Snelling, and shipped via riverboat and cattle-car to NE Nebraska, but enough people kept coming back to western WI that now there are two (semi-) separate groupings and locations. At some point, I promise I’ll do enough real research to write up the Ho-Chunk connection to the Ohio mounds, but the one thing I can say pretty definitively is the Winnebago are not people of the Western plains. Certain groups did split off from them in the 1600s or so, but they went south-west to Missouri and Kansas, not Montana etc.


        Nancy, Thank you for your information on the Winnebago/Ho-Chunk. I brought up the Absarokee and the Winnebago / Ho-Chunk since their ancestral homelands are in the Great Lakes region where many mounds are found and are believed (theorized) to have been Mesoamerican (Mayan?) in origin and because this article post is about the first Maya immigrants in North America.

        Here are some quotes about a possible Mesoamerican / Central American connection with the Winnebago/Ho-Chunk.

        BOOK: LATINOS IN THE MIDWEST – Edited by Rubén O. Martinez

        Aztlán in the Midwest and Other Counternarratives Revealed

        Sandra M. Gonzales

        Migrations, Mounds and the Mayans in the Midwest

        “A Mexican scholar, Chavero wrote Historia Antigua, the first in a five-volume set of books entitled Resumen integral de México a través de los siglos. These texts outline the history of Mexico from indigenous “prehistory” to the age of industrialization and political reformation. Chavero (1953) details pre-Columbian trade and migratory practices that date back to at least 2,500 B.C.D., linking indigenous communities in what is now the American Midwest with Mayan groups as far away as present-day Central America. He describes the Mayans as the same as the peoples of “the North” (Chavero 1953, 69) and intermittently defines “the North” as the regions of the Mississippi Valley up to the Great Lakes. Chavero suggests that the Nahuas may have inhabited the region, predating the Mayans.”

        “Serpent stories and symbolism can be found throughout the United States and Mexico. Rodriguez (2008) affirms that the people of the Americas were bound together by a belief in a feathered serpent called Quetzalcoatl by the Nahua and Kukulcán by the Mayans. This connection is supported by a community of Ho-Chunk/Winnebago students and faculty who share a belief in a Mesoamerican link to the Midwest.”

        “In chapter 10 of Historia Antigua, Chavero (1953) describes what may be a Ho-Chunk connection. He argues that the animal mounds of Wisconsin and Ohio are from the great civilization of the Usumacinta region, a Mayan region, which borders the southern tip of Mexico and the northernmost part of Guatemala. More specifically, he argues that the Mayans went from south to north via the Gulf or Mexico, penetrating the Mississippi Valley region as they made their way up to the Great Lakes.”

        (Alfredo Chavero (Mexican scholar)

        The quote above makes it seem that the Ho-Chunk “Waką Hikikarac” snake clan could refer to the Quetzalcoatl (Nahua) and / or Kukulcán (Maya).
        Looking at the provided map in this article post it must have been possible and fairly easy for Mayan seafearers to enter the Mississippi river and migrate to the north to reach the Great Lakes.

        Are you able and willing to do more research in finding any factual proof on those quotes; theories?


          Yes, I am. I’ve found some stuff already, just haven’t had the time to sit down and sort through it, but I’ll happily take anything you, or anyone else, can provide! This stuff is beyond fascinating — and to think that even the slightest part of me could be Maya is, well, I can’t even find words for how amazing that still seems.

          Ho-Chunk means people of the large/original/Spirit voice btw; the word Winnebago is a pejorative by other tribes, referring to the smelly, marshy water around which they lived in Red Bank/Green Bay.


            It would be nice to hear / read your opinion on the theorized Winnebago / Ho-Chunk Meso-American connection.

            I myself am not entirely convinced. Not to be insulting to natives and / or readers; It seems like many members of various tribes in Eastern North America and other cultural areas either have distorted views on their origins which is a direct consequence of the (post-)colonial era when many natives were removed from their homes and westernized in such a way that only a few know their true identity.
            To fill the gaps in uncomplete legends, migration stories etc. people tend to adopt parts of others and / or even lie to fit the narrative.

            A good example would be the Cherokee who have been adopting and mixing with many tribes and other people to the point most don’t even know who they really are anymore.
            DNA already proved that the main source population of the Cherokee are of Middle-Eastern, Caucasian origin which makes their migration legend / story very questionable. The migration legend / story itself could (partially) be true but for a different tribe.
            I still think the Cherokee adopted and altered one of the migration legends of the Great Lakes tribes to legitimize their claim to have lived in Eastern North America for thousands of years.
            If that particular migration legend/story is based on a migration of a Great Lakes tribe; the Absarokee and/or the Winnebago / Ho-Chunk would be first to do research on.


    Hello, I just wanted to say that the other day I found out that the Spanish banned Amaranth in Mexico and it stayed that way for over 400 years. Do you have any insight into why? It seems to be a bit of a mystery for me.

    • It was banned until the mid-1700s, so I guess that was about 200 years, it was illegal. What I was told while studying in Mexico was that the Spanish observed that amaranth could grow about anywhere and had high nutrition, so it was capable of sustaining a rebel army, based out in remote areas. The Creeks also raised amaranth. It went feral and is now considered a garden pest in the Southeastern United States.


    Sorry wrong email


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