Forensics Reveal Supersized American Indians in South Florida
Lake Okeechobee contains both giant and diminutive skeletons of people, who immigrated from Central and South America.
Some of the most advanced indigenous cultures north of Mexico existed in the Lake Okeechobee and Caloosahatchee River Region of southern Florida. Most of the religious and political symbols associated with the “Mississippian” Culture were being used in South Florida about 500-600 years before they appeared elsewhere in North America. The towns of this region were linked by a sophisticated network of raised causeways and canals, yet there is no evidence that these people practice large scale agriculture. The probably cultivated raised gardens that were extremely productive year round, but did not grow Indian corn at a large scale.
From the beginning of the region’s settlement by Anglo-Americans in the mid-1800s there has been a consistent “urban legend” that South Florida was once inhabited by a race of giants. Early settlers claimed to have seen hundreds or thousands of massive skulls bobbing on the surface of the south end of Lake Okeechobee “that appeared like a field of pumpkins.” The legend included a belief that a massive hurricane had wiped out the entire population of giants.
During the 2006 to 2007 drought, Lake Okeechobee’s water level receded so low that thousands of artifacts appeared in the black muck of the lake bed. They included hundreds or thousands of human skeletons. Florida rangers tried frantically to protect these artifacts and skeletons from poachers. They were often successful, sometimes not. The Anthropology Department of Florida Atlantic University scooped what artifacts and skeletons it could. Some were distributed to other universities and institutions for forensic analysis and curation.
The most important archaeological site revealed by the drought was a cemetery with two levels of burials. Interred artifacts revealed that both levels of skeletons were associated with advanced cultures, which developed the sophisticated towns of the region. These were not relatively primitive Archaic Period hunters and gatherers as found in the Windover Pond (6000 BC -5000 BC) near Cape Canaveral. Although it should be added that the Windover Pond people knew how to weave many types of textiles.
The lower level contained short, small-boned American Indian skeletons that are typical of the Native peoples of Central America and the Amazon Basin. When the information was released to the public recently, reporters jumped to the conclusion that these people were Mayas. At this point, the forensic analysis of the small skeletons has not linked them to any specific ethnic group, just a region of the Americas.
The upper level of the cemetery contained much taller American Indian females and males, who had larger bones and taller stature. They were larger than the median average of males in the United States today and not like the indigenous skeletons found farther north in Florida. Some appear to have been seven feet or more, tall. Their skulls were massive and often showed signs of intentional deformation like the famous Paracus skulls found in the coastal plain of Peru.
Extremely tall skeletons are not uncommon in burial mounds associated with ancestors of the Creek Indians. They have also been found in northwestern Virginia. While directing the construction of Fort Loudon in Winchester, VA, George Washington uncovered a cemetery filled with seven foot tall skeletons. All of the extremely tall skeletons studied by archaeologists were American Indians. They were not Caucasians or Africans. Whether or not they were of mixed human-extraterrestrial humanoid ancestry has not been determined and of course, is a matter of conjecture.
There is something very significant about the descriptions of these super-sized skulls that the geneticists are missing. The High Kings of the Calusa Indians of South Florida, the indigenous people on the South Carolina and Georgia Coasts, plus the Apalache of northern Georgia, were called Paracus-te, which means Paracus People in Itza Maya and Itsate Creek.
What these discoveries seem to be indicating is that the elite of the Southeastern mound building societies were descended from the Paracus People of Peru, the folks who built the elaborate Nazca animal effigies on the Nazca Plain. The Nazca People, who followed them, built the Nazca Lines. They were not associated with the giant Nazca skulls.
It looks like that our friend, 17th century French ethnologist, Charles de Rochefort, was right again. He said that the elite of Apalache were extremely tall and culturally sophisticated, while the commoners were somewhat tall. However, the commoner’s cultural traditions that de Rochefort describe were more or less equivalent to the Muskogean cultures later described by18th century settlers.
See the companion article in POOF: How super-sized kings affected your tribe’s history.
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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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