Hee-Haw . . . words on Dixie’s road maps that you didn’t dream were Maya
The ancient history of the Southeastern United States is on its road maps, but no one ever took the time to REALLY look up the origins of many of its geographical place names. What 99% of references do is merely replicate the speculations in the past of someone, who didn’t know what they were talking about.
Remember back in 2012 when the Georgia archaeologists strutted around like peacocks, claiming that they knew for a fact that there was no evidence of Maya immigration in North America and they’uns were the experts on subject? The truth was that they didn’t know diddlysquat about Creek cultural history or linguistics and didn’t have a clue, who the Itza Mayas were.
We’uns can be blind to the obvious, too. So blind that if it was a snake, it would have bitten me. Scientific research is an on-going process. There is never one point that you know everything.
Nowadays, most Southeastern Native Americans know that Etowah comes from the Itza Maya word, Etula, which means “Principal Town” or “Capital” and that the original name of the Tennessee River until around 1785 was a Maya word . . . Callimaco . . . which means “House or Palace of the King.” Tallulah is the Anglicization of the Itsate Creek word, talula, which means a district administrative town with one mound. Almost the same word in Itza Maya is tulala. However, throughout the Lower Southeast are hundreds of common place names that are Itza Maya words or partially derived from Itza Maya words. You are going to be surprised.
Every few days, I have OMG moments in which revelations appear that I had never thought about before. The new information changes the way that I interpret the old information. This essay is about the revelations on hee and haw. We will be starting with haw, however.
Haw is the Itza Maya word for water. After Itza refugees came to North America, haw became a suffix in several river names and place names. It is especially common in the Coastal Plain of South Carolina and Georgia. In South Carolina, it is more commonly seen as the names of ponds or slow moving streams. Here are some Itza Maya river, stream and mountain names.
Chiaha Creek = Chia (Salvia) River [as in Chia Pets and Chia seed]
Cheaha Creek and Mountain = Chia (Salvia) River
Altamaha River = Place of Trade – River
Alapaha River = Aligator – River
Alabaha River = Aligator – River
Chehaw Creek = Chia (Salvia) River
Cheoah River and Mountain* = Chia (Salvia) River
*This was the original location of the Chiaha, visited by Hernando de Soto and Captain Juan Pardo. After the Cherokees arrived in western North Carolina, the Chiaha Creeks moved southward into Alabama and Georgia – ultimately into Florida.
Waxhaw Creek = waaks-haw = a spring
Hatchee, hatchee or hoochee
Most people in the Southeast know that these suffixes mean “river” is “some Injun language.” Many in Alabama, Georgia and Florida know that it is the Creek Indian word for a river or creek. These suffixes are the Anglicizations of a Creek word that is spelled hvcci and pronounced Häw : tchē. I knew that Haw was the Itza word for water, but it never dawned on me that “hatchee” would be a Maya word . . . it seemed so “good ole fashion Muskogean.”
Then this morning I was trying to translate the name of a town with an Itza name in the Mexican state of Chiapas (Place of the Chia or Salvia). By rummaging through the Itza dictionary, I finally realized that the Itza suffix “xi” meant “moving.” So the Itza word for a river or creek was haw’xi . . . which is pronounced Häw : tchē. It is exactly the same word as the Creek word! OMG!
There are hundreds of rivers and creeks in the Southeast that end with hatchee, hachee or hoochee. Here are some of the better known that are derived from Itza Maya words.
Chattahoochee (GA) = tcha’ta – haw’xi = Engraved Stone (stela) – Moving Water
Alapahoochee (GA) = Alligator – Moving Water
Tallahatchee (MS) = Tula – haw’xi = Town – Moving Water
Salkehatchie (SC) = Raccoon People – Moving Water
Choctawhatchee (AL) = Choctaw – Moving Water
Chubbehatchee (AL) = Big – Moving Water
Calusahatchee (FL) = Calusa – Moving Water
Hee or Hi
There were about 134 branches of the Maya Civilization. Many of the branches were not originally “ethnic Mayas” and spoke languages that were quite different than “Classic Maya.” The Itza People were one of those branches. They probably were originally from Peru, because some of their core words are very close to the Panoan languages of Peru. However, for 600 years the Itzas were ruled by the Totonacs of East-Central Mexico. They absorbed many Totonac words into their language. “Hi” is one of those suffixes that the Itzas borrowed from the Totonacs and then took with them to North America.
“Hi” is a suffix that is added to a noun or verb to create another noun, which describes the person that does this activity. “Hi” can also mean to build something.
For example, tama is the verb meaning “to trade.” So a tamahi is a merchant. Kauna is a earthen mound, so kaunahi (now Connahee) would be a “mound builder.” Chiki-hi would be a house builder. The “hi” suffix is typically written as a “hee” on the end of a modern place name word. Place names with “hee” or “hi” at the end more commonly are associated with valleys or mountains, such a Currahee Mountain. However, the Combahee River in South Carolina is named after the Combahee People, an indigenous tribe associated with the Cusabo Alliance.
Now you know!
Latest posts by Richard Thornton (see all)
- New Video: Exploration of the Soque River Basin - June 24, 2019
- Like most of the other sites, the Ladds Mountain Observatory became gravel! - June 22, 2019
- Celebrating the Creek New Year! - June 21, 2019
- US Senator Richard Burr accuses Cherokees of bribing state officials and bullying other Carolina tribes. - June 20, 2019
- Joy Harjo named first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States! - June 19, 2019