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How Super-sized Kings Affected Your Tribe’s History

In the Southeast, seven foot tall Paracus-te kings were acquired like trade goods.

Did you know that the Native Peoples of eastern Peru have long drunk a highly caffeinated tea made from a close relative of the Yaupon Holly? Their ritual life also includes use of several herbs that when mixed with this tea cause them to vomit. Caffeine and ritual purging are considered a necessary step before making important decisions. Now whose culture in the Southeastern USA does that sound like? The original name for Ossabaw Island, GA was Ase-bo or Yaupon Holly – Place of People.  Ase (Yaupon Holly Tea) is a pure Panaon word that was absorbed by the Creek language.  OMG

First let me emphasize that the existence of seven feet tall leaders in the Southeast is NOT in the realm of speculation or purple, extraterrestrial spiders building the Maya pyramids. There are numerous eyewitness accounts of seven feet tall Native American leaders in the Southeast. Those accounts include the king of the most powerful province on the coast of Georgia in the late 1500s and the 93 year old, seven feet tall commander of those Creek factions in the American Revolution, who were allied with the British. Royal burials, containing seven feet tall men were found at Ocmulgee and Etowah in Georgia, plus several other locations in the Southeast, including Fort Loudon in Winchester, VA. As we mentioned in a news brief earlier this week, the Anthropology Department of Florida Atlantic University has identified an indigenous people around Lake Okeechobee, who had super-sized skeletons and massive skulls.

Firearms had a selective impact on the Native American gene pool. Being seven feet tall was a major advantage in hand-to-hand combat, but made the super-sized warrior kings inviting targets for marksmen, armed with rifled muskets. Although Creek men from the Piedmont and Appalachians tend to be substantially taller than Caucasian men, one no longer sees many seven feet tall Muskogeans.

The Tamahiti or Tama-koa Itinerate Merchants

Satouriwa by Teodor De Bry

An engraving by Teodor De Bry of the seven foot tall king of the Satibo or Sati-le People near the Satilla River in Southeast Georgia, meeting Captain René de Laudonnière. The French called him Satouriwa. That is undoubtedly derived from the Satibo words, Sati Orawa, which means Sati Leader. Satipo Province in eastern Peru gets its name from the Spanish derivation of Satibo. “Bo” is the Panoan Language (South American) word for “people.” There were Native towns, named Satibo, Satikoa, Satipa and Satike in both Southeast Georgia and the Smoky Mountains.

Tama is the Totonac verb for “to trade or buy.” Totonac was the language of the elite of Tula (Teotihuacan in Aztec) the great city in the Valley of Mexico. It is currently believed that the commoners of that great city spoke several languages, but were predominantly from the Otomi People.

Tamahiti means “merchant people” in both Itza Maya and Itsate (Hitchiti) Creek. “Koa” is a Caribbean and northern South American word for “tribe or clan.” Tamahiti and Tama-koa have the same meaning in English. Tama is the word for maize among several southern branches of the Shawnee.

According to Mexican tradition, between around 250 BC and 600 AD, Teotihuacan sent out merchant-missionaries to all known parts of their world to introduce civilization and make a profit. It is interesting that the existence of towns with platform mounds on the Chattahoochee and Etowah Rivers exactly corresponds with the life span of Teotihuacan. However, this chronological similarity may be the result of climate, not contacts from traveling merchants. It should be added, though, that the real name of Etowah Mounds was E-tula, which means “Great Town” in Itza Maya. It could be that the traders that made it into the interior of the Southeast were the mixed-heritage descendants of Totonac tamahiti, who carried only vague knowledge of Tula, passed down from generation to generation.

For about seven years, People of One Fire researchers have learned more and more about the Native merchants, who paddled up the Southeast’s rivers in Pre-European times, spreading cultural knowledge and Mesoamerican crops. Those who first arrived at the mouths of the Mississippi, Mobile and Chattahoochee Rivers, spoke trade jargon that mixed in varying proportions, Totonac, Itza Maya, Huastec, Tunica and proto-Muskogean. Those who arrived on the peninsular Gulf Coast of Florida spoke the languages of the northern Yucatan Peninsula and eastern Peru. Those who arrived on the South Atlantic coast spoke languages that mixed southern Maya, eastern Peruvian languages and Arawak.

Timucua is the Late Medieval Castilian way of saying Tama-koa. Ironically, although now the ethnic name given by Florida anthropologists for a cluster of provinces in the northeastern section of their state, the only tribe that called itself, Tamakoa, was on the Altamaha River about 35 miles upstream from the Atlantic. Its last know location, during the late 1700s, was on the headwaters of the Oconee River, a tributary of the Altamaha, in the Upper Piedmont of Georgia. By that time, it was a member of the Creek Confederacy. The original name of Jefferson, GA in Jackson County was Thamagoa – as in the word used by De Laudonnière in his memoir.

Throughout the past seven years, we assumed that the introduction of Mesoamerican and South American crops into Eastern North America could be explained by these traveling merchants. However, the irrefutable evidence of a regional trade in “kings” provides another dimension to cultural diffusion.

Paracus-te Kings

Paracus Skulls at Inca Museum

Paracus Skulls at Inca Museum

Several 16th and 17th century eyewitness accounts by European visitors to Lower Southeast gave the name of the High King of confederated Native provinces as Paracus-te. All of these Paracus-te were giant men, who were about seven feet tall. The word is hybrid Peruvian-Itza Maya for Paracus People. The Paracus constructed the famous animal effigies on the Nazca Plain in eastern Peru. The Nazca People, who followed the Paracus, constructed the simpler Nazca Lines. The Paracus are best known for their giant skulls that were intentionally deformed to create extraterrestrial like forms. [See photo above-left.]

The details of the Paracus-te in Apalache are described in the book that Marilyn Rae and I wrote last fall, The Apalache Chronicles.

I was very surprised by the use of this South American title in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The Paracus-te ruled over several provincial kings, who themselves used the Itza Maya title of hene ahau (henehau) or mako (now mikko.) The Itza Maya titles have survived into modern Creek as the derived names for the Principal Chief and Second Chief of the Muscogee –Creek Nation. The South American title of the High King has disappeared.

In several eyewitness accounts from the late 1600s and 1700s, we read European accounts of non-Muskogean tribes in the northern regions of the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic states and Midwest, buying a chief from the Creek Wind Clan, when their old chief died. This seems to have been a way that the Shawnees, Algonquians and Siouans avoided inter-clan feuds. According to a tradition that I read while living in the Shenandoah Valley, the famous Virginia high king, Powhattan and his brother, were purchased from a Muskogean province. They were said to be much taller than most of their Algonquin subjects.

This system of acquiring supreme leaders from culturally advanced peoples would explain how many customs that originated in the Upper Amazon Basin or Maya Highlands spread across the landscape of eastern North America. According to 17th century French ethnologist, Charles de Rochefort, the Paracus-te was also the High Priest [See The Apalache Chronicles.] Religious practices apparently spread via the “king trade.” New and improved vegetable seeds apparently spread across North America via the tamahiti.

Right now in our research process, it looks like Conibo immigrants and customs first arrived during the Woodland Period. The Conibo brought tobacco, the sweet potato, Swift Creek Style stamped pottery and drank a caffeinated beverage made from certain holly leaves . There was a wave of Shippibo immigrants around 600 to 800 AD, who brought Napier Style stamped pottery and the bow & arrow.

Bands of Itza refugees arrived in the period between 800 AD and 1000 AD. They introduced the chiki style prefabricated house. The Totonacs, Itza Mayas and Eastern Creeks all use the word chiki, for house. They also introduced five-side mounds and formal town planning.

My current speculation is that elites, descended from Itza immigrants or immigrants from Tamaulipas around 1250 AD, dominated the Southeast during the period from 900 AD to 1375 AD. There are four Itza glyphs on Boulder Six of the Track Rock petroglyphs, which read Mako Hene Ahau Kukulkan = Great Sun Lord Quetzal-Serpent. After 1375 AD no more five-side Itza mounds are built and the calendar shifted to beginning on the Summer Solstice.

Artifacts of the Lamar Culture after 1375 AD can be found in the exact region that Charles de Rochefort described as the Kingdom of Apalache. The Georgia Apalache maintained many South American customs. He said that the kingdom was really a confederacy of many ethnic groups. The Florida Apalache were originally colonists from the Georgia Apalache. Tallahassee is the Anglicization of the Itsate Creek words for “Offspring of highland towns.”

Your Muskogee, Hitchiti, Seminole, Chickasaw, Yuchi, Proto-Cherokee, Shawnee, Alabama, Koasati and Florida Apalachee ancestors were making similar versions of Lamar Pottery and under the Paracus-te (High Priest-King) of Apalache, but also remembered their own traditions. De Rochefort stated that when the Paracus-te was converted to Protestant Christianity by a small group of Fort Caroline survivors, the commoners stopped observing the elite’s South American style invisible sun god religion and went back to their traditional religions. They also began seeing themselves as separate tribes again.

The last known Paracus-te of Apalache was King Mahdo. That today is the pronunciation of the Creek word for thank you, mvto. The Eastern Cherokee word for thank you is, wahdo.

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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.



    Just saw this. Thought you may be interested in Yerba Buena Island prior to it becoming a Military Base. Under “Indian Graveyard” the first group (recent) were average height. The second group were “on average” the height of 6’6 with the women being over 6 feet also. They also were buried sitting up as was Tsiyu’gansini and from what I’ve heard others from the South:

    • Now that is really interesting. The Creeks got up to 7 feet tall. I wonder if these are there ancestors.

      Thanks for sending it.


    • The burial style they described for the tall skeletons is typical of the Andes Mountain cultures and also the Apalache of Northern Georgia.


    Not sure but I do know that while individuals such as Ada’gal’kala (Little Carpenter) were very short members of the Cherokee (he was estimated at 5’2) there were others such as Yonaguska (Drowning Bear) who were said to be 6’4. That is a huge height deviance for a people supposedly of the same ethnicity and not at all likely. Tsiyu’gansini was said by the British Agent Cameron to be 6’3, lean and very muscular even into his early 50’s but he was technically Natchez through his mother and Chickasaw through his father. Were the Natchez and Chickasaw usually that tall?


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