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Image: First map to mention the Cherokees (1715)

Image:  First map to mention the Cherokees (1715)

Section of 1715 Beresford Map covering East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

This map is the earliest known colonial document to mention the Cherokees.  The first European map to show the Cherokees was published in 1717 in France.   This map was prepared by South Carolina Militia officer, John Beresford, shortly after the beginning of the Yamasee War.  At the time, Native American tribes throughout the Southeast were killing white traders in their midst.  The purpose of the map was to inform South Carolina and British military officials where potential Native American hostiles and allies lived and how many men of military age they had available.

If there were 700 men of military age among these 30 villages, we can assume that the total population was around 3,000 people. There were also 1200 Cherokees shown on this map in the upper northwest corner of South Carolina.  No Cherokees were shown living in North Carolina in 1715, but by 1721 the map of South Carolina by Col. John Barnwell showed a large Cherokee population in a narrow band across what is now Western North Carolina.   Obviously,  there were not 30,000 Cherokees in 1715 as claimed in a documentary film produced by the Eastern Band of Cherokees.

Note the French fort on Bussell Island, where the Little Tennessee and Tennessee Rivers come together.  There were also two Koasati villages on the island.  This fort was discovered and excavated by Smithsonian Institute archaeologists in the late 19th century, but left completely out of the history books.  In 1715, the Cherokee villages were located on the Holston and Nolichucky Rivers.  The section of the river between Knoxville and Hiwassee Island was occupied by the Cusate and Koasati Creeks.  The maps published in official Tennessee State History Books show all of eastern Tennessee, occupied by the Cherokees from 1600 AD onward.

According to a Middle School history teacher in the Knoxville Area, who contacted us last month . . .  Tennessee teachers have now been instructed to tell students the Native American towns in Tennessee, that were visited by Hernando de Soto in 1540 were Cherokee towns . . . even though all the town names and political titles are either Creek or Chickasaw words.  She was particularly upset because her heritage is Chickasaw.  She did some research and discovered that the Chickasaw are the only federally recognized tribe in the Southeast that were specifically named in the De Soto Chronicles.

 

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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.

3 Comments

  1. markveale@hotmail.com'

    Richard, The Apalachi people stated in so many words that they were the same people that the Aztecs (Mexica) called the “Toltecs”. That their Kingdom once extended to or from Mexico at one time.
    The Apalachi people most likely migrated from Mexico when the large “Toltec” temple mounds started being build in Georgia (800 AD timeline). Later the Itza Maya people (5 sided temple mounds) arrived and those seem to carbon date starting around the 900 AD timeline. However, there is the “Kolomoki” site that pre dates all the other large “Toltec type” temple mounds sites in Georgia? by 500 years (300 AD?). What is your opinion of what people built that mound? “Etula” seems to have been build later to align with that more ancient site. Perhaps the clue is the artworks of the Apalachi and Chiska warriors dancing.

    Reply
    • Mark, Apalache is a Panoan word from Peru and they said they first entered North America via the Savannah River on the South Atlantic Coast. They arrived in Georgia around 200 AD or earlier . . . that’s much earlier than the Toltec Civilization. The Apalache elite dressed just like the Panoans, even today. Also, the High King of the Apalache was called a Paracusi-te . . . which means the ruling families claimed descent from the same folks, who built those effigies in the Nazca Plain of Peru. However, I guess it is possible that the Toltecs, were originally from Peru, but Apalache Culture had already been around for a thousand years before the capital of the Toltecs, Tula, was built.

      Reply
      • markveale@hotmail.com'

        Richard, Thank you for your great articles. Because of your research I really have been enlighten about the Native history of the South. The “Paracusi-te” “Apalache”, “Chiska”, “Wari”, “Maya” Native peoples originally or at one time lived in Peru or Central America and then some migrated to the South? When the Paracusi-te/ Apalache people “mass migrated” from Peru to Savannah, Georgia it would seem that they would have arrived before 200 AD unless they stopped and settled along the way. Perhaps Cuba? or one of the other large Caribbean islands as the Paracas culture lasted from 800- 100 BC in Peru.
        Toma-cha-chi stated his people first arrived at Savannah… that would indicate that the flow of these peoples from Peru most likely took the Amazonian river route towards the East and then North though the Caribbean islands, Cuba, Florida and then Savannah Georgia. That migration would have taken people that had skills and knowledge in building large boats and sailing on the open seas. The peoples of Peru living by the ocean would have had those.
        The alignment of the Kolomoki temple sites you discovered seem to point to the far western part of Cuba or Central America. Perhaps one ancient stopping point at one time for this migration event (100BC -200 AD). The Olmec script given by Toma-cha-chi indicates an old connection with Central America, Mexico, the Apalache people and perhaps the Chiska people as well. Notice the same type of conical hat worn as the Apalache, Chiska and this Olmec:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olmec#/media/File:La_Venta_Altar_5_(Ruben_Charles).jpg

        Reply

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