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Images: Fascinating statue of a Chiska warrior

Images:  Fascinating statue of a Chiska warrior

Have you ever seen a museum exhibit or illustration in an archaeology book, which portrayed Southeastern Native Americans wearing a conical hat and carrying a shield?  Of course, not.  However, there are several portrayals of the conical hat in Native American art and they were also shown in the chapters of Charles de Rochefort’s book in 1658, which dealt with the indigenous inhabitants of present day Georgia.  I have repeatedly read accounts by the French and Spanish explorers, who first made contact with the Southeastern peoples, who mention them carrying shields, wearing breast plates made of woven cane or copper and carrying Aztec type swords.

The ceramic statue on the left is on display at a museum in Tellico Plains, Tennessee. The owner of the museum would not tell me where in the Southeast it came from.  All he said was that “it was from this general part of the country.”  The museum also displays white Georgia marble statues that obviously went out under the coats of workmen at Ocmulgee Mounds or Etowah Mounds . . . so that will give you an idea of the range of “this part of the country.”    He did tell me that the McClung Museum in Knoxville, TN turned down an offer to buy it, because the warrior was wearing the conical hat and carrying a shield.   Of course, we know that both features are authentic for Creek-Chickasaw Homeland . . . but just doesn’t look like what the general public thinks Injuns looked like.

The figure portrayed is definitely a Chiska warrior.  The primary distinctions of the Chiska were that their warriors had long, scraggly hair and painted their faces with black paint to look like raptor birds.  Apparently, they also wore beaded neck armor as portrayed in the Peruvian drawing on the right. Chiska means “bird” in the Panoan languages of Peru . . . such as the Shipibo, Conibo, Asibo and Kausabo. Those ethnic labels mean: “Monkeys-Place of” ~ “Fish-Place of” ~ “Yaupon Holly-Place of” and “Strong/Elite-Place of”.  Of course, the Kausabo were also the Cusabo of South Carolina and the Kausa/Coosa of Northwest Georgia. Asibo became Ossabaw Island, near Savannah.

The gorgeot on the right is the copyrighted logo of the Apalache Foundation.  This particular gorgeot was found near Atlanta, but the style of gorgeot can be found as far away as Missouri.   Right now, I think that they were made in North Georgia then exported.  The gorgeot portrays an alliance between the Apalache, Itzate and Chiska.  The Mesoamerican copal brazier with the Sky Serpent in the center was the logo of the Itzate Mayas in Mesoamerica and the Itsate Creeks Southeast.  The Itza Mayas called themselves, Itsate. 



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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.



    Richard, According to a Yuchis, (Uchee), Yuchi, and other spellings of that nation’s name: Chief Samuel William Brown Jr. stated that Georgia’s Natives were connected to the people of Easter Island way off the coastline of Peru? Perhaps also a connection with the Lucayans (Luka of Asia Minor?) is noted in this article as well:

    • I don’t know where he got that from. The Uchees say that they came across the Atlantic to the Savannah Area from the “Home of the Sun”. The sun rises in the east.


        Hey Mark and Richard, At the moment I’m doing research on the Chumash of Southern California. There have been numerous theories on cultural contact between the Californian natives, natives on the American westcoast in general and Polynesians.
        In my own research I believe that the Uchee (Yuchi) came from the same homeland which is mainland Asia as the Paracas of Peru. One group; The Uchee sailed to the west; the other group sailed to the east.
        When I say mainland Asia I mean South Asia and Central Asia particularly the Himalaya region.
        I suggest you to take a look at the natives named or called “Naga” from Nagaland.
        My research is ongoing and far from completion; yet what I have found so far will make scholars rethink their theories on various homeland stories.


    Hey Richard
    I was reading the story of John Ortiz, a Spanish man captured by Indians in 1538. He was willing them several years until he found DeSoto’s expedition. The following paragraph caught my eye

    Hitherto, when they were at a loss for a knowledge of the country, all they had to do was to lie in wait and seize upon some Indian, and Ortiz always could understand enough of the language to relieve them from all perplexity about their course; but now they had no other interpreter but a young Indian of Cutifachiqui, who understood a little Spanish; “yet it required sometimes a whole day for him to explain what Ortiz would have done Hitherto, when they were at a loss for a knowledge of the country, all they had to do was to lie in wait and seize upon some Indian, and Ortiz always could understand enough of the language to relieve them from all perplexity about their course; but now they had no other interpreter but a young Indian of Cutifachiqui, who understood a little Spanish; “yet it required sometimes a whole day for him to explain what Ortiz would have done in four words.”
    Was this the same tribe you may think were the ancestors of the Cherokee?
    I tried to link to the article at Access Genology but could not get it to copy.
    It is under Indian Captive Stories

    • The town of Cofitachiqui was way up on the Santee River in South Carolina. I don’t know what a boy from there would be doing in the Gulf Coastal region, but I guess anything is possible. Do you how Juan Ortiz was captured by the Indians and where he was captured?


        Hey Richard,
        Sorry I did not get back sooner on your questions. I felt I needed to give more than a 2 line answer, there are some other questions I have about this story. This will be a bit of a long post.
        John Ortiz was part of a small company of 20-30 men in a Brigantine sent to Floridain 1529 near the bay of Apalachee to find Pamphilo de Narvaez. He lead an expedition in 1528 that ended with only 4 of 400 men making it back to Mexico after traveling for 6 months and over 800 miles in the SE.
        When the ship with John Ortiz approached a beach in the Florida area, the Indians came out and put a stick with a letter on it in the ground and backed off. John Ortiz and another man approached and were attacked. John Ortiz was captured and the other man killed. They went to a village where John was to be tortured to death and was saved by the daughter of Chief (Cazique) Ucita.
        He was a slave and put in charge of keeping the wild beast out of the “temple” in the village. This temple was made of wood and had a wooden carved bird with guilded eyes over the door. The Indians would leave their dead and John Ortiz was to protect the bodies from the Wolves and other animals that came to feed on the dead.
        After 3 years he ran away with the help of Chief Ucita’s daughter to his enemy Chief Mocoso.
        The story said he lived with Mocoso as a free man not a slave like at Chief Ucita’s village. Mocoso told Ortiz that if he found any Europeans he was free to return to his people. After rumors of several sightings of European ships, a runner came to the village saying Europeans had landed on the coast nearby. This was de Sotos expedition, which he joined and was an interpreter for the expidition. de Soto considered the acquisition of Ortiz of great importance. The fate of John Ortiz is not given, only he died and the job of guiding and interpreter was given to the young Cutifachiqui indian .
        They had winter quarters at Autiamque on the Washita or perhaps the Red River. (i’m not sure where that is)

        I was wondering what indian tribes in the SE practiced these kind of burials and if there was any info on the Narvaez expedition, I have not heard of it. This is the link to the story
        If you read the entire story there are big gaps in the tale. This story was put together from many sources so there was not an authors name on the article.

        Thanks for all you do!

        • Yes, a lot of Woodland culture peoples “smoked” their dead in wooden temples. Essentially turning them in to hams. This was also done in NE North Carolina.

          The Apalache put a special clay on their deceased that made them dry up and turn into mummies. I will have read up on Ortiz. The Cofitachequi lad was in NE Georgia in the province of the Okvte. (Okonees)


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