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.
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