Kansas Indians on the Coosa River of Alabama and Georgia
An astonishing discovery was made by drawing lines between old archaeological reports and an article in Wikipedia.
The real history of the Southeastern United States is incredibly complex and quite different than what one reads nowadays in cookie-cutter reference articles. In 2017, the People of One Fire is focused on the region that is now Northeastern Alabama, Northwestern Georgia and Southeastern Tennessee. Except for comprehensive remote-sensing work at Etowah Mounds a decade ago, plus simultaneous excavations at the nearby Leake Mounds, the last significant archaeological work in most of this region occurred in the 1970s.
Only a handful of sites have ever been seriously studied by professional archaeologists and even then, these archaeologists lacked the anthropological education to be truly labeled “anthropologists” in the sense that this professional title is used in Europe and Latin America. They didn’t and don’t know any of the Muskogean languages. They don’t know the surviving cultural history of the Creek People, such as our multiple migration legends, artistic traditions and clothing. Worse still, they have been deluded into thinking only in a micro-scale. They refuse to look at evidence of past population movements.
Earlier in 2017, People of One Fire addressed the existence of what appeared to be 16th century Mandan or Arikara villages on the Coosa River near the Alabama-Georgia line. That is just part of the story. A client is paying me to examine ALL of the available archaeological reports for our target area. What quickly became apparent was that there were radical changes in architecture and town planning concepts between the Middle Woodland, Late Woodland, Early Mississippian, Middle Mississippian, Late Mississippian and Colonial Periods.
Cookie-cutter references delude readers into believing that the same ethnic group lived in the region over a 2000 year period. The archaeological professional now calls these time periods, “cultural phases,” which reinforces their belief that the same peoples lived in the same place over thousands of years. The evidence says something entirely opposite. Several Native American tribes now living in the Great Plains can trace their cultural roots to the Southeast.
And now a word from our sponsor . . . The Orphan Creek Architect Summer Relief Program
Since 2006, the People of One Fire has never charged membership or subscription fees. I promised you that I would not mention this subject again, but I am in a deep fiscal bind (total assets right now $23). That will change in late September, when I will get a significant capital infusion. The funds originally were supposed to start in mid-July. After then, my monthly income will be sufficient to get a decent place to live . . . where water does not drip down onto the floors, whenever it rains (The tornado damage was never repaired) . . . rats are not running up and down the walls . . . the furnace and air conditioner work . . . and I will not be embarrassed for any women or professional clients to see where I live. With this infusion, I also will soon be able to purchase the software, required to produce professional animated films of long abandoned Native American towns.
However, until then . . . tax commissioners, insurance companies, car repair shops, state licensing boards, utility companies and Walmart will not accept world class butternut squash, ford hook lima beans or broccoli in lieu of cash. A year ago, I made the same request and several people sent me donations that got my car working and cost of living bills paid. Two people since then have been sending me donations . . . for which I am grateful.
If you can possibly afford a small donation via PayPal, I again would be extremely grateful and will continue to put in long hours doing research on the Southeast’s history . . . plus have internet service to send it to you! LOL If you can help out a little, please contact me at PeopleOfOneFire@aol.com Mvto! Thank you!
An OMG moment on July 22, 2017
I am currently analyzing archaeological reports for sites on the Conasauga, Coosawattee and Oostanaula Rivers in Northwest Georgia. Two world class archaeological zones are in that region . . . the site of the great city of Kusa and a little downstream, New Echota National Historic Landmark . . . the last capital of the Cherokee Nation in the Southeast.
The New Echota Museum and most references state that the original name of New Echota was Ustanauli (aka Oostanaula) . . . not true. Ustanauli was a large Muskogean town upstream two miles from the New Echota site, which was taken over by the Cherokees in the late 1780s.
A recently revised article on New Echota in Wikipedia was correctly edited to state that the original Cherokee name for the New Echota site was Gansa-gi-yi. This is highly significant because the first village that the Kusa People established in Northwest Georgia was where New Echota was built. New Echota was only occupied for five years and maybe had a permanent population of about 50 persons. The location was occupied by ancestors of the Creek and Chickasaw Peoples from around 1300 AD to 1786 AD . . . yet the state museum does not even mention them.
Cherokee references stated that Gansa-gi-yi was an old Cherokee word, whose meaning had been lost. I knew that couldn’t be true. “Gi-yi” means “people-place of.” Gansa in English and Creek phonetics would be Kansa. I googled Kansa.
Kansa is the original name of a federally recognized tribe in Kansas. Kansas and Arkansas get their names from Kansa. Today they are more commonly called “The Kaw Nation”. “People of the South Wind”, “People of water”, Kansa, Kaza, Cosa, Kusa and Kausha. Note that the last three words are also names for the people visited by De Soto in NW Georgia and the Upper Creeks today. Kaushe or Kaushibo is also the name of a Panoan tribe in eastern Peru. These names may reflect names of distinct ethnic groups, who made up the original Kansa refugees fleeing westward. The Kaw Nation now calls itself, “People of the Wind,” aka the Wind Clan.
Linguists label their language a highly aberrant form of Siouan, but it is extinct and academicians certainly deserve a failing grade for their past analyses of the Creek languages. They didn’t even catch that the two Creek words for house are Maya words as are many other words in the Itsate Creek (Hitchiti) language. The Kansa definitely do NOT look like either the Siouans of the Northern Great Plains, such as the Lakota, or the Siouans of the Carolinas, such as the Catawba and Saponi. They DO look like Panoans from eastern Peru.
The Kansa did not arrive on the western side of Mississippi River until after 1750 AD. The great town of Kusa in Northwest Georgia was abandoned between around 1585 and 1600 AD. So was the King Site on the Coosa River, which POOF studied earlier this year. Academicians state that the Kansa are Siouans because they were associated with Dhegihan Siouans, such as the Osage, Quapaw, Ponca, Ouachita and Omaha Peoples. The Dhegihan are believed to have been major players in the Hopewell Culture and formerly lived on the Ohio River, before being driven out by Iroquoian and Algonquian invaders. However, the Kansa language is extinct and it may reflect close association with Dhegihans between 1600 and 1900.
Kaw is the word for eagle in most dialects of Maya and also in Itsate Creek. Chroniclers of the De Soto Expedition stated that there was a large timber column in the elite plaza of the town of Kusa, on which sat a split cane eagle nest and a carved wooden eagle.
The Kansa dressed EXACTLY like the Seminoles, Miccosukee and Panoan Peoples of Peru until the mid-1800s. At that time, some Kansa began wearing Plains Indian clothing and living in teepees. Look at the old photograph at the head of this article and the detailed comparison of a Shipibo man today with a Kansa man from around 1850. Some of the Kansa men are dressed like Plains Indians, but most are weather clothing and hats identical to the Seminoles of Florida and the Panoans of eastern Peru.
Traditional Kansa houses
Traditional Kansa houses were IDENTICAL to those built in the Oostanaula and Coosawattee River Valleys between around 1300 AD and 1600 AD. Archaeologists call this period, “the Bartlett Phase of the Early Lamar Culture.” They were recessed about 12-18 inches below grade. They contained four posts, which supported the center of the roof and then had outer post ditch walls, which supported the lower roofs. The main difference between the houses at the King site, west of Rome, GA is that they are the same Bartlett Phase houses, but with earth berms on the side . . . exactly like Mandan houses.
Once on the Great Plains, Kansa housing began to evolve a little. They lived in bark houses or teepees when following the buffalo herds. The houses of the chiefs could have as many as 12 interior posts. However, the communal buildings of the Kansa remained almost identical to the chokopa (chukopa in Muskogee) of the Georgia Creeks.
Kansa Origin Legends
Take a look below at the alternative Kansa Origin Legends as published on the tribe’s website. The first one is identical to the Mandan Origin Legend, the middle two are identical to the Chickasaw and Muskogee migration legends and the last one is identical to a Uchee migration legend. “Solitary man” is found in Mandan and Arikara legends. People with tails is found in Mandan, Arikara and Creek legends. The small island origin is found in Uchee legends.
“Like most Indian tribes of North America, several Kaw creation accounts have been preserved through oral tradition and the written language of the Euro-American invaders. The American scientist Thomas Say, for example, based on contacts with the Kaw people at their Blue Earth Village near present-day Manhattan, Kan., in 1819, noted that the “Master of Life” first created Kaw man. His solitary life, however, caused him to cry out in anguish, so the “Master” sent down a woman to alleviate his loneliness.”
“Another early 19th-century account stated that Kaw men who simply emerged from the earth became boastful of their long tails, whereupon the Great Spirit (Wakanda) removed the tails and created nagging women from them, and then sent swarms of mosquitoes to remind all Kaw people that modesty was a virtue.”
“The most popular account, however, recalls that overpopulation on a small island created before the main part of the earth caused frustrated Kaw fathers to drown unwanted children, thus prompting more compassionate Kaw mothers to ask the Great Spirit to provide more living space. Their prayers were answered when beavers, muskrats and turtles were sent down to enlarge the island from the floor of the great waters, and in time the earth assumed its present form. Flora and fauna thrived, the population crisis was averted, and “the entire circle of the world was filled with life and beauty.”
The late 16th century disapora
During the 1970s, archaeologists, working along the Upper Coosa River Basin in NE Alabama and NW Georgia noticed an almost simultaneous abandonment of towns and villages in the region around 1585 AD. This did not occur in SE Tennessee, North-Central Georgia and NE Georgia. Kusa descendants live in Fannin and Union Counties, Georgia unto this day. Kusa descendants on the Middle Coosa River became the ancestors of the Upper Creeks. Nevertheless, the archaeologists decided that the depopulation was caused by microbes left behind by the De Soto Expedition. Why weren’t the Creeks’ ancestors in the vicinity of Gadsden and Talladega, Alabama also wiped out? Both the De Soto and Tristan de Luna Expeditions came through there.
Yet . . . the same University of Georgia Laboratory of Archaeology Manual (1988) then goes on to say that more 16th century and early 17th century European artifacts have been found in Northwest Georgia than any other location north of the Georgia coastal Islands or Florida. These artifacts include iron mining tools, armor, arquebuses (matchlock muskets), steel weapons, fine ceramics, silverware and silver crucifixes . . . including two that are studded with gems. It is highly unlikely that De Soto’s men left a warehouse full of such artifacts across the landscape of the region.
Early European artifacts can also be found in the areas of western North Carolina, where gold, silver and gem deposits are located. The De Soto Expedition did not go through these counties, but Juan Pardo did. In these same counties of Georgia and North Carolina late 20th century geologists studied ancient mines that stretched from Fort Mountain, GA to north of Mount Mitchell in North Carolina. The mine timbers had radiocarbon dates such as 1585, 1590, 1600 and 1620 AD. Two of the geologists wrote books about their discoveries.
The two books on 400 year old European mines were taken off the shelves of public libraries in western North Carolina during the past decade, after I first cited them in articles in the National Examiner and People of One Fire. The reason is obvious. If Western North Carolina, as far north as the Toe River and Catawba River Headwaters, was heavily populated with Spanish speaking miners, then obviously the Cherokees were nowhere around.
During this past week, using linguistics, I think that I have also discovered the real reason that Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama were abandoned around 1585 AD. European diseases may have played a factor in their military weakness, but the answer also solves another mystery: What happened to the powerful Native provinces on the coast of Georgia, who were described by both the French Protestants at Fort Caroline and the Spanish Conquistadors, who massacred them. Only a few of these ethnic groups are even mentioned by the Spanish after 1585.
POOF’s next archaeology article will be about those coastal tribes. You will be shocked at the current place names in North Georgia, which prove that they moved them thar hills.
The Truth is out there somewhere!
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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.
Latest posts by Richard Thornton (see all)
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- Atlanta’s leaders are right . . . Don’t erase the Old South’s history! - August 15, 2017
- Update: Bronze Age research appears to be headed toward an astonishing discovery - August 15, 2017
- Very pertinent film from the Atlanta Board of Education in 1947 - August 14, 2017