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Kansas Scholar Links Choctaw Words to Mexican Languages

University of Kansas Scholar Links Choctaw Words to Mexican Languages

David Kaufman, a candidate for a doctorate in anthropology & linguistics at the University of Kansas, gave a lecture on November 2, 2012 where he described shared or similar words in the Choctaw language and Totonac. He also found some shared or similar words in the Chitimacha and “Creek” language.1 Mr. Kaufman has created a web site for his linguistic studies.

If interested in learning more about this subject go to: “Possible Language Evidence of Gulf Maritime Trade Between Mesoamerica and Eastern North America. (A preliminary study.)“


It all began back in 2004. I was developing an online course on the Southeastern Indians for the Muscogee-Creek Nation, and also working on a model of Achese (the Lamar Village at Ocmulgee National Monument.) I was looking at my old slides of Totonac houses in northern Vera Cruz, when I realized that they were identical in construction to the “post-ditch” houses associated with “Mississippian” Culture in the Southeast. Except Gringo archaeologists are not aware of the magic architectural detail that allows these Totonac-invented prefabricated houses to withstand high winds.

Out of curiosity I looked up the Totonac word for “casa” in an online dictionary, sponsored by the National Autonomous University of Mexico. It was chiki! That’s the Itsate Creek and Miccosukee word for house. Mvskoke uses the word chuko, which evolved from the Itza Maya word for warm, chuko. I put the information into the online course, but didn’t proceed much further.

About that time a delegation of six Georgia anthropology professors sent a petition to the Muscogee-Creek government stating that as a Creek historic preservation architect-planner, I was not qualified to build models of historical Creek architecture. So for the next couple of years, I concentrated on architectural research to make sure that all my I-beams were dotted. <small joke>

During that period, Dr. Deborah Clifton, a Creek-Choctaw linguist and historian in Louisiana began comparing Mesoamerican and Southeastern Native American words. She discovered that the original name for the region between the mouths of the Mobile and Apalachicola Rivers was Am Ixchel . . . Place of the Maya goddess, Ixchel. Then I remembered from my fellowship in Mexico that the original name of Tamaulipas State was also Am Ixchel. Then Gary Daniels of Lost Worlds began finding linguistic similarities between the Putan Mayas and the Muskogeans. Then I started diving seriously into Totonac and Itza Maya. The rest is history.

The scientists who worked on the upcoming History Channel program about my book, Itsapa, the Itza Mayas in North America, made some remarkable discoveries. History Channel executives gave them a budget for technical research that the rest of us can only dream of. The more people like Mr. Kaufman, who get involved with this exciting focus for research, the more discoveries will be made. A new world has begun for Southeastern Native American Anthropology.

Who would have thought, y’all?

  1. There are actually several languages that were spoken by the branches of the Creek Confederacy. Chuko is the Mvskoke word for house. Choko is the Alabama and Choctaw word for house. Chiki is the Totonac, Itza Maya, Itsate-Creek and Miccosukee word for house. 

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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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