Richard Thornton | May 1, 2017 | 2
Mandans and South Americans on the Coosa River . . . coming next week
Who actually lived on the Coosa River and in northeastern Alabama in Pre-Colonial times? Archaeology books and online references typically say that the ancestors of the Creeks lived there. However, when one digs into the archaeological reports for sites along the Coosa River, they are surprisingly sparse in number and mainly deal with sites occupied during the Colonial Era.
Why are so many small stone balls found in Northeastern Alabama? After leaving the Capital of Kusa, the De Soto expedition passed through a series of villages and towns that cannot be translated with a Muscogee-Creek dictionary. Why are several of them the same names as towns on the coast of Georgia in the 1500s? For that matter, Coosa and Kusa are English words, derived from the Panoan (Peruvian) word, Kaushe, which means “strong or elite.” In fact . . . Kaushe is the word that the Upper Creeks called themselves.
Then . . . this past week, a client paid me to analyze an archaeological report for a famous village site about 12 miles west of Rome, GA. Hernando de Soto passed through there. The archaeologists from the University of Georgia labeled the village Proto-Creek. If I wanted to keep up with the spirit of our times, I would have said, “Hurray for our team! It’s a Creek town.” However, when I studied closely the architecture unearthed by these archaeologists, I was shocked to realize that this famous Creek village may have been a vassal of Kusa, but the architecture was not Creek . . . it was Arikara . . . a kindred tribe of the Mandans. They live on the Missouri River in North Dakota! How could that be?
In early May the People of One Fire will be examining the mysteries of the Coosa River and of Rome, Georgia . . . where the Etowah and Oostanaula Rivers join to form the Coosa River. You are in for some surprises.
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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)
- What does Coosa mean? - May 23, 2017
- The Secret History of Northeast Alabama - May 22, 2017
- Outstanding website created by Alabama Office of Archaeological Research - May 20, 2017
- The People of One Fire’s county agent explains the “Three Sisters Thing” - May 19, 2017
- A Thursday morning salute to Louisiana and Linda Ronstadt - May 18, 2017