Map of Alabama, Florida and Georgia showing South American peoples
Several people have written me today expressing surprise that South American and Caribbean provinces originally covered much more area in the Lower Southeast than the Cherokee Nation between 1795 and 1838. However, the difference is that the South American and Caribbean influences were profound for at least 1500 years prior to the arrival of English-speaking colonists. The Creek word for Yaupon Holly tea is exactly the same as the Eastern Peruvian word for a tea made from a South American cousin of the Yaupon.
It is the same situation for much of the South Carolina Low Country. Most of the village names, mentioned in the chronicles of the Juan Pardo Expedition are South American words. Remember that he generally called a village chief, an orata? Orata is still the word used for a village chief in eastern Peru and the headwaters of the Amazon River. Orata has also been absorbed into the Creek language, but is used for an appointed official, hamlet chief or neighborhood leader.
The Toa Arawaks were Ciboney People from the Toa River Basin in central Cuba and Arecibo, Puerto Rico. They produced owl-motif pottery like that found at Brown’s Mount near Macon, GA.
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