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Map: South American and Caribbean Peoples in the Southeast (1540 AD)

Map:  South American and Caribbean Peoples in the Southeast (1540 AD)


Readers will probably notice that I labeled the Florida Apalachee . . .  Southern Arawaks.  In 1658,  French ethnographer, Charles de Rochefort, stated that the Apalache of North Georgia established a colony among the people in the Florida Panhandle, but that the people in that region did not call themselves Apalachee and they were Southern Arawaks from Peru.  He said that the Spanish had given these people the name, without asking them what they called themselves!   Indeed, all but one of the Florida “Apalachee” towns have Southern Arawak names . . . including their capital.   The one exception is Apalachen (Apalaches) which happens to be the colony that the Georgia Apalache established.

Nevertheless,  Florida academicians have created an imaginary language called Southern Muskogean and label the Florida Apalachee as being Muskogean . . . aka Creek Indians.  Here is the reason for the mistake . . . other than the fact that the Florida academicians did not respect their elders . . . aka Charles de Rochefort.   A band of Tamale Creeks on the Upper Altamaha River converted to Catholicism.  They were expelled from their province and so the Spanish established a mission station for them on the GA-FL line, south of Valdosta.  The friar assigned to them wrote a glossary of their words and called it Apalache.   If Florida anthropologists had gone to the trouble to translate the Florida Apalachee village and personal names, they would have realized what was going on.

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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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