OMG! An old Irish Gaelic word is all over the Southeast’s landscape
(photo above) The Reinhardt Boulder is one of several petrolgyphic boulders in northern Georgia, which are identical to those in County Kerry, Ireland. Even more petroglyphs in the Georgia Mountains are identical to those in southern Sweden, which was during the Bronze Age probably was occupied by the same pre-Gaelic, pre-Germanic people as County Kerry.
The wildest things happen after your third cup of real Irish Breakfast Tea, early on an autumn morning.
For years, I have been trying to figure out the geographical origin of the suffixes Li, Lee, Ra, Ri and Ree in many Southeastern ethnic names, river names and even in Creek words. Their etymology is complex because many indigenous peoples in the Americas, such as the Muskogeans and Panoans rolled their R’s so hard that they sounded like an L to everyone, but the Spaniards. Thus, the town on the Upper Chattahoochee River named Apalu on European maps is really in English phonetics, Aparu, which in Panoan means “From Peru.”
On the other hand, some tribes with Algonquian heritage pronounced an L like an English R. They are particularly prevalent in the South Carolina upstate in such tribal and river names as Suale, Wataree, Enoree and Congaree. In Georgia, you see them in the Nottaly River, Satilla River (Satele), Tugaloo River (Tokahle in Creek), Yupahalee (Horn River People~ Rome, GA), Aucilla River, Tivoli River and the Creek word for Southern People . . . Wahale. The Eno People of South Carolina lived on the Enoree River. Thus, Re and Le had to mean “people.”
Cherokee, Shawnee and Algonquian speakers typically changed a Muskogean or Panoan ethnic name from an “li or le” suffix to an “ra” ending. So Nantahali (River Rapids – People) became Nantahala Gorge in the North Carolina Mountains. Enote (Eno People in Itsate Creek) became Enotah Mountain in North Georgia after the Cherokees lived there for awhile.
You even see this suffix on the northern Gulf Coast of Mexico . . . which was then carried to Southeastern North America. Tamaulipas State gets its name by combining words from three languages. The are (1) Tama = “trade” in Totonac, (2) li = equals “people” in ? and (3) pas = “place of” in Chontal Maya. I couldn’t understand how the Nahuatl word for “place of” . . . tli . . . became the word for “people” in many languages. However, after 11 years of searching, I had given up. All sorts of fancy statistical tricks could not find a single language, elsewhere in the Americas that used the word, “Re” for people or nation.
Back to the Uchee connection
For those of you, who are newcomers to POOF, the Uchee (Yuchi, Euchee, etc) have always stated that there ancestors came across the Atlantic Ocean from the “Home of the Sun.” The Uchee look very similar to full-blooded Sea Sami (Lapps) from the Northwest Coast of Norway. Mixed-blood Uchee look very similar to the “Black Irish” of the Atlantic Coast of Ireland. In fact, it was very common for mixed-blood Creeks and Uchees in Northeast Georgia to call themselves “Black Irish” in order to avoid discrimination under Georgia’s harsh laws against Native Americans. These laws were not repealed until Jimmy Carter was governor!
The Itsate Creeks called the Uchees living in the Atlantic Coastal Plain and Piedmont, Ucci* (Uchee), Okate (Water People) or Okasi (Descendants from Water). The Muskogee Creeks called them Yocci or Okani. The Muskogee Creeks also use the Pre-Gaelic word for water on the Atlantic Coast of Europe, ue. It became the French word for water, eau.
*A Muskogean C is pronounced like an Italian C = “ch”.
I suspected that the word, Uchee, must have something to do with water. The Irish Gaelic word for water is uisce. It is pronounced exactly the same way that the Itsate Creeks pronounced Ucci!
I looked up what the words in Archaic Gaelic would be for Water People. That would be Uisce Raighe . . . pronounced exactly like the Itsate Creeks would say, “Ucci-Re” If you recall, the Reinhardt Petroglyphs (pictured above) in North Georgia are identical to the Bronze Age petroglyphs in County Kerry, Ireland. Wikipedia had this to say about the history of County Kerry, Ireland . . .
Kerry (Irish: Ciarraí or more anciently Ciarraighe) means the “Ciar People,” which was the name of the pre-Gaelic tribe, who lived in part of the present county. In Old Irish “Ciar” meant black or dark brown, and the word continues in use in modern Irish as an adjective describing a dark complexion. The suffix raighe, meaning people/tribe, is found in various -ry place names in Ireland, such as Osry—Osraighe = Deer-People/Tribe.
Back to the Creek People Connection
The Culasee or Kurasi People were one of the major divisions of the early Creek Confederacy. Their name means “Descendants of Kurā or Korā.” The location of Kurā was probably the town with multiple mounds, which is now under the campus of Western North Carolina University in Cullawhee, NC. Curahee Mountain, GA is also named after this people. Most Cullasee survivors relocated to Southeast Georgia and then later to northern Florida, where they became a major division of the Seminole Alliance. Anthropology professors at WCU are now calling that town under their campus, “an ancient Cherokee town.” The descendants of the people, who lived in that town, would beg to disagree.
Kura, would be pronounced in Itsate Creek similarly to Ciarraí in Irish Gaelic.
In the Apalache-Creek language of Georgia, Korā was the word for “people or tribe.” It was often written down as “cola” by English speakers. Thus, we know that Pensacola, GA was originally a colony from Northeast Georgia. Choctaw and Chickasaw speakers absorbed this suffix into their language, but added the Panoan prefix “O” which changed the meaning to “Principal People.” By the 1800s, Ocola had evolved to Ocala and Okla. That’s right, Oklahoma means “Principal People – Red” in Choctaw.
And now you know!
Latest posts by Richard Thornton (see all)
- What you are never told at New Echota National Historic Landmark - September 23, 2018
- Fall 2018-Spring 2019 POOF Research Project . . . Pre-1700 AD Mound & Stone Architecture Survey of the Nacoochee and Soque Valleys - September 21, 2018
- Once upon a time at a Chevy Chase Christmas Party - September 20, 2018
- News Update: Quapaw and Mandan were at Ocmulgee! - September 18, 2018
- Example of why doing Native American history research is so difficult - September 16, 2018