Richard Thornton | Apr 13, 2017 | 0
Origins of the South Atlantic Coastal Peoples . . . Part One
The lost box of British colonial documents from 1735, commonly called the “Migration Legend of the Creek People,” was found in April 2015. The box actually contained descriptions of four migration legends. Three of those ancestral branches of the Creek Confederacy came from the Atlantic Ocean and first settled in the vicinity of Savannah, GA. The fourth came by land from east-central Mexico and traveled along the rim of the Gulf of Mexico to reach the Southeast. In this three part series, we will look at those who settled on the South Atlantic Coast that came by water. The reader is in for some surprises.
It turns out that most of the peoples on the South Atlantic Coast, north of St. Augustine Bay, were originally from South America. Many worshiped the most ancient god of the Andes, Toya. One possible motivation for moving to North America appears to have been religious and political persecution by followers of warlike, bloodthirsty gods, such as those worshiped in the Moche Civilization. Yet on the other hand, tribes in northeast Florida practiced extensive human sacrifice. Their motivation appears to have been the northwestward expansion of the Taino Arawaks.
The primary South American-Caribbean ethnic groups found in the Southeast were the Panoans of the eastern slopes of the Andes and Upper Amazon Basin, Andean Arawaks, Tupi from the Amazon Basin, Aimarans from the Andes, Orinoco River Basin Arawaks, Ciboney Arawaks and Guanahatabeyes. Quechua, the language of the Incas, is noticeably absent in the Southeast.
Mission Santa Catalina de Guale
In 2007, I was retained by the American Museum of Natural History to prepare architectural drawings of the Mission Santa Catalina de Guale and the Native American village of Wahale on St. Catherines Island, Georgia. They also wanted some scenes from the dispersed farmsteads and fish camps, where the Guale lived much of the year. Archaeologists at the museum sent me a cardboard box full of archaeological reports and photocopied Spanish archives as homework to study, before I drew the first line.
Even though I was born about a 30 minutes drive from St. Catherines Island, that box opened up a whole new world for me that I never knew existed. However, as I learned more and more in the years that followed, questions arose. The rather brief story of the South Atlantic Coast, presented by archaeologists, had many holes in it, and very frankly, some of their interpretations of Native American culture, just were illogical.
What particularly bugged me was that certain professors in South Carolina and Georgia were labeling coastal peoples as being “Creek” when they clearly did not speak Muskogean languages. However, where did their words come from? This embarked me on an eight year study of the region . . . from a Native American perspective.
Why nothing more published about the Itza Maya or Apalache?
There is a reason why another book has not followed up on The Itza Mayas In North America (2012). The past in the Southeastern United States is far more complex than I could have possibly dreamed in June of 2011, when I stumbled upon a mountainside of stone walls and ruins. The forgotten stone structures of the Southern Piedmont and Highlands are just part of the story . . . and we are beginning to understand what secrets they held. On the South Atlantic Coast there is another story that seems to be connected with the story in the Up Country, but that connection is not clear.
The information is primarily coming from drawing lines between existing dots or else reminding folks that the dots were there. For example, several 20th century archaeologists found European style bronze weapons and tools at Native American sites in Georgia and North Carolina. They were dutifully mentioned in lists of artifacts excavated, but never mentioned again. The presence of artifacts that were no longer made in Europe after around 500 BC in Southeastern North America would totally upset the orthodoxy that “everyone had agreed on.” That apparently is more important than the truth.
You will not be able to go to a university published anthropology book or peer-reviewed article to fact check this article. Unfortunately, it never dawned on Southeastern academicians during the past 200 years that it might be useful to translate the words spoken by the indigenous peoples, who they were supposedly “experts” on. However, if you know Spanish, universities in Peru and Colombia have published online dictionaries for all the major ethnic groups in northwestern South America.
Part One: Watery Migration Legends
1. Uchee (Ouesi, Ouede, Okasi, Ogeechee, Ponpon)
Uchee is the Anglicization of Oue-si (Offspring of Water) which is pronounced Oŭ-ĕ-jzhĕ.
The Uchee, living in the Savannah, Ogeechee and Ponpon River Basins told British officials that the only people living in Eastern North America, when their ancestors arrived, were the Algonquians. They said that their ancestors crossed the ocean from the “Home of the Sun” to arrive near the mouth of the Savannah River. That obviously means that they believed that they originated in the Old World. The people, who built the shell rings, had already abandoned the region when the Uchee arrived.
Why would be Southeast be almost uninhabited when the Uchee arrived? That’s a good question that has not been answered.
The fieldstone cairns of the Southern Highlands are identical to those constructed in the British isles during the Bronze Age. Traditional Uchee sacred art, such as the cross within a circle and concentric circles is identical to the Pre-Gaelic Bronze Age rock art found on the western coasts of Scotland, Ireland, France, the Iberian Peninsula and even in Pre-Scandinavian Bronze Age Denmark.
The Savannah Uchee word for water, Oue, was the same word used for water by the tan skinned, black haired people living on the coasts of Ireland and France during the Bronze Age. It is the root of the word, whiskey and the modern French word for water, eau. Deptford Style cord marked pottery that originated in Savannah around 1000 BC, was almost identical to the cord-marked “Beaker” pottery, produced by Pre-Gaelic Bronze Age peoples in Western Ireland. These people also produced a unique style of flint blade that can also be found in many parts of the Southeast.
Click images to enlarge to full size
The Gaelic Irish invaders called these aborigines, Ciarraighe, which means “Dark skinned People.” The Picts and Britains called them, “the Sea People” and said that their faces were different than other peoples in Europe. Some Ciarraighe stayed in the British Isles, but according to Gaelic legend, most sailed away into the sunset.
Until this year, I was hesitant to treat the evidence of Bronze Age contacts between Europe and the Southern Highlands as anything but vague speculation. However, after learning that several famous archaeologists had unearthed bronze weapons and tools in Georgia, and that the Uchee claimed to have crossed the Atlantic to reach North America, it was a whole new ball game. Essentially, the Uchee said that they were an Asiatic maritime people, forced out of Europe by Caucasian invaders. Archaeology DOES back them up, even if most archaeologists refuse to admit it.
2. Apalache (Aparasi, Palache, Apalache-te)
Apalache is the Europeanization of Aparasi, which is pronounced Ä : pȁ : rl : jzhē. The rl is pronounced half way between an r and an l. The word is a Panoan (Peru) root meaning “From ocean” with a Northeast Mexican-Muskogean suffix, meaning “offspring of.” The Florida Apalachee did not originally call themselves that name. They were a colony of the real Apalache in Georgia, who had later intermarried with Arawaks. Until renamed by the Spanish, these colonists called themselves, Tulahalwasi (Offspring from the Highland Towns.)
Chikili, the High King of the Creek Confederacy in 1735 was an Apalache from North Georgia. He said that the Apalache came by water from the south after the Uchee, but before the Itsate. He told Georgia’s leaders that “our first emperor is buried near Savannah.”
Conibo (Panoan) stamped pottery in Peru is almost identical to Swift Creek stamped pottery in the Southeast. This would place their arrival in North America at least by 200 AD. The first Apalache may have come earlier, however.
In 1653, the High King of Apalache at Melilot told Richard Briggstock that the Apalache first developed as a distinct ethnic group around Lake Tama, which was a shallow body of water near the confluence of the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers in central Georgia. That seems to contradict King Chikili’s statement. However, perhaps the Apalache were originally part of a larger body of people that migrated from South America.
The memoir of Captain René de Laudonnière, Commander of Fort Caroline, consistently labeled the title of High Kings on the South Atlantic Coast, Paracusy. They were described and painted as being up to seven feet tall.
In 1658, French ethnologist, Charles de Rochefort, labeled the High King of the Apalache Confederacy, Paracusy-te or Paracusy People. “Te” is an Itza Maya suffix meaning “people.” However, Paracusa is not an Itza or any other type of Maya word. Unfortunately, nobody in the past four centuries was ever curious as to the meaning and origin of Paracusa.
The Paracus or Paracas People of western Peru created the effigies on the Nazca Plain, but not the newer lines. They were extremely tall and had massive sculls with sloping foreheads. Intentional forehead deformation elsewhere may be an imitation of the Paracus. The elite of these provinces may have claimed descent from the Paracus/Paracas.
Another explanation is that the word was agglutinated from one of the Panoan languages. Cushi is the Kashibo word for strong or leader. It has an identical meaning to mako in the Itza language from which the Muskogee word, mikko was derived. The same word in Shipibo and Conibo is coshi. In the plural forms of cusha/cosha, the word means “leaders,” “elite” or “rulers.” Paracusy-te would mean Leader of the Sea People” in Panoan.
3. Cusabo (Cushabo, Kushibo) . . . also Calusa in Southern Florida
Cusabo is the Anglicization of the Panoan (Peru) word Cushabo, which means either “Place of the Strong” or “Place of the Leaders.” A Muskogean “S” is pronounced similar to an English “sh.”
The “Cusabo” group of provinces were clustered around Port Royal and Edisto Sounds in South Carolina, but also included the Calusa in the southwestern tip of Florida. They all worshiped Toya and called their kings, Paracusi. They also had absorbed some Itza or Muskogean cultural practices. One distinctive cultural trait shared by both regions was the construction of massive pup tent shaped, wooden structures to house hundreds of commoners. Everyone in the village lived in a single building.
The megastructure village for commoners was not a known cultural tradition in either the Caribbean Basin or South America, but was practiced by Gaelic peoples (Scots) in northeastern Ireland and central Scotland during the Roman and Early Medieval Periods. At present, I have no explanation for this shared architectural tradition.
The Cusabo were not mentioned in the early Colonial archives of Georgia. In his landmark book, Indians of the South Carolina Low Country, South Carolina scholar, Gene Waddell, discovered that the word Cusabo was never used in the earliest days of the colony. It only appeared later as the name of an alliance formed by surviving remnant tribes from the north side of the Savannah River to Edisto Bay. However, the term may have always been utilized internally by these provinces, but did not enter communications with the British colonists.
This strongly suggests that the elite of the province of Coça (Cosha) or Kusa, were the same people as the Cusabo on the South Carolina Coast. Anthropologists and historians have always assumed that they were Muskogeans, but the word has no meaning in Muskogee other than being a proper noun. The elite of the Kusa in NW Georgia had Itza-Muskogean political titles. This suggests that by the time they settled in NW Georgia around 1300 AD, they were a hybrid people.
Apparently, the provinces that occupied the southern coast of South Carolina had the same general ancestry as the Apalache. They may have arrived in North America at the same time or somewhat later.
Part Two will begin with the Ichese, Itza Maya immigrants, who came from the south, but first apparently settled in Southern Florida before moving to Savannah.
Post Scriptum: Here is something really weird. The word “bo” has virtually the same meaning in Scandinavian languages as it does in the Panoan languages of Peru . . . a “living place”. I have no explanation. The English word, borough, has the Nordic word “bo” as its root.
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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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