Richard Thornton | May 9, 2017 | 23
Quick note on the ethnic groups of the South Atlantic Coast
POOF will have an article later in the week about the last ethnic groups to arrive on the South Atlantic Coast . . . the ones encountered by the French at Charlesfort and Fort Caroline. However, from the comments on the South Atlantic Coast Series, I can tell that people are confused.
Basically, the region can been described as a Heinz 57 mixture of small bands that migrated from northern South America. Sati (or Santee) is the Peruvian word for “colonists.” Over time a few boat loads of people, speaking a particular language or dialect would evolve from a hamlet to a village to a cluster of villages.
For administrative purposes, the Spanish grouped these clusters into districts with contrived names. Words similar to Guale and Mocama do not appear in the French and Spanish reports from the 1560s. Timucua is the Hispanization of a tribe named the Tamakoa, which was about 25 miles inland on the Altamaha River in Georgia, but by the 1700s was a member of the Creek Confederacy in northeast Georgia. Nineteenth and Twentieth Century academicians interpreted these administrative districts as “tribes.” They really weren’t.
From Charleston, SC southward to Amelia Island, FL several languages are reflected in the village names. Probably, over time, these clusters were mixing their languages to create hybrid languages like English is today. That process stopped abruptly when the Spanish and waves of European diseases arrived.
Those who escaped the Spaniards’ clutches ended up speaking a dialect of Hitchiti or Muskogee in Alabama. For example, Eufaula was originally near Brunswick, GA on the the Atlantic Coast. By the early 1700s, it was an important Creek tribal town in SE Alabama.
All this will make more sense, when I go through the province names, mentioned by Rene’ de Laudonniere, commander of Fort Caroline.
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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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