Research Report: Initial Exploration of the Land of the Soque
The Soque (Zoque, Sokee, Sukee) were the descendants of the “Olmec” Civilization and the progenitors of the Miccosukee.
Curious as to why no one seemed aware of the stone ruins and earthworks on my property and on the mountain where I live, I have carried out some initial investigations. With the help of a longtime resident in Habersham County, who owns a farmer’s market around the corner, I was able to find the trail leading to the Alec Mountain Stone Circle. However, I immediately encountered two Copperhead snakes on the trail. It’s best that we wait for late fall before having a POOF hike there. However, the gentlemen told me two other fascinating things. First, many of the “old time” families in this region are showing up with Portuguese and Jewish DNA markers . . . those 17th century gold miners never left. Secondly, the Alec Mountain Stone Circle is really part of a series of stone walled terraces. It’s actual appearance is like the ruins of Ciudad Perdido in the mountains of Colombia. That’s a game changer.
I finally have access to all my reference books, which have been in storage since Christmas Eve of 2009. Immediately, in a Smithsonian Institute publication from the 1880s, I was astonished to learn that the archaeologists, working for the Smithsonian identified and complex of stone ruins, stone effigies, stone cairns, mounds and terrace walls across the mountainous sections of Habersham County. Some of these sites were visited by archaeologist Robert Wauchope in 1939, and thus have official site numbers. Most were unknown to Wauchope and remain unknown to the current generation of Georgia archaeologists. The most astonishing find was the largest stone effigy in North America. The massive stone snapping turtle is on an island in the Tallulah River near Lake Burton on the western edge of Rabun County. Below is a partial list of discoveries by the Smithsonian archaeologists in the 1880s.
Unless one is an astute “ole time” scholar of South Carolina history, you probably don’t know who the Soque were and are. Incredibly, they are not mentioned in the official South Carolina State website on its Native American history. Georgia does not even have such a web site, but relies on a handful of private companies, with no guidance from Georgia’s Native Americans, to replicate folklore, labeled history.
To be succinct, they were one of the most powerful and culturally advanced indigenous peoples in what is now the United States. However, their presence was quickly diminished by European plagues and English-sponsored slave raids. Initial reports from British officials in Charleston described them as being dominant over a substantial area of the Up Country from a large capital, based at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Late 17th century eyewitness accounts describe them as having flattened foreheads and wearing clothing typical of Mexican Indians.
Soque or Sokee is the American English spelling for the same ethnic group, which spelled Zoque in Mexican Spanish. The correct pronunciation in both the United States and Mexico is roughly Jzhō: kē. It is a Mixtec-Zoque word, which means “civilized.” The Zoque in Mexico and the Miccosukee in the United States both claim to be the progenitors of the so-called “Olmec Civilization”.
The Soquee River in Habersham County, GA and Soco Gap in Haywood and Jackson Counties, NC are Anglicizations of the word, Soque or Sokee.
Miccosukee is the Anglicization of the Muskogee Creek pronunciation of the Itsate Creek and Itza Maya word, Mā : kō : sű : kē, which means “Leaders of the Soke.”
Jocasee is the Anglicization of the Itsate Creek word, Zokasi, which means “Descendants of the Zoque.” It is a river name in the South Carolina section of the Blue Ridge Mountains and a stream name near Birmingham, AL.
Maps of the Cherokee Nation after the American Revolution briefly showed a village named Joki or Jokee, immediately south of Hiwassee Island, TN. This village moved to Arkansas in 1817 along with other Cherokee “Early Settlers” and disappeared from maps.
Itsate Creek speakers typically called the Soque either Soke or Saute. The village of Sautee in the Nacoochee Valley was originally a couple of miles to the northeast of the Old Sautee Store.
Muskogee-Creek speakers typically called the Soque, Svki (pronounced Säu-gē). Cherokee speakers typically used the same word, which is written in Anglicized Cherokee names as Saukee or Saugee.
The original name of the Broad River in Northeast Georgia was the Saukehatchee or Soque River. Thus, in all probability the great Creek town of Wahasi (Rembert Mounds) near Elberton was originally a Soque capital.
Saugahatchee Creek in Lee County, AL is the Anglicization of the Muskogee-Creek words for Soque Creek. Hatchee is the Anglicization for the Itza Maya and Creek word for a shallow river or large creek.
The Miccosukee state that they were the original Mayas and that the peoples now clumped together and labeled “Maya” learned civilization from them long before they fled the region and migrated to Southeastern North America. The Miccosukee can still carry conversations with certain Maya bands in southern Vera Cruz and Tabasco States. In the 1940s, American archaeologist Mathew Sterling mistakenly labeled the ruins, he had discovered in Tabasco State as the Olmec Civilization. The name stuck, even though the Olmecs were a Nahuatl People, who arrived in the region about 1500 years after the “Olmec” Civilization collapsed.
The City of Tulsa, Oklahoma was founded by Soque-Creeks from Loachapoka, Alabama. In their honor, as the Architect for the Trail of Tears Memorial in Council Oak Park in Tulsa, I arranged for cobblestones from Saugahatchee Creek in Loachapoka and the Etowah River, next to Etowah Mounds, to be place in the concrete base of the monument by a Keeper of the Creek Wind Clan, living in Broken Arrow, OK. My Creek relatives, who moved to the Creek Nation, settled in Broken Arrow and Henrietta, OK.
The Miccosukee-Soque Migration Legend
According to Miccosukee History . . . which was originally written on an animal skin codex . . . their ancestors continued to live in the same region after the so-called Olmec Civilization collapsed. They were treated disdainfully as barbarian vassals by the large Maya cities to the east, even though they gave these people their civilization.
Between around 800 AD and 1000 AD, warlike Nahuatl-speaking Chichimec barbarians invaded Tabasco and Chiapas after the explosion of the El Chichon super-volcano decimated the region and incinerated its capital,. Palenque. These events triggered the mass emigration from the region, which soon resulted in bands of Mesoamericans settling in the Creek Homeland and along the Mississippi River. The invaders of Tabasco called themselves, Ōlmēcah. Ironically, the oppressors of the Zoque were assigned the name of the civilization created by the Zoque.
Many Zoque fled to the mountains, where their cousins the Mixtecs lived. However, one band elected to flee north along the Great White Path, which bordered the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, they gathered other bands of peoples attacked by the Chichimecs. These bands became several of the divisions of the Creek Confederacy. In particular, the Zoque refugees developed a close relationship with a band of Itza Mayas from Chiapas. When they arrived in the Southern Highlands, some Itza chia cultivators, the Chiahaw (Salvia/Chia River) settled down in the Little Tennessee Valley of North Carolina, while other Itzas, who were accustomed to farming both mountainside terraces and river bottoms, settled in the mountain passes in North Central Georgia and the region around Murphy and Hayesville, NC.
The Soque settled east of the Nacoochee Valley in the Soquee River Basin and Upper Savannah River Basin, plus its tributaries. There they developed an advanced culture which incorporated several other peoples, who had arrived in the region earlier.
When the Chiahaw, Itsate and Soque were forced out of the Southern Highlands, they migrated to southwest Georgia, which had been abandoned by the Arawak Peoples, which the Spanish incorrectly called Apalache. Here the refugees became collectively known to British colonists as the Hitchiti Creeks. The “Hitchiti” Tribal Towns generally wanted to keep a separate identity within the Creek Confederacy.
Even though the Hitchiti Creeks were allies of the new United States in the American Revolution and the War of 1812, the United States treacherously seized their lands without compensation in the Treaty of Fort Jackson (1814). This treaty was ostensibly with the hostile Red Stick Creeks, but the Georgia Muskogee Creeks gave away all the Hitchiti lands in Georgia, while keeping their own. That act turned the Friendly Hitchiti Creeks into Hostile Seminole Creeks, thus creating a permanent schism, which continues to this day.
As hostilities with the Seminole Alliance intermittently inflamed, the Miccosukee moved farther and farther southward until they were in the southern tip of Florida,, where they are now a separate federally-recognized tribe.
The Soque in Early American history
A 1673 map of eastern North America by English mapmaker, Robert Morden. has the words, Domus Regae (House of the King) over the headwaters of the Savannah River in present-day Northeast Georgia. He showed the mountains of North Carolina to have been conquered by the Rickohockens.
By the time, exploration parties from the coast reached the region, the Soque were greatly diminished in numbers by both plagues and English-sponsored Rickohocken slave raids. The Apalache Kingdom still remained, but its capital had moved north from the Upper Oconee River Basin in Gwinnett County, GA to Itstate, next to the Kenimer Mound in the Nacoochee Valley. Only the Soque communities in Habersham County, GA remained. Carolina colonial records commented that the surviving Soque, east of the Savannah River, moved southward and formed an alliance with the Kusapo (Cusabo) Confederacy. Ultimately, most of the surviving Kusapo members moved west and joined the Creek Confederacy.
South Carolina Soque’s ultimately settled in what is now Lee County, AL . . . north of Auburn. They named their capital town Thloblocco. It is now Waverly, AL. Saugahatchee Creek, named after the Soque, flows through Lee County. As can be seen below, many members of the Thloblocco Creek Tribal Town in Oklahoma still resemble the famous stone figures, created by the “Olmec Civilization.”
The Miccosukee Tribe is composed of those of the Soque survivors in Northeast Georgia, who elected to move to Creek Indian territory in Southwest Georgia after 1784, when their remnant territory (now the northern half of Habersham County) was given to the Cherokee tribe. The southern half of what is now Habersham remained the territory of the Cusseta and Ustanauli Creeks until 1818. The southern half of present day White County remained Chickasaw and Cusseta Creek until1818.
The founding core of the Snowbird Cherokee Band in Graham County, NC originated as the remnant Soques in Rabun County, GA . . . east of the Little Tennessee River . . . who were forced out by the Cherokee Treaty of 1794, which gave their lands to Georgia. The Uchees in the western half of Rabun were allowed to take allotments. The Cherokee Soque lived for many years outside the boundaries of the Cherokee Tribe in Haywood County, just east of Soco Gap.
According to the provisions of an 1819 treaty with the United States, a Cherokee conjurer, Tsunu’lahun’ski (Junaluska) applied for 640 acre allotment on Sugar Creek near Franklin, North Carolina – 15 miles from where he grew up. When his land was usurped by white settlers, he moved to Soco Gap, and became a religious leader among the Soque Cherokees living there. The only photo of Junaluska, taken when he was elderly with an amputated leg, shows physical features that are NOT Soque.
Because Junaluska had saved Andrew Jackson’s life and later made possible the crushing victory of United States troops at the Battle Horseshoe Bend in 1813, their band was exempted from forced deportation to the Indian Territory. They then moved to the eastern edge of the former Cherokee Nation in present day Graham County, NC.
Cherokees, living on the main (Qualla) Reservation call Snowbird Cherokees by the pejorative name of “Moon faces” because they have physical features identical to the famous “Olmec” stone heads. The joke is on the Qualla Cherokees. Those features prove that the Snowbirds, like the Miccosukee, are descendants of the oldest known civilization in North America.
The Soque in contemporary history and anthropological texts
Several years ago, I had to dive into reports written in the 1970s by South Carolina academicians to discover the history of the Soque. Those documents described the Soque or Sokee as the most powerful and culturally advanced indigenous people, when the coast of South Carolina was first settled. The Soque men flattened their foreheads and their tribe maintained many other Mesoamerican traits. Unlike the Georgia Apalache, Muskogee and Upper Creeks . . . who were monotheistic . . . the Soque and their descendants, the Miccosukee, had multiple deities that matched typical deities of southern Mexico. The South Carolina academic papers were very vague as to where the Soque lived. Obviously, the Soque and their Itsate allies lived where the Cherokees lived later, but the academicians did not want to offend the Eastern Band of Cherokees, who now claim to have occupied the Southern Highlands for 12,000 years.
The current generation of anthropologists in South Carolina and Georgia seem completely clueless to the existence of the Soque or their importance in 1670, when the Carolina Colony was settled. I only found Soque mentioned a few times in a list of “Cherokee villages.”
Cherokee or Wannabe Cherokee authored websites and history texts always list the Soque as a single village in the Cherokee tribe. Several state that Soque is the Cherokee word for hill. It is NOT. That word is ga-du-si.
One should be cautious when reading, Tell Them They Lie by Traveller Bird. The identity of Traveller Bird is unknown and the book up front calls itself a book of Cherokee Legends . . . and those legends have been 700 miles from Northeast Georgia for at least 180 years. The Cherokees last owned land, once occupied by the Soque, 200 years ago. However, because I can translate Creek words that Cherokee authors label as “ancient Cherokee words, whose meanings have been lost,” I can delve important information from Bird’s text. Not only that, I can translate Lower Cherokee, while Bird and contemporary Cherokee speakers either don’t have a clue what those words mean or provide inaccurate speculations that are not accurate. It is very rare for Oklahoma Cherokee historians to have been anywhere in Georgia other than the Atlanta Airport and New Echota State Historic Site in the northwest part of the state.
Bird stated . . . “Soque was the second most important Cherokee town. Chota was the most important and the capital. The headquarters of the Cherokee Scribe Society was in Soque. It was referred to by Anglos as Serowee, Soquee, Skeequoyah or the Devil’s Gang Place.” Note the similarity of Skeequoyah to Sequoyah.
This is where 200-year old Cherokee oral memory gets fuzzy. The original Chote was where Helen, GA is today. The capital of the Apalache Kingdom in the late 1600s was Itsate, which was located on and around the Kenimer Mound in the Nacoochee Valley. Soque was located about three miles away on the Soque River. However, a town on the Lower Tennessee River was established as a colony of these capital towns, which was also called Itsate, but by the 1830s was called Chote. This Chote did become a principal town of the Cherokees, but was generally known by its English name of Chota. The Nacoochee Valley was definitely in Creek territory until the Creek-Cherokee War began in early 1716.
Later in the book, Bird said something astounding . . . “1717 marked the ending of the old Appalachian Confederacy.” This is the only statement, published in the 20th century that acknowledges the existence of the Apalache Kingdom. However, the alliance ended in December 1715, when a delegation of proto-Cherokees killed 32 proto-Creek leaders in their sleep, while they were at a friendly diplomatic conference in the Uchee village of Tugaloo. The Appalachian Confederacy was not a “Cherokee Thang” as stated by Bird. Apalache is what the Creeks were still calling themselves in 1735, when they met with leaders of the new colony in Savannah. Bird blamed the breakdown of the Confederacy on the machinations “of English traders, who had learned the important role that women played among the Cherokees.”
In 1658, French ethnologist, Charles de Rochefort, wrote that the confederacy created by the Apalache in the 1600s stretched from what is now southwestern Virginia to present day southwest Georgia. So what Traveller Bird is really telling us is that the villages and towns that the Cherokees captured in the early 1700s, were in the territory of Apalache in much of the 1600s.
According to the research done by archaeologist and anthropology professor, John E. Worth, Cherokee slave-raiders typically killed all males of military age when they captured a town. Older women were killed or enslaved. Children and younger women were enslaved. Cherokee men would typically keep the most attractive teenage girls as concubines then sell the rest at the slave markets in Charleston. Thus, a teenager’s memory of the cultural traditions of another tribe were entered into the collective cultural memories of the Cherokee tribe. Eventually, several Cherokee bands were dancing the Stomp Dance, without knowing that it symbolized the migration of the ancestors of the Creeks from southern Mexico . . . or they celebrated a simple version of the Green Corn Festival without knowing that it was introduced by Tamauli People of Tabasco. Over time, watered-down versions of Creek tradition became Cherokee traditions.
And now you know!
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