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Several branches of the Seminoles considered themselves, Mayas

Several branches of the Seminoles considered themselves, Mayas


Maya Facts – March 18, 2019

This article begins a new People of One Fire series that will provide brief facts on the ethnic history of the Creek, Seminole, Soque, Miccosukee and Maya Peoples . . . as I work on a series of videos for posting on Youtube.

J. E. Lazelle, in 1917 was a teacher at the Indian Town School near Palm Beach, Florida. He apparently became the first educated white man to be allowed to live among the Miccosukee Seminoles.  His memoirs make it very clear that the Miccosukee and Chiaha were separate ethnic groups, who were ethnologically different than the majority of member tribal towns of the Creek Confederacy.  At that time, Lazelle states that all Istate (Hitchiti) speaking Seminoles in South Florida considered themselves to be Mayas. 

  • The other members of the Creek Confederacy were described by these tribes as descendants of Mayas, who arrived in the Southeast earlier and who had mixed with various tribes, such as the Chickasaw, Shawnee, Kansa and Uchee that were culturally less advanced.
  • Chiaha is an Itza Maya word, which means “Salvia (chia seeds) – river.
  • Mikkosukee is the Anglicization of a Mixtec-Zoque word which means “Leaders of the Civilized (People).
  • The Chiaha Migration Legend began in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico and went by water to what is now the Western North Carolina Mountains.
  • The Miccosukee Migration Legend began in the coastal plains of Chiapas and Vera Cruz, Mexico then went by land to the mountains of Northeast Georgia.
  • The Miccosukee speak so many Zoque and Maya words that they can carry on conversations with members of several tribes in southern Mexico.
  • At that time, the Chiaha and Miccosukee did NOT practice the traditional Creek monotheistic religion, but worshiped a pantheon of southern Mesoamerican deities.



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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.


    • I did not know that they had mounds in Sardinia. That is amazing. It is also virtually identical to the great Cholula Pyramid in Mexico, which is the largest pyramid in the World.


        Richard, The Native peoples of these 2 locations must have been connected to have built the same type of mound and what is a flat top Native mound of ancient tall people doing in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea area? There doesn’t seem to be any more like it in that area. If the Native peoples had build long ramps to the top of their Mounds…most would be a match for the one in Sardinia.

        • As far as I know, the Seminoles never built any mounds once they got to Florida. The Soque didn’t build any mounds up here, except small burial mounds . . . and I am not even sure they built them. May have been an earlier people.


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