Select Page

Surprising late date on maps for word, Timucua

Forgotten Peoples of the Southeast – Part Eight

Research Update: The Southeast’s past is getting more and more complex as our research techniques become increasingly sophisticated.  At this moment, it appears that the elite of Kusa (Coça) may have been originally Koshabo  from Peru, while their subjects, the Kusate (Cussata) were definitely Muskogeans from east-central Mexico. What we do know for sure was that the South American lima bean was introduced to the Southeast at exactly the same time that the Kusa appeared.  Koshabo means “strong people” or “elite” in the Panoan languages of Peru.  The Koshabo in South Carolina came to be known by British settlers as the Cusabo.  

Much of the work of the People of One Fire over the past eight years has been to separate academic myths from scientific facts.   A good example is the word, Chicora.  It is the name of a myriad of institutions, subdivisions, schools and even a state-recognized Native American tribe in northeastern and central South Carolina.  Yet the real location of Chicora was Savannah, GA and the word itself is obviously a Hispanicization of Parachicora – a word we know today as Palachicola.   The commander of Fort Caroline, René de Laudonnière, visited Chikola in 1562 and 1565.  In his memoir, he specifically stated that Chikola and Chikora were the same town. Muskogeans could not pronounce the “r” sound.

Go to any reference now and you will be told that the Chicora were a Siouan People based near Georgetown, SC, who governed a massive province along the South Carolina and North Carolina coast.  Some articles might add as a footnote that no European explorer ever found a tribe by that name in the Carolinas after the word was first mentioned by two Spanish slave traders in 1525.    Hm-m-m.

The Timucua and Tamakoa

The same may be said of Timucua.   Would you believe that the first map to mention a word like Timucua was drawn by Colonel John Barnwell in 1721, as he was building Fort King George on the Altamaha River in present day Georgia?    His map says that the Timucua once  lived in the region south of the Altamaha, but now they were extinct.

Timucua is the Hispanicization of the tribe that lived about 21 miles inland on the Altamaha River named the Tamakoa.   Tama means “trade” in Totonac and Itza Maya.  Koa means “people or tribe” in several of the Arawak dialects.

The Tamakoa moved northward up the Altamaha River immediately after the Spanish began subjugating the Georgia Coast.   Their last known location in the late 1700s was northeast Metro Atlanta at the headwaters of the Oconee River, which is a major tributary of the Altamaha.  The Muskogee-Creeks called them the Tamakoake, which was Anglicized to Thamacoggin.  By this time, they were members of the Creek Confederacy.   Thamacoggin was the original name of Jefferson, GA –  which is the country seat of Jackson County.  In 1787, the Tamakoake moved to Alabama and apparently lost their distinctive ethnic identity.

At some point in the late 1500s or early 1600s, the Spanish began to use Timucua as the informal name of an administrative district that included several provinces in present day northeast Florida and southeast Georgia.  However, the word Timucua never appeared on Spanish maps, in the same way that Apalache did.  This was typical of the Spanish.  They would take the name of one town, such as Guale (actually Wari) and apply it to a region.  No tribe in Florida or Georgia ever called itself the Timucua or the Guale.

It is true that the provinces in northeast Florida shared similar lifestyles and pottery styles, but I am not convinced that they spoke the same languages.  Some of the Timucua provinces had Itza or Muskogean names, while most had Arawak names.

The Arawak language that seems to come closest to translating  the most NE Florida place names in Warao.   The Warao People still live today on platform houses and villages along the Orinoco River Basin in Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname.   The word, Warao means “Boat People” in their language.  This “o” suffix for people can be seen in some place names as far north as the North Carolina Mountains. Some of the early Cherokee village names had “o” suffixes.   Since the Warao have an ancient tradition of maritime skills, it is quite plausible that they would be capable of migration across the Caribbean Basin.

The Mocama People in the southeastern tip of Georgia appear to have spoken an Arawak dialect used along the Mocapra River in Venezuela.   The Takatacuro Indians of the region of the Atlantic Coast near Midway, GA appear to have spoken an Arawak language used along the Tacuro River in Venezuela.

No tribe in Florida ever called itself either the Timucua or the Tamakoa.   Yet today Timucuan Ecological Reserve is the name of a massive unit of the National Park Service near Jacksonville.   Florida school children are taught that the Timucua Indians occupied the northeast part of their state.   These diverse provinces, some of whom were enemies of each other, are treated as a single ethnic group by Florida anthropologists.

Just as in the situation in South Carolina with the word, Chicora,  there is a legion of institutions, schools, subdivisions, streets and even a real estate firm named Timucua in Florida.   The mythology was so deeply ingrained into late 20th century Floridians, that to say otherwise is an act of heresy equal in abomination to telling folks there that the Fort Caroline they see in Jacksonville is a 1/12th scale fake, built in 1961,

It is a hard roe to hoe.

The following two tabs change content below.
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.



    Richard to you this that Native Americans were always here. They post all the time that they have always been here. What do you think ? I am curios about this.

    • Hey Alice
      I will have to defer to the paleontologists on that one. Anything I say would be pure speculation, since that is not my area of expertise. What I read is that the American Indians separated genetically from their Siberian forebears around 12-13,000 years ago. Many Latin American archaeologists think that both Polynesians and Australoids came somewhat earlier. I think that it is entirely possible that Homo Erectus (Peking Man) and Dennisonians (a cousin of Neanderthal) came much, much earlier, but their artifacts are under the water of the Continental Shelf or buried deep below debris left by shrinking glaciers.


    I meant have they always been here.


    Along with my South American, Mesoamerican and North American dna, I also have a small fraction of oceanic dna!


    I’m doing research on the peopling of the Americas and find this article and website very interesting and informative.

    Here is something you and others might want to look into and perhaps do your research on it.

    Not too long ago I came across this book:

    H. Dieter Heinen (ED.)

    The Kanobo Cult Of The Warao Amerindiands Of The Central Orinoco Delta:
    The Nahanamu Sago Ritual

    Sago = Yuruma also ‘ohidu aru’
    In the Sago ritual it is referred as ‘aru’.
    The sago canoe / canoe is called ‘aruwa’

    Since then I have done my own research:

    In the (Island-) Carib language (extinct since 1920) the word for tree is: Arabu

    In the Tunebo language (Colombia) the word for tree is: Karukwa

    In the Iroquoian – Mohawk Oneida language the word for tree is: Garuda also ‘garoha’ (garo’ha ?)


    Are all these words connected?

    Aruwa = Sago canoe (sago; sago tree?)
    Arabu = Tree
    Karukwa = Tree
    Garuda = Tree

    Did some of the Arawak related natives travelled even further up north passed south- and north Carolina to the Pennsylvania – New York region (Iroquoian – Mohawk oneida)?

    • Good Morning Dieter

      This is what I can tell you. I lived for 10 years in the Shenandoah Valley, which is in northwestern Virginia. Most people don’t know, including the Virginia archaeologists, that the Shenandoah Valley was densely populated and had many mounds, at the time that Jamestown, VA was settled. Virtually the entire population was wiped out by Native American slave raiders – the Rickohockens and the Iroquois, in the 1660s. As you may know, I am an architect. On several occasions, while projects I designed were being excavated or septic systems installed, we uncovered artifacts, which appeared to be associated with cultures in Mesoamerica or the Caribbean Basin. They included quadrapod stone metates, stone balls, painted pottery, and soapstone “pancake” griddles. Local residents told me that such items had been unearthed by farmers in the Seven Bends area of the Shenandoah Valley for two centuries. However, at least at that time, nobody there was interested in Native American cultures. I was chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission and so used that position to contact the Anthropology Department at the nearby University of Virginia. I explained that I had studied Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico and was not a novice. They essentially laughed at me and refused to look at the artifacts. Some of the staff at Thunderbird Associates, who were my archaeological consultants when I was restoring Colonial and Federal Period sites, were curious about what I described, but extremely busy with a newly discovered Clovis site. I had some friends, who were archaeologists with the National Park Service facility in Harpers Ferry, VA. However, they were not allowed to examine artifacts removed from private land. If I hadn’t removed the artifacts, they would have been crushed by construction machinery and then covered with dirt. So, I ended up giving the artifacts back to the owners of the properties. Nothing ever came of it.

      That is not a very scientific answer for you, but the artifacts were strong evidence that a substantial population from the Caribbean Basin, South America or Mesoamerica did reach as far north as northern Virginia. Gene Waddell, an ethnologist from South Carolina has just published a landmark book on the Taino. Please provide me with an email address and I will send you a digital copy of the book. Gene is currently in Argentina, studying the indigenous people of Tierra del Fuego.


        Hello Richard (and all other readers / interested),

        There was a slight misunderstanding; I’m not Dieter.

        H. Dieter Heinen is the author of the book: ‘The Kanobo Cult Of The Warao Amerindians Of The Central Orinoco Delta’

        I’m a what you can refer to as a semi-researcher nowhere near the expert level researchers you are.

        In case of the similarities on the words for tree.

        You might want to take a look at the Utian – Miwok and Chalon language.

        The following words you can find in the book called:

        ‘Proto Utian Grammar and Dictionary: With Notes on Yokuts’ by Catherine Callaghan

        Pages: 12, 84, 86, 101, 309, 454.

        I know it’s on the otherside of the continent on the westcoast yet one may see and find some connection.

        The word for ‘oak’ tree is: ala-wa-s (also ‘ala-wah’)

        The word for ‘sycamore’ tree is: ma ra-h (also ‘ma rah’)

        The word for ‘redwood’ tree is: co-n-ala


        In the Chalon language the word for ‘oak’ tree is: aruwax (also ‘aruwah’)

        When you look closely you can see the rootword for tree is: ala / ara and aru

        In Arawakan and Taino the word for tree is: ara (and /or ‘ada’)

        1. Aruwa = Aru -wa = Venezuela (Warao)
        2. Arabu = Ara -bu = Caribbean islands (Carib)
        3. Karukwa = (K)Aru -kwa = Colombia (Tunebo)
        4. Garuda = (G)Aru -da = EastCoast (Mohawk oneida)

        5. Alawas = Ala -was = WestCoast (Miwok)
        6. Marah = (M)Ara -h = ,, ,,
        7. Aruwax = Aru -wax = ,, (Chalon)

        When you dissect the words you will see the similarities more clear.

        Did the Arawak (and / or Warao, Carib, Taino) sailed both sides East- and Westcoast (Atlantic ocean and Pacific ocean) of the continent?
        If so, did the Arawak left any artifacts on the westcoast and could there have been any pre-columbian contact with the Chumash another seafaring people?


    to Richard and all great stuff! local weather man (mobile, alabama) did a great report on upper mobile delta biodiversity and visited ancient shell island in middle of delta. estimated to have taken 100 years to build. 3 part series film clip available on their web site for anyone interested. thanks to all for!


    Thank you for your information on the possible migration of Arawak related people towards the north.

    At the moment I’m researching multiple plausible migrationroutes on peopling of the American continent.

    There seems to be multiple landing places from the Pacific.
    Perhaps there were ancient seaports from and to the Pacific islands especially with Polynesian sounding names:

    Sinaloa – Mexico
    Matarani – Peru

    All on the westcoast of the America’s.


    The search for similar words for tree in the various native languages has become even more extraordinary.

    Today I came across a book called:
    ‘University of California publications in American archaeology and ethnology’

    Published in circa: 1910

    Searching for linguistic evidence in finding plausible migrationroutes; I came across the Wiyot language.

    The Wiyot is a native tribe on the westcoast of Northern California. Their main territory is Humbolt bay.

    The word for boat / canoe is: haluwi (also ‘haruwi’)

    It immediately reminded me of the Warao word for (sago-)canoe: aruwa

    Is it merely coincidence or is there actually a link?
    The fact that the territory of the Wiyot is directly on the coast would make it very accessible for an Arawak related or any south american seafaring people to reach the Californian coast.

    Note that the languages are very different from eachother all but the word for tree.
    How come this word ‘aruwa’ (karukwa in Tunebo – Columbia) for tree (canoe) is so widespread?

    1. Aruwa = sago canoe (Venezuela – Warao)
    2. Arabu = tree (Arabuko = woodland) Island Carib)
    3. (k)Arukwa = tree (Columbia – Tunebo)
    4. (g)Aruda = tree (Eastcoast – Mohawk oneida)
    5. Alawas = tree (Westcoast – Miwok)
    6. (m)Arah = tree (Westcoast – Miwok)
    7. Aruwax = tree (Westcoast – Chalon)
    8. (h)Aluwi = canoe / boat (Westcoast – Wiyot)

    • My guess is that it is a word similar to that which was used by the original people in Siberia. You might look at the Siberian languages for similarities. However, another word for canoe or boat in Warao is Wara. Their name means “Boat People.” The Muskogee word for canoe is pila, while their word for tree is eto. The many branches of the Creek Confederacy came from several parts of Mexico, Central America and Peru. They are not related to most North American Indians.


        Thank you for your reply.

        I will have a look at the Siberian languages for similarities.
        Yet I also take into consideration that there might be a migration via the sea / ocean especially since there seems to be new evidence of an Oceanian genetic link with some native Americans.

        On the case of the Warao:
        When the word for canoe / boat in Warao is Wara; it means the word for sago canoe ‘aruwa’ consists of the words Aru (sago-(tree?) and Wara (canoe) which becomes: Aruwara later shortend to Aruwa

        Some trees which are used for building canoes became synonymous (have the same meaning) as tree and canoe; in some cases referred to as canoe-tree.


        Wiyot language:
        Tree = talewil
        Canoe = haluwi

        When you dissect the words you can see that ‘alewi’ is essentially the same as ‘aluwi’.

        Chumash language:
        Tree = tomol
        Canoe = tomol

        In the case of combining the words for tree and canoe together; you can look at the Salish (Coeur d’Alene) language.

        Canoe-tree = t’ada-alqw
        Consisting of the words: t’ada = canoe + alqw = tree / shrub, pole, log.

        • That is very interesting. What you seem to have found is evidence of a proto-American Indian language from many eons ago.


            Yes it is very interesting indeed.

            I don’t know if I actually found evidence of a proto-American Indian (Native American) language from many eons ago; yet it might help linguists in the right direction.

            I consider myself as a part time researcher; nowhere near the expert level you are on.

            I will post further research data I found in another comment.

  8. Richard,

    Lamhatty in his account of 1706/1707 lists the town/tribe of Tomoóka. This has been theorized to be an exiled village of the “Timucua” known and called by the English Tomoco. It was located on Lamhatty’s map in the Panhandle of Florida / Alabama Gulf.

    • Yes, I have see that but I am not convinced. The reason is that there was a huge branch of the Itsate Creeks along the Altamaha River known as the Tvmvke by the Muskogee speakers. English speakers typically wrote a Creek V sound as an O – as they converted Vchese to Ochese in Macon.


    Hey Richard; all who are interested,

    I have looked into the Muskogee-Creek language / ditcionary and found the word ‘perro’ for boat/canoe.
    It seems that the Muskogee-Creek lacks the r sound which means ‘r’ is used to represent a voiceless lateral.

    Here are some placenames which assumingly contains the word perro.

    Pithlachocco (Seminole) ‘boat-house’ (Read 1934; Martin and Mauldin 2000 – Steward 1977 :375);
    Muskogee-Creek: perro-cuko

    perro = boat/canoe + cuko = house

    Pithlachascotee (Seminole) ‘canoe-cut’ (Read 1934; Martin and Mauldin 2000 – Steward 1977 :375);
    Muskogee-Creek: perro-cvsketv

    perro = boat/canoe + cvsketv = to chop

    The word pila /pilla (canoe) can be the origin for the word perro (pello/pillo?).
    There might be a link to the word pirogue.

    It is said that the French word pirogue (canoe) was a loan from Spanish piragua from Calibi (Carib) piraua.

    If this is true; the word pira (from pira-ua) is essentially the same as pila.
    This would make sense that pila on mainland south America would evolve into
    pira in the Calibi (Carib) language; bringing the word to mainland north America (Florida region).

    In the case of the Muskogee word eto for tree:

    The other day I have done some intensive research on the Muskogee language (and it paid off).

    It is true that the word for tree is eto.

    Then I remembered that most words for tree on the westcoast
    are words for oak trees.

    At last; I found the Muskogee word for oak tree.

    The word for pin oak, white oak = kvlvpi also kvlv
    Here the letter v is (translated) pronounced as ‘a’.

    Kvlvpe therefore reads ‘kalapi’ (kvlv = kala)
    which perhaps should be ‘kulupi’ and ‘kulu'(?).

    Whatever may be the right pronunciation;
    one (at least for the trained eye) can clearly see the similarities between:

    talewil = tree – Wiyot
    Haluwi = canoe – Wiyot
    Kalapi (kulupi?) = pin-, white oak – Muskogee

    Alawas = tree, (valley oak) – Miwok
    Aruwax = tree, (oak, white oak) – Chalon
    Aruwa = sago-(tree?), sago-canoe – Warao
    Karukwa = tree – Tunebo

    Garuda = tree – Mohawk oneida

    • Very interesting. Hey, you should be an anthropology professor somewhere. You are already ahead of most of the archaeologists in the Southeast. They don’t even know how to pronounce our words. You have already mastered that. LOL


        Hahaha.. lol.. on the one hand it’s funny on the other hand it’s quite sad that most of the archaeologists in the Southeast don’t even know how to pronounce your (Muskogean) words.

        Me being an anthropology professor? Thank you; yet I think many anthropologists and archaeologists are somewhat stuck in the amount of theories that are out there.

        Sometimes I actually have the feeling there are many anthropologists and archaeologists who deliberately mislead people and withhold information / important research data for their own interests.

        In past decades (even centuries) anthro-/archaeologists have hidden and distorted the history of many nations.

        I’m just doing honest research in finding the truth or at least as close to the truth as possible which seems to be very unpopular these days.


    The information on the word kvlvpe (kalapi = pin-/white oak)
    I found in the following book:

    A Dictionary of Creek / Muskogee

    by Jack B. Martin, Margaret McKane Mauldin

    (Page 67)

    When this word truely is correct than we can dissect it even further.

    Kalapi (kulupi) also kala possible has the root word ‘ala’ for tree.

    This would follow the same line as for the root word ‘aru’ (sago-(tree)
    in the word aruwa.

    Now we might have an interesting link with the Warao word for canoe which is wara.

    If aruwa consists of the words aru (sago) and wara (canoe)
    it can also be applied to the word
    kalapi ; in this case ‘pi’ is actually pila (pilla / pirra (perro)
    which means canoe / boat.


    Warao(Venezuela): aru wara = sago-canoe
    Muskogee Creek:(k)ala pila = oak-canoe

    Ultimately sago and oak being trees;
    therefore sago-/oak-canoe is tree-canoe or canoe-tree;
    a tree which is used for building canoes.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to POOF via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this website and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 676 other subscribers

The Information World is changing!

People of One Fire needs your help to evolve with it.

We are now celebrating the 11th year of the People of One Fire. In that time, we have seen a radical change in the way people receive information. The magazine industry has almost died. Printed newspapers are on life support. Ezines, such as POOF, replaced printed books as the primary means to present new knowledge. Now the media is shifting to videos, animated films of ancient towns, Youtube and three dimensional holograph images.

During the past six years, a privately owned business has generously subsidized my research as I virtually traveled along the coast lines and rivers of the Southeast. That will end in December 2017. I desperately need to find a means to keep our research self-supporting with advertising from a broader range of viewers. Creation of animated architectural history films for POOF and a People of One Fire Youtube Channel appears to be the way. To do this I will need to acquire state-of-art software and video hardware, which I can not afford with my very limited income. Several of you know personally that I live a very modest lifestyle. If you can help with this endeavor, it will be greatly appreciated.

Support Us!

Richard Thornton . . . the truth is out there somewhere!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!