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The Alekmani (Alachua) . . . a tribe of Scandinavian origin in Georgia

The Alekmani (Alachua) . . . a tribe of Scandinavian origin in Georgia

 

Alec Mountain in Habersham County, GA contains a circular stone shrine, where these people held ceremonies.

Honestly,  if I had read the article that you are about to read, five years ago,  I would have cast it aside as poppycock. However, one cannot not deny the significance of this tribal name’s etymology.  It is supported by reliable eyewitness accounts and modern place names.  Two Alec Mountains, on the eastern end of the Nacoochee Mountain and in Union County, plus Doctortown, near Jesup in Southeast Georgia remember their presence.   Those Alecmani, who resettled in north-central Florida, were called the Alachua Creeks and later, the Alachua Seminoles.

In his memoir,  Captain René de Laudonnière, commander of Fort Caroline, described an advanced people, who lived about 25 miles upstream from Fort Caroline on the May River.   They were called the Alecmani.  They had become wealthy from the cultivation of medicinal herbs, such as cinchona (quinine) tree.   Tropical and semi-tropical herbs were grown along the banks of the Altamaha River.  Highland herbs were grown at their colony in the eastern end of the Nacoochee Valley in the Province of Apalache.  Alecmani guides enabled Lt. LaRoche Ferrière to travel through the interior of the Southeast for six months.  The extreme value of Alekmani medicines, such as quinine bark, for healing several diseases made the harming of Alekmani traders and doctors taboo.

De Laudonnière  stated that their name meant “Medicine or Healing People.” The Arawak speaking tribes called them the Alekoa or Alachua.  By the 1700s,  alek had become the Creek  word for a medical doctor and the Alecmani (Alachua) had joined the Creek Confederacy.    The site of their original provincial capital was originally known as Aleck Town, but later became known as Doctortown.  The site is located next to a community and famous railroad bridge near present day Jesup, GA  (31° 39′ 13″ N81° 49′ 45″ W). 

The fact that the Alecmani were a known indigenous tribe in Georgia, who later joined the Creek Confederacy, is one of the many proofs that Fort Caroline was built in 1564 on the Altamaha River in Georgia, not anywhere in Florida.  Doctortown is the exact distance from the probable location of Fort Caroline that De Laudonnière stated was the distance between Fort Caroline and the Alecmani capital.

On the trail of their elusive etymology

Because the Alekmani or Alecmani knew how to grow cinchona trees, I assumed that they were from Peru or the western Amazon Basin. Unlike the kindred search for the etymology of the Wassaw People on the Ogeechee River near Savannah,  I had the known meanings of both words, alek and mani . . . medicine and people (or tribe.)   That knowledge got me nowhere.   For five years, I have searched all the published indigenous dictionaries of South American and found nothing.  I finally gave up this past winter. . . assuming that these words were from an extinct language of the Amazon Basin.

Perhaps I should interject that in 1934,  Smithsonian archaeologist, James Ford,  found bronze and iron weapons and tools along the banks of the Altamaha River Delta.   He assumed that they were left behind by the Spanish, but having only three years of college at that time,  he didn’t know that the people of the Iberian Peninsula switched from bronze to iron around 600 BC.   That was evidence that I should have followed, but didn’t.

Marcus Aurelius provides the answer

Last night I watched a BBC documentary on the military campaigns of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.   His longest and last campaign was along the Upper Danube River in the foothills of the Austrian Alps.   The arch-enemy of the Romans were the Marcomani, a tribe from northern Germany, who had invaded the region just before the Romans arrived.

Mani . . . hm-m . . .  that is the same suffix as Alecmani.  No, it couldn’t be.   I looked up the etymology of Marcomani.  The ethnic name means “Borderland Men or People.”   They were from the northern edge of modern Germany and spoke a language that was also ancestral to modern English, Friesian, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Icelandic.  They were from the same region where the Wassaw People originated, but spoke a dialect closer to modern Swedish.  But what language did the Alek part of Alekmani come from.

Then I remembered . . . its been a long time since I worked in Sweden.  ”  Att Läka (pronounced a-leka) is a Swedish verb meaning, “to heal.”   Läk  and läkemedel are old words for medicine in Swedish.  Läkare is their word for a medical doctor.   The languages around the shores of the Baltic Sea use the same or similar words.   The Danes used different words today for healing and medicine.   Many of the petroglyphs in Northern Georgia are identical to the petroglyphs of the Baltic Sea Basin . . . even the oldest ones, carved around 2000 BC at Nyköping.

I perused Swedish linguistic history websites.   In Gamla Svensk . . . the language spoken in central Sweden,  the island of Gotland and along the edge of the Baltic Sea during the Iron and Viking Ages,  “Men or People, who heal”  would have been A-lek-mani.  No one really knows the language spoken by the first Northern Germans, who invaded Sweden at the end of the Bronze Age, but it was probably similar.

OMG!   The Alecmani were originally a proto-Swedish Bronze Age, Iron Age or Viking Age people, somewhere in the vicinity of the Baltic Sea.  Apparently, they sailed and hiked all over the Southeast and in parts of South America.  So if you are Uchee, Creek, Chickasaw or Seminole,  at least some of that Scandinavian DNA in you was not brought to the Americas by Irish or Scottish ancestors . . . but much, much earlier. 

Gotta get me a time machine.

 

PS:  I will be moving and getting settled during the coming weeks.  There will be a period, when I won’t have access to the internet or the time to get online.  There will probably be delays in approval of comments to articles.  Just be patient!   LOL

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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.

8 Comments

  1. urisahatu@yahoo.com'

    Richard T., Yet another great post. Does ‘alch’ or ‘alc’ from ‘alchemy’ and ‘alchemist’ have the same or similar meaning as ‘att Läka’?

    Have a safe trip to your new location where ever that may be.

    Reply
    • I don’t think so. Alchemy and alcohol are derived from Archaic Greek via Arabic. The A or att at the beginning are part of Germanic-Scandinavian-Old English grammar.

      Reply
      • urisahatu@yahoo.com'

        Thank you for your reply. Guess it only sounds the same without actually being related to eachother.

        Reply
  2. markveale@hotmail.com'

    Richard, The Visigoths from Sweden (Gotland) made their way to Rome then to Spain where the Spaniards passed on a lore of 7 golden cities that some migrated? You seem to have located the meaning of two groups of Euro-peoples: “A-lek-mani” and “Alle-ge-wi”…how would we know that without you? Amazing discovery!!

    Reply
    • Guess, you have figured out that I just “reverse engineer” the name of an ethnic group and then use statistical methods to search for word origins. Algonquians and Muskogeans pronounce a K so gutterally that they are often written as a G. Allegewi was probably, originally Alek-gi-we

      Reply
  3. wrapscallionn@gmail.com'

    There was a tribe in europe called the Allemanni. Their range corresponds with roughly Switzerland .

    Reply
    • Yes, they along with the Helvetica, were mentioned in Caesar’s Commentāriī dē Bellō Gallicō and the origin of the French names for Germany and Switzerland respectively.

      Reply
      • markveale@hotmail.com'

        Richard, You will not believe this… but years ago I saw artwork made by a Peabody Graduate student of one of the Maya tombs of what appeared to be a man wearing the type of hat worn in Switzerland. 3 people appeared to be whites! offering trade items to the Toltec King. The same type of long distance measurements you have found in Georgia were used much later by the Templars in Spain for their temples locations. The Templars used a 5 pointed star like the Mi’kmaq Native people of Newfoundland. The Newport tower seems to be of the same design of the Roman-Briton 3rd century peoples of Britton. More proof of cross Atlantic merchants? who returned to Europe with the advanced math of the Native people.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pagans_Hill_Roman_temple

        Reply

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