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The Ancient Freckled People of the Southern Appalachians

The Ancient Freckled People of the Southern Appalachians


It is an astonishing fact that the DNA of the people, who created this engraved stone, still flows through many of us.

Uchee, Euchee, Yuchi, Ogeechee, Oconee, Tugaloo, Toccoa, Ustanauli, Oostanaula, Eastanolee, Tokasee, Tuckasegee, Tuckabatchee, Hogelogee . . These are well known river and place names, which are immediately recognizable to people living in the Lower Southeast.   They have powerful significance for sleuthing the ancient history of the Southeastern United States.  If 20th century archaeologists had bothered to learn the languages of the people, who made the potsherds, they loved to play with,  many town sites in the Southern Highlands and Piedmont would have been interpreted differently. 

Dr. Andy Martin and I were chatting on the phone the other day about the amazing heritage of Stevens County, GA . . . where the Tugaloo Stone was found.  It was originally on the bank of the Tugaloo River and marked the point where voyagers from afar should land their boats and head west on a trail to the gold deposits of the Nacoochee Valley.  To this day, there are people living in Stevens County and its county seat of Toccoa, who carry the unique combination of DNA markers that decry ancestry from the Ancient Freckled People and their American descendants, the Uchee People.   You are writing us with reports of your seemingly inexplicable combination of Sami, Finnish, Black Irish, Basque, Iberian and Panoan (Eastern Peruvian) DNA . . . when family lore said that you had “some” Creek, Cherokee, Shawnee or Uchee Native American ancestry.

You see . . . not only have white anthropologists in the Southeastern United States tended to “dumb down” the indigenous cultures in this region, but they created a simplistic, artificial “model” of this region’s past, which assumed that the same people stayed in the same place for thousands of years.  Yet . . . all along the peoples of the Creek Confederacy maintained numerous distinct migration legends that brought their ancestors from several regions of Mesoamerica, the Caribbean Basin, northwestern South America and even across the Atlantic in northwestern Europe. 

The story of the Southeastern Native Americans is really one of constant movement and intermarrying of peoples to maintain hybrid vigor.  There was never any attempt to maintain a “pure race.”   In fact, Creek law mandated marriage to spouses, who were of a different clan or ethnicity.  My Creek and Uchee ancestors on the Savannah River considered it only natural to marry their neighbors, whose ancestors came across the Atlantic, in order to cement social bonds and insure healthy babies. This practice is probably the reason that Creek and Seminole descendants today just don’t have the problem with birth defects, bipolar personalities, genetic diseases and diabetes that is found among indigenous peoples, who were more genetically isolated.

Multi-ethnic indigenous provinces

Virtually all the provinces in the Lower Southeast that evolved into the modern Muskogean tribes were multi-ethnic.  In fact,  certain ethnic groups made a point of establishing provinces together.   The Natchez in Mississippi were originally two entirely different peoples.  The Okoni Creeks paired their mound centers with clusters of Uchee villages.  The Chickasaw and Kusate paired their towns in eastern Tennessee and northern Georgia.  Chickasaws and Shawnees paired together in the North Carolina Mountains to become the Muskogee-speaking Creeks.   Chickasaws, Mesoamericans and Peruvian Arawaks paired together in southern Alabama to become the Alabama People.  The Koweta and Kaushete often placed their towns across the river from each other.  The elite of the great province of Kusa apparently were of mixed Itza, Muskogean and Panoan ancestry and called themselves Apalache.  However, within the province were many Kansa (Kaw, Kansas),  Chickasaw, Itsate, Uchee and Arawak villages.  Thus, saying that you are Chickasaw, Creek or Seminole has the same genetic significance as saying that you are an “American citizen.”

Being a “real” Southeastern Native American is not defined by being racially or genetically pure, but by being genetic Brunswick stew.  The basic building block of the Southeastern indigenous tribes was the Uchee.  They told the founders of the Colony of Georgia that there was no one else around when they arrived from across the Atlantic Ocean.  Someone before them . . . who Charles de Rochefort wrote in 1658 were the ancestors of the Caribs or Arawaks . . . had moved south . . . leaving behind their shell rings and early pottery.  However, the Caribs and Arawaks had ultimately turned around in Peru and started migrating north again. Some had moved back to the Southeast.  The mixing of these ancient red haired, freckled immigrants with various immigrants from elsewhere in the Americans created the ethnic groups that we now call Southeastern Native American tribes. 


Glossary and Etymology of your freckled ancestors

Uche –  Probably derived from and pronounced the same as the Pre-Gaelic word for water in the British Isles and Bronze Age Scandinavia . . . uisce.  The Sea Sami (Lapp) word for water nowadays is tjetsie,  pronounced yetshe . . . very close to Yuchi.

  • Ue – Word for water in Muskogee-Creek and the Atlantic Coast Gallic peoples of France.  The word survives as the modern French word for water, eau.   The Coastal Gallic peoples were skilled mariners, who built massive sea-going ships with leather sails.  These ships were much bigger than those sailed by Christopher Columbus.   Julius Caesar exterminated them because of the danger of such massive ships to Roman commerce.

Okate (Okvte) –  Itsate Creek name for the Uchee, which means “Water People.”

Ocute – Hispanization of the Itsate Creek ethnic name, Okvte,  used in the chronicles of the De Soto Expedition.

Uchee, Euchee and Yuchi – Anglicizations of the ethnic name, Uche.

Ogeechee – Anglicization of a Muskogean name for the Coastal Uchee, Okasi,  which means “Water People – descendants of.”

Oconee – Anglicization of the Muskogee Creek word, Ue-Kvni, which means “Water-Land People” or “Island People.”  It refers to the origin of the Oconee in the Okefenokee Swamp, where they lived on floating islands, created by vegetation or may actually hark back to the origin of the Uchee on islands off the coast of Europe.   The Oconee provinces were aligned due north from the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia to western North Carolina.

Duhare or Tuhali – Gaelic Province on coast of Georgia and South Carolina, near Savannah.  Duhare is the Hispanicization of the Early Medieval Irish word, Du H’ai’re, which means “From Island People” or Irish.  The modern Gaelic name for Ireland, Eire, is derived from this word. 

Tokahle – Muskogee Creek word now meaning “freckled, spotted or covered in sores.”    It originally was the ethnic name of the people, who founded Tuckabachee and the Tokasee branch of the Seminoles.   Tokahle is derived from the Pre-Gaelic word, Tokaw-re,  which means “freckled people.”

Toka – Itsate Creek word for freckled or spotted. 

Tokoshi or Tokawshi is the Itsate Creek word for the branch of the Creeks and Seminoles, descended from the Tokahle.

Tokahke  is the Muskogee Creek word for the branch of the Creeks and Seminoles, descended from the Tokahle.

Tugaloo – Anglicization of the Cherokee word, Dugalu, which is derived from the Creek work,  tokahle.

Tchologi or Hogelogee –  Algonquian and Shawnee pronunciation of Tokahke.

Toccoa – Anglicization of the Arawak word for the Spotted People . . .  Toka – koa.

Tuckasegee River –  Anglicization of the Cherokee-nization of the Muskogee Creek proper noun,  Tokahsi-ki, which means “Tokah – descendants of  – people.”

Tuckabatchee –  Anglicization of the Itsate Creek word,  Tokah – pa- shi,  which  means “Freckled People – place of – descendants of.”

Ustanauli –  A hybrid Uchee-Shawnee-Chickasaw province in Northeast Georgia, near the Savannah River.  Usta is the Southern Shawnee (Savano) word for Uchee.

Houstanaqua –  Frenchification of the Georgia Arawak word for Ustanauli.

Estatoa, Estato, or Edisto –  Anglicization of the Cherokee-nization of the Uchee word, Usta-toa,  which means “Uchee village.”

Eastanolee –  Anglicization of the ethnic name, Ustanauli.

Oostanaula River – Anglicization of the Cherokee-nization of the ethnic name, Ustanauli.



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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 have gone back and looked at the Aboriginal Map of Tennessee in the Library of Congress that was published by Goodspeed Publishing Company, Nashville, Tennessee. This copy has a date of August 13,1886 on its seal. This map has the previous names of several rivers in what is now Tn. along with listings of Old Indian Fields and Towns. On it is the Kallamuchee River(Tennessee) with Uchee Old Fields listed nearby. There is the Pellissippi River(Clinch) with Old Indian Towns nearby. Then there is your Algonquin /Shawnee translation for Tokahke, the Hogohegee River(Holston). Where the all important Long Island in history is. I also noticed Mr. Richard that on this map the Nolichucky River Is spelled Nonachunkee River. This is the first time I have seen it spelled this way. Remember I told you I had seen it as two words before with the first word as Nona not Noli as it is now. Reading POOF posts are one of the Best parts of my day. Thanks always for the knowledge.

    • Hey Lou
      Thats the Callemaco or Kallimako River. The publishing company made a mistake. I still can’t figure out what language Nolichucky is. Nonachunky is Creek, but most of the peoples in NE Tennessee were South Americans and Shawnee. Sippi is the Panoan (Peruvian) word for a river.


    Richard, Lots of word meanings that the Universities never got around to understanding even though De Soto’s men encountered lots of different speaking peoples in Florida, Georgia, SC, Tenn. and Alabama. The Mexah (Aztecs) created floating garden islands as well with their (chenampas)…did the Apalacha Kingdom ever have any contact or trade with them? The Mexah (Aztecs) used a technique like Venice driving wood logs into swampy islands for more foundation, is there any evidence that any Native peoples of the South used that same technique? Thanks for your articles.

    This city called “Pacaha” in one of Desoto’s men accounts seems to be a Peruvian sounding word and most likely by the Tennessee river:

    “On Sunday, the twenty-sixth of June, they left from there for Pacaha, enemy of Casqui, and they spent the night at one town and passed others. And the following day they crossed a swamp, in which the Indians had a well-made bridge, broad and of ingenious construction; and on Wednesday they arrived at the town of Pacaha, a town and lord of great renown and very esteemed in those parts. That town was very good and very well palisaded, with towers on the walls, and with a ditch roundabout, and most of it filled with water, which enters through an irrigation ditch that flows from the river. That pond had many very good fish of different kinds. The cacique of Casqui caught up with the Christians at the time that they entered the town, and they looted it ferociously. In Aquijo and Casqui and this Pacaha they saw the best towns that they had seen up to then, and better palisaded and fortified, and the people of more beauty, except for those of Cofitachequi.”

    • Mark, from what we can tell in reading the documents from Savannah, the Apalache and later the Creeks, were mostly oriented to the Caribbean Basin and had many South American cultural traits. The “ha” ending in Southeastern towns is Itza Maya and means river. The Tennessee River had an Itza name, Callimako, until 1785. Casqui is Koasati and means “warrior.”


        Richard, the names “Pellissippi” River, Mississippi river (“Sippi is the Panoan (Peruvian) word for a river”) implies an ancient Peruvian people connection before the Maya / Itza migration events (800-900 AD)? There are Earth effigies (Like Peru’s) along the Mississippi river basin all the way to Wisconsin, Ohio and with the same Geo. Earthworks lines as now found in the Western Amazon area of Peru. “Pacaha”, “Tampa”, “Yupaha” all have a connection with the “Pa” sound that was used in many Inca Noble names: Capac Yupanqui, Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, Topa Inca Yupanqui, Atahuallpa. The Paracussis people could have been the Nobility or priests of many different peoples and brought their mathematical knowledge, customs and Peruvian words from the ancient Kingdoms of Para (Peru). These connections with Peru seem to go back at least as far as the Hopewell culture.

        • Yes! Not all along the Mississippi, but Moche ceramic figurines have been found in the vicinity of St. Louis, MO and Charlestown, Indiana. Keep in mind that the Mississippi changed its channel during the 1813 New Madrid Earthquakes and also deposited vast quantities of mud on its flood plain after Anglo-Americans cleared all the forests and began cultivating them.,


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