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The Mayas in North America “Thing” – Part Two

The Mayas in North America “Thing” – Part Two

Background to Quiz Two

It is common knowledge that corn, beans and some varieties of squash came from either Mesoamerica or South America.  However, a significant number of words spoken by the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern United States originated in Mesoamerica, Caribbean Basin or South America.  Most of the words, associated with political offices, architecture, writing, trade and agriculture in the Itsate Creek language, originated in regions to the south.  However, Mesoamerican words associated with trade can be found several Southeastern tongues.

Of all the hundreds of thousands of people in the past, who earned post-graduate degrees in Anthropology, Ethnology, Linguistics or History, not one ever thought of comparing words in the Muskogean languages to languages in Mesoamerica, the Caribbean Basin or South America.  The first ever discussion of these borrowed words was presented in a People of One Fire newsletter in 2007.

It is common knowledge that corn, beans and some varieties of squash came from either Mesoamerica or South America.  However, a significant number of words spoken by the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern United States originated in Mesoamerica, Caribbean Basin or South America.  Most of the words, associated with political offices, architecture, writing, trade and agriculture in the Itsate Creek language, originated in regions to the south.  However, Mesoamerican words associated with trade can be found several Southeastern tongues.

It is obvious that merchants with Mesoamerican cultural roots traversed the rivers and trade paths of the Southeast and Mississippi River Basin . . . in the process introducing new crops and words.  Perhaps they were the descendants of Mesoamerican traders, who married local women, but they still had Mesoamerican ancestry.

Yucatan-cargoboat

Of the hundreds of thousands of people in the past, who earned post-graduate degrees in Anthropology, Ethnology, Linguistics or History, not one ever thought of comparing words in the Muskogean languages to languages in Mesoamerica, the Caribbean Basin or South America. For decades there was a taboo on this subject that branded anyone, who did discuss it . . . a pseudo-archaeologist . . . whatever that means.  The first ever discussion of these borrowed words was presented in a People of One Fire newsletter in 2007.

Unfortunately, during 2012 many academicians went out so far on a limb to attack the “Mayas in North America Thing,” they now cannot discuss the loan words from south of the border, without “losing face.”   See how well you do on questions related to the exchange of ideas and words.

[mtouchquiz 3]

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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.

19 Comments

  1. sargentspigeon@aol.com'

    Why do you assume that language cognates mean that Mayans visited North America? That is an extremely bad assumption since it was North American Indians who were known to circumnavigate the Gulf of Mexico regularly and not the Mayans.

    Also the specific stems shared were widespread in the eastern woodlands of North America, but they appear only in the Yucatec dialect of Mayan and not in the older southern Mayan dialects.

    This implies that North American Indians including Algonquians and Muskogeans visited the Yucatan, influencing Yucatec dialect, not the other way around.

    Reply
    • You made a value judgment based on very little knowledge about the subject.

      Mesoamerican Cultures 101 – You are aware that the University of Minnesota Mineralogical Lab found a 100% match between attapulgite mined in Georgia and the Maya Blue stucco on temples at Palenque? That means that Itza miners and traders came up the Chattahoochee River for many centuries. The Itza Mayas were not ethnic Mayas, but originally spoke another language, which was still maintained by the priesthood, so their Maya overlords could not understand them. The Itza were under the domination of Tula (Teotihuacan) from about 200 AD to 600 AD, and picked up many Totonac words that were not spoken by the Maya city states during the Classic Period. During the Classic Period they were generally illiterate and were considered barbarians by the Maya city states. However, the Itza terrace complexes supplied a large proportion of the food of their Maya overlords. When the El Chichon caldera exploded around 800 AD the Chiapas Highlands, where the Itza lived were made uninhabitable for several decades. This triggered the period of aggressive warfare over food resources that ultimately caused the abandonment of most Maya cities. Something like a half million Itzas disappeared. Some later conquered northern Yucatan, but most went somewhere else.

      Creek Indians 101 – The Creeks practiced many Mesoamerican traditions that are too numerous to list, but because the refugees who came here were apparently victims of the Maya elite, both human sacrifice and slavery were not continued. The majority of Creeks in Georgia, Western North Carolina, Eastern Tennessee and South Carolina spoke dialects of the Itsate language, called by whites today, Hitchiti – not Muskogee. Itsate is what the Itza Mayas called themselves. Most Georgia Creek descendants show up with about 10-12% of their Asiatic DNA being Maya trace markers. The Georgia Creeks have a tradition that “Sun Lords” from the south came into their land around 1100 years ago and set up towns and more sophisticated ways of farming. Well, the Muskogee word for the highest range of North Georgia Mountains was Itsapa, while the Cherokee word for the same region was Itsayi. Both words mean “Place of the Itza.”

      Reply
      • sargentspigeon@aol.com'

        Sorry but it is you who is making the assumptions. You assume that Georgia minerals found in the Yucatan were mined by Mayans (or “Itza”). There is no basis for that assumption. The more likely explanation is that Georgia Indians were bringing that mineral as a trade good. The proper assumption that is usually correct is that mines were operated by locals, and products of those mines were then traded or brought afar for ceremonial purposes. There’s no logical reason for people from the Yucatan to travel such a distance to mine anything.

        You also treat knowledge of the “Itzas” as if you are certain about it. Everything about the so-called Itzas is speculative or theoretical. That especially applies to their role at Teotihuacan, if they had any. It could well be true that the influence you attribute to the “Itzas” was actually operating in the reverse direction. That is, North American Indians may have been traveling to Teotihuacan (which is almost certain to have been the case) and then continued on to the Yucatan as part of their circuit around the Gulf. They may be the people you are calling the “Itzas” but you are missing it because you think that knowledge about this period is somehow certain.

        Reply
  2. sargentspigeon@aol.com'

    And there are HUGE problems with the idea that Yucatan natives were regularly visiting Georgia. One of them is clothing — Yucatan residents were not equipped to function in a temperate climate. Another is migration patterns. Tropical residents had little reason to travel far because their wildlife and food sources don’t migrate. On the other hand, the Indians in temperate climates were regularly traveling long distances following migratory birds and other wildlife. Those are just a few reasons to think you have the direction of influence backwards.

    Reply
    • The chronicles of the De Soto Expedition clearly state that once they entered what is now Georgia, the people wore brightly patterned “linen” clothing. Such cloth has been found in burials, where copper oxide protecting the fibers. The “linen” was actually woven from mulberry fibers. Other forms of cloth were woven from thistle and cottonwood fibers. While visiting the Apalache Kingdom in North Georgia in 1653, Richard Briggstock noted that the elite wore brightly colored clothing, while the commoners wore simple clothing that was the color of unbleached linen.

      Reply
      • sargentspigeon@aol.com'

        You seem to have missed my point. Obviously the Natives of Georgia had clothing including clothing for warm weather, i.e. furs. It gets cold in Georgia, very cold.

        It does NOT get cold in the Yucatan. Yucatan and other Mesoamerican Natives would not have had the clothing to sustain regular travel to climates where it gets very cold, nor would they have had the reason to go.

        This is one of innumerable reasons to think that if there were real direct connections between Georgia and the Yucatan, those connections involved Natives from the vicinity of Georgia traveling south and influencing the Yucatan, NOT vice versa.

        Reply
        • sargentspigeon@aol.com'

          I meant clothing for COLD weather not warm weather.

          Reply
        • sargentspigeon@aol.com'

          And by the way, brightly colored linen clothing preserved by copper has been found in a few burials of the Adena Civilization from the middle Woodland Period in southern Ohio. The Ohio Valley would be the likely origin of the clothing styles in Georgia that De Soto described.

          Reply
  3. ScottJKendall@yahoo.com'

    There is something that must be said here. There is a paper called “Pre-Columbian Links to the Caribbean: Evidence Connecting Cusabo to Taino” by Blair A. Rudes. The paper is available on-line. Mr. Rudes did his best to analyze the few words available from the Cusabo language which was spoken by the Cusabo family of tribes along the South Carolina Coast from the Savannah River to just above Charleston and inland probably to the region which was deserted at the time of the European colonization. This deserted area is well attested in accounts of the various Spanish Expeditions which traipsed through the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions from Georgia through South Carolina and almost into North Carolina.

    The paper I have mentioned in my post actually stands in solidarity and corroboration with the thesis put forward by Mr. Thornton. Archeologists and historians have been very lazy in their attempts to gainfully understand the life of the Native peoples of the South East. Political Correctness and politics linked to the Bureau of Indian Affairs often gets involved with covering over the actual history of the Carolina and Georgia Coastal Native American people. Many people in South Carolina are connected to the Cusabo family of tribes but are not allowed to say so because it became illegal in South Carolina in 1823 to put call oneself “Indian”, so over night families were split based on their skin color and had to pass for black and white. Many families of Southern Planters had to watch that their more Native American looking family members did not give away the secret. In the process the family was further split up because the man who looked too Native, or got too dark in the sun would have to go to a coastal city like Charleston, never to return to the family lands.

    It has only been recently that the Native American peoples of South Carolina have been able to openly state that they are Native American and to be recognized for the first time in 185 years as being Native American. The important point with the Cusabo family of tribes is that, Cusabo people were the direct neighbors of the Creeks and had trade and cultural connections to them for many years. There are at least two or three documented temple complexes in the Cusabo lands. These are the same type of complexes as were found in Creek lands but with a few slight differences.

    Cusabo has been labeled prior to this aforementioned paper as being a language isolate. However, it makes sense that it would be related to Taino or Arawaken languages due to its proximity to the Caribbean. The Cusabo lands were at the intersection of two trade routes. One trade route ran back to the Yemassee and Creek lands located inland up the Savannah River. The trade route which ran from the coast of the Southern tip of Florida to present day coastal border of North and South Carolina was the second one. Thus one can see how the Creeks, Yemassee, Cusabo, and Westo peoples were affected by many different cultural and religious influences.

    The Guale are listed many times as having been the direct coastal neighbors to the South of the Cusabo family of tribes. The Cusabo family of tribes apparently used a moiety system and spoke a different language than the Guale, but seem to have had good relationships with the Guale.

    The other important connection to the Maya from a Cusabo perspective has to do with the observations made by the early Spanish, French and English explorers. The Cusabo have some of the best documented history after European arrival because of the three different European groups meeting them at sequential moments. The earliest English and Spanish explorers of the region (the order here is Spanish-French-English) both record that the Cusabo were using the “black drink” which is the same “black drink” that the Creek were using. The English also record that the Cusabo had their variation of the Green Corn ceremony like all of the other tribes originally from the South East. (And yes, again, it is common knowledge that the Cherokee are actually from the Mid-West and were only coming down into the South at the point when the Europeans were arriving and NOT before.) The Green Corn Ceremony seems to have involved the god Toya. There are detailed accounts of people from Cusabo villages going off for three days and returning. All the while people fasted. Then there would be a stick ball game in the central courtyard of the village and after that there would be a fire in the courtyard and finally people would eat together after talking to the Chief on their way to the feast. These courtyard constructions are also found in Creek villages. So, the Creeks were not the only ones who were doing these Meso-american influenced things.

    I would suggest to Mr. Sea that he re-examine his assumptions about the migration patterns of the first peoples of the Americas. We know who we are even if the government will not acknowledge it. There are still Cusabo people in South Carolina if you know where to find them. Do a little digging, the ethnographies do not tell the whole story. They delete the part where Native Americans in the South were systematically detached from their tribe and were removed as human beings from the law. Many Native Americans in South Carolina remained on their land, but were denied their true personhood and identity. The time to reclaim it is now.

    No Shame No More

    Reply
    • sargentspigeon@aol.com'

      Excuse me but you are the one making assumptions, not I. I am insisting that any discovered influence could have gone in either direction. It could have gone from north to south or it could have gone from south to north. As always, parallels can also derive from common parentage.

      Sorting out the route of influence is a matter of evaluating ALL the evidence including especially chronology. Early events influence later events, not vice versa. Since most of the key developments in North America, i.e. mound-building, PRE-dated the emergence of the classical Maya, it is difficult to see how the former could have been caused by the latter. That is not an assumption, it’s historical method.

      By rejecting all north-to-south influence as impossible, you are the ones making assumptions. You still have not explained why it could not have been the other way around. Observed language parallels also could have moved from north to south.

      Reply
      • I need to remind everyone that Cusabo is an English word. Their real name in modern English phonetics is Ka : sha : bo. Guess what? That is an ethnic group that exists even today in Peru. In the Panoan languages, “bo” means “place of.” I am pretty sure that the Itza came from that region of South American too. They were not ethnic Mayas, but absorbed many Totonac and Maya words after settling in Chiapas, Mexico. Their word for “place of” is “po”. It is almost the same sound when spoken. Itza, Panoan and Guarani dictionaries translate most of the place names between the St. Marys River and Charleston Harbor.

        That is one of the gripes I have about discussions of Southeastern indigenous words in the past. The anthropologists would argue over the meanings of Anglicized words, without ever learning the original languages.

        Reply
        • sargentspigeon@aol.com'

          You’re “pretty sure”? On what basis? Again you make assumptions that everything went from south to north when chronology suggests the exact opposite. The so-called Itza may have orinated in the Ohio Valley, moved to or influenced the Yucatan, and then wound up influencing Peru. That is the trajectory strongly favored by chronology.

          I don’t see any evidence that it went in reverse except your personal feelings.

          Reply
        • ScottJKendall@yahoo.com'

          This is so cool! Thanks for the info! Do you mind sending me (I think you are able to see my e-mail address) the name of the dictionaries or papers that you used and the place names between the St. Mary’s River and Charleston? I would love to independently corroborate your findings. This is the kind of stuff that the people close to me would be interested in me sharing with them and would be highly supportive of me further investigating.

          Reply
    • The Kashabo (Cusabo) spoke a Panoan language similar to Conibo. I have no trouble translating the words with a Panoan dictionary.

      Reply
      • sargentspigeon@aol.com'

        All migrants adopt the language of the people that become their neighbors. You have no idea what languages any of these groups originally spoke. The same linguistic parallels could indicate reversed direction.

        Reply
        • ScottJKendall@yahoo.com'

          Frankly your assumptions that Native Americans could not adapt from a tropical climate to a temperate climate are very offensive. Your assumptions just add to the years and attempts at non-humanization that Native Americans in the U.S. South have had to endure for over 185 years. For those of us with pre-1492 connections to the Americas you are insulting us, our cultures, and our ancestors. Start looking at your adopted continent with Native eyes and open your mind to the findings regarding Native Peoples. You are perpetuating colonialism in your views and not regarding the findings of Native People in regards to our own histories and cultural traditions. By continuing to hold to a one-directional theory about intra-American migration you are ignoring the cultural continuity which was known to have existed historically when people like De Soto first got here. The cultural continuity from the Mayas to Cahokia to the later Mississippian period is proven. Cahokia actually existed after the Mayan temples had had their hey-day. Please stop your insulting discounting of Native American History as told by Native peoples. It is comments like yours which stymie the continued progress in investigating pre-1492 cultural and migrational patterns. Modern Europeans originated in the Caucasus, but the indigenous Europeans such as the Basques and their relatives in Ireland and Scotland did not. Today both populations are considered native Europeans. Why do you continue to argue for European definition to the rest of the world outside of Europe instead of accepting Native People outside of Europe where you find them as they define themselves? When are you going to drop your neo-colonial views?

          Reply
  4. xjackiex24@gmail.com'

    I have found a very enteresting artifact in ne. Ala..a Sun disc that matches Mayan artifacts..Looks like Brazillian Agate material. Very inscribed on the front side..

    Reply
    • xjackiex24@gmail.com'

      Only around 4.in cir. Very detailed

      Reply

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