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The Migration Legends of the Creek Confederacy

The Migration Legends of the Creek Confederacy

 

The Florida Connection

Part Two

The Florida Seminoles and Miccosukee unknowingly live today, where many of their ancestors lived long ago after arriving in North America.  This is because a majority of the branches of the Creek Confederacy have migration legends that trace their ancestry to points south.  Several more have traditions that some of their ancestors migrated into Florida from farther north or west.  The Uchee People have consistently claimed that they came from Europe!  DNA testing of the Uchee is backing up this belief.  Their closest genetic relatives are the Saami of Scandinavia, the Black Irish of County Kerry and the Basques of Iberia.

The following is a compilation of known Creek Confederacy migration legends after ten years of research.  The origins of several branches are still unknown or are based on linguistic evidence. There is NO migration legend for the Muskogee Creeks, per se.  What is commonly called “the Creek Migration Legend” is really a journal of the last branch of the Creek Confederacy to arrive in the Southeast . . . the Kaushete or Cusate.  The Cusate did not speak Muskogee and except for one town, were associated with the Upper Creeks.  

It should be emphasized that the Creek Indians were NOT an original Muskogean tribe, but the result of various immigrants mixing with the Chickasaw pioneers. However, one portion of the Chickasaw migration legend is mixed in with migration legends of some of the other Creek branches.   In fact, the Chickasaws were one of the four members of the original Creek Confederacy.  The ethnic groups are listed in probable chronological order of their arrival in the Lower Southeast.  

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(1) Arawaks and Caribs:  The author used the term “Caribs” exclusively in his book, but apparently meant the ancestors of both peoples. This history was told to Richard Briggstock in 1653 by Parakusate Maudo, the High King of the Apalache Kingdom at his capital in Northeast Georgia. The Creek word for “thank you” comes from his name! Note that De Rochefort states that the Caribbean Basin was originally populated by peoples from Georgia and Florida, but that their descendants came part of the way back. De Rochefort stated that in very ancient times, there was much movement of peoples back and forth between Florida and Cuba.    

 The Arawaks became a distinct people in ancient times on the coast of Georgia and southern South Carolina.  At the time they were the most advanced people in North America and were the first to make pottery.  They built their villages on shell rings. The majority migrated to Florida and then over a long period of time migrated as far southward as Peru. They became very numerous in South America and then began migrating northward again, ultimately occupying much of the Florida and parts of southern Georgia. Those in Georgia (the Toa) remained an advanced people, but ultimately became vassals of the Apalache (Proto-Creeks).

Some bands migrated northward when they abandoned the shell rings and occupied much of the Appalachian Mountains. These people became more primitive than their ancestors.  At one time, there were many Arawaks in the North Carolina Mountains, but there were still a few still living there in 1653.

Source:  l’Histoire naturelle et morale des îles Antilles de l’Amérique (1658) by Charles de Rochefort

(2) Ouego, Utsi, Uchee, Euchee, Yuchi or Ogeechee:  The various names of the Uchee today are Europeanizations of the aboriginal name, meaning “Ocean People” – Ouego.  All the other names are derived from either the Itsate Creek or Muskogee Creek words that mean either Ocean People or Water People. The words, Uchee and Ogeechee, were used exclusively by British colonial officials and the Uchee themselves in the 1600s and 1700s.  The name, Yuchi, appeared much later in Tennessee as a frontier Anglicization of the Cherokee word for this people.

The Uchee told British officials that their ancestors came by boat from the Home of the Sun across the Atlantic Ocean.  They first landed in the area around the Savannah and Ogeechee Rivers.  There was no other tribe living in that region, but Algonquians lived to the north of them. However, they could see ruins of shell mounds and rings that had been constructed by earlier peoples. The descendants of the first colonists spread up the Savannah River and formed the Rabbit, Bear and Bobcat Clans.  Those that stayed in the motherland or spread southward into the northern half of Florida were known as the Water Clan.  Because there had formerly been Uchee on the Suwanee River in Florida,  several Uchee bands established villages there again in the 1700s.

Sources:  UK National Archives and the Church of England Archives

(3) Chikasa or Chickasaw:  The Chickasaws were the original Muskogeans in the Lower Southeast and were still living in Northeast Georgia, Northwest Georgia and Southwest Georgia in the 1700s. Along with the Cusate, Alabama and Apike, they formed the first People of One Fire (Creek Confederacy).  All Chickasaws were members of the 1717 Creek Confederacy, but those outside of Georgia dropped out in a few years. Nevertheless, they remained close allies of the Kusate or Upper Creeks.  In the Tennessee Valley, Kusate and Chikasa towns were built beside each other, even though they had somewhat different cultural traditions.  Twentieth century archaeologists called the Kusate, “the Dallas Culture” and their neighbors, the “Mouse Creek Culture.”  However, in the 1990s, some University of Tennessee professors didn’t do their homework and decided the Mouse Creek Culture towns were “Yuchi’s.”  By the late 1700s, Chickasaws in Georgia and were being called “Upper Creeks.”

In the Chickasaw migration legend, the Choctaw and Chickasaw were originally two bands under the leadership two brothers, Chahta and Chiksa’ . After experiencing many years of war with a powerful enemy, the two brothers decided it was time to travel to different lands and have peace once again.

Chahta and Chiksa’ led their people from a land in the west (probably Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon or Coahuila States, Mexico) toward the rising sun. The brothers brought along a divine long pole (Kohta Falaya), and each night they would place the pole in the ground. Upon waking in the morning, Chahta and Chiksa’ would look at the pole to determine which way it was leaning. That would be the direction they traveled on that day. If the pole in the ground was standing straight up and not leaning, then that was the place they were supposed to settle and they had found their new homeland.

One morning, the brothers could not agree whether the pole was straight or leaning.  Chiksa’ thought it was leaning and led his people eastward, ultimately settling in Northeast Georgia.  The earliest known examples of distinct Chickasaw architecture are in the Nacoochee Valley in Northeast Georgia, in the vicinity of the Kenimer Mound.  These villages date from the Late Woodland Period.  Chickasaws were still living immediately south of the Nacoochee Valley as late as 1818.

Sources:  Chickasaw Nation Website & Archaeological Survey of North Georgia by Robert Wauchope

  (4) Apalachete or Highland Apalache:   Apalache is the Europeanization of the Hybrid Panoan (Peruvian) & Muskogean word Aparàshe, which means “From Parà – descendants of.”  “Te” is the Itza Maya suffix for “people or tribe.” Muskogeans rolled their R’s so much that Europeans interpreted an R sound as an L sound.  Parà is still today the name of the Amazon Headwaters region of Peru and Brazil, plus the name of a state in Brazil.    The elite of the Highland Apalache originally spoke a Panoan language, similar to the Conabo, Shipibo, Caushibo and Satibo of Peru, but later were culturally influenced by Itza Mayas.   Apalache commoners spoke a language that mixed Chickasaw, Itza Maya and Panoan. It was the parent of several Creek languages.

The ancestors of the Highland Apalache, along with kindred peoples, immigrated from the south across the ocean.   The Apalache specifically evolved from a group of villages that were clustered along the edge of Lake Tama, which still existed at the confluence of the Ocmulgee and Oconee Rivers in 1653. It is now the Little Ocmulgee River Swamp.  They were originally associated with the Swift Creek and then the Napier Cultures.  Over time, their capital moved farther and farther north so that by the 1600s, it was located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. For several centuries during, they composed a vassal province of the Itsate, but by the 1600s, they had conquered the Itsate and assembled a kingdom, which stretched from southwest Virginia to southwest Georgia.

Sources:  Les Apalachetes by Charles de Rochefort (1658) and Diccionario Shipibo-Espaňol

 (5) Florida Apalachee, Anihaica or Tulahalwasee:  The Florida Apalachee did not call themselves Apalache, until the Spanish told them that was their name. It is not clear, what they called themselves. The dictionary that academicians call an “Apalachee dictionary,” actually records the words of a group of Tamale Creeks from Central-South Georgia, who converted to Roman Catholicism and then were banished from their province.

They were originally Southern Arawak speakers. The name of their capital, Anihaica, means “Strong or elite – place of.”  All but one of the original Apalache town names, mentioned by the Spanish, are Southern Arawak words.  However, the Florida Apalachee word for chief was orata.  This word is straight from the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains and a Panoan langauage spoken by the Highland Apalache in North Georgia.

While the Highland Apalache to the north were monotheistic, the Florida Apalachee had multiple gods and goddesses.  Their religion was similar to that of Mesoamerica or South American cultures.

According to Charles de Rochefort, Muskogean speakers called the elite of these people, Tulahalwasi, which means “Descendants of Highland Towns,” for they were partially descendants of Apalache colonists, who emigrated from Northeast Georgia.

The Spanish got the name Apalache from the name of one their villages, Apalachen.  Apalachen is a Panoan word, which means Apalachees.  Apparently, it was originally a Highland Apalache colony.

The ancestors of the Florida Apalache apparently were associated with the Weeden Island Culture and arrived in the region around 200 AD or later.  From that date forward there is a continuity of cultural evoloution.

Sources: Les Apalachetes by Charles de Rochefort (1658), Diccionario Shipibo-Espaňol and Diccionario Ashinanka

(6) Apalache-kora, Apalachicola, Palachicora, Palachicola, Chicora, Conchakee or Palache: Unlike the Highland Apalache-te, the Apalache-kora originally spoke a Southern Arawak language from Peru or the Amazon Basin, but over time became culturally mixed with Muskogeans.  Kora is a Southern Arawak suffix for “people or tribe.”   The Atlantic Coastal province of Apalachicora was called Chicora by the Spanish and Chicola by the French.  This is why South Carolina explorers could not find Chicora, when that region was colonized.  British maps will have either Palachicola, Palachicora or “the Palachicolas.”

Principal Chief Chikili told the leaders of Savannah that the ancestors of the Apalachicola had come by water from the south and settled where Savannah was now located.  The first emperor of the “Palachicora or Chicora” was buried in a mound near Savannah.  By the Late Mississippian Period (1350 AD-1600 AD) the majority of Apalachicola towns were near the Fall Line on the Chattahoochee River.  Due to raids by the Spanish, most Apalachicola or Conchakee towns moved to the Etowah River Basin around 1650, where they stayed until after 1763, when Great Britain won the Seven Years War against France. At that time, many Apalachicola towns moved to the Lower Chattahoochee River, the Apalachicola River in Florida or the region around Pensacola Bay, FL.  Most Apalachicola either became members of the Seminole Alliance or ended up in Texas.

Sources: Church of England Archives, Diccionario  Arahuacos del Perú and Diccionario Ashinanka

 

Great Copal at Track Rock Gap

Great Copal at Track Rock Gap

(7) Highland Itsate (aka Echete, Echeto, Etchete and Hitchiti in English):  Itsate means “Itza People” and is the name that the Itza Mayas call themselves.   No separate migration legend exists for the Highland Itsate, but there is one for the Lowland Itsate, who are discussed below.  Nevertheless, architectural and linguistic evidence suggest that small bands of Itsate settlers and Chontal Maya merchant-mariners began paddling up the Chattahoochee River, during what is called the Classic Period in Mesoamerica and the Woodland Period in the Southeastern United States.  However, “Woodland” is a bad label for Georgia’s indigenous peoples because permanent agricultural towns with mounds began there at least as early as 400 BC.  

The massive Kenimer Mound in the Nacoochee Valley is currently the earliest known example of Itza architecture.  It appears to date from around 600 AD to 800 AD, but has never been excavated to determine its age. In 2012, University of Minnesota scientists found that Georgia attapulgite was used to make Maya blue stucco and paint in the important Highland Maya city of Palenque. This was the very first time that Georgia attapulgite had been tested to determine its chemical similarity to colored stuccos used in Mexico.  Since there is very little attapulgite anywhere in Mesoamerica, the Georgia mineral was most likely also used at Teotihuacan.

The Highland Itsates established towns in the gaps of mountains along important regional trade routes and at the confluence of major trade roots.  Most of these Itsate seemed to arrive in North America around 1000 AD.  About 1000 AD, Toltec raiders captured Chichen Itza and introduced a religion had practiced human sacrifice.

Source:  The Itza Maya Dictionary by Erik Boot (FAMSI)

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Chiaha was on a large island, downstream from where the Oconaluftee, Tuckasegee and Nantahala Rivers joined the Little Tennessee River.

Chiaha was on a large island, downstream from where the Oconaluftee, Tuckasegee and Nantahala Rivers joined the Little Tennessee River.

(8) Chiaha, Chehaw or Cheoah (Itsate):  The Chiaha were originally Highland Mayas, who settled in the mountains of western North Carolina.  They spoke the same or similar language as the Highland Itsate. They most likely arrived after a massive super-volcano, name El Chichon, incinerated much of the region around Palenque around 800 AD.  No separate migration legend exists for Chiaha. Typically, references lump their heritage generically with “Hitchiti Creeks.”

Chiaha means “Salvia River” in Itza Maya. The chia is a grain-producing salvia grown in Chiapas Province, Mexico and formerly in the Southern Highlands. Chiapas means “Place of the Salvia.”   Chroniclers of the De Soto Expedition noted large fields of salvia being cultivated along rivers in Chiaha Province.  

Source: The De Soto Chronicles

(9) Zoque, Soque, Sokee or Mikkosukee:  The Zoque in southern Vera Cruz and western Tabasco are the descendants of the Olmec Civilization.  Although their language is quite different than Classic Maya, they are generally considered “Western Mayas” today by anthropologists.  Indeed, as late as a century ago, their descendants in South Florida, the Lake Okeechobee Seminoles and the Miccosukees, openly described themselves as being Mayas, who migrated to North America.

The name of the South Carolina and Georgia tribe called Sokee is pronounced exactly like that of the Zoque people in Mexico.  When South Carolina was settled in the 1670s, the Sokee near the headwaters of the Savannah River had the most powerful province in the region.  They flattened their foreheads and practiced many other Mesoamerican traditions.  However, they were soon devastated by European diseases and British-sponsored slave raids, which so weakened the people that they were forced to join the Cusabo Alliance.    

Miccosukee is the Anglicization of Meko-Sokee, which means “Leaders of the Sokee,”  Most of the Cusabo Confederacy eventually joined the Creek Confederacy and moved to the Chattahoochee River Valley.  However, after the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814, the majority of Soque-Cusabo in Southwest Georgia moved to Florida and joined the Seminoles. When the Muskogean peoples in South Florida were organizing into federally recognized tribes during the 1950s,  some of the Miccosukees became part of the Seminole Tribe, while others joined the Miccosukee Tribe.

Around 1700 AD, Soque towns on the northern edge of their province began experiencing attacks by the Cherokees.  Some of the commoners elected to join the Cherokee Alliance and have lent their name to Soco Gap near the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina.  Some commoners elected to stay neutral and lent their name to the Soquee River in Habersham County, GA.  The leadership of the Soque moved southwestward and joined the Creek Confederacy, but maintained their distinct cultural traditions.  They became known to Anglo-Americans as the Mikkosukee.  

The Miccosukee Migration Legend is quite different than those of other branches of the Creeks and Seminoles.  They described their ancestors as being a band of Mayas living on the western edge of the Maya Civilization, who fled their homeland because of drought, famine and chronic warfare.  They followed a road along the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, picking up remnants of other tribes as they went. They followed the Gulf Coast Line all the way into northern Florida and then headed north, until they reached the foothills of the mountains.

Source:  J. E. Lazelle, Teacher to Seminoles – 1917

(10) Lowland and Fall Line Itsate and Itchese (aka Etchete and Hitchiti in English):     (See meaning of Itsate in section 7.)   The Itsate Creeks living near the Fall Line and in the Coastal Plain of Georgia did not paddle up the Chattahoochee River.  According to their traditions, they entered the Southeast through the mouth of the Savannah River.  The famous Creek mikko, Tamachichi, had an Itza Maya name, which means “Trade Dog” . . .  apparently meaning that he was a consummate trader. Until the end of the Yamasee War, Tamachichi was the Principal Chief of the Itsatesi (Ichese) Creeks on the Ocmulgee River near present day Macon, GA.  He was banished for some act committed during the Yamasee War.

Tamachichi established a slave-catching service in the town of Palachicola then later moved his small band to Yamacraw Bluff (Downtown Savannah) at the site of a former large Creek town.  He sold much of this land to the British for the establishment of Savannah.   Upon his first meeting with Supervising Trustee, James Edward Oglethorpe, Tamachichi described the migration legend of his branch of the Itsate.  He pointed to a mound or mounds next to his village on Yamacraw Bluff and stated that his ancestors were buried there.

Tamachichi later stated that his ancestors came across the ocean from the south and first lived near a great lake.  This was probably Lake Okeechobee, because there was a dense population of many towns in that region from around 200 AD to 1150 AD.  He stated that his people then moved northward into a land of many reeds.  This was probably the Everglades, but may be the region of numerous lakes and swamps near the headwaters of the St. Johns River in Northeast Florida.  During the Early Mississippian and Middle Mississippian Periods there were several towns with ceremonial mounds located in this region.   The Itsate then traveled northward along the coast until they reached the mouth of the Savannah River, where they decided to put down roots.   Tybee Island’s name (at the mouth of the Savannah River0 is derived from the Itza Maya and Itsate Creek word for salt, taube.

From Savannah, bands of Itsate migrated westward and settled in Ocmulgee Bottoms at present day Macon, GA. The town of Itchesee (aka Ichese or Auchese or Ochesee) was founded around 990 AD.  However, there was a big expansion of its population around 1350 AD.  This is probably about the time when Tamachichi’s ancestors arrived on the scene. In 1564, coastal Indians told the commander of Fort Caroline, Captain René de Laudonnière, that the “Mayakoa” people lived in the Ocmulgee Bottoms area.  Mayakoa means “Maya People” in a dialect of Arawak. Itchese was nearly abandoned at the end of the Yamasee War in 1717. 

Source: Church of England Archives and Trois Voyages by René de Laudonnière

 

Okute (Shoulderbone Mounds) was visited by De Soto in Spring 1540.

Okute (Shoulderbone Mounds) was visited by De Soto in Spring 1540.

(11)  Okvte, Okaute, Ocute (Spanish),  Okvni, Okanee or Oconee: In the Itsate language, Okvte means “Water People,” while Okvni means “Living on Water.”   Like the pairing of the Chickasaw and the Kusate, Muskogean or Apalache Okvte towns were paired with Uchee villages, associated with the Water Clan. Their heavily fortified towns were relatively small, consisting of pyramidal mounds and the residences of the elite and priests.  The Okvte farmsteads were scattered across the countryside in order to minimize environmental stress.

The Oconee Migration Legend began in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and Florida.  Very few people, even archaeologists, are aware that the Okefenokee Basin was once densely inhabited by an advanced aquatic culture, who lived in villages built on raised platforms and on the islands.  Several decades ago, archaeologists working for the National Fish and Wildlife Management Administration, identified at least 74 mounds in the Okefenokee Basin.  Very little professional excavation has been done at these mounds. 

A great temple, dedicated to the sun goddess, Amana, was erected on what is now called Billy’s Island.  It was staffed by beautiful priestesses.  The French at Fort Caroline called the Okefenokee Lake Serape and mentioned the temple on an island.  Apparently, the Okefenokee was more like a lake in 1565.  In 1776, botanist William Bartram, mentioned that each spring, the Okefenokee swelled to three times its normal size . . . covering most of Southeast Georgia water. 

Bands of excess population began migrating due north from the Okefenokee Swamp.  Where this vector crossed the Oconee River, they established another large province.  When the population reached the maximum size that could be easily supported by the natural environment, bands headed northward again and established a colonies on the east side of the Savannah River Headwaters and on the Oconaluftee River in what is now the Eastern Cherokee Reservation. Around 1700 to 1720, the colony on the Oconaluftee River was sacked by invading Cherokees.  Oconaluftee is the Anglicization of the Creek words Okani – luftee, which means Okonee People cut off or massacred.

Source: Source: Church of England Archives and Trois Voyages by René de Laudonnière

dog-pot-bull-creek(12) Colima, Colouma, Kolima, Kolimo, Kolomo or Kolomoki:  A people arrived on the Chattahoochee River Fall Line during the Middle Mississippian Period, who were highly skilled at making ceramic pots in the shape of the Mexican Hairless Dog, aka the aboriginal Chihuahua.  They are particularly associated with the Bull Creek Archaeological Site in Columbus and the Singer-Moye Mounds to the southeast of there.   These “Chihuahua Pots” were almost identical to those made by the Colima People of Northwestern Mexico.  There is a high probability that the Colima Creeks were the descendants of a band of Colima Indians from Northwest Mexico.  However, to date no specific migration legend has been found for the the Kolima Creeks other than a statement made to Benjamin Hawkins that they were one of the later arrivals on the Chattahoochee River and that they came from a region far to the west.

The Colima continued to be an important division of the Creek Confederacy into the first decade of the 19th century.  By then, they had relocated southward to the area around Kolomoki Mounds and lent their name to the archaeological site.  After the 1814 Treaty of Fort Jackson,  the Colima moved southward into Florida and became associated with the Seminole Alliance.

Source:  Memoirs of US Agent to the Southeastern Indians, Benjamin Hawkins

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Bottle Creek Mounds near the Mobile River in Southwest Alabama

(13) Tama, Tamatli, Tamale, Tamauli, Tamahiti, Tomahitan, Tamasee, Tamate, Altamaha or Tamulte:  Around 1250 AD, a new people arrived in southern Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia by boats and canoes in numbers so large that they radically changed cultural traditions. Their homeland had just been overrun by Chichimec barbarians.   They introduced a new calendar and the Green Corn Festival.   They were the Tamauli from Tamaulipas, Mexico.  Tamaulipas means “Place of the Tamauli” in Itza Maya!  Bottle Creek Mounds north of Mobile Bay was undoubtedly their first major town.   It is identical to Itza and Chontal Maya ports on the coast of Tamaulipas.  Both regions were still named Am Ixchel when the Spanish arrived in the 1500s.   Those words mean “Place of the Goddess Ixchel in Chontal Maya.”

Tama means “trade” in Totonac, Itza Maya and Itsate Creek.   Tamatli means “merchants” in a dialect of Maya that was a blend of Maya and Nahautl, which was used by Chontal Mayas in northern Vera Cruz.  Tamahiti means “merchants” in Totonac, Itza Maya and Itsate Creek.  Tamauli means “merchants” in a dialect of Chontal Maya mixed with Huastec.    Tomohitan is the Anglicization of the Virginia Algonquian name for these people. Al-tama-haw means “Place of Trade – River” in Itza Maya.

The Tamauli established their mother province on the upper stretches of the Altamaha River.  They were visited by the De Soto Expedition in the spring of 1540.  However, they established large colonies elsewhere along a trade route that stretched to the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.  The vast majority of surviving Tamauli either intermarried with Anglo-Americans or moved southward into Florida to join the Seminole Alliance.  They do not have a separate cultural identity or even a dance ground in Oklahoma.

There is extensive knowledge of the original cultural traditions of the Tamauli in the Southeast because some of the refugees emigrated to Tabasco State, Mexico rather than to the Southeastern United States.  They are known today in Mexico as the Tamulte’ de las Sabanas.  The Tamulte’ are the only Indians in Mexico who start their calendar on the Summer Solstice, have a Green Corn Festival, dance the Stomp Dance or eat corn on the cob.   Mexican anthropologists now lump them with the Tabasco Mayas, but they are really Creek Indians.

Sources: “Antiguas Historias Sagradas y Ceremonias de los Chontales de Tamulté de las Sabanas, Tabasco, México” by Enrique Hernandez

Diccionario TotonacaEspaňol by Herman Pedro Aschmann,  The Itza Maya Dictionary by Erik Boot (FAMSI)

Orizaba Volcano

Orizaba Volcano

(14)  Kaushite, Kaushetaw, Kusate or Cusseta:   The famous migration legend of this people does not give their original name.  It was probably either Tekesta or Yama.  These were two ethnic groups in the vicinity of where they lived that Aztec codices record being driven out.  Their Creek name is derived from the fact that after settling in the Upper Tennessee Valley they became vassals of the powerful Kaushe or Kusa in Northwest Georgia.  The “te” suffix means “people or tribe” in Itza Maya.

The migration legend was presented in the Apalache writing system, painted on a bison calf skin,  to the leadership of Savannah, GA on June 7, 1735. Principal Chief Chikili read the writing. His words were then translated by Mary Musgrove.  Georgia Colonial Secretary Thomas Christie then wrote down her translation.

The Kaushite Migration legend began on the eastern slopes of the Orizaba volcano in west-central Vera Cruz.  They used hot lava from Orizaba to start their first Sacred Fire.  This fire was kept burning all the way to their new faraway homeland.

The Kaushite fled their homeland and followed the Bloody (Jamapo) River to the Gulf of Mexico.  One band returned inland and lived in a swampy region.  Another band stayed near the coast and as a result, many of its people died.  The surviving Kaushite then followed the Great White Path (major highway) along the edge of the Gulf of Mexico until they reached the Mississippi River Basin.  At this point, the Kaushite legend borrowed from the Chickasaw Migration legend.  The Kaushete placed a magic pole in the ground, which pointed what direction they should travel the next day.

When the Kaushete reached the Tennessee River, they were allowed to settle there by the Kaushe (Kusa).  While there they formed the first People of One Fire (Creek Confederacy) with the Chickasaw, Alabama and Apike.  

One band of the Kaushete left the Tennessee Valley during a drought or famine.  It traveled eastward on the Talasee River into the Great Smoky Mountains.  While in the Smokies, the Kaushete lived very primitively.  They eventually came upon another Great White Path (US 129) which took them southward to a town on the Hiwassee River, where Murphy, NC now is.  The occupants of the town had temporarily abandoned it, but were waiting in ambush down the river.  

The Kaushete continued southward on the Great White Path until they viewed a great town on the side of Georgia’s tallest mountain. On the top of the mountain could be heard drumming. They called this mountain in their original language, Motelet, because of the drumming sound. 

The occupants of this town had flattened foreheads and spoke a language, unintelligible to the Kaushete.  In the late 1500s, the Spanish would call this town, Great Copal, because its priests burned copal incense at its temple night and day, seven days a week. 

The Kaushete shot white arrows into the town to signify that they came in peace.  They then somehow signaled that they would like to obtain some food, because they were starving from the famine.  The occupants of the town shot back red arrows, which signified that if the Kaushete came to the town, they would be attacked. 

The Kaushete then slipped up the mountainside and attacked the town from above, killing most of its inhabitants.  They grabbed food and then continued southward, because they were being followed.  When they got into the low mountains of Georgia, the Apalache gave them food and sanctuary.  In the late 1500s, the Spanish stated that Apalache was then the most powerful vassal of Great Copal.  It was the responsibility of the Apalache to keep intruders out of the hidden valley where Great Copal was located.  However, by the mid-1600s, the Apalache were dominant over the inhabitants of the high mountains, the Itsate.

This band of Kaushete then were allowed to establish a town across from Koweta.  From then on Kaushete and Koweta have been allies and been located across the river from each other.  When the Koweta moved their capital to the Chattahoochee River, Cusseta (Kaushete) moved with them and located on the Alabama side of the Chattahoochee Fall Line shoals.

Sources:  Archives of the Church of England, deposition of Nicholas Burgiognon (1586) and The Itza Maya Dictionary by Erik Boot

 

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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.

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