The strange connection between Scotland and the Hillabee Creeks
Homophones . . . Alba, Alapa, Alapaha River, Ilape . . . Hillabee Creeks
I have become a big fan of the TV series, “Outlander.” It is currently being broadcast by Netflix, so I can watch it on my computer monitor, while eating dinner. “Outlander” is the saga of a British nurse, who visits a stone circle in the Scottish Highlands . . . very similar to those we have here in the Georgia Mountains . . . then is thrown back in time two centuries to the time of the Jacobite Wars. The Jacobite Wars were composed of two violent rebellions by the Scottish Highlanders against the English, interspersed with guerilla warfare. The producer, director and actors of these series are going to extreme measures to insure absolute historical accuracy in all aspects of the series . . . including the dialogues. For that reason, the TV series can be considered a Post-Graduate level class in Scottish History.
Very early on in the series, one of the characters remarked that the southwest corner of the Scottish Highlands, called Corra, was once occupied by a clan composed of Gaelic giants. These giants were master seamen and boat builders. Their sailing ships traversed the know world and even the Atlantic Ocean. They brought back giants stones to build sacred stone circles. The stone circle near Inverness was constructed with boulders from Africa. Of course, Corra was also the name of a province in the mountains of North Carolina, which were the homeland for several branches of the Creek Confederacy, who are known for their unusual height.
In a later program of the series, an actor stated that the original name of Scotland, when it was occupied by the Picts, was Alba. The Scots are from Ireland and conquered Scotland in the Early Medieval Period. The Ninth Century Anglo-Saxon scholar, Venerable Bede, stated that both the Picts and the Angles were originally from southern Sweden. The Picts left Scandinavia during the Late Bronze Age and settled in the mountainous parts of what is now Scotland. The Angles migrated first to southern Denmark and then in the fifth and sixth centuries, eastern England . . . giving their name to a nation and a language.
Out of curiosity, I Googled “Alba.” It is a Anglicized version of Albion, which was the Roman name for Scotland. The original Pict word is ancient, though, probably at least dating back to the Bronze Age. Its ultimate root is the Indo-European word for white.
The pronunciation of the English word Alba in Scottish Gaelic pricked my ear. It’s Alapa or Alape. [ˈal̪ˠapə] (listen) Its actual Gaelic pronunciation is quite different that the English, Alba, and identical to the pronunciation of the name of a culturally advanced people on the Wataree River in eastern South Carolina . . . Alapa or Ilape. During the late 1600s, they migrated to Georgia and joined the Creek Confederacy. The Alapaha River means “Alapa – River.” Haw is the Itza Maya and Itsate Creek word for river. By the time their descendants were living in northwestern Georgia and the eastern edge of Alabama, their name had come to be Hillabee among white settlers.
An alternate name for the Alapa Creeks among Itsate speakers was Vehite, which means “Bow-and-arrow (archer) People. In the transition into Muskogee Creek, that word became Vehedi. It now means “People with weapons” or “armed” in Muskogee. English-speaking settlers on the Southern Frontier changed Vehedi into Pee Dee.
The idea that people from the Old World started the civilizations in the Americas was “hip” when I was in my 20s. Since then I have extremely hostile to any author that suggested that interpretation of history. I still don’t think that is true. The mounds and earthen pyramids of Georgia and Peru predate those of Egypt by a thousand years and those of the Mayas by 2,000 years. Creek monotheism developed independently of the woman-hating religions of the Middle East. However, I can still remember that June morning on my third day in Sweden, just after graduating from Georgia Tech, when I stared at “Creek sacred symbols” on a boulder at the edge of the Oresund Channel. A little later that summer, it was the location where we went skinny dipping on weekends. In my mind, I can still remember standing in the water and watching the Oresund’s low waves lapping against an ancient boulder, displaying the “Sacred Fire” symbol. There were close encounters of a third kind across the North Atlantic during the Bronze Age.
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