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This is what a soldier of Etula (Etowah) really looked like!

The  murals that portray Muskogean warriors in museums typically have them to look like Plains Indians or Mohawks.  However,   archaeologists found hundreds of copper crests at Etowah Mounds that were mounted on leather helmets.  They are not displayed in any museums and not mentioned by contemporary Southeastern archaeologists, because if soldiers wore helmets and carried shields, they would not look like the mythical people created in the simplistic concept of the past.

It should be added that the chronicles of several 16th or 17th century European expeditions into the Southeast specifically mentioned that the Native soldiers carried shields woven from river cane and sometimes covered in leather.  They carried a form of sword, which was almost identical to those of the Aztecs.  These swords consisted of wooden bats with either petrified sharks teeth or flint blades embedded in the edges.

First look at a drawing done by Warren K. Moorehead.

Drawing by Warren K. Moorehead, showing how an Etula soldier would wear the copper crest.

Drawing by Warren K. Moorehead, showing how an Etula soldier would wear the copper crest.

Now this is a stone tablet found near Chattanooga, TN which shows soldiers from Etula and perhaps Chickasaws or Koasati fighting each other.  The leader or priest smoking a pipe inside a temple.  Note that all the men are wearing kilts with elaborate patterns, not simple breechcloths as always shown on paintings of the Muskogeans.


Here is a cartoon-like virtual reality image that I created of a soldier at Etula, based on these two artifacts.  The chroniclers of the De Soto  Expedition were very specific.  Proto-Creek warriors wore mustaches and many of their leaders wore beards – at least goatees.

Following the cartoon of the Etula soldier, is an Olmec figurine.  It portrays a warrior or leader with a mustache and beard.

As you can see the real pre-European Contact history of the Southeast was very different than what one sees in the media.



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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.



    So when did they begin fighting in the nude? I have seen that comment several times when reading about the Creek Indian War. Or is that another myth?


  2. Glenn

    We are still trying to figure out what in the heck happened between 1540 AD, when Hernando de Soto came through and 1670 AD, when the first colonists arrived on the South Carolina coast. Obviously, there were radical changes in the cultural characteristics of the Southeast during that period.


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