Select Page

Using Words to Explore the Peopling of the Southeast: Part Three

Using Words to Explore the Peopling of the Southeast: Part Three

 

Above:  The birthplace of the Kansa People . . . the Kaw Nation . . . was this cone-shaped structure with an earthen eagle carved on its floor at Ocmulgee National Monument.  Archaeologists in the 1930s called it an earth lodge, but it was really a giant teepee with earth-berm sides. Note that this structure from around 1000 AD has terraced seating sculpted into the clay floor, just like the Kansa council house at the King Site on the Coosa River (c. 1550 AD), which POOF discussed earlier in 2018.  Kaw means “eagle” in several Mesoamerican languages, plus Itsate-Creek.

A Patchwork Quilt of Many Different Peoples and No DNA test markers

Both the official federal government maps of Southeastern Native American tribes and those produced by amateurs on the internet are inaccurate.  The official Department of the Interior NAGPRA map even leaves out most of the federally recognized tribes in the Southeast.  All show the Cherokees never living in the Great Lakes Basin or southern West Virginia, but occupying a vast “seven state” territory in the Southeast, much of which they never lived in.  There were very few Cherokees in Georgia and Alabama until after 1785.  

Essentially, academicians and folklorists created a caricature of North America’s past. A few big tribes, created by the assimilation of the remnants of the Indigenous American Holocaust, eventually became “federally recognized tribes” and ultimately state mascots.  Broad swaths of the Southeast and Midwest were labeled to be occupied by these tribes, even though place names could not be translated by the dictionaries of those tribes. In the late 20th and 21st centuries, various cliques of academicians promoted their state mascot Injuns in textbooks and professional conferences. The real history of the Southeast is extremely complex and includes the interactions of numerous ethnic groups over a long period of time.

No one wants to talk about this complexity . . .  The film crew from the History Channel interviewed me for about six hours of their eight hour stay in my cabin in July 2012 for the December 21, 2012 premier of “America Unearthed.”  I talked extensively about the multiple cultural influences from several parts of Mexico and North America that blended to become the Creek Indians. At the time, I did not even dream about so much influence coming from South America. 

All of that film time was redacted into a few minutes of chatter and one key statement: “The Itza Mayas were just one of the many peoples, who became the Creek Indians.”   I had just moved into a poorly maintained cabin. That gave me no credibility with the producer and director from Minnesota, who initially were going to portray me as some sort of eccentric hick.   The program in its final form just focused on the Mayas and didn’t explain that the Itza Mayas were very different than the Maya groups, which built the large Classic Period cities.

This is the actual appearance of Ocmulgee around 900 AD!

(14) Ocmulgee National Monument ~ Middle and Northern Arawaks (c. 800 AD – 1000 AD) – At the same time that the America Unearthed Premier was being filmed, Dr. Daniel Bigman’s 2012 dissertation at the Department of Anthropology of the University of Georgia set off a bombshell.    Almost all the houses in the first century of the Ocmulgee Acropolis’s occupation were typical of northern South America!  They were essentially 35 feet diameter teepees with central posts, which housed extended or multiple families.  

There is absolutely no mention of these houses in either the Ocmulgee Museum or Ocmulgee Archaeology: 1936-1986.   This book, which was first published in 1994 and updated in 2009, is supposed to be the most comprehensive and accurate book on this important archaeological zone.  The book also does not tell the reader that the Lamar Village at Ocmulgee National Monument was actually founded a couple of years earlier than Etowah Mounds (c. 990 AD) and by the same people.  The museum tells visitors that this town was founded 200 years after the Ocmulgee Acropolis was abandoned.

I did some sleuthing in the references provided by the newly-minted Dr. Bigman.  A comprehensive presentation of the excavations at Ocmulgee National Monument did not occur until 1974.  Indeed,  Ocmulgee’s supervising archaeologist Joe Tamplin, a professional civil engineer from Georgia Tech, did encounter large circular houses at the lowest level of the Ocmulgee Acropolis.  These were confirmed by the project director, Arthur Kelly.   However, Kelly was from East Texas and so decided that these round structures were super-sized Caddo houses.  He decided that the Caddo People founded Ocmulgee and that influenced his interpretation of all other artifacts.  Radiocarbon dating would not be invented until 1947.

Joe Tamplin found many artifacts that suggested a southern origin for the founders of Ocmulgee.  For example, several hundred Maya-style ceramic brine-drying trays were found . . . up to three feet in diameter.  These “southern artifacts” puzzled Kelly and definitely were not Caddo . . . so were put aside and almost forgotten.  Barely mentioned in the book, Ocmulgee Archaeology,  Tamplin was labeled a foreman in one sentence then later in the book, called a “senior laborer.”   In fact,  Tamplin and Kelly were the ONLY people involved with WPA-funded excavation that even had a college degree.  The book gives glowing coverage to James Ford, but at the time, Ford only had two years from a small liberal arts college in Mississippi.  He made many, many mistakes in his interpretation of Georgia archaeological sites, which we are still having to live with today.

After World War II,  Kelly went on to supervise a series of famous archaeological studies as director of the new Department of Anthropology at the University of Georgia, which would clarify the origins of advanced indigenous cultures in the Southeast.   Meanwhile, the planning of the exhibits at the Ocmulgee National Monument were the responsibility of National Park Service archaeologists from the Midwest and the Northeast.  They found the concept of Ocmulgee being founded by someone from Texas or anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line as being repugnant.  They created a mythical people called “the Master Farmers,” who traveled down to Jawja from Cahokia, Illinois as cultural missionaries.  They lived in Macon for about two centuries then returned home.  The Creek Indians were treated as less advanced invaders from Mississippi around 1250 AD and given the name, Lamar Culture.  The exhibits at the Ocmulgee Museum today represent the Midwestern bias of those NPS employees seventy years ago.

By 1974, when Arthur Kelly finally presented his report on Ocmulgee, he was considered a pariah by the new generation of anthropology professors.  He had been railroaded out of the University of Georgia in 1969 because he publicly announced the discovery on the Chattahoochee River of artifacts that appeared to be Mesoamerican in origin.  Kelly did briefly mention the large round houses, but interpreted them as being the footprints of a Woodland Period village, which preceded the founding of Ocmulgee.  There was no explanation from Kelly why the potsherds found inside the houses were the same styles that were called Mississippian Period potsherds elsewhere in the archaeological zone.

At the conference, National Park Service archaeologists presented the first radiocarbon dates for Ocmulgee National Monument.  Most of the mounds at Ocmulgee’s Acropolis were 150 years OLDER than the mounds at Cahokia . . . begun around 900 AD to 1000 AD.  The Lamar Village was not founded by the “Lamar People” around 1250 AD, but around 990 AD by the same people, who founded Etowah Mounds a few years later.  None of this information has been incorporated in the museum’s exhibits, later archaeology texts or in the interpretation of Cahokia Mounds.

There was another very interesting presentation.  Browns Mount apparently was settled concurrently with the Ocmulgee Acropolis, but by a different ethnic group.   They built log walled houses, which the authors called “earth lodges.”  However, that would have been impossible in Georgia’s damp, humid climate, plus the region has no indigenous grasses, which form sod.

What really caught my eye in the Brown’s Mount presentation was the apparent fact that all of the Ocmulgee pottery with owl motifs was fabricated on Brown’s Mount.  The Ciboney People of Cuba were known for their owl motif pottery.  The greatest concentration of owl motif pottery and owl effigies, carved from stone is in the Toa River Valley of Central Cuba.  The Toa also immigrated to Georgia and Alabama.  Known as Toasi by the Creeks, they eventually joined the Creek Confederacy.  There is a large granite owl effigy near the Chattahoochee River, directly across the river from a Native American shrine, composed of circle of stones on a large hill, reached by stone steps.   Such shrines are also found in Cuba and Puerto Rico.  Within the Georgia shrine was found a stela, portraying traditional Toa or Taino art. 

Keep in mind that all of the information that I have provided you came from professional archaeologists, most of whom were either professors or employees of the National Park Service.  This is not a case of amateurs or “conspiracy theorists” coming up with concepts of the past, developed out of thin air . . . as orthodox archaeologists are fond of saying.   Nevertheless, the information has been concealed from the public for many decades!

Near Charlestown, Indiana is a classic Moche (Peruvian) fort, which even has large rainwater storage basins.

(15) South Americans in the Upper South and Midwest (100 BC-1754 AD) – During the winter of 2012, dozens of National Examiner readers sent their DNA test reports to my Architecture column.  Initially, most were sending me proof that they were Creeks or Seminoles and carried Maya DNA markers.   The BIA Card-carrying Tamatli (Tomatla) Cherokees emailed their reports, which showed that they were also part Maya.  They were miffed because Eastern Band of Cherokees bureaucrats had taken a lead role in the “Maya Myth Busting in the Mountains Thang.”  I wrote back that Tamatli was a Chontal Maya word, so their Maya heritage should be expected.

Then I received a fascinating email from a college coed in Virginia.  She was a Native American from Southwestern Virginia.  Federal maps labeled her county, Cherokee.  Commonwealth of Virginia maps labeled her county, Siouan.   Traditionally, the Native descendants in her county had called themselves Cherokees, even though they had no cultural memory or archives linking them to the Cherokees.  She took a DNA test.  She had a lot of indigenous DNA in her, but it was all South American!  Her indigenous DNA most resembled three tribes in northern and eastern Peru.

Thinking that the DNA lab had mixed her sample with someone else’s, she paid for another test from another lab.  The results were pretty much the same.  Then some of her cousins took the test and had the same results.  She asked around on the internet and found several more “Cherokees” with all Peruvian DNA in her section of Virginia.

In response to her letter, I received others from Kentucky and West Virginia from people, who had been found to have substantial South American DNA, but always thought that they were either Cherokee or Eastern Blackfoot.  The others has also assumed that the labs had made a mistake until reading her letter.

Shortly thereafter, I received a fascinating email from a gentleman in Atlanta, who had grown up in Towns County, GA.  He and his family were members of the Eastern Band of Cherokees.  However, when he received his DNA report back, it said that he was 25% Peruvian Indigenous DNA . . . no DNA typical of North American Indians.  Many of his relatives received DNA reports that their indigenous DNA was a half and half mixture of Maya and Peruvian DNA.  He told me that the Native Americans in Towns County were labeled as being Cherokee Indians, but they called themselves the Towns County Indians.  They looked very different than the Cherokees, 60 miles away on the Qualla Boundary.

That brought back memories of early June 2010, when I talked with two women in their 20s at a supermarket check out in Hiawassee, the county seat of Towns County.  I thought that they were Florida Seminoles and asked them so while they were totaling up my groceries.  They said the same thing as the gentleman from Atlanta.  The government called them Cherokees, but they called themselves the Towns County Indians, since they were really different than the North Carolina Cherokees.  Their ancestors had come to the mountains long before the Cherokees and Anglo-Americans.

Few place names survive in the Midwest and Middle South that are obviously of South American origin.  However, most of the place names have been Anglicized and the interpretation of academicians that they are Algonquian words, who meanings have been lost . . . may be wrong.  I looked at some French and British maps from the late 1600s and early 1700s. There were many town names that couldn’t be translated with a Creek or Itza Maya dictionary, along the northern edge of Georgia, plus in eastern Tennessee, the western tip of North Carolina and eastern Tennessee.

The most accurate and detailed of these maps was drawn by Jean-Baptiste Franquilin in 1684, which reflected the discoveries of René-Robert Cavelier, sieur deLaSalle.  Interestingly enough, his map has a Muscogee-Creek name for the Ohio River . . . Ouabatchee . . . which means “Lower River.”   Perhaps, Ohio was derived from this word. The long trail, leading from the Koasati on the Upper Tennessee River through the Nacoochee Valley to St. Augustine, was built in 1646 by the Spanish.  Only the Florida State History Textbook mentions this trail.

North and west of the Nacoochee Valley are numerous village names, which cannot be translated with Creek, Itza Maya or Cherokee dictionaries.  These are located in the region where the “Towns County” Indians live.  They are prime candidates for South American settlements.  However, there are so many languages and dialects in northwestern South America, it would probably take extensive research to prove that theory.

The major town of Vitacuchee appears on the Middle Chattahoochee River in maps throughout the 1600s.  The word is not translatable with any of the dictionaries of the Creek languages, even though it is in the heart of the Creek Confederacy.  This is also a prime candidate for a settlement by South American or Mesoamerican refugees. This is just a speculation.

The Cherokees were probably still in West Virginia at this time. An official French map, published in 1701, shows a people known as the Tionontetecagi (Cave Dwellers) living in southern West Virginia.   Chalaka eventually moved to present day Talladega, AL and joined the Creek Confederacy.  Thus, it could not possibly be “the oldest known Cherokee town in Tennessee” as stated in several Cherokee history websites.   Tallicoa (Talli People in Arawak) soon became Big Tellico, the first major Cherokee town in the southern mountains.

Then I received a fascinating email from a college coed in Virginia.  She was a Native American from Southwestern Virginia.  Federal maps labeled her county, Cherokee.  Commonwealth of Virginia maps labeled her county, Siouan.   Traditionally, the Native descendants in her county had called themselves Cherokees, even though they had no cultural memory or archives linking them to the Cherokees.  She took a DNA test.  She had a lot of indigenous DNA in her, but it was all South American!  Her indigenous DNA most resembled three tribes in northern and eastern Peru. 

Thinking that the DNA lab had mixed her sample with someone else’s, she paid for another test from another lab.  The results were pretty much the same.  Then some of her cousins took the test and had the same results.  She asked around on the internet and found several more “Cherokees” with all Peruvian DNA in her section of Virginia.

In response to her letter, I received others from Kentucky and West Virginia from people, who had been found to have substantial South American DNA, but always thought that they were either Cherokee or Eastern Blackfoot.  The others has also assumed that the labs had made a mistake until reading her letter.

Shortly thereafter, I received a fascinating email from a gentleman in Atlanta, who had grown up in Towns County, GA.  He and his family were members of the Eastern Band of Cherokees.  However, when he received his DNA report back, it said that he was 25% Peruvian Indigenous DNA . . . no DNA typical of North American Indians.  Many of his relatives received DNA reports that their indigenous DNA was a half and half mixture of Maya and Peruvian DNA.  He told me that the Native Americans in Towns County were labeled as being Cherokee Indians, but they called themselves the Towns County Indians.  They looked very different than the Cherokees, 60 miles away on the Qualla Boundary.

That brought back memories of early June 2010, when I talked with two women in their 20s at a supermarket check out in Hiawassee, the county seat of Towns County.  I thought that they were Florida Seminoles and asked them so while they were totaling up my groceries.  They said the same thing as the gentleman from Atlanta.  The government called them Cherokees, but they called themselves the Towns County Indians, since they were really different than the North Carolina Cherokees.  Their ancestors had come to the mountains long before the Cherokees and Anglo-Americans.

Few place names survive in the Midwest and Middle South that are obviously of South American origin.  However, most of the place names have been Anglicized and the interpretation of academicians that they are Algonquian words, who meanings have been lost . . . may be wrong.  I looked at some French and British maps from the late 1600s and early 1700s. There were many town names that couldn’t be translated with a Creek or Itza Maya dictionary, along the northern edge of Georgia, plus in eastern Tennessee, the western tip of North Carolina and eastern Tennessee.

The most accurate and detailed of these maps was drawn by Jean-Baptiste Franquilin in 1684, which reflected the discoveries of René-Robert Cavelier, sieur deLaSalle.  Interestingly enough, his map has a Muscogee-Creek name for the Ohio River . . . Ouabatchee . . . which means “Lower River.”   Perhaps, Ohio was derived from this word. The long trail, leading from the Koasati on the Upper Tennessee River through the Nacoochee Valley to St. Augustine, was built in 1646 by the Spanish.  Only the Florida State History Textbook mentions this trail.

North and west of the Nacoochee Valley are numerous village names, which cannot be translated with Creek, Itza Maya or Cherokee dictionaries.  These are located in the region where the “Towns County” Indians live.  They are prime candidates for South American settlements.  However, there are so many languages and dialects in northwestern South America, it would probably take extensive research to prove that theory.

The major town of Vitacuchee appears on the Middle Chattahoochee River in maps throughout the 1600s.  The word is not translatable with any of the dictionaries of the Creek languages, even though it is in the heart of the Creek Confederacy.  This is also a prime candidate for a settlement by South American or Mesoamerican refugees. This is just a speculation.

The Cherokees were probably still in West Virginia at this time. An official French map, published in 1701, shows a people known as the Tionontetecagi (Cave Dwellers) living in southern West Virginia.   Chalaka eventually moved to present day Talladega, AL and joined the Creek Confederacy.  Thus, it could not possibly be “the oldest known Cherokee town in Tennessee” as stated in several Cherokee history websites.   Tallicoa (Talli People in Arawak) soon became Big Tellico, the first major Cherokee town in the southern mountains.

(16)  Chiska (c. 800 AD -1700 AD) – The Chiska are clearly labeled on the Franquelin map.  However, they were also mentioned extensively in the chronicles of the De Soto and Pardo Expeditions.  Both chronicles describe them as being militarily powerful and making raids into the North Carolina Mountains. The Spanish stated that the Chiska knew how to smelt copper and gold from ore.  This is a known South American technology.  In Mexico, only the Purapeche knew how to smelt copper and make bronze . . . and they apparently immigrated to Mexico from Peru.

In 1683, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur deLa Salle encountered a band of Chiska refugees in north central Tennessee.  They said that the Chiska had been massacred by Spanish-speaking men on horses.  The Midwestern professor, who wrote the book on LaSalle, dissed this account . . . stating that it was impossible for Spanish soldiers, based in Mexico, to have attacked northeastern Tennessee. 

Thanks to suppression of factual history by those wishing to make the Cherokees seem indigenous to the southern Appalachians, all colonial era accounts and proof of Spanish-speaking gold miners in North Georgia and western North Carolina have been redacted from American history texts.  In 1646, Edward Bland visited his “investments” at the southern tip of the Appalachians, shortly after moving from Spain to Jamestown, VA.   In 1653,  Bland’s cousin, Richard Briggstock visited the fortified Spanish trading post and small mission in the Nacoochee Valley.  In 1693,  Carolina Governor James Moore and a company of Redcoat dragoons, observed Spanish gold miners and their Creek laborers smelting gold in the Nacoochee Valley.  Undoubtedly, the Spanish attackers, described by the Chiska, were militiamen, based in the Nacoochee Valley.

In the early 2oth century, Smithsonian Institute ethnologist, John R. Swanton, speculated that the Chiska “might be” another name for the Uchee.   The only justification for his speculation was that “both tribes were mentioned by the chroniclers of the De Soto Expedition as being located in eastern Tennessee. In his 1976 book, The Southeastern Indians, Charles Hudson stated that speculation as a fact without any evidence.  Since then, the false statement has been etched in stone. 

Some of the art found in the vicinity of Cahokia Mounds portrays a people wearing conical hats and blackened faces like the Chiska of eastern Tennessee.   I strongly suspect that the Chiska had some role in the development of Cahokia.  Perhaps they were the mercenaries, who kept the elite in power, or even the original occupants of the village before mounds were constructed.  No one is asking these questions, so no one is seeking solid proof of this theory.

Chiska is a Panoan word from Peru, which means “bird.”   Their warrior society was known as the Chiska Ono or Black Birds, because they wore black face paint.  As can be seen below, the Chiska of Peru and the Chiska of Tennessee wore identical clothing.  The Cherokee Bird Clan was called the Ani-Chisqua.   Obviously, the Cherokee Bird Clan was composed of surviving Chiska.  

Nevertheless, Wikipedia continues to equate the Chiska to the Uchee and state that the Chiska merged with the Shawnee then disappeared from history.  Actually, there was a Chiska village on the Chattahoochee River, which was a member of the Creek Confederacy.  There is little doubt, though, that most surviving Chiska became members of the Cherokee Alliance.  I have tried to correct the Wikipedia article on the Chiska twice, with citations from Panoan/Cherokee dictionaries, plus French-authored history books.   The corrections were both quickly deleted within a few hours.

Part Four of this series will examine the real origins of the Siouan peoples, who were associated with either earth lodges or ceremonial mound building.   Their Migration Legends are quite different than the tall tales put into anthropological references in recent years by Midwestern professors.  All of the Siouans originated in the Southeast, but many Southeastern academicians seem to be unaware of that fact.

 

This is one of the most beautiful folk songs ever written.  It has nothing to do directly with Arawak immigration into North America.  However, it is the song that I played over and over again on my Explorer’s CD player, while driving north to the snow-covered Great Smoky Mountains to live in a tent, after being becoming homeless on Christmas Eve after three days notice.  The song turned out to have great meaning. 

The following two tabs change content below.
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.

1 Comment

  1. markveale@hotmail.com'

    Richard, a one letter change for a name “Purapeche” and you have another “Para” people again connected to bronze age areas. I now believe they left from the Black Sea areas and settled first in the Savanna river area. The Parakusa in Georgia stated they had family in Mexico and had built a road and city down there by mountains. Some of the Bronze a peoples of the Crete / Turkey/ Cyprus area seem to connected to an area called “Kuppara” in an Akkadian script about Sargon the Great.

    The Great Serpent Earthworks of Scotland and England to Ohio are a clear connection of peoples connected on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Reply

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to POOF via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this website and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 774 other subscribers

The Information World is changing!

People of One Fire needs your help to evolve with it.

We are now celebrating the 11th year of the People of One Fire. In that time, we have seen a radical change in the way people receive information. The magazine industry has almost died. Printed newspapers are on life support. Ezines, such as POOF, replaced printed books as the primary means to present new knowledge. Now the media is shifting to videos, animated films of ancient towns, Youtube and three dimensional holograph images.

During the past six years, a privately owned business has generously subsidized my research as I virtually traveled along the coast lines and rivers of the Southeast. That will end in December 2017. I desperately need to find a means to keep our research self-supporting with advertising from a broader range of viewers. Creation of animated architectural history films for POOF and a People of One Fire Youtube Channel appears to be the way. To do this I will need to acquire state-of-art software and video hardware, which I can not afford with my very limited income. Several of you know personally that I live a very modest lifestyle. If you can help with this endeavor, it will be greatly appreciated.

Support Us!

Richard Thornton . . . the truth is out there somewhere!

Pin It on Pinterest