Virtual Reality: The landscape seen by Juan Pardo in 1568
There are very few paintings by commercial artists of Southeast Native American towns, which are accurate. The artists invariably paint a vast baked red clay desert, grass covered mounds and as an afterthought a dozen or so little houses. Unfortunately, the grass they showing growing on mounds didn’t arrive in North America from Siberia until the 1800s! LOL
Recent work by several archaeological teams have proven that Southeastern mounds were stuccoed with brightly colored clays. The Apalache Creeks in North Georgia went a step further and coated them with mica flakes, which made them glisten like gold.
Also, many eyewitnesses from the 16th and 17th century, including the De Soto Chronicles, describe ancestral Muskogean towns as being laid out with streets, residential blocks, courtyards, plazas, fruit orchards, public buildings and clusters of specialized residential buildings.
In early 1568, Captain Juan Pardo set out from Santa Elena on Port Royal Sound, SC to reach Kusa in Northwest Georgia. He first went to Chiaha on the Little Tennessee River in North Carolina and then went down the river to Tanaske, which was on Hiwassee Island in Tennessee, at the confluence of the Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers. He then returned to Chiaha and elected not to go to Kusa, since he was warned that four Native armies were planning to ambush his company of men.
On the way back to Santa Elena from Chiaha, Pardo passed through a town his notary wrote down as Nucose. I am pretty sure that this was Nokose Tula (Bear Town) in the Nacoochee Valley of Northeast Georgia. Nokose was at the crossroads of sever major continental trade paths, including the connection between the Hiwassee River trail and the mouth of the Savannah River.
Adjacent to the main town for commoners was the elite town of Hontaoase (Offspring of People Who Irrigate Plants.) According to the Dare tablets, found in the Nacoochee Valley, Hontaoase was where the last survivors of the Roanoke Colony lived out their last days.
I have just completed a computer model of the western end of the Nacoochee Valley where the site of Nokose is. These images portray Nocose as it would have appeared in the autumn of 1568, when Juan Pardo and his men were passing through. It will provide readers with a better understanding of what our ancestral towns looked.
Unlike Muskogee Creek towns, Apalache, Koweta, Koasati and Chickasaw towns had oval plazas and oval mounds. As we explained in a recent article on Booger Bottom Mound near Buford, GA, the construction of oval mounds and oval plazas is an ancient tradition in North Georgia, going back to around 1000 BC.
The town was still occupied in the late 1600s, but apparently a massive smallpox plague in 1696 wiped out most of the Nacoochee Valley’s population. Nevertheless, there was still a small village named Nocose, about a half mile south of this mound, in the early 1800s. Nacoochee is the Anglicization of Nocose.
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