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Was Sequoyah the son of an African Slave or a Mustee War Captive?

Was Sequoyah the son of an African Slave or a Mustee War Captive?
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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.



    As you may remember I have been going into, as a volunteer, local public schools teaching about Cherokee and Creek people in the area to forth graders. Over the years I have studied many publications and state history “accounts” of Sequoya’s life trying to understand his confused and incomplete story in order to tell children his story. Until this information I have simply said that history is confused and some things in the story of his don’t seem to add up. A few teachers have engaged me in conversation concerning details. The outcome was often my simply saying that no one really knows.

    In thinking about the things you have outlined here I believe I have a more broad view of what must have been or what was most likely understanding the culture of the time. Very helpful. I will now need to study your outline to make it part of my lectures concerning this amazing man. To my credit I had learned that the syllabary used today was noting like what he had formed. Also I have used Si-kwo-ya as an alternative spelling for his name and even have it listed on a syllabary board where I display tsalagi words as examples for students to see. I always say that this is the way he likely would have spelled his name. Thanks for validating my efforts in a way that others can understand. Way better than I have been able to do before you. Thanks… sgi/wado depending …

    • Wado Jay,

      Did you see the two paragraphs that I just added to the end. I forgot to include the information initially. Sequoyah and his wife were sentenced to death by the North Carolina Cherokees for practicing witchcraft. If Wutah has a Voodoo meaning, that really ties things together.


    Richard, a very interesting article. The ancient “Amarna” tablets found in Egypt mentions some of the same sounds of this name “Si-Kwo-YA” at a location called “ALA-SI-YA” also called “IS-Y”. There is still debate as to where this location was but it is known that it had to be somewhere that had a lot of copper as it was noted that one ship had 12.5 tons of Copper as a gift for the Pharaoh.
    Massive copper mining was occurring from 5000’s BC till 1200 BC then again from 1000 BC-800 BC around the Great lakes. This copper mining would fit into that time period.
    In the Ad-y-ghe language “ATTE” means (Height), and “Ghei ” means (Sea) and “Oke-cho-YATTE” was that a ITZA-te? or Muskogee name? for the “Alabama” Native people. There are many connections to Sea faring Amorite/Hittite people from long ago… the America’s (Havilah?)

  3. Itza-te means “Corn Tamale” people in Itza, rooted in the Maya and Creek word for corn. “Te” in Itsate Creek and Itza Maya means “people”.


    Great article.

    This is a great example which proves that the Cherokee are heavily mixed.

    This is my theory and should not be taken as fact until proven.

    You have the Aniyunwiya (The Principal People) who are believed to have originated from Northern Mexico and parts of Texas who migrated to the Great Lakes region.
    There they were forced into Southeastern North America by the Iroquois and the Delaware tribes.

    The Aniyunwiya encountered Meso-/Central American and South American natives in Southeastern North America; including a possible Ngäbe-Buglé (from Panama) related tribe who applied the word /name “Chiruqui” in this case meaning “Dwelling place of The Water People” (in the Ngäbe-Buglé language) to refer to the Aniyunwiya since they came from
    the Great Lakes region.
    “Dwelling place” could also be interpreted as “Land”.
    The name “Chiruqui” evolved into “Cherokee”.

    The Cherokee over time heavily mixed with outsiders from many different ethnic backgrounds. During this period a writing system emerged possibly originally derived from the Apalache system or perhaps from Armenian, Anatolian and Circassian alphabets; later altered to a more European writing style.

    Lands(continents)/areas of origin for the multi-ethnic Cherokee nation: Northern Mexico, Texas, MesoAmerica/Central America, Middle-East, Europe and Africa.

    – A Brief History of Catoosa County:
    Up Into the Hills
    By Jeff O’Bryant – 2009

    Page 21:
    Chapter 1: The Principal People

    – Lehmann, Walter 1920
    Zentral-Amerika. Berlin: Verlag Dietrich Reimer (Ernst Vohsen).

    – Guaymi Grammar and Dictionary with some Ethnological Notes
    By Ephraim S. Alphonse – 1955 / 1956

    Pages: 44, 125

    – “Vestigios mesoamericanos entre los indios Guaymí
    Laura Laurencich Minelli” (cuasran.blogspot)


    I find the Cherokee syllabary very interesting.

    I’m amazed how similar Sequoyah’s Cherokee Syllabary is
    to the Georgian Alphabet and the Medieval Circassian

    Earlier today I have done some research in finding place-
    names in Georgia (Europe/Eurasia) to find a possible link
    to the Cherokee.
    To my surprise I found some interesting names for atleast
    two rivers.

    The Choloki river in Georgia is a river that forms the border between the autonomous province of Ajaria (Adjara) and
    the province of Guria. Choloki is in the northwest near the Kobuleti Strict Nature Reserve of the province Ajaria.

    The Chorokhi (ch’orokhi) river also called
    “Coruh” (in Turkish), “Akampsis” (in Greek) and
    “Tchorokh” (in Armenian) is in the southwest near the
    capital city of the province Ajaria; “Batumi”.

    Map of Ajaria (Adjara / Ajara) province; Georgia (Europe/Eurasia):


      I have found yet another river or a river branch to
      be more precise with a similar name.
      Follow the river Chorokhi (You can also follow the
      green line or Eco Trail; see legend) in the south-
      west to the east.
      You will come across a town called KEDA.
      The river branch is called “Acharistskali”.
      Follow the river branch (Eco Trail) further
      to the east.You will come across a town called
      Follow the river branch (Eco Trail) to the south/
      southeast and you will find that the river branch
      is called “Churukhistskali”.

      So there are atleast 3 rivers in Georgia (Europe/
      Eurasia) with names similar to the name

      1 – Choloki /Cholokhi?
      2 – Chorokhi
      3 – Churukhi(-stskali)

      (Use the map in the previous comment)


    In the post/article “Video: An Introduction To The Shipibo
    of Peru”

    it is stated that along the Holston River (Shipibo River) were
    towns with Panoan names such as Chiska and Chalaka.

    In taking a closer look on the map of Georgia (Europe/
    Eurasia) you can find a settlement named “Chalakhmela”.
    This of course does not have to mean anything but it’s
    very interesting to find more similar names that show up in
    Georgia (Europe/Eurasia).

    Another very interesting find is a town named
    It turns out to be also the district name where the river
    Chorokhi flows/runs.

    Georgia is devided into twelve (12) regions.
    In the southwestern tip of Georgia is the autonomous
    Republic of Ajaria (Adjara / Ajara); region number 4 on
    the map.

    In the southwestern part of the Republic of Ajaria you can
    find the “Khelvachauri” district; colored blue on the map.

    One might think and question; what does “Khelvachauri”
    has to do with the Cherokee?

    This is my theory and it should not be taken as fact until

    Maybe it doesn’t necessarily have to be related to
    the Cherokee, however it could be related to the Chiriqui or
    atleast to the Ngäbe-Buglé folklore of Panama.

    What if Khelvachauri is:
    – Khelva Chauri
    – Chauri Khelva ?
    – Churi Khleva ?
    – Chiri Kleva ?
    – Ciri Klave ?

    Could it be that “Ciri Klave” came from Eurasia in Pre-Columbian times via Southeastern North America
    (and perhaps via Meso-America) and defeated “Deko” in Panama or Costa Rica?

    • You see, those word similarities COULD have great significance, because we know that at least some of the people from that region were enslaved by the Turks and forced to fight their fellow Christians from Western Europe. This is going to take a lot of research.


        Thank you for your reply.

        Yes, You are right; This is going to take a lot of

        On the post/article “Cheriqué Province, Panama . . .
        Is it the origin of the Cherokee’s name?”

        I was sure to have found the origin of the word/
        name Cherokee.
        After doing research in placenames of Georgia
        (Europe/Eurasia) ended up scratching my head.

        However in my opinion all of my research and
        theory is NOT lost.

        The Ngäbe-Buglé word ChiRuKui meaning
        “Dwelling place of The Sea/Water People”

        The Holston River in Tennessee once referred to
        as “Charaquis” with a town named Chalaka
        a Panoan name along it’s riverbank.

        The three rivers in Georgia (Europe/Eurasia)
        1 – Choloki
        2 – Chorokhi
        3 – Churukhi(-stskali)

        Near the Chorokhi river to the east on the river
        branch Acharistskali there is a settlement
        named “Chalakhmela” (Chalakh mela).

        North of the Chorokhi river there is a
        town named “Khelvachauri” which could be the
        origin (original home) of the mythical hero of
        Panama’s folklore Ciri Klave who came in a
        Great Canoe.

        The Aniyunwuya (The Principal People)
        migrated from the Great Lakes region into
        Southeast North America where they became
        the Cherokee.

        In my research every word/name similar to
        Cherokee is linked to WATER.


    While I have enjoyed many of your articles and find some controversial, others are quite enlightening. I don’t feel you include Choctaw or Chickasaw references enough into the overall Muskogeon tree, but that is just me.

    However, your references to the Adair’s among the Cherokees being Jewish takes it a little too far. Although, I am not an Adair, I am related to many. As a genealogist, those that make up the Cherokees both within the three federally recognized groups and the Mount Tabor Indian Community in Texas have a definite genealogical history that can be traced. They are in fact two separate lines that can be seen very well in the book “Cherokee Adairs”. One source traces to Scotland, while the other to Genoch, County Antrim, Ireland. All can be traced back into the 1600’s with spouses of Scot, English or Irish family names. If there was Jewish blood, it would have to be very far back and not enough to be considered Irish-Jewish-Cherokees.

    I personally trace back to Jews that were in the court of Charlemagne, as I trace to him as well. Queen Elizabeth has the same lineage. Does that make us Jews? I also trace through a Spanish noble family that married the daughter of a Sultan, to the Prophet Mohammad. Does that make me an Arab?

    I do feel your are reaching on the Cherokee Adair comments, as their lines can be documented six or more generations, prior to inter-marriage with the Cherokee.

    On the other hand, I do truly want to thank you for showing how the ECBI as well as wannabe Cherokee groups have twisted the history of the SE to look as if the Cherokee were there since the time of Jesus, while all other tribes were not much more than grunting cave dwellers, so primitive to hardly be mentioned. Setting that record straight that the Cherokee, who were driven south by the Delaware, were recent newcomers to the SE., as well as the story and the high cultures of our peoples there need to be told.

    As to Sequoyah, due to the clan structure and knowing a little of his lineage, I truly doubt the Mustee ancestry. While he has certainly become larger than life, I have done considerable research on his Mexican travels. Knowing the culture, he would not have had the support to do what he did, or be respected as he was without clan support which as you know, was matrilineal.

    I would also love to see more documentation on a written language prior to the Cherokee. I do not know how familiar you are with the Mount Tabor Indian Community. We were considered a part of the Cherokee Nation until 1974 and were excluded in the 1975 constitution since our peoples were not listed on the Dawes Roll as we were in Rusk County, Texas. (we were also not all Cherokee, which complicated things) We are the only historical tribal community, documented to 1845, made up of Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Muscogee-Creek peoples, whose membership are all proven American Indians by federal rolls (Guion Miller, Old Settler for Cherokees; W.C. Thompson vs Choctaw Nation-Dawes data for Choctaws; 1818 Chickasaw Annuity Roll for Chickasaws; and the 1832 Creek Nation Census of Horse Path Town for the Muscogee-Creeks).

    We have a quarterly newspaper, the Mount Tabor Phoenix, that I would like to include some of your articles, especially about deep history and Mayan connections, if you would agree to allow me to reprint them, giving you credit. The next issue will appear on March 1st.

    Again, I want to thank you for your work, even with a few disagreements. It is badly needed, historically as well as archeologically.

    A side point, although we have only six remaining progenitor families within the band, there were a number of Native families that lived there from time to time (Beyond the obvious numbers that lived there during the Civil War-The book Cherokee Cavaliers has a wealth of data on us). One of those families was a Pakana Muscogee family, that I too descend from. That being descendants of Alex Davis a leader of the Pakana (Apalachicola). This was one of the main reasons that I initially started reading your posts. Our progenitor Creek family is the Berryhill descendants of John Berryhill (1/4 Catawba) and Martha Elizabeth Derrisaw (Durouzeaux) (1/4 French; 3/4 Muscogee).

    Your work gives our people a sense of deeper pride living among southern whites in the era of Trump, and we appreciate it. Thank you.


      J.C., I enjoyed your missive right up until the time you felt the need to play the race card and interject your political views into it. Hopefully you can stick to history next time.

  8. Hey JC

    You are welcome to reprint anything in POOF.

    Did you know that David Crockett came from a Sephardic Jewish heritage? Crockett was a Jewish name in France. Many of the most prominent French Huguenot families in South Carolina and Georgia were originally Spanish Sephardic Jews, who fled to France. Later generations converted.

    We have Chickasaw TV on our website and I have written series on both the Chickasaw and the Choctaw. However, I am not knowledgeable at all on the history of the Chickasaws and Choctaws after they moved to Oklahoma. We have repeatedly requested that Choctaws and Chickasaws submit articles, but none have during the 10 years that POOF has been in existence. This is despite the fact that both tribes were represented when we originally formed.

    As for James Adair, many people are not aware that MANY Sephardic Jews immigrated to Scotland and Ulster by invitation of the Scots in the 1400s and early 1500s. So did members of the Knights Templar, when they were being persecuted elsewhere. Practically, all the Scottish Jews changed their last names to Scottish forms. There are a considerable number of Sephardic Jews in the United States with the last name of Adair – especially in the Southeast.

    Adair openly stated that his Chickasaw wife was half Jewish. What is highly suspicious is that he was so knowledgeable on the Jewish language – he knew four dialects of Medieval and Renaissance Hebrew. He also knew how to write all four dialects. He encountered a tribe in North Carolina that spoke Medieval Hebrew – probably Sephardim – and able to converse with them. There is nothing about his background or his career as an Indian trader to explain his extensive knowledge in this area.

    Have a great weekend.



    I have done some research in the languages of
    Armenia, Turkey and Georgia.

    Although I am certainly not as knowledgable
    as a linguist in these particular languages;
    I still want to point out some very interesting finds.

    Armenian words for people, folk are “zhoghovurd”,
    “azg”, “harazatner”.

    Turkish words for people, folk are “insanlar”,
    “millet”, “ulus”.

    Georgian word for people, folk is “khalkhi”.

    Map of the Caucasus to get an idea where
    Armenia, Turkey and Georgia are located.

    On the southeastern corner of the Black Sea you
    can find Bat’umi or Batumi the Capital city of
    the Autonomous Province of Ajaria (Adjara/Ajara).

    Ajaria has many spellings including: Adzhara,
    Adzharia, Achara and Acharia.

    The spelling with “ch” made me think.
    What if you combine the name Achara with the
    Georgian word khalkhi meaning “people”?

    Keep in mind I am not knowledgable in the
    Georgian language.

    A combination could be Acharakhalkhi
    (Properly I think it would be Khalkhi Achara).
    What if we delete khal from the word khalkhi?
    In that case the combination could be Acharakhi.

    Acharakhi could mean “People of/from Achara”.

    Than I remembered that the Turkish name for the
    Chorokhi river is Çoruh (Ç pronounced as ch).
    Could the name Chorokhi be a combination of
    Çoruh and khalkhi?
    A combination could be Çoruhkhalkhi or
    Çoruhkhi (Çorukhi ?) which could mean
    “People of/from (the river) Çoruh.

    Here we have two word combinations that are
    similar to Cherokee:

    1 – Acharakhi (Charakhi ?)
    People of/from Achara (or “Achara People”)

    2 – Çoruhkhi (Çorukhi ?)
    People of/from (the river) Çoruh

    This is my theory and should not be taken as fact until

    Armenian-English / English-Armenian Dictionary
    by Diana Aroutunian, Susanna Aroutunian

    Turkish-English / English-Turkish Dictionary
    & Phrasebook
    by Charles Gates

    Georgian-English / English-Georgian Dictionary
    & Phrasebook
    by Nicholas Awde, Thea Khitarishvili

    (also Google translate)

    • The capital of Christian Anatolia was Ani and was also the name of their kingdom. Today, among Christian Turks it means “people or nation.” Anatolia is the Anglicized version of Ani. Ani is also a Cherokee prefix for nation or people. It is typically used in front of any distinct ethnic group, such Ani-koweta, Ani-kusa, Ani-kitani, etc. Most of the words in Cherokee describing female familial relationships – mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, etc. are Anatolian words meaning the same. Zara, pronounces roughly Tchara, is the Anatolian and northern Middle Eastern word for fire. Zarathustra got his name from that word.


        Thank you for your reply.

        It is very interesting to see that the Chero-
        kee to some extend do have similar words
        and names in Georgia and Turkey which
        are located in Europe/Eurasia.

        In my opinion; from a (Christian) Turkish
        point of view people from Achara could
        be “Ani-Achara”.
        From a Georgian point of view it could be
        hypothetically “Acharakhi” since the
        Georgian word for people is khalkhi.
        Having said that; in proper Georgian it
        would probably be “Khalkhi Achara”.
        For people of the river Çoruh it could be
        “Ani-Çoruh” and “Çoruhkhi”.

        With all the research data discussed in
        this particular article; it seems
        that the original Cherokee came from
        Europe/Eurasia especially the
        Georgia – Turkey region.
        The Ani-yunwiya (The Principal People)
        and the Ani-Tsiskwa (Chiska/Chiskua –
        The Bird Clan) were later integrated into
        the Cherokee tribe which originally could
        have been a Georgian-Turkish mixed
        tribe (or settlers/colonists?).

        This is my theory and it should not be
        taken as fact until proven.


    In my ongoing research on the origins of the Cherokee;
    I have found interesting information on the name
    “Chorokhi”, a river in the Autonomous Province of
    Ajaria (Adjara, Ajara/ Georgia – Eurasia/Caucasus).
    Maybe linguists /researchers from/on POOF can take a
    look into it.

    The Chechens: A handbook
    by Amjad Jaimoukha

    Published: 2005

    Notes: Page 261: History from the earliest to
    the end of the eighteenth century AD

    “This suffix is central to the Hurrian-Nakh connection.
    The Hurrians called the Tigris ‘Arantsakhi’ (‘Lowland
    River’). The Chorokhi (‘Country River’) was named by
    the Hurrian Makhelons and Khalibs, who colonized
    the Western Caucasus. The ancient name of the Terek, Lomekhi, is interpreted as ‘Lam-Khi’ (‘Mountain River’),
    and the Liakhvi (Leuakhi) as ‘Glacier River'”.

    Map Hurrian Kingdom:


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