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What happened to France’s Native allies near Fort Caroline?

What happened to France’s Native allies near Fort Caroline?


There is strong evidence that Fort Caroline’s Native allies fled to “them thar Georgia Hills,” but also brought along their French and Sephardic friends.  However, their Satile allies already had a colony in the Great Smoky Mountains near the boundary between Tennessee and North Carolina.  The capitals of both the mother province and the colony in the mountains were named Satipo (Satibo), which means “Living Place of Colonists.”  The one in the mountains was visited by Juan Pardo.  Funny thing . . . Satipo is also the name of the provincial capital in Peru, where the Shipibo, Conibo and Caushibo Peoples live today.

The tall man in the center of the painting above by Jacques Le Moyne was the Paracusa-te (High King) of the Satile People. His title indicates that he claimed descent from the Paracusa People, who built the Nazca Valley effigy figures in western Peru.

The memoirs of Captain René de Laudonnière, Commander of Fort Caroline, described the Native American neighbors of Fort Caroline as being the Satile to the south, the Alecmani (or Alec-coa) on the north side of the May River and the Tamacogan (or Tamakoa) upstream on the May River about 21 miles.  De Laudonnière usually labeled the Satile by the name of their king, Sati-uriwa.  Their province was named Satipo.   Sati-uriwa is a Panoan word from Satipo Province, Peru . . . which means “Colonists – King.”   The Satilla River in Southeast Georgia gets its name from this powerful Native province.

The reports to the King of Spain by Spanish commander, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, stated that a party of his soldiers came ashore on the north end of an island, whose latitude matches Amelia Island, Florida on September 8, 1565 to give thanks to God for their safe arrival in the New World.  The expedition then sailed northward to the latitude of the mouth of the Satilla River in Georgia . . . 31 degrees . . . and unloaded its civilians on a peninsula where two rivers came together to form a magnificent deep harbor.  They named the new town, St. Augustine, because of first landing on his feast day.

Indeed, St. Andrews Sound, Georgia (formed by the confluence of the Satilla and Little Satilla Rivers)  is the deepest harbor on the Atlantic Coast of North America.  Spanish soldiers took possession of the village of Seloy on the north shore of the Little Satilla River and fortified the chief’s house.   The soldiers then marched north during a hurricane and attacked Fort Caroline (about 31.4 degrees latitude) . . . massacring all its civilian occupants, except teenage boys and Roman Catholics.  The Spanish then erected a fortified St. Augustine near the location where the civilians had landed farther south.  It was the third attempt by the Spanish to colonize North America. The first attempt in 1526, San Miguel de Gualdape near where Fort Caroline was located, had failed miserably.  This seemed to be doomed also.

This 1578 map by Spanish Royal Cartographer, Benjamin Chaves, places Fort Caroline on the Georgia Coast and St. Augustine at its current location. The St. Mateo Mission was located near where St. Marys, GA is today.

The first St. Augustine did not last long.   It was surrounded by very numerous and hostile Satile warriors, who constantly picked off any Spaniards, who tried to go out to fetch firewood and fresh water.  The remaining soldiers mutinied.    In March 1566 Pedro Menéndez de Avilés ordered the first St. Augustine dismantled.  The colonists and the building materials were to be transported to a location at about 30 degrees latitude, which is the present day C.

The Spanish had already built a small fort for 100 solders at the mouth of this bay.  The advantage of this location was that there were very few Indians on the coast of northern Florida.  While the region around the mouth of the Altamaha and Satilla Rivers in Georgia was very fertile and densely populated, the land near this bay was ill-suited for agriculture and had no barrier islands to protect it from hurricanes.

Menéndez immediately found one big disadvantage to the new location of St. Augustine.   He wrote the king that his flagship was too large to enter the harbor of Nuevo St. Augustine, whereas that it had no trouble entering the original harbor, even at low tide.    This well documented comment should have sent up warning flags to 20th century Florida academicians that they had totally screwed up their descriptions of Florida’s early history, but it didn’t.   Instead they altered the names, latitudes and locations of Native American towns in the versions of history that the general public typically sees.

This 1574 French map places both Seloy and Fort Caroline in Georgia. By that time, the Alecmani had moved inland to near Jesup, GA.

Take a look at the Wikipedia articles on St. Augustine and Fort Caroline.  They were written by Florida university professors, yet don’t tell you that the original St. Augustine was built a full degree of latitude north of the current location . . . 84 miles.  They say that Seloy was a “Timucua” village on St. Augustine Bay, FL.  First of all, no tribe in the Southeast ever called themselves Timucua. It was a word coined by the Spanish.   All French and Spanish archives and state that Seloy was a Satile town and all French, Spanish and Elizabethan English maps place Seloy on the north bank of the Little Satilla River in Georgia.  All French, Spanish and Elizabethan English maps place, Satipo, the capital of the Sati People on the tip of the peninsula where the Satilla and Little Satilla Rivers meet to form St. Andrews Bay.

The memoirs of both René de Laudonnière and Pedro Menéndez clearly state that the tribes around Fort Caroline and the first St. Augustine were arch-enemies of the tribes that the Spanish later called Timucua.  In fact, this was one advantage of the second St. Augustine location.  The Spanish offered to protect those small weak tribes from the Satile and Alecmani. It is a case of academic fraud on an unimaginable scale.

In 2005,  the dean of Florida Anthropology, Dr. Jerald T. Milanich, wrote an article in Archaeology Magazine entitled, “The Devil in Details.”  It was a critique of the water colors produced by French Huguenot artist, Jacques Le Moyne, while he was residing at Fort Caroline.  He stated that the Indians painted by Le Moyne were not Florida Indians because they showed many South American traits . . . therefore Le Moyne never saw Florida’s Indians.  His paintings were fantasies.  

Well duh-h-h,  the Indians on the coast of Georgia in the 1500s spoke South American languages!  Indeed,  Jacques LeMoyne never saw the Indians in Florida because he was painting the Indians on the coast of Georgia. Therefore, Fort Caroline had to be in Georgia.  I don’t think that Dr. Milanich will ever admit that, though.


Explorers from Fort Caroline stated that the Apalache in North Georgia use river cane tubes to separate gold nuggets and mica flakes from sand.

French exploration of North Georgia

The memoir of René de Laudonnière stated that he dispatched six expeditions from Fort Caroline. Five headed north in search of the Kingdom of Apalache,  the Apalachen Mountains, gold, silver, copper and gem deposits.  One went south, possibly as far as Lake Okeechobee and definitely as far as the headwaters of the St. Johns River.  However, the mouth of the St. Johns River was almost invisible.  It consisted of shallow tidal marshes.  Therefore, the French and Spanish initially assumed that the St. Johns flowed into the St. Marys River, which today separates Florida from Georgia.

The most detailed information on North Georgia comes from French officer, La Roche Ferrière.  He spent six months exploring the Georgia Piedmont and Southern Appalachian Mountains.  De Laudonnière stated that he returned to Fort Caroline with feather art,  gemstones, silver, pure copper, natural brass, plus three types of gold . . . yellow, white and red.  A metallurgist at Fort Caroline stated that this gold was the purest they had ever seen.  Florida academicians have repeatedly written through the decades that these statements “proves” that the French never visited the Georgia Mountains.  “There is no such thing as natural pure gold, red gold or natural brass.  Everybody knows that there are no copper deposits in Georgia.”

Au contraire . . . the Gold Museum is located in Dahlonega, GA near where I live.  I visited the museum after reading these passages.   The geologists there stated, “Well, of course, there is yellow, white and red gold. Georgia produces the purest gold in the world. The red gold comes from the mines around Gainesville. The Dahlonega area has both white and yellow gold.   The Rich Mountains only contain yellow gold, but they formerly contained huge nuggets of pure copper on the surface.  They are all gone now, but there is an abandoned commercial copper mine, on Coppermine Road north of Dahlonega, which didn’t close until the late 20th century.  That mine and several older mines did also extract a natural form of brass, which was a mixture of copper, zinc and gold.”   So much for the “experts” in Tallahassee and Gainesville, Florida.

Ferrière also brought back a message from the King of Ustanauli (Houstanauqua in French-Arawak).   The Apalache are blocking his access to the riches of the mountains.  If the French would join his army in a war against the Apalache,  they could share the gold, copper and gemstones of the mountains.   This offer is highly significant for understanding what happened later.

Where did the Native American neighbors of Fort Caroline go?

There has always been major contradictions in the official description of Florida’s early history that completely dominate all references and history books today.   Neither the latitude of Fort Caroline nor the physical description of its environs, as described by all French sources, in any way matches the current official location of Fort Caroline National Memorial on the St. Johns River in Florida.  The St. Johns River was not even accessible by sea-going vessels until just before the American Civil War, when the US Army Corps of Engineers dredged a channel at its entrance.  

There is something else.   The names of the Indian tribes, described by the residents of Fort Caroline as being their neighbors, do not appear on Spanish maps of Florida.  However, the names of Indian tribes, described by an expedition dispatched by Fort Caroline to explore the region far to the south, DO appear on those Spanish maps.

While reading a box full of Spanish archives in advance of preparing the architectural drawings of Mission Santa Catalina de Guale for the American Museum of Natural History,  I noticed something odd.   The Spanish archives between 1565 and 1584 mention numerous battles with the Indian tribes near Fort Caroline that were listed by René de Laudonnière and Pedro Menéndez in 1565.  Most of those battles turned into massacres of Spanish soldiers.  Then there is silence.  When Spanish Franciscan missionaries began a concerted program to build a chain of missions around 1600,  none of these enemy tribes are mentioned.  Their names are never again placed on Spanish maps.  Were they all massacred or were they merely driven away by the overwhelming power of Spanish firearms?

People of One Fire will now look at where names of these tribes appeared on historic maps or even as place names today.   Where they relocated to is absolute proof that Fort Caroline was in Georgia.

(1) Alec-mani or Alak-koa

This ethnic group is the easiest to document.  Alek-mani is a Tupi (South American) compound word that means “Medicine-Grower.”   Alek-koa or Alak-koa means Medicine People. The Georgia Creek word for “medical doctor” is alek . . . presumably derived from the Alek-mani’s name.  The village of Alak-koa on the Altamaha River became the Creek town of Alachua in the 1700s/

A letter from a Fort Caroline resident sent back to France stated that the Alec-mani maintained large orchards of cinchona trees. They distributed quinine and cinchona bark all over the Southeast.  He also stated that the province had become very wealthy from trading cinchona bark to the Apalache in Northeast Georgia for gold and greenstone.  

Tracking the Alek-mani or Alek-koa is easy.  By 1578,  they had moved inland to near Jesup, GA . . . most likely to get away from the Spanish warships.   You can see their name on the French map above.   That town continued to exist until after the American Revolution.  It joined the Creek Confederacy and eventually became known first as Alachua (Muskogee pronunciation) and then Doctortown.   Two years ago, there was a terrible accident on the Doctortown Railroad Bridge, while a movie about Greg Allman was being filmed.

Some of the Alecmani definitely went north to the Georgia Gold Belt . . . or perhaps they were there much earlier.  There a two Aleck Mountains in Northeast Georgia.  Both have stone ceremonial enclosures.  The better known Aleck Mountain is on the eastern end of the Nacoochee Valley, while the other is northeast of Dahlonega, GA.  The other Aleck Mountain is near the boundary between Union and Towns Counties.

Arkaqua Creek and a large associated Native American town in Union County, south of Blairsville, probably represents the Uchee pronunciation of Alak-koa.  Alak-koa is the Southern Arawak pronunciation of “Medicine People.”

(2) Tamacoggan or Tamakoa

Ironically, this tribe’s alternate name was the source of the Spanish ethnic name Timacua.   The Tamacoggan traveled northward up the Altamaha River and then the Oconee River.   The settled on the headwaters of the North Oconee River in Jackson County, GA, which is in Northeast Metro Atlanta.   The Creeks in Northeast Georgia invited white families to settle in their communities long before their lands were ceded by the leadership of the Creek Confederacy much farther west.  There were two reasons.  One, they want the Creek and white children to intermarry in order to cement personal friendships.  Secondly,  the pro-British Upper Creeks attacked the Northeast Georgia Creeks throughout the American Revolution because they were Patriots.   By having white families as neighbors and relatives, the Georgia Creeks were more like to obtain assistance from the Continental Army or Georgia militias.

Many mixed-blood Creeks remained in Northeast Georgia after it became part of Georgia.  The Creek town of Tamacoggan became the Georgia town of Tomacoggan and the county seat of Jackson County.   A few years later, Tomacoggan was renamed Commerce.  Commerce is still the county seat and still has large mounds near it.

In 2014, LIDAR imagery revealed a large pyramidal mound on the Middle Oconee River near Commerce, GA in Jackson County.

(3)  Satile

The Satile (Place of the Colonists) composed the largest and most powerful province on the Georgia Coast.   They spoke a Panoan language from eastern Peru.  Their capital was called Satipo (actually Satibo) by the French.  This word means “Living Place or Town of the Colonists.”  The Middle English word borough is derived from the Anglo-Saxon-Danish words bo-reigh, which mean, “Living Place-Ruler.”  Why would southern Scandinavians,  the Panoan Peoples of Peru and the indigenous peoples of Southeast Georgia all have the same meaning for the word, bo?   Obviously, something was going on in the ancient past that we do not fully understand.

By 1684 (Jean Baptiste Franquelin Map) the mountain colony of Satipo had changed its name to the Arawak form of Satikoa.  In the 1700s, this word was Cherokee-nized and then Anglicized to Satiqua, Setikoa, Sitikoa, Stekoa, Stecoah or Citigo.  The Suttalee Community, on the Etowah River in western Cherokee County, GA, gets its name from the Anglicization of Satele . . . not the name of a Great Cherokee Chief.   When surveyed by the State of Georgia in 1828, there were no residents in Suttalee with ethnic Cherokee names.  All their names were either English, Creek, Jewish or French!  Since Georgia academicians are not inclined to learn the Creek languages, no one has caught this fact.  They label the Creek names as being Cherokee words of unknown meaning. 

The Gourgues Fort is in the upper left corner of this map.  Ossabaw is derived from the Panoan word Asabo, which means “Place of Yaupon Holly.”

In 1568,  Captain Dominique Gourges led an expedition of three ships and a hundred soldiers to the Georgia coast to avenge the massacre of the colonists at Fort Caroline.   He was definitely on the Georgia coast because he first met with Native leaders in early November 1568 at the capital of the Takatakuru, which was located near present day Midway, GA (See 1574 map above).  He then constructed a hidden port and fort to the north of Takitakuru on the Ogeechee River.  It was still visible when Savannah was settled in 1733.

After completing his secret base, Gourgues army disappeared into the interior of the Southeast.  Simultaneously,  all four forts, built by Juan Pardo that year in the interior were massacred.  In early April, Gourgues appeared at the Satile capital of Satipo and then the combined Satile-French army massacred Fort San Mateo.

Gourgues soon sailed back to France, but the Satile continued to kill any Spaniards, who landed or were shipwrecked in their province for the next two decades.  Then, after Colonia Santa Elena (Parris Island) was resettled in 1584, the Spanish ceased to mention the Satile or Alekmani.  When Mission Santa Catalina de Guale was founded around 1601 on Saint Catherines Island, GA there was no mention of either tribe.  Instead, the Spanish only mentioned an ethnic group, which they called the Guale after the name of a relatively new village on the St. Catherines (Santa Catalina) Island.

The earliest maps to describe village names in Northwest Georgia shows an ethnic group in what is now Gordon County, GA that is labeled by its Muskogee or Cherokee name of Satilekoa-gi.  This is a hybrid word, which means “Satile People – People.”  Over time this word was misspelled by English-speaking mapmakers to Salicoa.   Within this province in the 19th century were found two crosses, which were mistakenly labeled as being 16th century crosses given to Indians by De Soto, but as an earlier POOF article pointed out, these are French Protestant crosses.  To read this article, go to Coosawattee Crosses.

Along the headwaters of Salicoa Creek are numerous gem deposits.  They were pushed upward from the bowels of the earth by the Cartersville Fault.  In fact, one can see the ruins of old commercial gem mines while driving along US 411 in the Salicoa Creek Valley.  This WOULD have been a locale, which would have been very interesting to the French Huguenots.  Keep in mind that there were at least a dozen or more Frenchmen out exploring, when Fort Caroline was massacred.  The Spanish offered bounties for their capture, but Georgia’s Indians REALLY were not too fond of the Spanish after the De Soto Expedition.

The archaeological record of the Coosawattee River, Oostanaula River and Salicoa Creek Basins tell an interesting story.  Archaeologists in the 1970s discovered that all of the major towns and many of the villages in Northwest Georgia were suddenly abandoned in the late 16th century . . . probably somewhere between 1585 and 1600s.  Even though some villages showed evidence of extreme violence . . . unburied skeletons chopped up with steel weapons . . . this sudden ethnic cleansing was interpreted as being the result of European plagues.   

Afterward, the Chickasaw occupied the region north of the Oostanaula and Coosawattee Rivers, while a unspecified tribe, making Lamar style pottery typical of the Georgia Coast, occupied the region south of those rivers.   The capital town of Ustanauli relocated to an ancient town site in a horseshoe bend, two miles north of present day New Echota.  The Oostanaula River gets its name from this Muskogean town.  Geologists radiocarbon dated the support timbers of an ancient gold mine, northwest of Ustanauli at the base of Fort Mountain.  The construction date of this European mine came in at about 1600 AD. 

In the mid-1700s there were still Jewish and mixed Chickasaw-Jewish families living in Ustanauli.  Indian trader, James Adair, married one of their daughters.  There was also a family with the French name of D’Arc.    When Northwest Georgia was given to the Cherokees in 1785,  the D’Arc Family moved southward into territory that was still Creek.  Place names in West Georgia and East Alabama with “Dark” in their wording, are associated with this family.

Current situation

Until more comprehensive archaeological work can be done in Northeast Alabama and Northwest Georgia,  we will never know for certain what happened between 1560, when the region was visited by members of the De Luna Expedition and 1796, when the State of Georgia began serious mapping of the region.  However, the evidence is overwhelming that an alliance of former powerful provinces on the Georgia Coast with French Protestant and Sephardic mercenaries brought down the Province of Kusa in the late 1500s then settled in the region to exploit its resources.

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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.

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