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Where did the Chickasaws originate?

Where did the Chickasaws originate?


A Choctaw couple from Mississippi . . . on their honeymoon in Helen, GA . . . asked me that question last week.  They recognized me in the Helen Ace Hardware, while I was buying picture hangers.  We chatted for awhile in the parking lot then went out for lunch at a nearby restaurant.  I am probably going to meet my third soulmate in a hardware store, Home Depot, Lowes or Walmart.  LOL

Well, it is very obvious that the tradition of the Chickasaw and Choctaw were formerly one people is true.  Their languages are very close.  The only differing words come from the Chickasaw’s close relationship with the Itsate in North Georgia and Southeast Tennessee.  According to the Chickasaw Cultural Historic Preservation Office,  the ancestors of the Chickasaw broke away from the Choctaw then began heading in the direction of the rising sun until they reached the Savannah River.  Some Chickasaw villages were even in northwestern South Carolina. After learning the advanced agricultural skills of the Itsate in the Nacoochee Valley, where I now live, the Chickasaw spread all over the interior of the Southeast.  Even as late as the mid-1700s there were Chickasaw villages as far north as Paducah, Kentucky on the Ohio River and Chickasawhatchee Creek in Southwest Georgia.  By then their capital had moved to the Tennessee River at present day Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

The Eastwood Town Site was excavated by archaeologist Robert Wauchope in 1939.  It is the oldest known site with Chickasaw cultural traits.


Reconstructed Chickasaw houses in Oklahoma

The South Carolina archaeologists, who excavated the Late Woodland Period Simpson’s Field Site, had no clue that all its cultural traits were identical to that of the Chickasaw Mother Town in the Nacoochee Valley next to the Kenimer Mound.  They speculated on its ethnicity, but never considered the Chickasaw . . . since like most South Carolina and Georgia academicians, they did not know that the Chickasaw had a substantial presence in Georgia.  What few people in Anderson County, SC that are even aware of the town site describe it as “the oldest known Cherokee town site in South Carolina.”  Well, shucks . . . they were Injuns, so they must of been Charakeys!

It is highly probable that the Chickasaw initially spread across the landscape of the Southeast around 1000 AD, paired with the Itsate as their elite.   The paired towns on the Harpeth River in north central Tennessee are evidence of this.  They are called Mound Bottom and the Pack Site.  Again . . . Tennessee archaeologists don’t have a clue that Mound Bottoms contains Itza style corner door houses and mounds, while the Pack Site strongly resembles a proto-Chickasaw town site on Chickamauaga Creek north of the present day village of Sautee in the Nacoochee Valley.   This Nacoochee Valley town was younger than the Eastwood Site, but older than the Pack Site.

It is also highly probable that the Fort Ancient Culture in southern Ohio was Chickasaw.   Again,  Ohio archaeologists don’t have a clue that the Chickasaw were still living just across the Ohio River from them in the 1700s and that the Chickasaw villages and architecture were identical to Fort Ancient villages.  The Fort Ancient Culture introduced corn agriculture to the Ohio River Basin around 1000 AD.   Chickasaw houses were oval with off-centered doors.  So where Fort Ancient houses.  Chickasaw villages had large oval plazas.  So did Fort Ancient villages.   It is currently believed that the Great Serpent Mound was constructed by the Fort Ancient Culture.  The Itza Mayas worshiped the Sky Serpent God. 

Note the similarity of this Fort Ancient Culture village to the Eastwood Town Site in the Nacoochee Valley.  The Eastwood site is 400 years older.

Original members of the People of One Fire (Creek Confederacy)

The original copy of the Kaushete (Creek) Migration Legend that I found at Lambeth Palace in 2015 clearly stated that the original People of One Fire was formed by the Alabamu (South AL), Chickasaw (N. AL and N. Georgia), Kaushete (SE TN) and Apike (NE TN).   Several Chickasaws were quite upset by this information, when I announced it in a POOF newsletter.  However, there is little doubt about it.  Within the wooden box containing the Migration Legends were also several early colonial documents from Savannah, which repeatedly stated that the Chickasaw were also originally members of the final Creek Confederacy, which was formed in 1717 at Ocmulgee National Monument.

The colonial officials stated that the Chickasaws dropped out about three years later over the issue of requiring all delegates to the national council to speak the language of the towns of Coweta and Tuckabatchee . . . which we now call Muskogee-Creek.   Coweta wanted to declare war against the Chickasaw because they seceded, but the Upper Creeks vetoed the proposal and remained close friends with the Chickasaw.

Both the original migration legend and Georgia Colonial Secretary, Thomas Christie,  specifically stated that the Upper Creeks and Chickasaws typically built their towns side by side.   This would explain the twin towns at Mound Bottom.   It would also explain the common appearance of “Dallas Culture” and “Mouse Creek” Culture villages side-by-side in the Upper Tennessee Valley.  The Mouse Creek Culture was NOT Uchee, as presumed by University of Tennessee anthropology professors, but CHICKASAW.

According to Choctaw Tradition, their culture began here at Nanih-Waiyah in Mississippi.

Ancient origin in Tamaulipas

Like all Muskogean Peoples, the Choctaw and Chickasaw carry Mesoamerican-type DNA and have almost uniformly O+ blood.   However, the Choctaw’s presence in Louisiana and Mississippi can be traced back a long, long time . . . at least to the Early Woodland Period.   The traditional birthplace of Choctaw Culture was at the Nanih-Waiya Mound.   No archaeological evidence has been found that refutes that tradition.  However, many Choctaw, Chickasaw and Creek migration legends begin with their ancestors living in caves . . . then coming out of the caves and journeying eastward, where they learned agriculture.

Between 2006 and 2012, Mexican archaeologists discovered almost 5,000 cave paintings in the Sierra de Los Carlos Mountains of central Tamaulipas . . . a state on the northeastern tip of Mexico.  These discoveries jogged their professional memories that there had been an indigenous people in Tamaulipas, living there long before the Tamauli-Maya traders, who gave the state its name.  This aboriginal people were cave dwellers, but had a sophisticated culture otherwise.  Many of the cave paintings are sophisticated portrayals of the constellations in the night time sky . . . looking quite similar to the Suta Kura (Judaculla) petroglyphic boulder in western North Carolina.  They were also  fierce and cunning warriors.  For almost 250 years, the Spanish were unable to control their migratory lifestyle.   Then in 1750, government officials in Mexico City offered a 25 peso bounty for each San Carlos scalp or head.   This people was quickly made extinct without their culture being fully documented.

The new evidence suggests that the Choctaw began as bands of Sierra de San Carlos nomads, who left their desert caves then traveled northeastward to the fertile basin of the Lower Mississippi River. When they did this is a question that has not been answered.  

This is one of thousands of cave paintings, found in the Sierra de San Carlos Mountains of NE Mexico. 


The 1968 song, “Harper Valley PTA” was originally entitled “The Harpeth Valley PTA.”   A decade later, the song became a very funny movie by the same name, starring Barbara Eden (I Dream of Jeannie) and Ronnie Cox (Deliverance).

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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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