Coming . . . a Scientific Etymology of Native American Words in the Southeastern United States

by Richard L. Thornton, Architect & City Planner

The image above is a sketch of one of the two stone tablets in front of Roanoke Colony survivor, Eleanor Dare’s tomb in the Nacoochee Valley. It is a sample of the Apalache-Creek writing system, which we are still trying to reconstruct. The other tablet was engraved in Elizabethan English words and can be viewed today at Brenau University in Gainesville, GA. Both tablets were discovered by the famous archaeologist, Robert Wauchope, in 1939. Soon after discovering the tablets, Wauchope was lured from the University of Georgia to a prestigious position at the University of North Carolina in order to keep the world from knowing his close ties to the “Dare Stones.”

Be careful when trying to equate the words of the Americas to those elsewhere. If you are merely trying to prove that you are right, you can quickly arrive in lala land.

I started out with this example of a little-known example of indigenous American writing to point out how culturally detached the “Native American” words on the landscape of the Southeast today are from the original words, spoken by the people, who greeted the first European explorers in the 1500s and 1600s.  French, Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch explorers struggled to symbolize with their particular alphabets, the sounds coming out of indigenous mouths . . . and there were hundreds, if not thousands of indigenous American languages.

The situation in the 1500s and early 1600s was even more complex for explorers from the Iberian Peninsula. There were at least 15 distinct languages in Iberia. Each associated s different Roman letter to some sounds.  Some sounds had absolutely no equivalent in Spain or Portugal.  That is the reason for the confusingly different spellings for many Native towns by the various chroniclers of the Hernando de Soto Expedition.

The best example of Spanish phonetic confusion is the Muskogean “ÄW” sound, which is symbolized by a “V” in the Creek Indian. Also, to this day, Spanish only uses a K, when replicating a word from a foreign language.  Mexican scholars used the letter AA to symbolize Muskogean V sound in Maya words. So in the De Soto Chronicles, we see the Itsate Creek tribe, written as Okvte (Water People) in the Creek languages, recorded as Ocute, Ocaate and Ocote by the Spanish.

The name of the great town of Coosa (American English spelling) causes great confusion among American anthropologists. It is written as Kvse in Creek and pronounced Käw : shĕ.  Sixteenth century Iberian explorers spelled the word Coça, Cosa or Coza.  The French spelled the word, Cousha.  The British spelled the word Cusha.  The Dutch and German maps spelled the word Kößa.  The English alphabet version of the Cherokee word for them is Kusa, but pronounced Kü : shä. Most Gringo anthropologists do not know that the Muskogee-Creeks and Cherokees pronounce S like SH, so they pronounce the word like the spelling of the river, Coosa. Other branches of the Creeks have at least three S sounds like the Mayas.

Coosa can actually be a Mesoamerican word meaning “Descendants of the Eagle” or a Panoan (Peru) word meaning “strong or elite.”   Cusabo, a South Carolina tribal alliance is definitely a pure Panoan word, meaning “”Strong, place of.”   There is actually a Panoan tribe in Peru named the Kaushebo.

Where non-Native American scholars really get into trouble

I have found definite linguistic connections between some words in some languages in the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.  However, one cannot take an Anglicized Native American word on a map of the United States and play “mind games” with it.  You have to know the history of both peoples and the way they pronounced words before even beginning to start making connections.  In the past, most scholars did not do this. They would start out with a theory and then try to prove it. Subconsciously, they ignored any evidence that conflicted with their theory, because their primary objective was trying to prove that they were right! Honestly, I have no theories and thus am constantly surprised by discoveries I make, whether in architectural or linguistic research.

For example, about a century ago, a history professor in Michigan decided that the Indians in his state were descended from the Vikings.  Since there was a city in Michigan named Muskegon, Michigan and that sounded like Muskogee, the Creek Indians were obviously from Michigan, but were originally Vikings.  He then danced across the maps of Alabama and Georgia and equated many town and river names to Gamla Norska (Old Norse) words. 

A contemporary anthropologist (with a Swedish last name) from Minnesota took this turn-of-the-century Michigan scholar’s statements about the Muskogee-Creek language as fact then threw in the fact the skeletons at Etowah Mounds were tall then decided that the people of Etowah Mounds were led by Viking kings.  She then sent me a list of Viking kings, who ruled Etowah Mounds.  I wrote back with notes, where she had misspelled or mistranslated Swedish words. She was shocked.  Ignorant mestizos from Dixie were not supposed to have “higher knowledge.”

Well, the problem is that the actual Creek word is Mvskoke and it means “Herb People.”  Jag taler Svenska!  “Herb People” in both Gamla Norska and Svenska is “Läka folket!”   There is no similarity.  

Mysteriously, the situation it is not a simple as refuting some Midwestern scholars, who went into Lala Land.  The Irish Gaels, Scottish Gaels, Muskogee Creeks, Algonquians, Shawnee, Cherokee and Peruvian Arawaks use the same phonetic sound in a suffix (written ge or ke), which means “people or tribe.”  Something was “going on” way back when.

THEN . . . we have the fact that proof has been found of Scandinavian colonies in North America. Few people seem to remember that during the first few days of their arrival on Cape Cod, the pilgrims unearthed a skeleton with blond hair. The log map of Verrazano’s 1524 voyage along the South Atlantic Coast notes two towns with Scandinavian names. Thus, some Iron Age or Medieval Period Scandinavians may have settled on the Atlantic Seaboard of North America, but they did not significantly affect the cultural traits of the region. Linguistic evidence suggests that the presence of some proto-Scandinavian loan words in the Southeastern United States and Peru arrived during the Bronze Age, when modern Germanic Scandinavians were not living in Scandinavia.

Oh, Midwestern scholars don’t have a monopoly on delusional history.  For well over a decade, there are several “American Islamic History” websites that state as fact the Creeks were good Muslims, who were forcibly converted to Christianity by the British military.  The British burned all the mosques atop Creek mounds and then American archaeologists concealed the evidence. Didn’t you know that?

The proof that these Islamic scholars offer is that Muskogee is a British corruption of the word, mosque.  However, the most important proof is that the holy symbol of Islam, the Crescent and Star, was on the battle flags of Creek and Seminole Mounted Rifle units in the American Civil War. 

Mosque is from Late Middle English: from French mosquée, via Italian and Spanish from the Egyptian Arabic word, masgid.  The actual Creek ethnic name is Mvskoke and the ke suffix means “tribe or people.”

As for the “Crescent and Star,” these scholars need to learn their own history.  The Crescent and Star appeared on the battle flags of the armies of Christian Byzantium for many centuries before being adopted by the Turks, when they conquered the City of Byzantium (Constantinople) in 1453 AD.  The use of the logo on the tops of mosque domes then spread from Turkey to the rest of the Middle East.   The Star and Crescent logo itself originated in ancient Babylon.  They symbolized the Moon God and Venus goddess. 

The Crescent and Star logo was adopted by the Confederate Department of the Trans-Mississippi from the seal of the City of New Orleans, when it was headquartered in New Orleans.  The Seminole and Creek cavalrymen were merely carrying the battle flag of their branch of the Confederate Army.

Needed . . . an authoritative Southeastern Native American glossary

The other day I was looking at articles, published in the literature of respected historical or anthropological societies in the states of the Lower Southeast.  All of the articles or booklets were published in the Late 20th century, but referenced the professional papers of academicians in the 1800s and early 1900s. Virtually all the word meanings in the Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina versions were wrong.  North Carolina couldn’t even get most of the meanings of Cherokee words right! Alabama got most of the Muskogee words right, but was wrong on all the other words.  Florida was correct on the meaning of most Seminole words, but everything else was wrong.

Something needs to be done about this, because archaeological papers in the Southeast continue to misinterpret Native American archaeological sites because they are relying on the bogus meanings of indigenous place names. If one is digging up a Native American town named Koweta, one is not discovering the oldest known Cherokee town.  It was Creek and can’t be anything other than Creek.  However, the archaeologists get away with cultural kornfuzion by quoting some noted authority figure in their profession, rather than an actual Native American language dictionary.

I will be minimizing the production of articles on The Americas Revealed for a few weeks to remedy the problem by creating and publishing an etymological glossary of Native American place and town names, based solely on official dictionaries, not the speculations of academicians in the past.  The booklet will be inexpensive, being quality-printed and marketed internationally by my publisher, Lulu Publishing of Cary, NC.  Lulu also has printing plants scattered around the globe.

I will be very frank with you.  This effort will not be a conservative regression to orthodoxy.  I have identified many Southeastern Native American words which mean the same as words in other parts of the globe.  For example, the Panoan, South Carolina and Georgia Coastal suffix, bo, has the same meaning as the Scandinavian suffix, bo.   I have already mentioned that the Gaelic suffix, ge, can be found in many American indigenous languages.

This booklet will not try to explain the similarity of words in several languages on both sides of the Atlantic, but will merely state them as facts.  A massive amount of multi-disciplinary research will be required to discern when the connection occurred and how it occurred.

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