The Mayas in Mississippi

by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner

This brilliant linguist also found evidence of close encounters in Louisiana and Alabama!

It was about a month before the Maya New Year and the end of the old Maya calendar cycle. It was also a month before the premier of America Unearthed.  The History Channels ads said that the program was going to examine the evidence of the Mayas visiting and later settling in Georgia after the collapse of their civilization.  The ads never told the public that the Creek Indians carry several types of Mesoamerican DNA, including Maya . . . and that many words on the maps of the Southeastern United States today are Itza Maya words. 

For unknown reasons, America Unearthed never did tell the viewers that extremely significant information.  It was in the 95% of my interview that was left out of the program.

Your tax money at work

Meanwhile, employees of the Gainesville, GA and Atlanta regional offices of the US Forest Service had worked themselves up into a frenzy.  In the 1905 Act of Congress that created the US Forestry Service, out nation’s leaders had issued a prime directive to the agency.  It was to keep the heresy of direct contacts between Mesoamerica and North America away from the vulnerable eyes of the American citizens.  If they had any time or money left over from this noble responsibility, they were to hire bigtime donors to the Party from out of state to maintain a few of the roads in the national forests.  If the staff felt like it, every ten years they could sell ten acres of timber from the national forests.

Since March 1, 2012 about a dozen USFS staffers devoted their lives to stopping an abomination. Normally, USFS bureaucrats spend most of their time at conferences or announcing awards to each other for outstanding work done at conferences.  However, these noble citizens unselfishly gave up most of their trips to Cancun, DC, Miami, Finland and Hawaii to stop the monster.  Many, many thousands of dollars were devoted to this cause.  They created a special Maya Myth Busting in the Mountains website, although few of them had a clue about who the Mayas really were.  They funded the speeches by fossilized Georgia archaeologists to speak at important meetings such as the Peachtree Hills Garden Club of Atlanta or the Plum Nelly, Jawja Historical Society.  They made sure that complete accounts of these lectures appeared prominently in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  They organized and prepped the anthropology faculty at the University of Georgia in anticipation of their after-show criticisms of the TV program. That didn’t occur because the profs didn’t anticipate one of the leading archaeologists in Mexico agreeing with me.   Then the unthinkable happened.

The horror of it all!

Would you believe that I was offered a football scholarship to the University of Kansas?  However, I had always dreamed of being a Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech . . . but Tech wouldn’t offer scholarships to architecture students, because our classes ran from 8 in the morning to 6 in the evening.  How different my life’s journey might have been.

David Kaufman, a candidate for a doctorate in anthropology and linguistics at the University of Kansas, gave a lecture on November 2, 2012 where he described shared or similar words in the Choctaw language of Mississippi and Totonac language of Veracruz State, Mexico. The title of his lecture was “Possible Language Evidence of Gulf Maritime Trade Between Mesoamerica and Eastern North America. (A preliminary study.)“

He also found some shared or similar words in the Chitimacha language of Louisiana. Kaufman then presented evidence of this linguistic connection between the Totonacs and Maya and various tribes in the Southeastern United States. However, Kaufman did not realize that the direct connection was actually with the Itza Mayas, who had borrowed Totonac words, while under their lordship from 200 AD to 600 AD.  Nevertheless, he had some powerful evidence of close encounters of a third kind.

For instance, the Totonac word for “maize (corn)” was kuxi. (The ‘x’ represents a sound similar to ‘sh’ in English.) This was similar to the word for maize in several Southeastern U.S. languages. In Caddo the word for “maize” was kisi and among the Catawba it was kus. The Totonac word for “corn sprout” was chaxa. In Alabama/Koasati the word for “corn sprout” was chassi and in Alabama chasha-lokba referred to an “old type of corn.” In the Mobilian Trade Language the word was chashe and in Chitimacha it was chasa. In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, the word for “corn” was xilo. In Cheroke it was selu. In Mayan the word for “corn tassle” was tz’utuj. In Atakapa tso’ ots meant “corn seed.”

Words related to corn were not the only borrowings. In Mayan, chompati meant to “buy to resell.” In both the Mobilian Trade Language and Choctaw chompa meant to “buy.” In Mayan b’ul meant “bean.” Bala meant “bean” in the Mobilian Trade Language and Choctaw. In Mayan t’e meant “wood/tree” and in Atakapa te meant “bow.”

In Totonac, tamaw(an) meant “place to buy/plaza.” In the Mobilian Trade Language, Choctaw and Chickasaw, tamaha meant “town.” In Totonac chiki meant “house” and chiki also meant “house” in Itsate (Hitchiti) Creek, but “sit-settled” in Alabama.  Kaufman went on to make comparisons between the Totonac site of El Tajin in Veracruz, Mexico and the Bottle Creek Mounds site in Alabama. 

Normally, very few people at the University of Kansas would have known about Kaufman’s lecture, but this was the end of the Maya calendar and anything “Maya” drew viewers and readers in the national media.  Therefore, the student newspaper, the University Daily Kansan, did an article about Kaufman’s lecture, because it mentioned the Mayas.  Then, the Lawrence, Kansas newspaper and then the major newspapers in Kansas picked up the article.  Within a few days, copycat articles on Kaufman’s lecture had gone all over the world.  Fossilized Jawja archaeologists jest kan’t get no respect!

The Ode to Billy Joe

Actually, there are many more Itza words in the Itsate Creek language.  In fact, the name that most Georgia Creeks called themselves, Itsate, was what the Itza Maya called themselves.  However, there is more.   Almost anybody in the United States is aware that the suffix “hatchee” is all over the Southeast’s landscape and they know that it has something to do with a river.  Well, yes it does.

Haw is the Itsate (Hitchiti) and Itza Maya word for a large river, while hatche is the Itsate (Hitchiti) and Itza Maya word for a small river or a creek.  Now the Muskogee Creeks were always a little obstinate, so they use hatche for both rivers and creeks, but you get the gist.  

The Tala that you see in a lot of Dixie place names is derived from the Itza Maya and Itsate word for town, tula.  Tula is also the Totonac word for town.  Just read a couple of hours ago that Chickasaw County, Mississippi has a river in it that is called the Tallahatchie, but used to be called the Tulahatchee.  Shezam!   It’s anybody’s guess what the Itza Mayas were doing in Chickasaw County, but now . . . after all these years, we know what in 1967, Miss Bobbie Gentry’s boyfriend, Billy Joe McAllister, was throwing off the Tallahatchie Bridge. It was an Itza Maya dictionary.

Now all you Creek brothers and sisters in the congregation shout . . .


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