by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner
One Summer In Mexico ~ Part 73
Mexican anthropologists NEVER bought into the “Clovis First-Bering Land Bridge” theory for the peopling of the Americas, even as several generations of North American students were being brain-washed into believing that there was no other explanation or even evidence for an alternative explanation. Beginning in the 1960s, the movements of peoples long distances across the Americas has been a basic assumption among Mexican academicians for explaining the development of multiple civilizations in Mesoamerica. Prior to an article, which dives into a highly speculative discussion of the Totonac’s origins, we will acquaint readers with an overview of Mexico’s cultural history.
Long, long ago, when I was a college student during the Stone Age, the internationally famous Mexican archaeologist, Román Piña Chán, told me that that the first humans in Mexico were Proto-Polynesians and that he thought they arrived much earlier than what the Gringo academicians were then saying [10,000 BC]. Recent construction of a new international airport for Mexico City has revealed extensive geological evidence (no skeletons) that humans were hunting mammoths at that location as early as 30,000 BC. Over the past two decades, there have been several other archaeological sites in central and southern Mexico, which also suggested occupation dates of 20,000-30,000 BC.
Of course, North American paleontologists will continue to diss these Mexican dates until there is a similar find in the United States. It happened with the Pre-Clovis/Early Clovis Topper Site on the Savannah River in the US. The same Texas academicians, who ridiculed the supervising archaeologist, Al Goodyear and questioned the credibility of the radiocarbon dates at the Topper Site, re-branded themselves as experts on pre-Clovis cultures, after finding artifacts of similar age in Texas.
Many indigenous tribes in Mexico
I find that most North Americans can name only two or three indigenous tribes in Mexico – Maya, “Aztec” and possibly Zapotec. Actually . . . there are around 138 federally recognized tribes in Mexico . . . speaking 63 distinct languages and over 300 dialects. The real Mayas did not arrive in northern Yucatan until around 1000 AD. Their home province was in southern Florida. Miami means “Mia (Maya)- principal place.” The other peoples, which we call Mayas today, never used that ethnic label until given to them by the Spanish.
The Mexica (Aztecs) did not settle in the Valley of Mexico until 1248 AD! They were some of the latest arrivals of the Nahua Peoples, who originally lived far to the north. Some Nahua bands reached southern Veracruz around 1000 AD or perhaps a little later. They were very aggressive militarily and had this bad habit of eating their captives, after they were “sacrificed” to their gods. The survivors of Nahua invasions often often migrated long distances to avoid contacts with them in the future.
One of the oldest and largest indigenous ethnic groups in Mexico is the Otomi. Over 300,000 people speak Otomi as their first language. There are, perhaps 5-10 million people in Mexico with significant Otomi heritage. The Otomi were one of the largest ethnic groups at Teotihuacan . . . but how many readers have even heard of them? The Otomi Nation maintains a very interesting English language website to explain their ancient cultural heritage to North Americans and Europeans. Its URL is Otomi.org.
Mexican anthropologists have long suspected that the present day Otomi were the descendants the first people to build permanent villages in the Central Highlands. The Otomi claim that they are the descendants of the first humans to occupy central Mexico, northeastern Mexico and the western Gulf Coast region of the United States. That latter region is, of course, where the Choctaw and Chickasaw believe they originated. The Otomi Nation website states that they arrived in Mexico around 30,000 BC, but they have no cultural memory of where they came from or how they got there.
Because they are an ancient people, there is no one Otomi language or even name for the Otomi. Otomi, itself is their Aztec and Spanish name. Some of the names used by their branches are Hñähñú, Hñähño, Hñotho, Hñähü, Hñätho, Yųhų, Yųhmų, Ñųhų, Ñǫthǫ or Ñañhų. Many of the Otomi dialects are mutually unintelligible. There are also several smaller tribes, which Mexican anthropologists suspect lost contact with the main body so many thousands of years ago that their languages have evolved into distinctly different languages. Thus, it is quite possible that Choctaw was originally an Otomi language.
The same original language or not . . . there is no doubt of a cultural connection between the peoples of the Lower Mississippi Basin and the Otomi. Their architecture was almost identical from around 2000 BC until around 1000 AD, when some, but not all, ancestors of the Choctaw began constructing rectangular earthen pyramids similar to those of southern Mexico.
What one can learn from an old photograph
The photo at the left top of the article was made of a Huechol village in the State of Jalisco, which is north of Mexico City. The photo on the right is a model of the town of Tuckabatchee (actually Tokvpasi) based on the drawings of William Bartram, who visited there twice in 1776. At that time, Tuckabachee had just moved to the banks of the Chattahoochee River, where Six Flags Over Georgia is now.
The lay-outs of the towns and villages of the Tuckabatchee and Okfuskee Creeks were different than those of the Muskogee, Itsate, Apalachicola and Upper Creeks. Tuckabatchee and Okfuskee choko-rakkos (communal rotundas) were placed on the corner of a diamond-shaped plaza. The architectural connection between this branch of the Huechol and Tuckabatchee is obvious.
- Muskogee and Apalachicola plazas were square . . . with a rotunda on one side and the temple on the opposite side.
- Lowland Itsate towns had long plazas, flanked on three sides by low mounds, with a rotunda on the eastern end. Their principal temple faced southward. Identical town plans can be found in southern Veracruz and Tabasco.
- Okate and Kaweta towns had asymmetrical plazas with the principal five-sided mounded facing the Winter Solstice Sunset. The same type pentagonal mounds and town plans can be found among the Kekchi Mayas of southeastern Guatemala and western Belize.
- The real Apalache in northeast Georgia built asymmetrical towns which stretched along the shoals of rivers as long as three miles. Their plazas were oval in shape.
- The Highland Itsate and Cusate towns had oval plazas and oval mounds. The earthen and stone pyramids at Uxmal and in eastern Campeche were oval. If readers recall my article on eastern Campeche, Ana the Tour Guide and I discovered an ancient Campeche Maya village, still occupied, in which the oval houses faced an oval plaza, aligned to the Winter Solstice Sunrise. On the southwest and northeast apexes of the oval were low mounds. These mounds now were platforms for a communal building and a Catholic church, respectively. https://apalacheresearch.com/2021/03/27/xoculoc-a-mayan-mayberry-in-the-jungles-of-eastern-campeche/
- Both in Mexico and northeast Georgia, the Soque sculpted their earthen pyramids from tall hills. Their town plans were asymmetrical with principal temples faced south.
- The fact that Tuckabatchee was located in Georgia during the late 18th century has been completely missed by almost all academicians in the Southeast. Their problem is that they invariably copy what a previous academician has written, rather than fact-checking them, as I do. The relocation of this powerful Creek tribal town is documented both on maps and in numerous contemporary texts.
Here is a fact that the “Bering Land Bridge” faction do not consider. No indigenous tribe in the Southeastern United States or Mexico, other than the Nahua (eg. Aztecs) have a cultural memory of ever living in western Canada. The Nahua were the last indigenous people to enter Mexico. Below are some migration legends (or lack thereof) in Mexico and the Southeastern United States. Note that some begin on the other side of the Atlantic!
Otomi – No migration legend
Mayas – This includes both the real Mayas from southern Florida and most of the other tribes, labeled Maya, except those in the Highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala and the Chontal Mayas of the Tabasco Coastal Plain. The Lowland Maya tribes believed that they had originated far to the north in a land of ice and snow. They were being persecuted and eaten by giants and so they began migrating southward along the Atlantic Coast of North America, until they reached the Yucatan Peninsula, where there were no giants and no snow. The original Maya writing system contained symbols found on petroglyphs on the Baltic Coast of Sweden, which have been dated to 2000 BC. These same symbols can be found on several petroglyphic boulders in the Northeast Georgia Mountains.
Itza and other Highland Mayas – They believed that they had originated in South American during ancient times. Their priests spoke a language entirely different than the Maya languages.
Chontal or Cho’i-te Maya – They arrived by canoe at the tidal marshes of Tabasco from somewhere to the east or south.
Totonac – Their original name meant “people from the home of the sun,” but has been lost. This is the same translation of the original name of the Uchee in Georgia. In other words, they originated on the east side of the Atlantic Ocean and arrived on the Gulf Coast of Mexico by boat.
Soque or Zoque – They arrived on the Gulf Coast of Mexico via 12 flotillas of large canoes from an unspecified land or island to the east. Their name is pronounced Zjō – kē. The name is archaic Scandinavian and means “Sea People.”
Tesquita – No migration legend. Their traditions merely say that they came out of the ground (living in caves) in their homeland in the mountains of western Veracruz then began to grow crops. The Kaushete Migration Legend (aka Creek Migration Legend) says the same thing.
Purepeche (Tarascans) – They migrated northward by canoe from northwestern South America.
Baja Californians – These peoples are now extinct, but they were definitely skilled mariners and Polynesians. All of the “Indian” tribes from Los Angeles southward, were really Polynesians.
Zapotec – Their name for themselves was Be’ena’a, which means “Cloud People.” Their migration legend originates in the Andes Mountains of South America.
Mexica (Aztecs) – They originated on a great lake far to the north, where the climate was much colder.
Creek Homeland in the Southeastern United States
Uchee – Uchee is an Anglicization of Ue-si, which means “Water-descendants of” in Muskogee. The Itsate Creeks called the Oka-te – which means the same thing. The Uchee told leaders in Savannah that they originated on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in the home of the Sun. Their boats had initially landed at the mouth of the Savannah River. There were no other peoples living in the Southeast at that time, but shell rings, shell mounds and earthen mounds had been built by an earlier people. From Savannah they spread across much of the Southeastern United States. The Uchees called themselves Tsoyaha, which means “Children of the Sun”
Highland Apalache – Their name means “From Upper Amazon Basin – Descendants of” in the Panoan language of Peru. Their migration legend stated that their Panoan ancestors originated from the south then crossed the “Great Water” and then founded a town, where Savannah, GA is today. Panoans, who established villages on Lake Tama (a former lake at the confluence of the Ocmulgee and Oconee Rivers) coalesced into a distinct tribe, who gradually moved their capital northward until it was last located in the Nacoochee Valley in Northeast Georgia.
Highland Itsate Creeks – They crossed the Gulf of Mexico then paddled up the Chattahoochee River then settled in the mountains of Georgia and western North Carolina.
Piedmont Itsate Creeks – They crossed the Gulf of Mexico to first settle near Lake Okeechobee. They then migrated norward to a marshy wetland area. They then settled in Savannah at a great town, which had been erected by Apalache (the real Apalache). They eventually settled on the Ocmulgee River, where Macon is today.
Kaushete Creeks (Upper Creeks) – This is from the famous Creek Migration Legend, but is actually the story of one band of Kusate (Upper Creeks) who left Tennessee during a drought then traveled to western North Carolina then North Georgia, where they became vassals of the Highland Apalache. Their original name has been lost, but where they lived in Mexico was occupied by either Tesketa Toltecs, Otomi or Soque.
Their migration legend begins on the slopes of the Mount Orizaba volcano in southwestern Veracruz State, Mexico. After being persecuted by more powerful peoples they migrated on the Great White Path, which took them along the edge of the Gulf of Mexico to the land of the Choctaw. From there, they eventually migrated eastward until they were allowed to settle in the province ruled by the great town of Kaushe (Coosa).
Tallasee Creeks – They were descendants of the first occupants of Etula (Etowah Mounds). Their ancestors came from across the Great Water from Mexico.
Muskogee Creeks – No migration legend. Unbeknown to Muskogee scholars, their language is a baffling synthesis of many languages from both sides of the Atlantic. It appears to have started with a band of Chickasaws, who were exposed to many other peoples. However, an astonishing number of Muskogee words are Indo-European in origin – from Gallic (France), Latin, Gaelic (Ireland/Scotland) or southern Sweden. It also contains Panoan words, like the word for Yaupon Holly and Yaupon Tea – ase’ .
There are 6 ½ pages of words, whose root is the Latin word for water, aqua. However, the Muskogee word for water comes from Atlantic Maritime Gallic, but their suffix word for “people or tribe” is modern day Gaelic from Ireland. On the other hand, the Muskogee word for doctor or healer is Archaic Anglisk – the language spoken in southern Scandinavia by the ancestors of the English. There is obviously much that we don’t know about the Pre-Columbian history of the Muskogee.