The Indigenous Agriculture of the Americas . . . chickens

Part One of the Series

Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner

I am a proud descendant of Uchee & Creek Master Farmers

The Americas Revealed compared competing explanations for the presence of a unique chicken breed in the Andes Mountains of South America. Were they carried by Native Americans from Asia, introduced by Spanish colonists, introduced by Polynesian mariners or introduced by colonists from Israel? Did you know that plump Araucana chickens were crossed with scrawny medieval breeds in Italy and France to produce the modern commercial breeds, such as the Leghorn?

Unless they are serious poultry breeders, most North Americans and Europeans are not aware that the indigenous peoples of western South America and the Creek Indians in Georgia raised chickens prior to the arrival of Spanish and French explorers in the 1500s.  Most North American anthropology textbooks tell the reader that there were no chickens in the Americas, until the arrival of the Spanish.  Archaeologists in the Southeastern United States use the presence of chicken bones to date archaeological sites, before or after Spanish colonization.

Only in the Andean countries, does one find information, approaching the full truth of this matter in the anthropology textbooks.  Chickens and their eggs were the most important source of animal protein for commoners in the Highlands of the Inca Empire, when the Pizzaro Expedition invaded their land.  They were also a nutritional mainstay for peoples in Amazon Headwaters region and in northern/central Chile.

In the nations of the Andes, the primary indigenous chicken is called the Araucana by Spanish speakers.  It is named after the Arauca Peninsula in Chile.  There were three original varieties of the Araucana . . . The Collonca is a rumpless bird that has no ear tufts and lays blue eggs.  The Quetros chicken lays brown eggs but has ear tufts.   The Totolo or Pará chickens on the east side of the Andes have tails and no tufts,  but have a physique more like that of a wild bird . . . for example, a pheasant.  Some actually resemble a pheasant.  In North America, the traits of the Quetros, Collonca and Totolo have been mixed by cross-breeding.

The Araucana is not unique just because of their blue or brown egg color. They also have unique physical characteristics that many popular breeds lack. For one, they have an upright stance, and resemble some species of wild game birds. Their back slopes toward their bottom half

1. Tufts – Tufts are the comical feathers that protrude from the Quetros Araucana’s cheeks. They grow under a fold of skin under their ears and might stick out like a gentleman’s handlebar mustache. These tufts usually come in two (one on each side) but not always. They may also take on personalities of their own by growing every which way possible. One thing is for sure though, they add a ton of character to your Araucana’s appearance. Several indigenous American gamebirds, such as the Ruffled Grouse also have tufts.  This suggests that the indigenous American chicken is a result of selective breeding and crossing with a indigenous bird, closely related to it.

2. Tail-less  – This trait of the Collonca Araucana means that they lack the long tail-feathers that other breeds of chickens have. This characteristic also contributes to the appearance of the Araucana’s upright posture.

3. Pea combs  – These are combs that lay closer to the head of the chicken, unlike large floppy combs of modern European chicken breeds. Upon close inspection, little pea-like protrusions are present on the female Araucana’s comb. Some indigenous American chickens have large combs, but they are much more rigid than those of European breeds.

4. Artificial hatching mortality –  Agricultural scientists now know that the gene in Quetros chickens, which causes high mortality among chicks, artificially hatched is also the one which creates the tufts.

5. Clean-legged – All three varieties of the Indigenous American chicken have no protruding feathers on their legs.

6. Multi-colored – The three Araucana breeds are usually polychrome in rural Native American settlements and strongly resemble the Indian Jungle Fowl.  However, a wide variety of almost monochrome-colored Native chickens have been developed by Spanish farmers in Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.

Size – Farmstead/village raised Araucan chickens average about 5 pounds (2.27 kg).  They grow faster than most European breeds, however.   There is little doubt that some selective breeding by university agriculture departments would produce a bigger hybrid bird.

Hardiness – Araucanas from the highlands of Chile and Peru handle both extremes of heat and cold well.  That is the nature of weather in the Andes. Indigenous chickens from the Amazonian region have not been imported into North America, since the South American branch of the Creek Indians’ ancestors arrived. They probably could handle the weather of Florida and the Gulf Coast better than their Highland cousins.

Indigenous and Old World names

The Mapuche of Chile, who originally bred the Araucana, use the word Achewall for chicken. In Quechua (Peru) the native chicken was called a Wallpa.  Among the Aymara of Bolivia, it is called a Chiwchi, while in eastern parts of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and western Brazil, plus in Georgia (USA), their chicken was called a totolo or tutulo.  Muskogee Creeks in Oklahoma have shortened the word to tolose. Choctaws use the words akank ushi or akanka for chicken. The Yucatec Mayas originally used kaax (pronounced kaush) for chickens, which definitely were introduced by the Spanish in Mexico.  Most Mayas now use the Spanish word, pollo.  

The Modern Hebrew word for “chicken” is “tarnigolat” ( תרנגולת).  Its phonetics are not similar in any way to various Indigenous American words for “chicken.”  There is no mention of chickens in the Old Testament and no word for chicken in Old Hebrew.  A word for chicken entered the Aramaic language, spoken by Jesus, in the first century BC.

Etymology of Eastern Creek word for chicken:  Totolosi means “Descendants of Totolo.”  Tutulo/Totolo is a word of South American origin (Panoan & Southern Arawak) for a true chicken that was developed by cross-breeding several native birds with a chicken from Asia.  The same word of Totolo was used by the Creeks for the Heath Cock (Tympanuchus cupido cupido)  a large, now extinct, species of grouse in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont of Georgia, USA.

The mother town of Totolo or Tutulo was located on the South Atlantic Coast, near the Altamaha and Satilla Rivers.  After the Spanish invaded that region, a village by the same name appeared on maps on the Georgia side of the Chattahoochee River near Georgetown, GA. Federal Indian agent, Benjamin Hawkins, described the Totolosi as being a branch of the Creek Confederacy, which specialized in the raising of chickens and the sales of eggs to other branches. Their principal town was called Fowltown by Georgians.  All references, except The Native American Encyclopedia of Georgia [Thornton-2020] state that Totolosi is a Hitchiti or Miccosukee word that means “Fowl town.”  That is incorrect.  Only the suffix “si” is Muskogean and means “descendants of.”  The root of Totolo-si is Panoan.

Different explanations for the indigenous American chicken

Indigenous Peoples of the Andes

The peoples of the Andes believe that the chicken has been an important domestic animal for as long as their culture can remember.  Some say that they brought the chicken with them, when they settled South America.

Fact Check:  Art, artifacts and archeological discoveries of chicken bones confirm the presence of chickens prior to the arrival of the Spanish.  Archeologists have not been able to determine the exact point in time, when chickens arrived in Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, because the bones are very fragile and deteriorate quickly.

Orthodox North American academicians

Many biologists and anthropologists believe that the first chickens arrived in the Americas along with the first Spanish and French explorers.

Fact Check:  Eyewitness European recorders of events in the Andes and in Georgia describe Native Americans in possession of chickens, when first contact was made by European explorers or conquerors. During the past 60 years, the governments of Chile and Peru, plus several scientific bodies in those nations have repeatedly issued formal statements that the raising of chickens and eating of chickens was a widespread farming practice in their nations, many centuries before the arrival of the Spanish or visitations by Polynesian mariners. 

Alternative history theorists

During the 1960s, some anthropologists, historians and writers began stating that the Polynesians had direct personal contacts with South Americans. Their theory was premised on sweet potatoes in Polynesia, chickens in the Andes and presumed Polynesian campsites on the Pacific coast of South America. They assumed that the chickens of South America were introduced by the Polynesians, since chickens were a staple source of meat and eggs for Peruvians, when the Spanish initially invaded the Andes.

Fact Check:  Sweet potatoes were a major crop for Polynesians, but this tuber is not native to the tropical Pacific. The wild ancestor is only found in the Americas. Sweet potato remains from Polynesia were analyzed, prior the era of advanced genetics and were found to be very similar to a variety grown in Ecuador.  In contrast,  as will be explained in the genetics section of this article, it is now known that Polynesian chickens are not the ancestors of the Araucana chicken.

Kon Tiki – white men introduced the chicken to South America:  A Norwegian adventurer, named Thor Heyerdahl, theorized that white men had founded the first civilizations in Peru and introduced chickens to the region.   He later proposed that ancient Peruvians had mastered the skills necessary to sail from Polynesia to the South American coast. 1 He theorized that they traveled several times to Ecuador then spread the chicken and sweet potato across the islands of the Pacific.

1 – Heyerdahl, Thor, American Indians in the Pacific: The Theory Behind the Kon-Tiki Expedition (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1952)

“Progressive” North American academicians

The discovery of human bones on Mocha Island off the coast of Chile was interpreted that instead of Americans venturing out to Polynesia, it was the other way around. The bones bore several Polynesian traits, such as a rocker jaw and a pentagonal shaped cranium. It was tantalizing but far from conclusive.  The anthropologists theorized that Polynesians introduced chickens to Peru and returned home with sweet potatoes.

Fact Check:  None of the anthropologists, who interpreted the human bones at Mocha Island to be “Polynesian explorers” were aware that Polynesians occupied part of the Pacific region of Mexico from a very early date and that Polynesian DNA markers can be found both in southern Mexico and the lower Southeastern United States. Pentagonal craniums and rocker jaws can also be found in several parts of Mexico.  The author, who is of substantial Uchee and Creek heritage, carries about 2% Polynesian DNA.

Latter Day Saints (Mormons)

Most Mormons believe that Semitic colonists introduced chickens to the Americas, because it is stated so in the Book of Mormon. This is affirmed in several published books and websites, such as Mormon.org.  Actually, the Book of Mormon does not even list chickens as one of the animals brought to the New World by Nephites, Lamanites, Mulekites and Jaredites. We will get to that in Fact Check. 

There is another problem, though.   The hybridization of the Araucan Chicken definitely occurred in central Chile.  It is 4,108.53 mi (6,612.04 km) by air from Santiago, Chile to Mexico City.  By land, the distance would be about a third greater.  It’s another 2600 miles to Upstate New York, where most of the events of the original Book of Mormon take place . . .  at least according to Joseph Smith, who wrote the Book of Mormon.

The Church of Jesus Christ and his Latter-Day Saints does not have an official position on the geographical locations of the events in the Book of Mormon or the question of the Araucana’s origin.  That being said, however, there is an enormous body of steadily evolving “sacred literature” built up over the past two centuries, which is used to justify the current LDS views on the peopling of the Americas in online references and printed literature.

Several early statements by Joseph Smith, indicate that events described in the initial Book of Mormon took place in lands occupied by the United States of America. In an 1833 letter to N.C. Saxton, he wrote that the descendants of Joseph, after he was sold into slavery, became the Indians of North America.  All events of the Book of Mormon took place in the Great Lakes Basin. 

However,  in 1841, after Catherwood and Stephens wrote Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatán, a beautifully illustrated book on their exploration of the Maya lands, LDS doctrines and the Book of Mormon itself, began evolving to a different belief system.  Initially,  Smith stated that the artifacts brought back to New York by these explorers were produced after the collapse of Nephite civilization. 

While Joseph Smith was still alive, doctrine was steadily modified.  First in 1842 a revision was inserted into the church’s records, stating that some Nephites and Lamanites had journeyed to Central Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula to found those civilizations.  In the late 1800s, the official interpretation was that Nephites and Lamanites had founded all the advanced civilizations in Mesoamerica and that the great battle between Nephites and Lamanites occurred in Mexico, not upstate New York as Smith had originally written. The revisions continue until today

Fact Check:  (1) As mentioned earlier, chickens are not mentioned in the Torah (Old Testament) and a word for chicken was not mentioned in Aramaic until around the 1st century BC.  There is evidence of some chickens being in Israel during the 2nd century BC.  Thus, if the “Nephites” immigrated to the Americas in 589 BC, chickens would have been unknown to them.   However, there are many mentions of chickens, roosters and hens in the New Testament.

(2) Chickens are not specifically mentioned in the Book of Mormon as a domestic animal brought to the Americas by Semitic immigrants. We quote:

   “They brought all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man. And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cumoms.” (Ether 9:18-19)

(3) Nephites (c. 589 B.C. – 394 A.D.) on the other hand tell us that “there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. (1 Nephi 18:25; cf. Mosiah 5:14; Enos 1:12; Alma 5:59; Alma 17)   3 Nephi 10: 4–7

(4) Christian New Testament:  While preaching to the masses near Lake Galilee (Matthew 23: 37 and Luke 13:4) Jesus referred to himself as a mother hen gathering together chicks.   In the original Book of Mormon this parable was replicated on the banks of Lake Ontario as Jesus was preaching to the Nephites.  It is the only mention of chickens in the Book of Mormon. 

The passage is presented in current LDS literature and movies by Mormon production companies as occurring either in Central Mexico or the Yucatan Peninsula. There is also a theatrical production each year, which places this particular sermon among the Mayas in the Yucatan Peninsula. Both the movies and the play inaccurately portray the Maya and Central Mexican cities as appearing as they did around 800 AD. In the first century AD, Maya and Central Mexican towns would have predominantly contained earthen mounds . . . perhaps with a few structures veneered with fieldstones.

Whether on the banks of Lake Ontario or Lake Texcoco in Mexico, one wonders how the Nephites would have known what a chicken was in Jesus’s sermon, if their ancestors left the Middle East before the chicken’s arrival in Israel and Egypt.  Apparently,  the angel Moroni didn’t know that either.

Genetic testing of the chickens

The Araucana was long believed by historians and botanists to merely a breed that was developed by Mapuche farmers from imported European breeds. None of these academicians were aware of other indigenous chicken breeds existing in eastern Peru and the western Amazon Basin. 

First genetic study of Araucana chickens

 The presumption changed in 2007, when a team of forensic geneticists from several countries, including New Zealand, analyzed chicken bones from a coastal camp site in Chile, named El Arenal. 2 They announced to the world that Polynesians “discovered” the Americas around 1321 AD, because it was assumed that the Polynesians had chickens, when Indigenous Americans didn’t.

2 – Storey AA, Ramírez JM, Quiroz D, et al. (June 2007). “Radiocarbon and DNA evidence for a pre-Columbian introduction of Polynesian chickens to Chile”. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 104 (25): 10335–9.

There were problems with this announcement.  First of all, Polynesians WERE the indigenous people of Baja California, from Los Angeles southward.  Their presence dated back to the earliest human occupation of Mexico.  Secondly, all the evidence points toward chickens being raised by Andeans long before they were known to Polynesians.

Second Araucana DNA study in 2014

Our chicken mystery story is a classic example of what happens in contemporary research, when geneticists and field archaeologists work in a historical and professional vacuum.  Modern commercial chickens, such as the Leghorn, were the result of large, indigenous chickens from Peru being crossed with scrawny medieval chickens in Europe . . . particularly those of central Italy. 

Yet, when in 2014, a  blue-ribbon panel of geneticists compared the genetic profile of the Araucana chicken with modern European chickens, they were unaware that the European chicken was as much as half indigenous American . . . and so interpreted several American DNA test markers as being European! 3  However, they were able to prove that indigenous American chickens were not closely related to Polynesian chickens.  The closest relative to the indigenous American chicken was the breed of chicken raised by the ancient Indus Valley Civilization . . . c. 3300 BC – c. 1300 BC!

We quote: “The results, appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that Chilean chickens share mitochondrial sequence with both Polynesian and European chickens, originating in the Indian subcontinent. As such, the new work fails to support — though it doesn’t disprove — the idea that there was pre-historic trade between early Polynesians and South Americans.”

“In contrast, the team discovered an uncommon haplotype on Easter Island that is shared with chickens in the Indonesian islands and parts of Japan and the Philippines. So far, though, researchers have not detected the sequence representing that rare haplotype in Polynesia.”

3 – “Chicken DNA Challenges Theory That Polynesians Beat Europeans to Americas: New finding casts doubt on the theory that Polynesians made it to South America.” Smith Byroff, National Geographic Magazine, March 19, 2014.

DNA study of the Paracus or Paracas (Spanish) People

For decades,  “alternative history” writers have claimed that the oversized, elongated skulls of the Paracus Region of Peru, were alien extraterrestrials.  In addition to the massive skulls, they were extremely tall . . . many males being seven feet (213 cm) in height. These strange humans lived in Peru from around 800 BC and 200 BC.   The same type skulls appeared in southern Mexico around 1000 BC and can also be found in the much later archaeological deposits of Teotihuacan in Central Mexico.

Known as the Parakus-te by the Itsate Creek Indians of Georgia or the Parakusaw by the Muskogee Creeks, they formed the elite of the Apalache Kingdom that preceded formation of the Creek Confederacy.  The DNA from this elite is probably the reason that Creek men averaged a foot taller than European colonists.

In 1939,  archaeologist Robert Wauchope found a large town, occupied by the Parakus-te on the Etowah River in the Allatoona Mountains . . . now in northwest Metro Atlanta, Georgia.  Archaeologists Joseph Caldwell returned to the town site in 1947 and excavated over 1000 skeletons with the same elongated skull and extreme stature as found in Peru.   The town site was soon covered by Lake Allatoona.  No one knows what happened to the “conehead” skeletons. 

In 2018, archeologist Brien Foerster paid three university laboratories around the world to extract DNA from 32 Paracus skulls.  It was not possible to obtain DNA from all the skulls.  The labs also found that the younger the skulls, the more likely they were to be hybrids between the egghead people and local indigenous Americans.  Here is what Foerster said about the lab results:

“What it does show for sure is that the Paracas elongated skull people were not 100 percent Native American. They were a mix or even you could say, in some ways, a hybrid of different people,” Foerster said while speaking at the Elongated Skulls Symposium in Los Angeles.

“Their blood types are very complicated as well, they should be blood type O if they’re 100 percent Native American and that’s not the case. We are likely looking at a sub-species of humanity as regards to the Paracas. It seems to be a lot of DNA evidence from extreme eastern Europe and extreme western Asia.  The genes causing red hair in these people originated at the southern tip of Iran, near the mouth of the Indus River.

“More specifically I’m talking about the area in between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, where ancient elongated skull people lived . . . I think about 3,000 years ago. “

It is now known that most of these coneheads migrated northwestward to the Baltic Coast of Europe and southern Sweden.  Their hybrid descendants became the elite of the Huns, plus the Goths and Burgundians in Sweden.  Apparently, another portion of the coneheads migrated to the Indian Ocean and from there,  toured the world.  The Burgundians eventually migrated to what is now southeastern France. The Marquis de Lafayette was a hybrid conehead. There are still many hybrid coneheads in the old French province of Languedoc. These people did not artificially deform their heads as generations of anthropologists told us. They were born that way.

The fact that the red hair gene of both the Parakus People and Scandinavians originated in the territory of the Indus Valley civilization is strong evidence that it was the Paracus, who brought prototypical chickens from the Indus Valley to the Pacific Coast of South America.  It is far more definite that hybrid descendants of the Paracus brought selectively bred descendants of the Indus Valley chickens to Georgia. It is highly unlikely that they flew 3000 miles from the Panoan town of Satipo, Peru to the Panoan town of Satipo, Georgia  . . . well, Georgia didn’t exist then, but Satipo did.  It was near Totolu! 

The Truth Is Out There Somewhere!

7 Comments

  1. I should have mentioned that the Mapuche mean are playing a game similar to the Irish Gaelic game of hurling or Southeastern Indians stickball. The same game, using curved bats was also played at Teotihuacan in Central Mexico.

    Like

  2. Howdy, In my reading this last week ran across a painting of Medieval Woman…She had plucked her eyebrows and forehead causing an elongated look. Just had a thought…Elizabeth 1…had a very high forehead (receeding hairline)

    On Fri, Jun 4, 2021 at 11:29 AM The Americas Revealed wrote:

    > alekmountain posted: ” Part One of the Series Richard L. Thornton, > Architect and City Planner I am a proud descendant of Uchee & Creek Master > Farmers The Americas Revealed compares competing explanations for the > presence of a unique chicken breed in the Andes Moun” >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Richard, Today i was looking at the design plan of Washington City….and it occurred to me that G. Washington incorporated somewhat the outline shape of India in his city. In many ways the 16 Century (Vatican) has connections as well. Domes and Stone pillars were important to these ancient builders of stone age man. Sanskrit words are found from New York state to Peru (Para) still to these days.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Richard, He must have known that the iron age began in upper India where he placed the capital building (around 3000 B.C) in his many map of the sub-continent for his city. The capital is pointed to the Indus valley area to where the Red haired people arrived to (Cro-Magnon’s?) but from where did they arrive from? as the Sanskrit India experts believe those peoples arrived from “a sunken land”. In the city of Ur they worshiped a Serpent head statue….the Seafaring ancient people of the serpent god of Mexico as well? Many Cro-Magdnon skulls were found in the (upper Mid-West to West Virginia) and the (North Western area of Mexico to Utah) area. The Teotihuacan / Cro-Magnon / Para-kusa leaders were of the same people. The Talimico was one of their ancient towns and most likely spoke in Sanskrit.

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