Apparently, no one ever looked at an historic map!
Origins of the Chickasaw and Creek Peoples – Part 14
Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner
Etymologies of Key Native American Words
Itsate – (pronounced Ĭt : jzhä : tē) It means Itza People in the Itza Maya language. Name that the Itza Mayas called themselves. Name of the formerly predominant linguistic branch of the Creek Indians in Georgia and western North Carolina. Name of a large Creek Indian town, associated with the Nacoochee Mound, about one mile south of Helen, GA in the Nacoochee Valley. Non-Creek English speakers typically use the Anglicization, Hitchiti, in lieu of this spelling. Tennessee and Georgia academicians explain Itsate as “an ancient Cherokee word, whose meaning has been lost.”
Sokee, Saukee, Soque or Zoque – (all pronounced Zhjō : kē) Members or descendants an ancient ethnic group in southern Mexico, who apparently were the actual progenitors of the Olmec Civilization. The Nahua-speaking Olmecs did not arrive in southern Mexico until about 1500 years after the Olmec Civilization ended. In Mexico, they speak a Zoque-Mixtec language and Spanish. In the Southeastern United States, they speak English and Miccosukee, which is a dialect of Itsate Creek. Sokee is the Anglicization of Sjøke, which ultimately is a Gamla Norska word meaning “Sea People.”
Immigrants of the Sokee settled in Northeast Georgia and came to dominate the region between the Blue Ridge Mountains, south to the Broad River (formerly the Saukeehatchee). Also, the Soque River and Sautee Creek in Northeast GA is named after this people. Descendants of the Sokee include the federally-recognized Miccosukee Tribe in Florida, the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town in Okemah, OK, plus certain extended families in the federally recognized Muskogee-Creek Nation, Seminole Nation, Florida Seminole Tribe and Snowbird Cherokee Band of North Carolina. Many non-federally recognized Sokee descendants live in Northeast Georgia and the area around Auburn and Opelika, Alabama.
Sautee – (pronounced Shäw : tē) An unincorporated community in White & Habersham Counties, Georgia. Anglicization of the Itza Maya and Itsate Creek name for the Sokee. It means “Sokee People.”
Chote – (pronounced Chō : tē) Name of the Sokee, used by several Itza-speaking branches of the Mayas in Tabasco State, Mexico. It was the original name of Helen, GA when it was occupied by the Creek Indians. The name of a large Cherokee village on the Little Tennessee River near Vonore, TN.
- In 1939, archaeologist Robert Wauchope excavated several mounds and sections in Helen and nearby Robertstown. He found evidence of almost continuous human occupation going back to the Ice Age. Several Clovis points were unearthed. He could find no definite Cherokee artifacts. Indigenous artifacts from the Colonial Period belonged to the Proto-Creek Lamar Culture. In fact, after a year of searching, Wauchope never found a single Cherokee village along the Chattahoochee and Soque Rivers.
- Beginning in the early 1600s an increasing percentage of artifacts at Georgia’s Chote were of European manufacture . . . initially Iberian and in the 1700s British. By the late 1700s, there were virtually no indigenous artifacts. The town was abandoned in 1821, when sold to land speculators from Burke County, NC.
- The village of Chote in Tennessee was founded around 1750 by refugees from the Hiwassee Valley, who were fleeing attacks by Upper Creeks based in the fortified town Coosa, near where Blairsville, GA is today. After about 1790, this village had very few occupants.
Chota – (pronounced Chō : tä) Creek Indian word for “frog.” It was also the Anglicization of Chote used on some maps of the Cherokee Nation during the late 1700s and some maps of Georgia in the early 1800s. It was the name used for the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River from 1800 to 1830.
Echote & Echota – Placing an “E” or “I” prefix or in some cases, as a suffix, to an Itza Maya noun makes it the principal or most important entity of that name. As an example . . . Echiaha was the capital of the province of Chiaha. Etula was the original name of Etowah Mounds in NW Georgia. This grammatic practice continues with Itsate Creek, but is no longer used in Muskogee Creek, except in historic proper nouns.
Nokose [English: Noccossee, Nacoochee] – (pronounced Nō : kō : shē) The Creek and Chickasaw word for an adult Black Bear. It was the name of Yonah Mountain until the 1830s and the name of a Native American village, probably Chickasaw, south of Yonah Mountain, near where Cleveland GA is now located. It is now the name of the valley through which the headwaters of the Chattahoochee Rive flow.
Yeona – Asturian word for a female lion, which in gold-mining areas of the Southeast and Southwest North America became their word for the American Mountain Lion. The name was also applied to a chain of extinct volcanoes, south of the Blue Ridge Mountain in White County, GA. It was probably also the name of a 17th century Iberian mining village on Dukes Creek near Yonah Mountain.
The History of the Cherokee People by Charles Hicks
The year is 1826. Acting Cherokee Principle Chief, Charles Hicks, knows that he is dying. An ulcer that was on his leg as a teenager has reappeared. He seems to be weaker every day. The actual principal chief, Pathkiller, is also dying, but he is too weak to even attend meetings of the Cherokee National Committee.
Chief Hicks is concerned about the future of this people. They have cultural amnesia and have little knowledge of their tribes past. Endless wars between 1715 and 1795 repeatedly sapped the nation of the men in their prime. A succession of epidemics repeatedly killed off their elders before they had time to fully educate the next generation about the past. The practice of Cherokee women of having short serial relationships with men rather than long term marriages has caused many survival skills not to be passed on to their children. Hicks observed that neither John Ross, President of the National Committee nor Elias Boudinot, appointed to be the editor of the planned Cherokee newspaper, know anything about Cherokee history. Originally, Ross couldn’t even converse in Cherokee.
During 1997 and 1998, I was consulting architect for the restoration of the Corra Harris Farm in Pine Log, GA. I was living in Pine Log at the time. A successful author and journalist, Corra bought the log farmhouse in 1910, but a century earlier, it had been the first home of Charles Hicks. Well, at the time locals said that “Chief Pine Log” built the house. There was no such house.
A small amount of research revealed that the house was built by Charles Hicks. A little more research revealed that he was either Second chief or Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1817 until his death in early 1827. Then I hit a roadblock. There was virtually nothing about him in the exhibits at the New Echota State Historic Site Museum. Calls to Cherokee, NC were either not returned or the person on the other end obviously did not want me to learn about Charles Hicks.
Eventually, I learned that the New Echota Museum contained an extensive collection of Cherokee Archives, which were accessible to the public. Going through the archives made it clear that he really was a de facto leader of the Cherokee, beginning around 1800. He was by far the best educated Cherokee and had one of the largest personal libraries in the United States. Developing a new Cherokee Capital was his idea and actually planned New Echota. It was clear that he was the father of the Cherokee Renaissance.
I was astonished that not one person had written a book on Charles Hicks. It was standard practice for the Eastern Band of Cherokees and the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma to pay bonuses for white academicians to write books that promoted the Cherokee version of history. For example, a Georgia history professor was offered $5000 to write a book that contradicted my book on the Nacoochee Valley. She backed out, when she realized that book was based on established facts and their version of history was a fairytale.
It wasn’t until the internet matured in the 21st century that I was able to get more information on Hicks. The landmark archaeological book, Hiwassee Island (1947) repeatedly referenced a book, written by Hicks, entitled History of the Cherokee People. I eventually was able to discover that the “book” was actually 4 handwritten manuscripts by Hicks that were given to John Ross, who was then President of the Cherokee National Committee. The Downtown Knoxville library held the letters in 1947, but couldn’t explain why they had given them away in the 1980s, when the Cherokees re-inventing their history with the help of North Carolina academicians. After years of searching, I eventually learned that the letters were given to a library in the upper Midwest. Ultimately, I obtained photocopies of the letters.
I was immediately astounded how much of Hicks history conflicted with the version the Cherokee tribes were now promoting. He said that the Cherokees did not enter the Southern mountains (SW Virginia and head of the Tuckasegee River) until about the time that Charleston was founded (1670). He said that the Cherokees never built mounds, but “the mound builders in North Carolina were terribly weakened by a plague (1696 Smallpox Epidemic). We either killed or drove off the mound builders then burned all their temples on top of their mounds.”
The last missing evidence of why Cherokees don’t want you to know about Charles Hicks ultimately revealed itself. I became suspicious, when I noticed that while Hicks said that he had lived his entire life in Georgia, amateur Tennessee genealogists placed Indian villages, counties and towns in Georgia . . . in eastern Tennessee. In fact, most of the Tennessee-based Cherokee genealogies are novels . . . which explain why over two million Tennesseans claim to be direct descendants of Moytoy and Nancy Ward. These genealogists just used each other as references then the professors at the University of Tennessee used the genealogies as references in their books and Wikipedia articles.
From 1826 until the 1920s, what is called today “The Sequoyah Syllabary” was called “The Hicks Syllabary.” Charles Hicks was a comrade of George Gist in the Chickamauga Cherokees. Some of the few survivors of the Battle of Etowah Cliffs, they fled to Pine Log, GA together and remained friends. However, Hicks realized that the complex glyphs, created by Gist (Sequoyah) would be difficult to learn and print on a press. After Gist had moved out west, Hicks worked with the Rev. Samuel Worcester and Elias Boudinot to re-design the symbols. It is doubtful that Gist would be able to read the Hick Syllabary. Worcester continued to simplify and modify the syllabary until his death in the 1850s.
Hicks was born at a trading post about five miles north of the North Carolina – Georgia Line. He thought that he was in Georgia, but it was not. His mother was born in an Itsate Creek town that was about 10 miles north of the Georgia Chote. Her father was German.
Hicks had a long series of live-in lovers and short-term wives. His last wife was also born in an Itsate town north of Georgia’s Chote. Her father was a Dutch Jew names Broom, who made himself chief of a town of mixed blood Creeks. The genealogy websites and internet references, such as Wikipedia, state that “her father, Chief Broom was born in the town of Tamale, Cherokee Nation East, in 1800 in present-day Worth County, Georgia.”
Wait a minute. Worth County is in Southwest Georgia on the Flint River! That was never anywhere near the Cherokee lands. Tamale was a Itsate-speaking tribe, originally from Tabasco State, Mexico. In 1814, the Tamale’s land was seized in the Treaty of Fort Jackson, so the town moved north to the region, where there were mixed blood Jewish-Itsate Creeks living.
I had to go to the Georgia Division of Archives and History’s census records, because the genealogies and Tennessee-authored Cherokee histories are so unreliable. There were many surprises.
It becomes obvious that Charles Hicks was one-half Scottish-Jewish, one-fourth German and at most, one-fourth Itsate Creek. He had no ethnic Cherokee ancestry. He always considered himself a Cherokee. However, all but one of his siblings moved the to the Creek Nation’s territory in East Georgia on the Oconee River. Some moved west with the Creek People, but most, later established farms in Washington County, GA when Creek lands were ceded. Charles Hicks’ father’s marked grave is near Washington, GA NOT Washington County, TN as the genealogies tell you. From then on, most of Hicks relatives were State of Georgia citizens even though they had substantial Creek ancestry. This fact explains why Hicks was such close friends with Creek chief William McIntosh.
There was another big surprise in the state archives. The father of Charles Hicks, Nathaniel Hicks, grew up in a Quaker Congregation in Albemarle County, VA with the father of Armajor White . . . known to Cherokee history lovers as Chief White Path. That congregation established a new congregation in South Carolina, where Charles lived for several years as a teenager. Charles Hicks and Armajor White had common roots and were possibly cousins. This explains why White, even though he only had a trace of New England Indian ancestry, was allowed by Hicks to live on Cherokee lands and then was appointed by Hicks to be a member of the Cherokee National Committee during the construction of New Echota.
Here are pertinent historical facts by Charles Hicks that conflict with contemporary beliefs.
- The three bands of Charaqui (Cherokee) lived in Quebec as vassals of the Hurons until 1650.
- The Cherokee did not live in SW Virginia until around 1670.
- The Cherokees were members of a confederacy, dominated by the Apalache of northeast Georgia, until 1716. Thus, until that time, they and the Creeks were allies! Academicians tell you that they had been enemies for centuries.
- The Cherokee did not occupy the Little Tennessee River until after the Yamasee War (1717 or later).
- The Cherokees lost the 40-year long Creek-Cherokee War. From December 1754 until the Treaty of Augusta in 1784, the boundaries between the two peoples returned to where they were in 1715 – with the Upper Creeks owning all land south of the Hiwassee River in North Carolina and Tennessee.
- The Cherokee did not live south of the Hiwassee or Tallulah Rivers until after the American Revolution. This statement by Hicks is confirmed by explorer William Bartram in 1776. The Track Rock petroglyphs and terrace complex were in Creek territory until after 1784, and therefore could not possibly been constructed by the Cherokees.
- Once a new generation of leaders took control of the Creek Confederacy and Cherokee Tribe after 1795, the Georgia Creeks and Cherokees were on the friendliest of terms. However, both groups considered the Shawnee and Alabama Creek Red Sticks to be a threat to their long-term prosperity. Georgia Creeks and Cherokee soldiers fought together for the United States in the War of 1812, under the command of a Creek brigadier general . . . William McIntosh.