Both Mayas and Creeks had winter and summer houses!

Their names were the same in both languages.

by Richard L. Thornton, Architect & City Planner

If I had only known in August 1970, what I would be doing in 2021! I would have taken many more color slides of Maya residential and farm buildings. However, I was focused on the sophisticated public buildings, constructed of stone, because that is what most architects and architecture students back then would have been interested in.

Some eyewitness accounts from the 16th,17th and 18th centuries made brief references to two types of houses in the Creek Homeland . . . houses with wattle & daub walls and those with vertical river cane walls. Creek tradition was that the wattle & daub structures were winter houses, called chokos (chuko in Oklahoma Muskogee) and the river cane houses were summer houses, called chikis or chickees.

No academician had ever studied the etymology of choko and chiki. Choko is also is also the word for house in the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Alabama languages. Choko means “warm” in Itza Maya. Chiki is the Totonac and Itza Maya word for any house. It is derived from the Maya word meaning “to weave a basket.”

A typical house compound in Etula (Etowah Mounds)

No archaeologist had ever publicly confirmed our tradition of dual houses. Archaeological investigations in Georgia had usually focused on excavation of mounds and large public buildings, where trophy artifacts were most likely to be found. A major exception were the King Site, west of Rome, GA and Bullard Landing near Warner Robbins, GA, but the King Site was a Kansa village, while Bullard Landing was either Kansa or a tribe related to them, not proto-Creek.

The lack of information on residential neighborhoods ended in 2007, when remote sensing techniques were used to survey all of the land inside the palisades of Etula (Etowah Mounds) while an entire neighborhood was excavated at site 9CK1 on the Upper Etowah River near Ball Field, GA. Site 9CK1 was a sister town of Etula, located about 40 miles (64 km) upstream on the Etowah River. Throughout both town’s 800 year occupation, almost identical artifacts were found.

In December 2006, the Georgia Department of Transportation sent out a national press release, stating that the archaeologists, the agency had hired (Edwards and Pittman Environmental) were going to prove at 9CK1 that the Cherokees had lived in Georgia for 1000 years. The Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, NC then sent out a national press release, stating that the archaeologists were going to prove that the Cherokees built Etowah Mounds. That caught the eye of officials in the Muscogee-Creek Nation.

Investigation by the MCN Justice Department, Lighthorse Police and myself revealed that the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians of were quietly negotiating with a private developer to build a casino near the 9CK1 site. Organized crime (as usual) would be involved in the operation of the casino. Female moles inside the state bureaucracy, but working for organized crime, had been responsible for the publication of the ridiculous press releases in December 2006.

At the time, I was working on a contract with the Muscogee-Creek Nation to develop a more complete understanding of the cultural history of the Etowah Valley and build a massive model of Etula at its peak size. I lived a few miles from 9CK1 so MCN officials obtained permission for me to periodically stop by the archaeological site and observe the work.

The archaeologists didn’t see any harm in it, because they assumed that since I was a Native American architect, I wouldn’t know anything about Native American architecture . . . or the methodology used by archaeologists. <chuckle> Nobody, I mean nobody knew about my fellowship in Mexico and friendship with Dr. Arthur Kelly . . . who was the original archaeologist to excavate at 9CK1.

Archaeologists, employed by Edwards-Pittman Environmental working at 9DK1. When wishing to see closeup, what they were finding, I used a powerful telephoto lens on my new digital camera, so it wouldn’t seem that I was looking over their shoulder.

Edwards-Pittman did a professionally thorough job of excavating a neighborhood of 9CK1 and found what we were looking for. Each Proto-Creek household occupied a cluster of buildings that included a winter house, summer house, kitchen and barn. No public retraction was made of the fraudulent press releases. However, the final archaeological report quietly acknowledges that this was a Proto-Creek town site.

While working on the most recent Campeche video, I had an astonishing realization. The arrangement of the Maya farmsteads meant almost nothing to a young architecture student, but when I looked back at the slides 51 years later, I remembered that there was a dilapidated, river cane summer house near my rental hut and that the farmstead of both Labna’s and Kobah’s caretakers including a wattle & daub house, a vertical river cane summer house, a barn with river cane walls, a kitchen shed and a privy. That’s more proof of a direct cultural connection between the Mayas and the ancestors of the Creek People.

The caretaker at Labna used this old summer house as a livestock barn for chickens, turkeys and pigs. I think that they also used it for feasts and family dinners, when it was raining.


  1. To me it is fascinating that I am looking at 51 year old slides (yikes!) and making discoveries that I completely missed as a bright-eyed, inquisitive student. It shows the importance of building up a knowledge base before making judgments. In truth, it is the internet and the personal computer that has made it possible to build up this base. I couldn’t see the details on these slides until there were personal computers with high resolution graphics capabilities. I now have a 2000 power microscope that plugs directly into my computer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Howdy, Another well done article.

    On Wed, Dec 8, 2021 at 9:31 PM The Americas Revealed wrote:

    > alekmountain posted: ” Their names were the same in both languages. by > Richard L. Thornton, Architect & City Planner If I had only known in August > 1970, what I would be doing in 2021! I would have taken many more color > slides of Maya residential and farm buildings.” >

    Liked by 1 person

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