by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner
There are forgotten Spanish expeditions!
The cacique of Satipo on the Little Tennessee River said something interesting to Captain Juan Pardo. Satipo was about 12 miles ( 19 km) downstream from Cholahuma. He confided, “Many Spaniards have come through these parts by foot and by horse. They have all been killed by the cacique.”
Members of the De Soto Expedition were not killed by the Natives in the Little Tennessee River Valley. This means that there were several (perhaps many) expeditions into the Southeast’s interior between 1540 and 1567 that have been overlooked by academicians or else were not recorded in the Spanish Colonial Archives.
The Alabamas in North Carolina
The analysis of the De Soto and Pardo expedition chronicles is almost complete. In translating the Indigenous American words recorded by the De Soto and Pardo Expeditions in the mid-1500s, I came upon a surprise. There were towns and political titles on the Little Tennessee River that were of the Alibaamu (Alabama) Language. Alibaamu is Itza Maya and means “Place-principal-of-jaguars.” Cholahuma, a town visited by both Hernando de Soto and Juan Pardo, is an Alibaamu word that means “Fox-Red.”
Olameco or ulamako is the Alibaamu and Itza word for a “high king.” It was twice recorded by the Pardo and De Soto Expedition chroniclers for towns on the Little Tennessee and Tennessee Rivers.
Kituwa, the large Native American town near the confluence of the Tuckasegee and Oconaluftee Rivers, is not a Cherokee word as the Cherokees think, but an Alibaamu word meaning, “Sacred Fire.” Kitani, the tyrannical priests and sorcerers in Cherokee tradition is also an Alibaamu word, meaning “sorcerer.” Jean Baptiste Franqueline’s 1684 map of North America showed a town, named Kituwa, in northeastern Tennessee. It may be that there were two or more Alabama towns with that name.
Cholahuma was located in the Province of Chiaha, which spoke a dialect of Itza Maya. Downstream from Cholahuma in eastern Tennessee, were the Koasati’s, who spoke a language that seems to be a mixture of Itsate Creek and Alibaamu.
The Pre-Columbian ethnic map of the lower Southeast is just getting more and more complicated. It seems to have been an ethnic “Brunswick Stew.”