Archaic Nordic and Indo-European words in North America . . . many centuries before Columbus

Explaining how that happened will be impossible without additional genetic and archeological research. In our first example, though, the conclusion seems to be so implausible that it could be considered ludicrous . . . except there is no other explanation! For this OMG moment, you can thank Mrs. Tisdale, my high school Latin teacher, who required us to read all of the reports of Julius Caesar.

Part 17 of the Mesolithic Period in North America

by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner

(Image Above) – Captain René de Laudonnière, Commander for Fort Caroline (1564-1565) described a powerful and wealthy tribe, living on the north side of the Altamaha River, about 25 miles upstream from Fort Caroline. Fort Caroline was NOT on the St. Johns River or even in Florida. They were called the Alekmanni and specialized in the cultivation of trees, bushes and plants that could be processed into medicinal herbs. Especially valuable were their cinchona trees, from whose bark, quinine is brewed. Captain De Laudonnière

Cinchona is native to the Andes Mountains, which have a very different climate than the Coast of Georgia. De Laudonnière’s statement that cinchona was cultivated in the sandy, damp flood plain of the Altamaha River seems implausible, but otherwise, I have found him to be a very credible source of information on the Native American tribes of Georgia.

View of Fort Caroline from the northwest

Captain De Laudonnière said that the neighboring Satele, Tamakoa and Thamacoggin Peoples called them the Alekoa or Alechua. In their own and the other languages, the name meant “Medicine People.” In the late 1600s and 1700s, a Creek town on the Altamaha River, west of present-day Jessup, Georgia was called Alechua . . . then Alachua . . . Alekcha. It is known today as “Doctortown.” Alek nowadays is the Muskogee-Creek and Itsate-Creek word for a medical doctor. Yes, that is the real origin of the slang term, “smart aleck . . . a smart doctor!”

Apparently, the Alekmanni also cultivated herbal crops in the Northeast Georgia Mountains. I live on Alec Mountain and it has numerous stone ruins on its crest and slopes, plus several mounds near its base.

When their lands were ceded to the United States in 1805, some of the South Georgia Alachua moved to the Okefenokee Swamp. Some moved to Florida and joined the Seminoles. Many Alachua families elected to stay in the swampy areas that nobody wanted along the Altamaha River. They were rounded up by federal troops in 1840 and sent to the Indian Territory. This is the only case of federal troops capturing Creeks in Georgia and putting them on the Trail of Tears. A few Alachua Creeks did escape to join their kin around the Okefenokee Swamp. Some of their descendants may still be living in the Waycross, GA area.

Let’s be clear. Captain De Laudonnière called the Alecmanni, “Indiens” (American Indians) not Europeans or White People.

Fact Check

I contacted the Altamaha River Keepers. They surprised me by saying that yes, even though Wikipedia does not tell you so, there are Chinchona Trees growing wild along the Altamaha River. No one knows how they got there or why they able to survive in that swampy, Southern Maritime environment. I was referred to a biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

She said that there were reportedly large groves of cinchona trees growing wild along the edge of the Altamaha River, when Georgia was first founded. Their bark was in high demand after malaria struck Savannah in the 1750s. At the time, it was presumed that the trees were planted by Spanish missionaries. In recent years the number of cinchona trees has declined in sections of the river, which are now bounded by commercial pine-growing operations.

I asked her, “The cinchona is a very valuable tree. If Georgia has a species that has adapted to the climate of Southeast Georgia, why haven’t you transplanted some of these trees to a Georgia Department of Agriculture experimental farm so they can be propagated for commercial farming?”

She immediately responded, “Oh, we classify it as a intrusive species. We don’t want it spreading all over South Georgia and threatening native species.”

Incredulous . . . I reminded her that Indian corn, soy beans and cotton are not indigenous species, yet they are grown by farmers all over the planet. From what I have seen of Southeast Georgia, most of the farms have been abandoned along the Altamaha due to the lack of a suitable cash crop. They have been replaced by vast mono-species hybrid pine plantations for the paper mills. She responded to me that biologists were far more qualified to make decisions like that than laymen.

Okay . . . so Captain De Laudonnière can be trusted. The next step was determining in which Native American language Aleckmanni means “Medicine People” or “Doctor People.” “Manni” definitely does not mean “tribe or people” in any of the Creek languages. That proved to be a daunting task.

I eventually purchased 24 Indigenous American dictionaries for translating all the place and tribal names in Georgia. That was for my latest book, the Native American Encyclopedia of Georgia. None of those languages, other than Creek used “alek” for “doctor” or “medicine.” None of the languages used “manni” for “people or tribe.”

OMG! Moment: I had just about given up, when I remember that Julius Caesar had named several Germanic tribes in what is now the Netherlands and northwestern Germans, that had “manni” in their name. Alamanni was then name of a confederation of those tribes. I looked it up in my Indo-European dictionary. Alamanni means “All Men or All People” in Proto-Saxon. The book then linked “manni” to Anglisk, the language spoke by the Angles (English) when they lived first in southern Sweden and later in southern Denmark.

Manni in Anglisk specifically referred to nobility in plural. A group of commoners was called “men.”

Locations of the Germanic tribes in the 400s AD

Then, I remembered that läkare was the Swedish word for a medical doctor. It is pronounced, “Lĕ: kä : rë”. A Swedish etymological dictionary stated that the word was derived from the Indo-European word for a medicinal herb, leka. H-m-m . . . that’s the Creek word for a medicinal herb.

I went back the Anglisk dictionary. Leka was also the Anglisk word for a medicinal herb. It survives as the name of a specific, vegetable – leeks.

Old English grammar often created a noun or certain class of adjectives by combining a verb or a noun with the prefix, “a.” We maintain that tradition in colloquial Appalachian English by saying, “I am a-going to town” or “I am a-fixing to say that the Mayas came to Georgia.” Aleka was the Anglisk word for “herbal healer,” which became “physician or doctor” in England. Remember that Alek was the Creek word for “herbal healer,” which became “physician or doctor” in modern times.

Alekmanni in Anglisk means “Herbal Healer” or “doctor” – noble people or noblemen.”

The Angles and Jutes were from Scandinavia. In reality, they were the first Vikings. To have cultivated a species, native to the Andes, they must of done a lot of exploring in the Americas. Apparently, the initial band of Anglisk mariners intermarried with the local indigenous peoples repeatedly. By the late 1500s, they looked very similar to full blooded American Indians.

Subsequent articles

We will next go to several regions of eastern North America, Mexico and Peru, then point out key words, generally tribal names, which mean the same in both Eastern North America and certain parts of Europe.


    1. The cinchona trees on the Altamaha River appear to be the result of trees from South America being selectively cultivated by the Alecmanni to adapt them to the climate of Southeast Georgia. Were you aware that the Uchee around Savannah did the same thing with pineapple plants and cocoa trees from southern Mexico? Early settlers in Savannah were shocked to see the Uchee growing these plants on their farms.

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