The original copy of the Migration Legend of the Creek People has been discovered after being lost for 280 years. It is now understood why the original name of Tybee Island, GA was Taube. Taube is the Itza Maya word for salt! The island was an Itza sea salt manufacturing and distribution center . . . over a thousand years ago.
“The chances of rediscovering the original English translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People are therefore almost as slim as recovering the lost books of Livy’s History” (Roman historian)
Albert Samuel Gatschet, 1881 ~ Ethnologist at the Smithsonian Institute
On June 7, 1735 the leaders of the Native American alliance, now called the Creek Confederacy, met with leaders of the two year old Colony of Georgia in Savannah. Chikili, the newly elected Paracusa (CEO) of the confederacy brought with him a buffalo calf vellum on which was painted in the Highland Apalache writing system, the history of the Kusate or Upper Creeks. The writing system was later described by officials in London as “peculiar red and black characters, not pictures as we have seen before.” Post Classic Period Itza Codices were also painted in red and black characters on leather.
The main theme of the vellum was the wanderings of the Kusate in East-Central Mexico and across the Southeast until they reached their home in North Georgia and Southeast Tennessee. The Kusa-te were visited by Hernando de Soto in August 1540. However, the vellum also provides information about several of the other ethnic groups, which came together in the late 1600s and early 1700s to form a confederacy that became the Creek Indians. Most originated from various parts of Mesoamerica, but recent research by the People of One Fire found extensive genetic, linguistic and cultural evidence that the original base population of the Creeks migrated from Peru during the Middle Woodland Period. The results of the research are reported in its article, “Cubans in Alibamer . . . Peruvians in Jawja.”
The Migration Legend of the Itsate Creeks is quite different than the one maintained by the Kusate that was painted onto the buffalo vellum. They remembered living in a land far to the south that was marshland covered with reeds. Their ancestors had traveled a long distance northward to be in Georgia. They were also well established when the Kusate arrived. The Kusate probably entered Northwest Georgia around 1300 AD and brought with them lima beans and purple Mexican plums.
In the last part of the legend, Chikili described an attack by the Kusate against a great town on the side of Georgia’s highest mountain. Its citizens had flattened foreheads like the Mayas. They had built a road from the mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, which they called the “Great White Path.” “Great White Path” is the Maya term for a major road between two cities. Chikili was obviously describing the Track Rock Terrace Complex and it was occupied by people, who neither spoke Muskogee-Creek nor Cherokee.
In the introduction to his closing remarks, Chikili stated that in addition to being recently elected leader of all the members of the confederacy, he represented the oldest town. His town was Palachicola in 1735, but was known to the 16th century French, as Chicola and the Spanish as Chicora. It originally was located at the Irene Mound Complex, which is now a port facility just north of Downtown Savannah, but had moved somewhat inland in the 1600s, because of Spanish military threats. Earlier, Chikili had stated that “our first emperor is buried in a mound here in Savannah.”
Chikili’s statements meshed completely with earlier ones by Tomochichi, the elderly Creek leader, who befriended Governor Oglethorpe upon his arrival at Savannah in 1733. Tomochichi’s real name was in phonetic English, Taumau-chichi. It means “Trade Dog” in Itza Maya. That an elderly Creek chief would have a pure Itza name in 1735 should give pause to anyone clinging to orthodoxies of the archaeology profession. Apparently “trade dog” referred to his career as a trader.
Tomochichi stated that he had come to Savannah in his twilight years to be near the bones of his ancestors. He wanted to be buried near them. Indeed he was. When he died a few years later of a violent European disease, Savannah’s grateful citizens buried him under a stone mound in the center of town.
Where did the Migration Legend go?
As Chikili read the vellum in his native language, the famous Creek female leader, Kvsaponvkesa (Mary Musgrove) translated his speech into English. Georgia colonial secretary, Thomas Christie, recorded Mary’s words. Governor James Oglethorpe realized that he had witnessed something extraordinary. The Creeks were a literate people before the arrival of Europeans. He wrote a letter to King George I stating that he was convinced that the Creeks were descendants of a great civilization and should be treated as equals in all matters. He instructed Christie to place the vellum and translation on the next ship headed to London. Christie wrote a cover letter and attached it to the vellum.
The Migration Legend created quite a stir in London, when it arrived. It was mentioned by several newspapers and the vellum was mounted on a wall of the Georgia Office in Westminster Palace until after the American Revolution then disappeared. However, the location of Christie’s translation and cover letter became unknown almost immediately. Throughout the 19th century delegations of Ivy League professors and Smithsonian anthropologists periodically journeyed to England to search for the Migration Legend, but to no avail. By the 20th century it was assumed by all academicians to be long gone.
I began searching for the Migration Legend over seven years ago. My main motivation was to find proof that the Creeks were a literate civilization. Even the chroniclers of the De Soto Expedition commented that once the Spaniards had entered what is now the State of Georgia, they encountered well-planned towns with streets, residential blocks, plazas, courtyards and temples. The indigenous people averaged a foot taller than the Spanish. They wore cloth turbans like those of the Itza Mayas and people of Peru, plus brightly colored, woven clothing. In contrast, most museums tend to portray the Creeks’ ancestors as short, semi-savages, wearing deerskin draped over their bodies and disheveled, shoulder-length hair.
Unfortunately, my research had come to a figurative dead end street until 2013 when I sent a letter to HRH Prince Charles, asking for his help. The Prince of Wales is very interested in architecture and archaeology. His Assistant Private Secretary, Grahame Davies was assigned the task of helping me. Davies was eventually able to determine what happened to the Migration Legend after the initial publicity in London. With that information, a year and a half of searching through the United Kingdom’s National Archives eventually resulted in discovery of inventory number for a box that was labeled June 7, 1735 and July 6, 1735. Those were the dates of the meeting between the Creeks and Georgia officials and when Christie shipped the box to London. The box was opened by an archivist on April 29, 2015. Needless to say, things have been very busy since then.
Most academicians in the Southeast, especially anthropology professors, have refused to communicate with me since 2012 because of losing face in the “Mayas in Georgia” controversy. Even when Southeastern anthropology and history departments were offered the opportunity to see the high resolution images of the Migration Legend, the professors didn’t even have the courtesy of responding. Therefore, the American public will probably see these remarkable documents for the first time in a magazine or web site published by a university outside of Dixie. Such ostracism seems silly now. No matter how badly the sulking professors behave, the fact is that I was the first American (and Native American) to ever see the Migration Legend. Georgia was a colony of Great Britain in 1735.
Chikili closed his speech by saying, “I am very much aware that there is One who made us all. Some have more knowledge, while others are great and strong. However, in the end, all of us must become dirt.”
Life is indeed, a box of chocolates.