Rafinesque Redux: Chapter Four

Rafinesque Redux: Chapter Four

Rafinesque’s American Indian History

There was not a single red man in America unless painted such. –Constantine Rafinesque

Here is a version of what we intend to be Chapter 4 of Cherokee DNA Studies, volume 2, More Real People Who Proved the Geneticists Wrong, in which we reproduce most of the American Indian history of Constantine Rafinesque from the 1820s and 1830s. As can be seen, it had excellent sources and has hardly been surpassed since then. 


“Asia has been the country of fables, Africa of monsters, and America of systems for those who prefer opinions to reality.” So wrote in 1835 Constantine Rafinesque, who was the author of his own system.[1] Rafinesque’s “reality” will be examined in detail in this chapter now that the “opinions” involving who is or was Indian have been exposed in the last two chapters. Rafinesque’s more diversified and eclectic views have much to recommend them. They go far in explaining the origins and diversity of the Cherokee people.

Rafinesque starts by saying, “The systems and hypotheses of philosophy or ignorance upon America exceed all the Asiatic fables. A crowd of prejudices, false opinions and fantastic theories have been asserted on this hemisphere, often mistaking a small part of it for the whole. Some have declared all the Americans a red, beardless, naked and barbarous race, or a peculiar species of men. Others that they came out of the ground or from the clouds or over a bridge instead of boats or on the ice. Others that they are all Jews, or Malays, or Tartars. Lastly, even that Eden was here and Noah built the ark in America! All these systems, and fifty more brought forth by ignorance or pride, are based upon the most absurd proofs or a few insulated facts: while there are historical facts easy to prove that are neglected or forgotten.

“Thus it is a positive fact that many ancient nations of the east, such as the Libyans, Moors, Etruscans, Phoenicians and Hindus, had heard of America or knew nearly as much of it as we did of  Australia and Polynesia a hundred years ago. It is as certain that America contained anciently, as even now, a crowd of distinct nations and tribes, some of which were quite civilized, perhaps as much as the Spaniards led by Columbus. The others were more barbarous, but not entirely savage. There were but few, if any, real savages in America dwelling in woods without social ties; most of them were wandering tribes of fishermen or hunters.”

Rafinesque thus confirms what we have already seen already in this book. The roots and earliest remembrances of the Cherokee, Hopi and other tribes refer to rather advanced societies. The peopling of the Americas was not monolithic, not a single event, not a random, uniform dispersal of hunter-gatherers.

“There were formerly in America as now tribes of all complexions, as elsewhere: yellowish, olive, coppery, tawny, reddened, brown, incarnate or white, and even blackened or Negro-like. Tall and dwarfish men from 8 to 4 feet in size, called giants and pygmies—men with various frames, skulls and features, of all the sorts found in the eastern hemisphere. The Americans had long before Columbus large cities, built of stones, bricks or wood, with walls, ditches, temples, palaces, some of which were of immense size and population. One of them, Otolum, near Palenque, was 28 miles long, equal to Thebes, Babylon and [X’ian, the ancient capital of China] in size and monuments.[2] Nearly all the ancient sciences and useful primitive arts were known in America, as well as commerce and navigation, symbolic and alphabetic writing and nearly all the Asiatic religions. The most civilized nations had even colleges and universities, canals and paved roads, splendid temples and monuments.

“It would be tedious to designate all that has not been told or been very unworthily noticed upon America. The whole of these outlines shall be comments upon the forgotten facts relating to this third of the world. Such as are found recorded by chance in one or few authors, scattered in a thousand volumes, unsought and unnoticed by nearly all the other writers.

“Respecting the chronology of the American annals, it is rather obscure and doubtful, but perhaps not more so than that of all ancient nations except the Chinese. It frequently ascends as far as the floods and even the creation. The most ancient dates are found among the Toltecs and Atlantic peoples, Mexicans or Aztecs, the Chibchas, Iroquois and Delaware. But it is difficult to make those dates agree among themselves or with our oriental dates. However, the American annals may be divided into great periods which can be admitted as certain, and resting points of history at peculiar epochs.

Rafinesque provides the following overview of pre-Columbian history and ventures reliable absolute dates for the first time. This was the first time a Western Hemisphere chronology credibly documented by Toltec and other sources appeared in print.

  1. Antediluvian period, beginning at the creation,[3] about 6690 years before Columbus according to the Toltecs [5198 BCE] and ending with the last cataclysm of Peleg about 3788 years before Columbus [2296 BCE].
  2. Doubtful period, from that epoch till the reform of Toltec astronomy, 1612 years before Columbus [120 BCE]. This includes several subordinate periods and epochs. About 3100 years before Columbus [1608 BCE], settlement of the Lenapes in Shinaki or Firland or Oregon in northwest America. About 2500 years before Columbus [1008 BCE], wars of the Towancas [northern nation of giants] and Iroquois, the hero Yatatan, in North America.
  3. Certain period, from 1612 [120 BCE] till Columbus’ arrival in 1492. Many lesser periods and epochs.

442 after Christ—End of the Teotihuacan kingdom.

492—Beginning of Atotarho dynasty of Iroquois.

558—Empire of Toltecs begins in Anahuac [Central Mexico] and lasts till 942.

840—Beginning of the wars of Zipanas and Caris [Tiahuanacanos] in South Peru [Bolivia].

947—Foundation of the kingdom of Mayapan by Cuculcan in Yucatan.

985—Discovery of America by the Norwegians.

1000—Conquest of Quito [Ecuador] by the Shyris.

1105—Beginning of the Incas’ empire.

1322—Foundation of Tenochtitlan or Mexico City.

He divides the recorded history of the Americas into only three periods:

  1. Beginnings about 5200 BCE to 2300 BCE.
  2. Dark Ages about 2300 BCE to 120 BCE, including Algonquian invasion about 1600 BCE.
  3. Historical Period 120 BCE to 1492.

In establishing this chronology, Rafinesque takes a positive approach. He believes things are knowable. History is a science, one supported by ethnology, botany, biology, geology, linguistics and other ancillary disciplines. As the American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. would later put it,  “To be master of any branch of knowledge, you must master those which lie next to it, and thus to know anything you must know all.”  Rafinesque privileges the native recordkeepers in the New World, not the Old World. He says:

I consider those of the Uskihs, Dinnis, Ongwis, Linapis, Shawanis, Cados, Natchez, Ozages, Atakapas, Apalachians, &c., as highly important for the annals of North America. The same may be said of the Mexicans, Zapotecas, Mayas, Toltecas, Chols, &c., for Central America. Of the Haytians, Cubans and Caribs for the Antilles. And in South America those of the Muyzcas, Cumanans, Tamanacs, Popayans, Peruvians, Chilians, Brazilians, Abipons, &c. (p. 59)

In the excerpts and paraphrases given below, we will see the names of these tribes over and over again. We will only modernize the spelling or substitute the conventional name (if known). So, for instance, Linapis becomes Lenape and Apalachians becomes Apalache.

Ever avantgarde, Rafinesque embraces what we would now call a social science approach to history. “Formerly,” he says, “historians wrote chiefly chronicles of the empires, kingdoms and republics, which were often mere biographies of monarchs and chiefs, conquerors and tyrants. We begin now to think more of mankind and the nations. I shall follow this principle and trace at last a national history of America. This subject is so new that we have not even yet a good history of mankind in Europe, much less in Asia and Africa.” Hence he gives his work the title The American Nations.

An assimilated and highly educated Jew from Constantinople, Rafinesque was the Howard Zinn of his day. He created a people’s history of Native America. Kentucky, where he held a professorship, was the center of his vision.

Lexington was a fortunate place to live at the time. Rafinesque toured and surveyed “by penible foot” some 2,000 mounds in the Ohio Valley. He fell heir to the great store of knowledge represented by the Wallam Olum, meeting one of its keepers at nearby Shawneetown (perhaps Tecumseh’s brother Tenskwatawa himself) and was given a copy of it on prayer sticks by a mysterious Dr. Ward, who had received the precious artifacts in exchange for medical treatment from a local Shawnee Indian.[4] The region was at the crossroads of a welter of Eastern tribes. Rafinesque described it in physical terms as “the Allegheny region stretching in woody hills and mountains from Maine to Alabama and Illinois, [with] the Ozark mountains and the whole of New England…detached portions of it.”

Constantine Rafinesque (1783-1840).

Rafinesque characterized his voluminous notes and sources as consisting of “a collection of over one hundred books of 6000 pages on the history of the earth and mankind whereof I avail myself for all my historical works…I have formed besides another collection of iconographic illustrations, maps, plans, monuments, views, portraits, alphabets, symbols, implements, and costumes which may serve for proofs and atlas [guide] of these works published or manuscript.” He estimates that “this tellurian [world] iconography, chiefly American, consists already in ten great books or portfolios,” and not having any hope of publishing them, expresses the wish “they might be deposited in a great public library where they might be consulted.” Rafinesque was celebrated, to a certain extent, in his day. He was the first to petition Congress to create the Smithsonian Institution, but never credited. He had many detractors. When he sickened and died in Philadelphia on September 18, 1840, all of his possessions were auctioned off or thrown out in the trash, including the Wallam Olum. Brinton and other patrician scientists stole his surveys and artwork and expunged his name from research.

Rafinesque started his synthesis of tribal histories with Ancient History, or Annals of Kentucky in 1824. By 1836 he was able to update a lot of his findings because of his analysis and understanding of the Wallam Olum in the meantime. We will assemble below a sort of revised “history of the American nations” taking these circumstances into account.

About ethnic types, Rafinesque writes at the outset:

… there were men of all sizes, features and complexions in this hemisphere before 1492, notwithstanding the false assertions of many writers, who take one nation for the whole American group. The Uskihs [Muisca?], the Puruays, the Peruvian Indians, the Chons, etc. were as white as the Spaniards—50 such tribes were found in South America—while many tribes of Chaco [Paraguay], the Manabis, the Yaruras, etc. were as black as Negroes. All the other shades of brown, tawny and coppery were scattered everywhere. There was not a single red man in America, unless painted such. Some tribes had scanty beards as the Tartars, Chinese, Berbers, etc., others bushy beards. The Tinguis or Patagons were 7 or 8 feet high, and the Guyanas only 4 or 5 feet.

Rafinesque confessed in 1836 that his “late researches have also greatly impaired the general belief of the Tartarian [Turkic] origin and western route of the Mexican nations.” He came to believe that the Toltecs, Olmecs, Mayas, Aztecs and Peruvian civilizations originated  from Atlantic-facing cultures. In this he differed from prevailing general and expert opinion, such as the theories expressed by Thomas Jefferson. The Rafinesque take on history is also, of course, radically different from modern-day genetics.

Atalans and Kutans: Both Mediterranean Founder Types

In the beginning were what Rafinesque called the Atalans, from the Atlantic-facing, western Mediterranean, and Cutans, from the East Mediterranean, or Near East. Rafinesque believed that the ancestors of the first native nations came across the Atlantic in ships. Where did the term Cutan come from? It is probably the same as Kittim. Kition was a famous settlement on the east coast of Cyprus. From the point of view of the Hebrews and others on the West Asian mainland, it was one of the most significant ports to the west. From this, the whole island became known by the same name and Kittim was applied to all the Aegean islands, even to the West in general. Josephus records that Cethimus, son of Javan, possessed the island Cethima, later called Cyprus, and from that the convention came about that all islands and the greatest part of the sea-coasts were named Cethim. The expression “isles of Kittim” occurs in Jeremiah 2:10 and Ezekiel 27:6.

And what about the Atalans, the other half of this ancient seafaring stock? “The nations which peopled the western shores of the eastern continent were the Cymmerians[5] in Europe,” or Yamnaya peoples of the steppes, as we would say in today’s genetic scheme of prehistoric peoples,“and the Atlantes,”[6] or Mediterranean peoples, in Africa and Iberia. “The Atlantes formed a powerful empire in North Africa, which gave laws to many nations, such as the Libyans, the Phoenicians, Numidians, the Berbers, the Darans of Northwest Africa, the Garamanni, the Corans or Guanches or Canary Islanders of West Africa and others.”

We have ancient DNA from skeletons found in various Iberian sites dating from between 1,984 and 2,850 BCE. Included are sites called La Magdalena, near Madrid, Paris Street in the town Cerdanyola, nine miles north of Barcelona, and El Virgazal, north of Burgos. This fortuitous selection provides a representative picture of the Iberian Peninsula at a time when the Mesolithic population, at least on the female side, was the same as it had been for millennia. According to archeogeneticists in David Reich’s laboratory at Harvard University, the mitochondrial lineages are: K1a4a1, K1b1a1, K1a1b1, H45, U5b2b, K1a1b1, K1a+195, K1a24a, L1b1a, T2b3, U5b1i, H1, U5b1i, U5b1f1a, T2b3+151, U5b2b3, H4a1a+195, K1a1b1, K1a1b1, K1a4a1, U5b1c1, HV0b, U5b3, X2b+226, pre-H103, K1a4a1, K1a2a, U5b1i, H1, H1q, U5b3, H1ax, H1t.[7] Without compiling statistics, we can see that this random sample of Bell Beaker Iberians in the Copper Age obviously appears to approximate the frequencies and diversity of anomalous Cherokee haplogroups, as given in Chapter 2. U, for instance, dominates over or at least is equal in importance to H, and there are many Near Eastern types like K and T. The time period for the transfer of these lineages to the New World in a single event and from a unified gene pool would therefore appear to be ancient, not recent. The pattern does not fit that of Spanish, French and English intrusion into the Southern Highland territory of the Cherokee, Creek and other Indians.

“In Europe,” says Rafinesque, “the Cymmerians divided into many nations; those that occupied the sea shores were—1st. the Pelasgians, scattered from Greece to Ireland, under the names of Tirasians in Thracia, Arcadians in Greece, Laestrygonians in Sicily, Œnotrians &c. in Italy, Tubalans in Spain, Cunetans or Henetans in France; Fermurians in Ireland, &c.; —2nd. The Celts [K-Celts], or Pallis [P-Celts], who became Hellenes or Ionians in Greece, Meshekians, Ausonians and Umbrians in Italy, Siculs in Sicily, Gaels in France, Hesperians and Goidels in Spain, Direcotians in Ireland, Cimbri in Scotland, Feans or Feines in England, &c.; —3rd. the Sacas, who became Magas in England, Saxons and Rasins in Germany, Etruscans or Tuscans in Italy, Sicanians in Sicily, &c.; —4th. The Garbans, who became Cyclops [literally “ring-eyed”] in Greece and Sicily, Ligurians in Italy, Cantabrians in Spain, Basques in France, &c.

“All those nations were intimately connected in languages and manners. The Pelasgians[8] were bold navigators and ventured to navigate from Iceland to the Azores and Senegal. The Azores, Madeira, Canary and Cape Verde islands were then united in one or more islands, called the Atlantic Islands, which have given the name to the Atlantic ocean, and were first populated by the Darans [from the Maghreb] and Corans[9] or Western Atlantes. Iceland was called Pushcara[10] and was not settled, owing to the severe climate and awful volcanoes.

“Numerous revolutions and invasions took place among those nations, until at last the Atlantes of Africa, united them all by conquest in one powerful empire, which extended over North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, part of Greece, Asia, &c.; and lasted many ages under several dynasties and emperors.

“It was during the splendor of this empire that America was discovered by some bold navigators who were led by the trade winds to the West Indies in a few days from the Atlantic islands. They called them Antila Islands, which meant before the land, and America was called Atala or Great Atlantes. Returning to the Azores by a northeast course, they extolled the new country, and a great settlement was soon formed in Haiti and the neighboring continent by the Atlantes.”

One of the engraved serpentine stones from Puerto Rico with Old World writing. Credit: University of Haifa.

Puerto Rico’s Priceless Taino Treasures

Evidence for real historical events linking the Old and New World comes from the Nazario Collection, or Library of Agüeybaná (so named for a Taino national hero). These stones are some of the oldest and most valuable artifacts in America. They originally numbered around eight hundred and their story is fascinating. An old woman close to death invited the village priest of Guyanilla on Puerto Rico’s southern coast to her hut in the mountains and told him of a treasure belonging to the ancient inhabitants of the area her family had been guarding for centuries. She gave Fr. José María Nazario y Cancel instructions as to where the treasure was buried, hoping the artifacts would be kept for posterity just as her family had preserved them for ages. The priest followed her instructions and headed deep into the mountains, eventually reaching a pit covered by a large stone, just as the woman had told him. When he removed the stone, he found hundreds of statuettes.

Since that day, the trove has suffered division, losses, disfiguration, dispersal, theft, repeated removals and constant attack from those who do not accept its authenticity or value. In 2019, some of them had traveled to Israel, where laboratory professionals were trying to figure them out and date them from carbon residue in the cracks of the stones.

Modern-day scientists apparently do not read many books published before their lifetime. These Taino antiquities were reported by scholars on Haiti as early as 1787, over two centuries before the University of Haifa tried to apply a “use-wear analysis” to make them yield their secrets. Rafinesque knew of them because he was the first editor of the Taino chronicles set down around 1498 by the Spanish friar Ramón Pané.[11]  Rafinesque reconstructed 77 events, the last being a war in 1490 in Cuba. Throughout, the Taino storytellers speak of their coming on bird ships and equate caves with the hulls of ships. They speak of admixture with neighboring people as marrying “crabs,” that is beastly humans. Other episodes in this national epic tell of migrations from South America, Central America and into North America. An important event (p. 181), as Rafinesque reconstructed it, was the first colony in America from a Mediterranean people, called Hi-Auno or Ionians, dated 1658 BCE. This date, which came from Toltec sources, corresponds to the eruption of a volcano on the island of Thera that was thought to mark the sudden collapse of Minoan or Cretan civilization.

Rafinesque described the evidence as follows: “… in the mountains of Limbé [in Haiti] engravings of human figures on a serpentine rock; besides many sculptures in Cave” (p. 165). According to him, Haiti eventually had traces of 44 distinct tribes, which he lists on pp. 212-4 of his long treatise. Chapter VII of his book THE AMERICAN NATIONS is devoted entirely to the “Haytian” or Taino language. Taino means male noble and Taina female noble. Haiti and Puerto Rico and the Antilles were called the Blessed Isles or Fortunate Isles in the Old World.

Here’s what Rafinesque has to say, in unedited and unaltered form, about what he interprets as three trans-Atlantic voyages of the second millennium BCE, based on Fray Ramón Pané’s text:

26th Event. The dynasty of Giona or Hi-Auna begins to rule over the men of Caziba or royal caves in Cauta. This family of rulers or Cazics became famous afterwards as we shall see, as leaders of tribes to America. We can easily perceive here the ancient Pelagian tribes of Ionia and Aones. Hi-Auna means the-Aones. It was this dynasty or people that sent colonies to America: Oviedo says this happened in the time of Hesper 12th king of Spain, about 750 years after the flood, or 1658 years B.C. He deems the settlers Hesperians or Cantabrians. The root is Ona, solar name of Libyans.

27th Event. Vagoniana, a ruler of the Hi-Auna, went fishing from the cave and became a bird or nightingale who crossed the sea and settled the island Mathinino (Martinico) with a people of women. Dangleria. His wife in the sea gives him two sons which became jewels Ziba and Guanin marble and metal. This is a positive voyage over the Atlantic. Whenever we meet tribes of birds in ancient history, they always mean travelers and colonies and often passage over the sea in sailing boats, compared to birds. The first ships of the Scandinavians and Europeans seen in North America were called birds by the natives. V and B interchange in the Haytian language as in Greek ; Va-gon-iana, thus means Father – Solar-Iana. His people are called women, because unwarlike fishermen, or the Amazon tribe. Martinico was the first island settled by them: it bears the name of Matinino in Ramon and was thus called yet in 1492, Garcia mentions the 2 sons and jewels.

28th Event. Guagu-Giona, king of Caziba, sent Jadruvaba out of the caves to collect the holy herb Digo in order to purify and wash the body, but he was changed by the sun into a singing bird Giakuba-Bogiael (the-singer bird-divine) and never returns. We have here a second voyage by sea in a bird, and a contention with a solar people, caused by a trading voyage to procure some American commodity, Indigo probably, which is identical with Digo. Jadru-vaba or the father of Khadru, must be a new colonist. Khadru has hardly any analogies in America; but Giahuba in which he was changed has some. It appears analagous with the Yaoy and Shebaoy, two Arawak tribes of Guyana, and thus Khadru might be the Arawak themselves, same nation with the Haitians once, as the languages prove, although extending to Tucuman and Patagonia. The name of Aruac or Aruagas was inexplicable: it may refer to this origin, or to the Rocou, the red paint used by them. But Aruac may also mean Aluac ; akin to the Labuyu of the Caribs, their vassals, and the Aluez vassals of the Natchez nation. . .  Guagu-Giona, irritated that Jadru-vaba does not return, leaves the cave of Caziba in search of him and went with men and women to the island Matinino, where the women were left, while the men went to the land of Guanin. This is the third passage of the Atlantic unless that of Vagoniana only mentioned by Dangleria and Garcia be the same ; but they are likely to be successive tribes of Ionas. That all the women should be left in Martinico is a fable, meaning that the weakest or fishing tribes settled there or in the islands, while the warriors went to the American continent, called Guanin, which has several meanings, land of Guanas or lizard men, or land of metals. It became afterwards the name of a peculiar metal formed by the natural or artificial amalgam of 18 parts gold, 6 silver, and 8 copper and a tribe assumed the name. Guana or Guanos was the name of a large nation of South America, perhaps come from the Guana of the Canary islands but slightly related to the Arawaks by the languages, yet perhaps akin: it was spread east of the Andes, between the two tropics.

So Sea Peoples settled evidently on Hispaniola after 1658 BCE, and if Rafinesque is right, we also have records of the oceanic travels of the Arawaks and Guyana tribes of South America. The motives for travel were metals and trade, and these early navigators were recognized by plank-sewn sailing ships with bird prows. Their civilization was very advanced and it’s perhaps ironic that our modern-day barbarians refer to it as lost. According to Rafinesque, they seeded all the tribes of the Allegheny and East Coast regions of the U.S.

The script on the figurines appears to be a Libyan or early Iberian Bronze Age writing system influenced by the Phoenician and akin to Tifinagh, an alphabet surviving among Berber people. The Puerto Rican authorities showed samples to a European Semitic scholar, who verified the script’s affinity, but when they revealed it was from the New World the lines went dead. There was no further communication.

Archeologists have surprising hang-ups about cultural connections but they also seem to be challenged to guess correctly what sex an ancient carving is supposed to be. The corpulent figure with a richly articulated woven garment and belt of birds and beasts representing fertility is without question the Mother Goddess, not a male god or hero. This deity was worshiped in all prehistoric religion and has been brought to life in extensive publications by UCLA archeologist Marija Gimbutas. The Goddess Religion prevailed Europe-wide until invasions by steppes peoples after 3000 BCE, an important watersheds in human history. The Goddess survived in certain female-oriented Mediterranean cultures after that, including Cretans, Cypriots, Berbers, Aegean Greeks, Anatolians, Maltese, Sardinians, Iberians and numerous New World societies. Ships, caves and mines were all consecrated to the Goddess and conceived of as wombs. Thus, for instance, the permission of the Goddess was requested before entering a mine, and thus also goddesses, particularly Tanith with the Phoenicians and Athena with the Greeks, protected seafarers.

The choice of stone for carving ritual objects was often serpentine, or greenstone, representing the Goddess’s rule over the earth, waters and all growing things. Quetzalcoatl, the culture carrier of Mesoamerica identified with “feathered serpents,” or ships, was said to be the son of greenstone. Rafinesque gives the name of the supreme female god of nature in the Taino language as Attabei, Attabeira or Atabex, which he translates as Unique Being.[12]

So it would appear that the first Old World peoples who colonized the New World came in the mid-second millennium BCE from Spain or the Canaries. Evidently they traveled the same Canary Current as Columbus. The Taino chronicles describe many other travels, dynasties and tribal origins, but since they pertain primarily to the Caribbean and South America, we will return to the thread of our narrative on Eastern U.S. aboriginal history.

Indian shell necklace with Carthaginian bronze coin from time of First Punic War, 264-241 BCE, showing star-encircled, wreathed head of Tanith, the divine protector of shipping, mining and trade. The reverse has a horse standing behind a palm tree, both Phoenician emblems of state. The coin was purchased at the Charleston, S. C. antiques market in 1989 and was said to come from an ancient cache unearthed in Georgia. Collection of Donald Yates.


Iberian Peoples at Ground Zero

In December of 2019, my Creek friend Richard Thornton wrote to me of an astounding discovery he made with LIDAR remote infra-red scanning technology on a site in North Georgia known as the Fritchey Mound near where he lives. It is the perfect parable for Old World “Indians” gradually supplanted and replaced by New World “Indians,” as Rafinesque’s histories recount.

Says Thornton: “While studying the Amys Creek Archeological Zone in northwestern Habersham County, Georgia during the autumn of 2019, I saw something odd in the infrared imagery. There was the footprint of a large rectangular structure with a semi-circular apse. It is called a ‘Roman basilica’ by architectural historians, but the form actually dates back to the Late Bronze Age in the western Mediterranean Basin. It is most commonly found in the Iberian Peninsula, Balearic Islands (Majorca), Sardinia, Corsica and western Sicily. What the heck?”

Thornton guessed, and subsequently verified, that the infrared image showed a rectangular Iberian-style sun temple) from the Bronze Age intersecting “a typical diamond-shaped Itza Mound.”  On top of the Itza Mound had stood first a rectangular mound typical of Etowah Mounds II and then a huge, oval Apalache mound on top of everything. In 1993, the Georgia DOT scrapped off the three mounds to use as landfill for a highway project, exposing the footprint of the first mound and the rectangular temple. Stratigraphy proved the first “Indians” came from Europe and the Mediterranean about three thousand years ago, bringing a religion of temples and agricultural calendrics, and were replaced over the ages by New World types who built mounds and entered our post-Columbian worldview as Creek.

Thornton notes, “A few basilica structures are much older than the Roman and Byzantine buildings. There is a basilica in a former Phoenician colony in Cádiz on the Mediterranean coast of Spain which dates from the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. It is very similar in size and plan to the footprint of the rectangular building under the Fritchey Mound. Just recently, a similar Sun God temple was found in Cuenca, Spain. Much better preserved, it was definitely built by a people who lived in Spain prior to being driven out by the Iberian invaders around 400 BC. This temple may be much older than 400 BC.”[13]

American Nations Sprung from European Colonies

Rafinesque’s history continues: “The Atalans, or American Atlantes, spread themselves through North and South America in the most fertile spots, but the marshy plains of the Orinoco River in Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil, Maranon [northern Peru], Paraguay, and Mississippi as well as the volcanoes of Peru, Chile, Quito, Guatamala and Anahuac prevented them from settling those parts of the continent. Many of the subjects of the Atlantic empire, such as the Tubalans,[14] Cantabrians, Cyclops and Cunetans [Canaanites], follow the Atalans in America and become the Cutan nations.”

“It is difficult to trace the American nations who have sprung from those early settlers, owing to the numerous revolutions and intermixtures which they have undergone. Nor is it my intention to give now a complete genealogy of the Atalan and Cutan nations. I must confine myself to North America or even Kentucky.

“The Allegheny mountains were called Localoca [White Mountains]. Beyond them the country was called Great White Land, (Mahasweta-Bhumi of Hindu traditions) and it became the seat of a great empire or the Western Atlantic Empire. This included of course Kentucky, but extended from Lake Ontario in the north, to the Mississippi. The Atlantic shores called Locuta [White Places], or Lachacuta [Seaside Places] were not settled owing to their arid soil, lately emerged from the sea. This western empire may be called the Atalan empire.

“The country watered by the Ohio and its branches was the center of the Atalan empire, and its metropolis stood somewhere on the Ohio. It was divided in several provinces, and ruled by a powerful monarch of the Atlas family. The Atlantic monarchs of Africa, Europe, Atlantia and Atala, often contended for supremacy, and the Atalan emperors obtained it once. Their dominion extended from Atala to Syria. They were repulsed in Greece and Egypt. The African emperors were acknowledged generally as lords paramount, but they resided in Europe as often as in Africa and had to contend against the Titans, a branch of their family reigning in the Alps.

There were successively many Atlantic emperors and monarchs, bearing the names of Ian, Atlas, Acmon, Ouran, Ilan, Silvan, Sanu or Satur, Japet or Yudish, Titan, Neptune or Naphtur, Plut, Evenor, Oanes, Derceto, Tritan, Muth, Lucip, Rahu, &c. in both continents, who were often at war with the monarchs of Egypt, Ethiopia, Scythia, Iran, and Bharata or Hindostan.

An intercourse was kept up more or less regularly between all the primitive nations and empires from the Ganges to the Mississippi. Krishna or Hercules, and Ramachandra, two heroes of India, visited Atala and the court of the western monarchs, which is called one of the heavens on earth, by the holy books of the east.[15]

“The Atalans were civilized like the Atlantes, lived in towns, built houses of wood, clay and rough stones. They worshipped the sun and moon as emblems of the Deity and built them circular temples. They knew geometry, architecture, astronomy, glyphic signs or writing, the use of metals and agriculture. They had public games and festivals.[16] Their food was flesh, fish, fruits, roots and corn,  which they brought from the east.

“At the time of their highest prosperity, a dreadful convulsion of nature happened in the Atlantic ocean, and other parts of the world, which is recorded in the oldest annals of many nations, the Hebrew, Hindu, Chinese, Mexican, Greeks and Egyptians. It appears to have been occasioned by simultaneous eruptions of volcanoes and earthquakes, which sunk, destroyed or convulsed many islands and countries, and among others the Atlantic land, of which the volcanic islands Azores, Madeira, Canary and Cape Verde Islands are the remains.

“In America, the Antilles were severed, the Carib islands formed, the Atlantic shores inundated by awful tides and many countries sunk or altered. This cataclysm is the division of the earth under Peleg, the flood of Ogyges[17] or Ogug, the Sanskrit convulsion of the White sea or Atlantic ocean.— The terror occasioned by this phenomenon interrupted the intercourse between Europe and America. The Eastern Atlantes thought that the whole American continent had sunk, like the Atlantic and many Antilles, and the Atlantes of the interior of America became insulated and separated from the Atlantic empire.”

Atalan and Cutan Divisions

“The Atalans of North America became now divided in many states and nations, such as the Apalache,[18] scattered from Florida to Virginia, Timuchua, from Texas to Guatamala, Pocons or Locans [cf. Poconos, Poca, Pocasset, Pokagon, Poquoson “swampy”], from the Allegheny to Panama. These divided again into Calusa, Conoys, Nanticoke, Cherokee, Lomashas, Popolocas,[19] Waccamaw [of North Carolina and Virginia] and Poconos [of New Jersey], the Corans [Coree] from Missouri to Mexico and the Talegans [Talegewi, perhaps Greek and allied] in Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio and Virginia.

“The Cutans of North America became also independent and formed many nations, such as the Haitians, the Lachacutans of Cuba and Alachuans of Florida, the Yucatans of Mexico and Lucayans of Bahama, the Arawaks of many islands and South America, the Tunicas of Lousiana,[20] Tepemacas [a Coahuiltecan-speaking group in Texas] and Tontonacs of Anahuac [Central Mexico], the Pawnee of Texas, and Tanasi of Tennessee, the Catawba of Carolina and Florida, the Coosa and Cusseta or Quezedans of Tennessee and Alabama.

“All those nations were often contending for supremacy, except the Islanders, who became happy peaceful nations, whence the West Indies were called the Fortunate Islands when discovered again.

“It appears that the Talegans of the Ohio and the Apalache south of them, were two of the most powerful empires of that period. The Apalache had many provinces or tribes, such as the Apalachis, Apalehen, Tlapan, Altamaha, Hitchiti, and Opelousa and were often at war with the Talegans. These Talegans, which we found named Talegewas or Alleghanys[21] afterwards, had dominion over a large extent of country. Their several provinces were situated in the most fertile regions, such as Kentucky, Ohio, the Kenhaway [Kanawa][22] valley, the Illinois, the banks of lake Erie and Ontario.

“After some centuries, America was visited again by the nations of West Europe and Africa, but neither frequently nor in numbers. A casual intercourse was restored between the two continents. The Azores were visited as well as Madera, but not peopled owing to their active volcanoes; but the Canary or Hesperides islands were; from thence the navigators went to Cerne or St. Jago, and in 18 days to the Carib islands.— About this time the Carib, or Galibis, must have come to South America; they appear of Cantabrian origin.[23] The great nation of Guarani[24] which extended all over Guiana, Brazil and Paraguay was of Daran [Mt. Atlas region in the Maghreb] origin and previous arrival.

When the Arcutans [Northern Cutans] or Fermurians of Ireland, were expelled by the Dananns,[25] a trible of Palis or Gaels, (after many revolutions in the island,) they fled to Ayacuta, or Western Island of Haiti, and became probably the Arawak nation.

Till then all the inhabitants of America had come from the east. But now a great  invasion took place from the west or from Asia. Perhaps these Asiatic nations had crossed the ocean before the Pelegan or Ogygian catastrophe. They are traced to the northwest coast of America and gradually came in contact with the Atalans and Cutans on the Missouri and in Anahuac. I shall call them Iztacan, from their ancestor Iztac (“Strong”).


Decline and Fall of the Atalans

“The wars which happened in consequence of the Iztacan invasions [from about 50 CE in the Ohio Valley], had the effect to annihilate some nations and scatter many others, while several were subdued and incorporated with their conquerors. Kentucky was conquered by the Olmecs, the Hausiotos [White or Northern Utes] and Taenzas [Taensa, Tensaw], three Iztacan nations. After the successive rule of these nations on the Ohio, the Siberian nations or Oguzian tribes began to appear and wage war on the Iztacans and the Atalans, which they drove away to the south. The last remains of the former Atalans and Cutans, which can be traced to have escaped these conflicts and were still existing towards 1500, were the following:—The Wocons [Woccon and Waccamaw] in Carolina, the Homoloas [cf. Homosassa], Malicas,[26] Apalachians and others in Georgia and Florida, the Conoys of Virginia, the Nanticokes of Maryland, the Catawbas of Carolina, the Cowetas and Calusas of Alabama, the Tunicas of Louisiana, the Corans, Coroas or Escoros [Cora of Western Mexico] of the Missouri, Arkanzas, Carolina, California and Mexico, besides many nations of Anahuac.

“Before the Christian era a casual intercourse was kept up between the two continents. The Phoenicians and Gadesians [ancient people of Cadiz] traded to America:  this continent was known to the maritime nations of West Europe and Northwest Africa. The Numidians went there 2000 years ago, as well as the Celts; they frequented Paraguay and Haiti principally. The Etruscans, a powerful nation of Italy, who settled there from the Rhaetian Alps about three thousand years ago, went to America and wanted to send colonies there, but were prevented by the Carthagenians. This intercourse gradually declined, owing to the numerous shipwrecks and warlike habits of the Caribs, Iztacans and Oguzians [Algonquians], till the knowledge of America became almost lost or clouded in fables and legends.

During the decline of the Atalans, some fled to Anahuac [Central Mexico] and South America, where they founded new empires or civilized many nations, such as the Cholulans [Toltecs in Cholula] of Anahuac, and the Muyseas [in Colombia], Puruays [Peruvian Indians], Collaos [pre-Incan Indians of Ecuador], Tiahuanacos [in Bolivia] and Quechua of South America, who ascribe their ancient civilization to white and bearded strangers.

“Thus the ancient arts and sciences of North America were transferred to the South. In the greatest splendor of the Atalans and Cutans, they had built above one thousand towns on the waters of the Ohio, of which nearly two hundred were in Kentucky, and the remains of above one hundred are seen to this day. The population must have been as great as the actual one, and Kentucky must have had half a million of inhabitants at least. The monuments of these early nations are easily distinguished from the subsequent Iztacan monuments by a greater antiquity, their circular, elliptical and conical shapes.”


Distribution of the Aztlan Gene from the Rare Genes from History Test mirrors the conquest of the Old World by Asiatic tribes. The gene is absent in Europe (red dots). Weaker matches on the Eastern shores of North and South America may indicate a less Asiatic tenor to the indigenous populations.  


Populations Having High Frequency of the Aztlan Gene


Population Percent
1.     Mexico – Nayarit and Jalisco – Huichol (n = 30) 11.7%
2.     Mexico- Huichols- Nayarit (n=65) 10.8%
3.     Mexico- Huichols- Durango (n=57) 4.4%
4.     Samoa (n = 95) 1.6%
5.     Melungeon (n = 40) 1.3%
6.     U.S. Cherokee Admixed (n = 92) 1.1%
7.     Arizona – Hualapai and Yavapai Indians (n = 52) 1.0%
8.     Native American – Saskatchewan (n=105) 1.0%
9.     Native American – Michigan (n = 29) 0.9%
10.  Mexican – Hidalgo – Metztitlan (n = 180) 0.8%


Note that Huichols in West Mexico have the highest incidence. Nayarit and Jalisco was the intermediate homeland of the Aztec tribes who came from the northerly region of the American Southwest they called Atzlan (White Land) before they proceeded on their way to Central Mexico.




 Chicomoztoc (Land of Seven Caves) is the name for the origin place of the seven Indian nations we know today as Aztecs (“from Atzlan”), Mexicas, Tepanecs, Acolhuas and other Nahuatl-speaking peoples. The caves may be a memory of ships, as in Taino tradition. This implies the seven lineages derive from a common origin, something also suggested by the fact they all speak Uto-Aztecan languages. Shown is a page from the “Historia Tolteca Chicimeca,” a painted codex written by people of Cuauhtinchan, or Chichimeca, ancestry in Mexico in 1550. Public domain.


We will pass over much of what Rafinesque writes about this wave of Asiatic invaders from the legendary homeland of Aztlan and summarize only what pertains to the Cherokee, who appear for the first time. After the first Iztacans settle in Kentucky, the Natchez empire is founded and dominates the entirety of North America until the ensuing Algonquian or Lenape invasions expell them from Kentucky, so that the fragments of the Natchez only survive in scattered places in the South.

Here is fine-grain information on these Asiatic tribes that dominated the landscape before the foundation of the Natchez Empire. “The Olmecas or Hulmees were the first Iztacans who ventured to come to Kentucky, where they did not make a permanent settlement. They came in contact with the Talegans and not being able to subdue them, they left the country, and invaded Tennessee. The Winginas and Westoes of Carolina, as well as the Yamasees of Georgia may be remains of these Olmecas [Ocmulgees], but the bulk of the nation went to Anahuac with the Xicalancas, having made an alliance with them. The Xicalans were another Iztacan nation who had come down the Arkansas. Meeting on the Mississippi with powerful Atalans, such as the Corans and Talegans, they joined the Olmecs in a confederacy against them. After partly settling in Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida, they were both compelled to go to Anahuac, which they reached from the northeast, and where they became powerful in time.

“The Otomis [compare Oto Sioux “lechers”] were the most barbarous of the Iztacans, being hunters rather than cultivators. They had spread gradually from the Missouri to Anahuac in the rear of the Xicallans under the names of Mazahuas or Mahas [Omaha], Huashashas or Ozages [Osage], Capahas [Quapaw] or Arkanzas [Arkansas], Otos or Huatoctas [Lakota], Minowas or Missouri or Ayowas, Dareotas [Dakota] or Nadowessis [Nakota], Hautanis or Mandans. They began to make war on the Talegans of Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky, and the Otos [Utes] appear to have become the Sciotos of Ohio, the Huasiotes of East Kentucky, and the Utinas of Florida.

“The Colhuas and Tenochas came the last on the Arkansas and settled the kingdoms of Tollan, Tula, Huehue [Old Red City, probably Rhoda/Tucson],[27] and Copatta [Quapaw] in that region. The Atalans and Iztacans were successively at war or in peace, but the Iztacans prevailed at last in West Kentucky, when all the Iztacans east of the Mississippi formed a confederacy against the Atalans. This was the beginning of the Natchez dominion.

“During these struggles, many peaceful Atalans left the country and went to Anahuac, Haiti, Ohohualco [Huazacualco, Vera Cruz region on Gulf of Mexico] and South America, where they became legislators and rulers.”


Recapping the Story of the Algonquian Tribes

Rafinesque says that before the Algonquian armies invaded North America and crossed the Bering Strait about 1600 BCE, they lived for many centuries in Shinaki, or Firland. They then proceeded across the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains. About 1 CE they went to the other side of the Mississippi River. When this stage of their migration began, the Natchez tribes extended from the Ohio Valley to Florida and included five hundred towns, “such as the Natchez, Tensaw, Chitimacha, Mobile, Yazoo Indians [of Mississippi] or Hiazus [Mexican people related to Toltecs] and many more. East of them were the Apalachian and Catawba confederacies and north the Talegans, who had retreated on the north side of the Ohio.”

“The nations forming this empire or league were civilized and cultivators. They became polished by their intercourse with the Atalans and borrowed many customs from them. — They worshipped the sun and fire but did not build circular temples, erecting instead pyramids and high altars, generally of a square or angular form. Each tribe had a king, each town a governor, but the Natchez kings who were called Suns had the supremacy over all. Agriculture and trade were well attended to. Many contentions and revolutions happened, but the Oghuzian [Algonquian] invasion was the most fatal.

“The Siberian nations, which had spread over the north of Asia at the dissolution of the Oghuzian empire, having come to America across the Behring Strait, sought milder climates by traveling south, and coming in contact with the civilized but less warlike nations of anterior origin, began to wage war over them, and drive them gradually further south, towards Florida and Anahuac.” Whether these Asiatic tribes were preceded by other Siberian, Mongolian and Turkic peoples, we can presume they were of mitochondrial lineages A through D. In Rafinesque’s account, there was a broad cultural and genetic distinction between Atlantic and Mediterranean peoples who built round fortresses, like many of the Adena and Hopewell monuments, and Asiatic tribes who favored pyramids and square temples like the plazas of the Creek Indians. The Asians seem to have settled in a more spread-out fashion and were more often nomadic while the Atlantic people concentrated themselves in towns.

The Algonquians are believed to have originated in Russia in the area around Lake Baikal.[28] Their annals specifically say they crossed the Bering Strait in hide boats en masse all at the same time and named the new land they saw Turtle Island after the large sea-tortoises on the Alaska shore. They next followed an eagle who led them through the pinelands. The eagle became their emblem, and later that of the United States. From the Wallam Olum, we know the names of their chiefs, famous warriors and historians for a period of years covering about three and a half millennia. Their national epic ends on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in New Jersey with the final verses composed in the fifteenth century.

Almost universally, Algonquians are remembered as invaders from Asia. Since they were the main indigenous stock encountered by the English settlers, their migration story was assumed to be the same as for all other Indians—Siberia to Alaska across the Bering strait. They fought a bloody battle at the falls of the Ohio against the Taligewi, hence giving Kentucky its name of “dark and bloody ground.” They are called the Grandfathers by other Indians, which is something of a mystery, since according to the Wallam Olum itself they were among the last-arriving peoples. Canada, where they are spread in great numbers, is known as the Land of the Grandfathers and Grandmothers.

The Algonquian army’s battle against the Snakes in the Pacific Northwest may have been waged against a predecessor Asiatic tribe whom they had previously fought in Siberia before crossing to America. Snake simply means “enemy,” “not us.” At any rate, they encountered the previously arrived Sioux on the Great Plains, whom they disdainfully defeated, as well as the Stony Tribes, with whom they allied, along with the Iroquois. It is at this juncture that we hear about the Cherokees. They are remembered as the first civilized tribe the Algonquians encounter—the first who were not “snakes.”


Enter the Cherokee

Rafinesque says at the time of the Algonquian passage across the Missisippi into the Ohio Valley, “The Cherokees or Zulocans, an Atalan nation dwelling west of the Mississippi, being driven by the Oghuzians, came to Kentucky and Tennessee and settled at last after many wars in the mountains of Carolina, where they became a nation of hunting mountaineers and gradually destroyed the Hausiota [Iztacan, literally Northern Ute] nation of the Cumberland mountains.” The Algonquians allied themselves not only with the Cherokee, but also with the Talamatans, identified with the northerly Hurons, an Iroquoian-speaking tribe. This triple alliance then made war on the Talegans, who were “destroyed or driven south…to join the Apalachians or down the Mississippi towards Louisiana and Mexico.” At the same time the southern branch of the Algonquian hordes, the Shawnees, fought the Natchez and expelled them from Kentucky.

“The Natchez confederacy declined gradually, becoming divided into several independent nations, such as the Tensaws, Chitimachas [in Louisiana], Alabamas [Alibamu], Coosas, Cahuitas or Cowetas and Winginas, spread from Louisiana to Carolina, which however did not wage war together, but were often united against the Cherokees, Catawbas and Oghuzian [Algonquian] nations.

“When the Toltecs of Mexico drove away the Xicallans,[29] the bulk of that nation came to the Mississippi, and settled on both sides of it above the Natchez. Many nations have sprung from that stock, all intimately connected in language and manners, such as the Chickasaws, Choctaws, Yazoos or Tapousas, Muskogees, Cofachis [or Cofaquis, or Cofitachiques], spreading north and east of the Natchez, they formed a bulwark between them and the northern invaders. The Chickasaws extended their conquests to the banks of the Ohio in Kentucky.

“The great Otomi [Siouan] nations, extending from the Missouri to Anahuac, divided into numerous tribes, such as the Osages or Washashas, Missouris, Otos, Mazahuas, or Omahas, Quapaws or Arkansas and Mandans.  The Osages, Missouri and Arkansas penetrate as far as West Kentucky, the banks of the Wabash, &c.

“A succession of wars and contentions take place between the numerous nations of various stocks scattered in North America, by which they are weakened and prevented from improving their civilization, or uniting against the encroachments of the Europeans.” Throughout all this, the Cherokee persisted as one of the oldest groups, with roots going back to the Stonys of the northern plains, later of the Ohio Valley. In Rafinesque, they are called Tzuliki or Zolocans as well as by their name Cherokee.

As Rafinesque sketches this period in which the Algonquian tribes dominate native tribal histories: “Several of those Oghuzian nations, driven by necessity or their foes to the north-east corner of Asia, came in sight of America, and crossing Berhing [sic] Strait on the ice, at various times, they reached North America. Two of them, the Lenap [Delaware] and Menguy [Iroquoian tribes], seeking milder climates, spread themselves towards the south; while another, the Karitit [Eskimo], which came after them, spread on the sea shores from Alaska to Greenland, and some others settled on the north-west coast of America [Haida, Tlingit et al.].

The Lenaps [Lenni Lenape, or Delaware Indians, Algonquians] after settling some time on the Oregon and Multnomah rivers, crossed the Oregon mountains, and following the Missouri, fighting their way through the Otomis [Sioux], &c. they reached the Mississippi, nearly at the same time with the Menguys, who had come north of the Missouri. They found the powerful Talegans in possession of Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, who opposed their progress and cut off the first party that ventured to cross the Mississippi. A long war ensued, in which the two Oghuzian nations joined in a confederacy against the Talegans, and succeeded after a long struggle to drive them away to the south.

When the Lenapes had defeated the Talegans, they had to contend with the Natchez of West Kentucky, the Huasiotos [Northern Sioux] of East Kentucky, the Sciotos [Siouan] of Ohio, besides many remaining branches of the Atalans, Cutans [Eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern origin], scattered in North America, which they vanquished, destroyed or drove away, occupying all the country from the Missouri to the Allegheny mountains, while the Menguys settled north of them on the lakes.”


More Recent Tribal Movements

‘The Lenapes were hunters but lived in towns and became partly civilized by the prisoners and slaves that they made. — They began to cultivate corn, beans, squashes, tobacco. Their hunters having ventured across the Allegheny mountains, discovered a fine country, not occupied by any nations in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Many were induced to remove to that country, where they should be more distant from their southern foes.

“A settlement was made east of the mountains and the great Lenapian nation became thus divided into many distant tribes independent of each other but connected by a similarity of language, religion, manners, and acknowledged origin.

“The principal of these tribes, which thus became independent nations, were the Chinook on the Oregon, the Anilco and Quapaw on the Missouri, the Ottowa and Miami north of the Ohio, the Shawanee or Massawomees in Kentucky, the Mohigan and Abenaki in New England, the Sankikan in New Jersey, the Unami and Munsee in Pennsylvania, the Powhatan in Virginia, the Nanticoke in Maryland, the Chippewa and Cree on the upper Mississippi.

“A similar division took place in the Iroquois, and the independent nations sprung from them were the Huron or Wyandot near lake Huron, the Eries or Erigas on Lake Erie in Ohio, the Tuscorora in Kentucky, the Seneca, Mohawks, Cayuga, Oneida on the St. Lawrence. That portion of the nation which remained west of the Mississippi, became mixed with some Otomian tribes, and formed the great Dakota nation, since divided into many tribes, such as the Sioux, Assiniboine, Teton Sioux, Yankton Sioux and the like.”

We will pass over the third period of Algonquian hegemony in the Eastern U.S., dated by Rafinesque 800-1100, marked by warfare between the three principal tribal stocks, the Lenni Lenape, Iroquois and Cherokee, and conquests on the part of the aggressive Shawnee at the expense of the Natchez, Apalache, Catawbas and others in the Southeast. Rafinesque names some Southeastern tribes for the first time when he says of the beginning of the Mississippian period:

In order to resist their numerous enemies, they formed a general confederacy extending from the Lakes to Florida which soon became formidable even to their former allies, under the name of Massawomees or Wassawomees. The branches of this great alliance were known by the names of Sauk and Kickapoo in the west, Uchee and Chowanac in the east, Satanas in the north and Savannas in the south.

He also says of this period of Shawnee ascendancy:

During this struggle many revolutions had occurred around Kentucky. The Conoy had become powerful in the Kanawa valley and the Illinois on the Wabash. The Shawnees enter into an alliance with them. The Chickasaws begin to grow powerful in the southwest and wage war with the Shawanees.

We will also pass over rapidly Rafinesque’s fifth period, from the unification of the Indians west of the Alleghenys under the Ottawas about 1400 to the entrada of de Soto in 1540. During this last pre-contact period in the Southeast:


The Shawnees had possession of the greatest part of Kentucky, the Cumberland valley in Tennessee, nearly all the banks of the Ohio, and they had settlements or colonies in Illinois, Georgia, Carolina and Tennessee. They had nearly one hundred towns, many of which were very populous. The Chickasaws claimed by conquest the west of Tennessee and Kentucky, and resided southerly of the Ohio. . . In Virginia, the Conoy, Monacan and Uchee.

Interestingly in the light of the recent discovery by Richard Thornton of Maya ruins in North Georgia, Rafinesque acknowledges in concluding his history of pre-Columbian North America:

Several other nations, besides the Atalans, Cutans, Iztacans and Oghuzians had reached various parts of America before the modern Europeans, such as the Mayas or Malays,[30] the Scandinavians, the Chinese, the Ainus of Eastern Asia and the Negritians or African Negroes, but as they did not settle in or near Kentucky, they do not fall under my present scope.

Rafinesque follows primarily the Walam Olum but also relies on distinct Shawnee, Haudenosaunee, Cherokee, and Ottawa traditions, evidently blending his sources. He was the first historian to write about the rise and fall of American Indian empires in a coherent and continuous narrative from an indigenous point of view—one that, incidentally, included Jewish, Hindu, Mexican, Incan and Chinese sources. His sweeping survey addresses the origins of all major Eastern tribes and most of the minor ones. Before their admixture with Asiatic Indians (Rafinesque’s Iztacans and Oghuzians), these First Peoples of America had Eurasian lineages, mitochondrial haplogroups we now identify as H, I, J, K, N, R, U, V, W and X. The exact proportions of these “non-Indian” types in Cherokee descendants matches ancient DNA work and suggests a time frame of approximately the Late Neolithic, Copper and Bronze Age (about 2000 to 500 BCE) for their implantation in the New World. After that, they were engulfed by the classic “Indian” types A, B, C and D. But the stamp of their Old World origin remained in the DNA record as there was never a clean break or population replacement, only “wars and revolutions.”

In the next chapter, we shift gears from Mediterranean origins to the Scandinavian backdrop postulated for many Eastern tribes in North America. Following that excursus, we will have a look at post-Columbian admixture involving the same Eurasian sources and return to the question of what ancestry is ancient and what is recent in the Cherokees.




[1] Constantine S. Rafinesque, The American Nations: Outlines of a National History, of the Ancient and Modern Nations of North and South America; Generalities and Annals (Philadelphia: C.S. Rafinesque, 1836).

[2] Known anciently as Lakamha (Pelagian for “Water Big”), this Maya city-state in southern Mexico flourished in the seventh century. The ruins date from ca. 226 BC and are extensive. By 2005, the discovered area covered up to 1 square mile but it is estimated that less than 10% of the total area of the city is explored, leaving more than a thousand structures still covered by jungle. Palenque receives more than a million visitors a year today.

[3] Rafinesque, like most of his contemporaries, believed that the earth was of a relatively young age. James Ussher, a seventeenth-century English divine, pronounced in a 1658 chronology titled The Annals of the World that God created the world precisely on October 23, 4004 BCE.

[4] See Old World Roots of the Cherokee, pp. 58-73. Dr. Ward was hardly one of Rafinesque’s “phantoms.” The last manhunt for him appeared in the Indiana Magazine of History in 1987 and was inconclusive. Since then, however, the Federal census has become readily available online for the pertinent Indiana counties and year in question. I was able to find a Thomas Ward in the 1820 schedule for Vanderburgh County, which borders on the township of Cynthiana. See also Harry B. Weiss, Rafinesque’s Kentucky Friends (Highland Park, N.J.: Privately printed, 1936).

[5] Rafinesque calls them Gomerians but they are they Cymmerians in today’s nomenclature, an Indo-European people of the Russian steppes. In the Biblical table of nations used in Rafinesque’s day, Gomer was a descendant of Japheth, a son of Noah, and one of his sons in turn was Ashkenaz, traditionally identified with the Germanic peoples of Eastern European Jewry (Gen. 10:2). Gomerians can be identified with fair-skilled ancestors of Celts, Goidels, Galls, and Gaels (all related words). According to an Ethiopian view of history derived from the Amharic Book of Jubilees, “A party of Gaelic-speaking Japhethites (who were of lighter complexion), and Canaanite speaking Hammites (who were dark skinned) made a surveying expedition to the New World soon after this [fall of Tower of Babel]. . . [as] is evident from the petroglyphs found on Turkey Mountain near Tulsa, present day Oklahoma.  There, exactly on the 36th parallel, is found the Canaanite word Pyaa’ and above it, the old Celtic word Guin. Both words signified the same in both languages: “White” or “whites.” In other words, this site was to serve as the boundary marker between the “white” nations of Japheth to the north, and the darker nations of Ham to the South.  The word Gwyn still means white or fair in Welsh today. The Welsh people call themselves Cymru and identify as direct descendants of Gomer.

[6] Literally, “giants, people of the earth,” in Greek mythology, supposed to live in the Western Mediterranean around Mt. Atlas.

[7] Olalde, I. et al. “The Beaker Phenomenon and the Genomic Transformation of Northwest Europe, Nature 555 (2018): 190-96.

[8] In Greek mythology, the Sea People encountered around the Mediterranean basin when the Indo-Europeans invaded from the north and east. They may be identical with the Phoenicians, Minoans or Berbers.

[9] Kora, Senegalese, West African, possibly the Arabic-speaking founders of the Coree in South Carolina.

[10] Sanskrit elements prush “ice, frost” + ku “earth, land.”

[11] It was the first book in a European language written on American soil. See Chap. VI, “Haytian Annals,” pp. 162-215. Fray Ramón Pané, An Account of the Antiquities of the Indians. A New Edition, with an Introductory Study, Notes, and Appendices by José Juan Arrom, trans. Susan C. Griswold (Duke UP, 1999).

[12] The American Nations, p. 166.

[13] “What the Heck Is a Late Bronze Age Iberian Sun Temple Doing Under an Appalachian Mountain Mound?”: https://apalacheresearch.com/2019/12/04/what-in-the-heck-is-a-late-bronze-age-iberian-sun-god-temple-doing-under-an-appalachian-mountain-mound/.

[14] Descendants of Tubal (Gen. 10:2) believed to have populated the region south of the Black Sea from whence they spread north and east.

[15] Strange to say, but the Cherokee have a legend about huios Dios, Son of Zeus, a title of Herakles, whom they call Su-too Jee, a mythic strong man who dwelt on Lookout Mountain.

[16] The first English pioneers in Watauga Country mentioned Pan-Indian Olympic-styled games held every four years near Abingdon, Va.

[17] In Greek mythology, the first king of Thebes. During his reign a great flood, called the Ogygian deluge, was said to have overwhelmed the land.

[18] Also called Apalachee, this was a very old national group in the Southern Highlands. The Apalaches were so prominent at the time of European contact that the entire mountain range where they ruled was named after them. Descendants in the Creek Confederacy preserve the name as Aparashe. Richard Thornton says this is Panoan and means “From the Ocean (or Amazon Basin) – Descendants of.” He explains, “The Panoan word for ocean and Amazon Basin are almost the same, except for an accent. The Panoans and Creeks roll their r’s so hard that most Europeans, except the Spanish, wrote the sound as an l. So the Panoan pronunciation of Peru is Palu. There was a town on the Chattahoochee River, between the mountains and present day Atlanta named Apalu . . . which means From Peru.” According to the etymology recorded by Garcilaso, Peru got its name from Pelu ‘river.’ Rafinesque derived the name Apalache from the Pelagian elements apo ‘from, across, along’ (compare Greek apo, German ab) and lach ‘sea, water, lake’ (compare loch).  The two explanations are not mutually exclusive.

[19] Popoluca is a Nahuatl term for various indigenous peoples of southeastern Veracruz and Oaxaca. Many of them speak languages of the Mixe–Zoque family. Others speak the unrelated Mazatecan languages of the Oto-Manguean language family, closely related to Mazatec.

[20] The Poverty Point culture on Bayou Macon overlooking the Mississippi floodplain, usually dated to 1700 BCE, is unusual for six concentric rings built beneath an artificial mountain shaped like a thunderbird, a plan that resembles that of the capital city of Atlantis, as described by Plato (Balthazar 1992, p. 2; Muck 1976, pp. 8-9). The Portsmouth Works on the Ohio shore of the Ohio River, one of the oldest mound sites, and visited more than once by Rafinesque, has the exact proportions and design of the so-called cross of Atlantis, or Celtic cross (Balthazar 10-11).

[21] The Allegheny Mountains were named after the Talegewis, or rather vice versa, confusingly, since Taligewa in Algonquian languages means “the people over there,” and Allegheny means “the over-there mountains.” Thus Taliwa and Taligewa may be Algonquian translations of “People from Far Away” and “Land of the People from Far Way.”

[22] Named for the Conoy Indians.

[23] We would say today Basque and Celtoiberian.

[24] The most widely spoken language in South America, one of two official languages of Paraguay today.

[25] The Tuatha de Danann of Irish myth, who were the first people of the island and are said to have established Tara. Possibly the same as the Danes (?).

[26] On De Bry’s map, this was an Indian village located inland from the mouth of the St. Johns River in 1564.

[27] “Huehue Tlapallan, meaning ‘Old Red Land,’ was evidently identical with the city of Rhoda and Red City to the South of the Hopis [Palitkwapi].”  Donald N. Yates, The Merchant Adventurer Kings of Rhoda: The Lost World of the Tucson Artifacts (Longmont: Panther’s Lodge, 2018), p. 27.

[28] See David McCutchen, The Red Record. The Wallam Olum: The Oldest Native North American History (Garden City Park: Avery, 1993).

[29] This event seems to correspond to the political defection and migrations recounted by the Choctaw. It can perhaps be set about 200-400 BCE.

[30] Rafinesque was one of the first scholars to recognize the large debt Classic Maya civilization owed to Cambodia and other cultures of Southeast Asia.


  Comments: 4

  1. Richard Thornton

    There is much genetic and linguistic evidence to back up Rafinesque’s general pattern of multi-cultural influences on the Americas, but his chronology and migration patterns are way, way off, except for the founding of Tenochtitlan in 1325. However, the primary linguistic, genetic and artistic evidence points to Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia and Galicia, not the Mediterranean. Some of the most common glyphs in the Maya writing system can be found on the Nykoping , Sweden petroglyphs, which date to 2000 BC. Almost all the symbols on Georgia’s Track Rock petroglyphs can be found at Nykoping. Most of Georgia’s petroglyphs are identical to either those in Bronze Age Sweden, Bronze Age western Ireland or the region around Dundee, Scotland. There is evidence of “visitors” from the western Mediterranean, but not large numbers of immigrants.

    The oldest mounds in Peru, Georgia and Louisiana predate the first mounds in Mexico by 2500 years. Pottery appeared in Georgia and Peru about 1500 years before it appeared in Mexico, but the oldest pottery in the Americas has been found in the heart of Amazonia. Maya architecture predates Angkor Wat by about 1000 years, so the Mayas owe nothing to the Cambodians. Mexican civilization was spawned by super tall, red-haired, big-skulled people from Peru. The offspring of these “cone heads” mixed with locals became the Toltecas. The Creeks are descended from the Toltecas. That is why we are so tall. However, the Choctaws are descended from a people in NE Mexico who were not as tall. The Creeks picked a dialect of the Choctaw while temporarily living among them. However, many Panoan peoples had already settled in Georgia before the Creeks got there, so much of what people think is aboriginal Creek culture, such as the Sacred Black Drink, stomp dance and “Creek Square” came from the Panoans. Rafinisque did not guess the large South American population in the Southeast.

    Rafinisque’s writings are contemporary with the Book of Mormon and share’s the propensity by writers of that era to create names of ethnic groups that sound exotic. I think most of those names are contrived.

    As for the Cherokees, they were nothing until they became major players in the Native American slave trades then swelled their numbers with captives they decided to keep. It should be remembered that there were 14 bands of indigenous peoples, speaking 14 distinct dialects or languages, who formed the tribe at the behest of the British Crown in 1725. The are not one ethnic group, but an assimilation of many ethnic groups. The Cherokees captured Native American slaves as far away as southern Florida, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, so there is going to be all sorts of DNA test markers in modern Cherokee descendants. At least, though, Ravenisque did recognize the complexity of The history of the Americas.

    • Hi, Richard You misjudge Rafinesque, I think, he has nothing to do with the Mormons. He died in 1840. He was of a rigorous European training. He was constantly offended by those with pet ideas about the Indians in America. No one should make sweeping statements, he said. He was well grounded with Indian seer tradition however and had met Tenskwatawa among others. I have also met some Indian keepers of oral tradition and written about it. Rafinesque strikes me as having humility and respecting the truth in all its complexity. He followed Indian traditions because they spoke to him and seemed right.

  2. Don,

    This entire subject of who came from where, to where, and when, is endlessly fascinating and astoundingly complex . . . and I love it!! I’ve just recently enjoyed Rafinesque’s “Ancient History, or Annals of Kentucky,” and am working through his “The Ancient Monuments of North and South America,” both eye-popping for me. And my visits to Ocmulgee and Etowah 14 months ago raised more questions and rattled more spirits than I could handle, but it only made me want to learn more! Thanks for sharing your research, Don, and for your quest for the truth.

  3. Dear Don :).

    I agree with Bob! Thank you for your quest for the truth! I believe you are spot on in your theories. Of course I don’t have the extensive background and experience that you and Richard have, but I wanted to chime in and tell you about several papers that I have read by Stuart Harris. I believe Richard might be familiar with his writings, because his name is mentioned in a few of the papers.

    Mr. Harris has 42 papers published on “Academia,” several of which, I believe, may further support what you have to say, and perhaps you would like to consult him further. Please reach out to me if you are interested and would like his contact information.

    The paper that I find of particular interest: “Decipherment of Inscribed Stone from Georgia.”

    “According to Richard Thornton, this stone most likely came from the Etowah Mounds region of Georgia…”

    Mr. Harris indicates that the scribe wrote in Finnish; however, he goes on to further state: “The style of writing is a modern version of the syllabary used by Phoenicians from 1100 BC, before their scribes converted to an alphabet. In the Netherlands, this conversion took place around 400 BC, at the same time that the new Frisian language replaced Finnish.”

    Additional papers by Mr. Harris that are of the same subject matter:

    “Grave Creek Stone Decipherment,” Decipherment of 400 BC Jade Disk from Cynthia, Kentucky,” “Decipherment of the Perimeter Wall of Glenford Fort, an Adena Mound Site in Perry County, Ohio,” “Chattahoochee Stone Ship Burial Decipherment,” “Decipherment of the Great Serpent Mound of Ohio into Finnish,” “Decipherment of Shawnee Joe’s Two Stories.”

    Stuart Harris’ qualifications from “Academia”: “Stuart L Harris graduated from Princeton, Pennsylvania and Stanford Universities, and then worked in the semiconductor industry. An interest in ancient history led to learning Finnish, then to decipherment of Minoan Linear A. From this a host of other decipherments followed including Owners Marks, Old European, Iberian, Camonican, Etruscan, Tartessian, Phrygian, Glozel, Indus Valley, Linear Elamite and Pictish Ogham.A parallel interest in archaeology led to the discovery of Pohjola from Kalevala.”

    Again, wado!

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