It appears we are at impasses on some of the historical puzzles in our nation's past, that require something more than our usual parochial thinking to figure out how the pieces of the puzzles fit together--in the bigger puzzle which is the world. As a student of people and places, I see a need for a better appreciation by our young people of many things, like psychology and geography, and finance and mythology, to enable them to understand the events that have brought us to where we are now. These things, and all else, are the elements of our history, some of the most interesting bits of which are lost in the historical trash bin.
After nosing about a bit in our historical trash, I've concluded that we may be placing too much emphasis on things like Norman ancestry to see the little folks, the real people, who greased the skids for the slides into the hells in which our ancestors sometimes found themselves. One such hell, small by comparison with the liquid fuel air burst fry on the road from Kuwait to Baghdad, was Neooherooka. Neooherooka was the key to the removal of Indian resistance to European colonization of the Southeast.
We've made a lot of progress since Neooherooka. I can remember a paper exercise at Ft. Sam Houston, where the central concern was recovery and treatment of wounded on the fast moving Air-Land battlefield. We cleaned that military doctrine problem up by eliminating the wounded from the battlefield. Neooherooka was not so neat.
I spent some time in Saudi Arabia, in efforts to prepare the Saudis for the fast-moving Air-Land Battle. Since returning from Saudi
Arabia in 1989, I have continued research on the Indians of eastern North Carolina, that began with study of my own family's history. This research carried me far from home and inspired the ballad, The Search for Johnny Chevin, that raises more questions than it answers.
My research has included trips to the St. Louis, Missouri, area, in conjunction with my Army Reserve activities. The Indian city on Cahokia Creek, east of St. Louis, was the cultural high water mark of the American Indians. Cahokia was like a great palisaded Celtic oppidum, with ceremonial and burial mounds. Farfetched as it may seem, Cahokia may have had some cultural ties to Neooherooka. Inconceivable as it may seem, it is closely related to the history of the buffalo in America. But more about the American bison, after we look at some other tragedies.
My interest in Indians began with stories my grandfather told me about people and places beyond my imagining. This research convinces me that we are sitting on a lot of exciting history and pageantry here, if we dare to defy our closed-mouth ancestors and bring it to light. What follows is my best shot at trying to explain this history, as I have been able to piece it together.
A recent News and Observer article by Dennis Rogers about George Williams' thesis on the slaughter of arrogant young Union Army Reservists from Boston, at Seven Springs during the Civil war by Union Army regulars, is relevant to my findings on the history of this area. It relates back to a deep and ancient conflict between the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons.
We have to understand a lot of ancient history to appreciate why immigrant Irish Union regular soldiers would willfully slaughter the flower of New England aristocracy. It was a deed based on hate rooted in the middle ages. That ancient hate bore fruit in the 19th century. It still bears bitter fruit in Ireland.
There are old hates in our society, with deep roots in the hidden past, that still cause strange behavior until they're understood. The deeds we do are the burdens our grandchildren will bear. Our ancestors were involved in much that needed forgiving and forgetting, but they had trouble saying, "I'm sorry."
The Goldsboro area, from the Saponi Hills to Contentnea Creek, has a long, tragic history our ancestors have tried to forget. This history is relevant to many of the social, political and economic problems our nation faces today. Its brutality and apparent mindlessness makes us tired before we see the sense in it. But for the person who can't rest with ideas that don't make sense, the study of this history is rewarding, and liberating.
Television has begun to pay homage to Columbus as the discoverer of America, in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of his discovery of the Antilles. This is an appropriate time to bring to the public some of the true color and complexity of America's discovery, exploration and settlement. Smithsonian Magazine kicked things off with the article in the September issue setting the official tone.
The tongue-in-cheek discussion by Donald Dale Jackson of possible discoveries of America antedating Columbus was amusing, entertaining and guaranteed to engender skepticism. It was interesting to see recognition given to Asiatic seafaring capabilities, that open up significant new possibilities for the interpretation of Amerindian cultures. It was inevitable that he pay respect to the "Welsh Indians," however facetiously, and he did.
Jackson seemed to not want to downgrade Columbus. Since my grandmother was Italian, I don't want to either; but when he touched on the "Welsh Indians" he kicked over a real can of historical worms. Jackson was careful not to insult his reader's intelligence, but he steadfastly refused to touch any of the worms he spilled. The Welsh and their Viking connections, are the bedrock mythology that underlies American history that, in fact, reaches back to ancient Canaan and Phoenicia through the Irish Viking connections.
I'll try to explain what the "Welsh Indian" thing is all about, as I understand it, in bringing to light some other things that are nearer to home. It begins in a literate antiquity in Ireland, with the love offspring of a Welsh king and an Irish princess named Brenda, who was descended from Viking Kings of Dublin. Brenda's child was winner of a genetic jackpot that put him into conflict with his father and his brothers, that culminated in the Prince Madoc story. But more about that later.
Dr. Thomas C. Parramore, professor of history at Meredith College, wrote an article entitled "The Tuscarora Ascendancy," in the October 1982 North Carolina Historical Review, that prompted me to look more closely into my own family's history. It is traditional that my ancestors were Welshmen who were at "Nehooky" when it was destroyed, and that Pates were married to Chevins and Carys who were very much involved in the Tuscarora War, as officials of the colonial Albemarle.
My grandfather, Daniel Floyd ("Taud") Pate, told me the Coree were the "worst of the bad Indians." They were originally Bertie County Indians, according to Pate family tradition, lords of Currytuck and the Chowan Valley, before being driven southward by the Iroquoian Tuscarora. The Keyauwee are identified with the Coree and Nynee as tribes against which Gov. Daniel declared war as early as 1703, according to colonial Records of the North Carolina Executive Council.
John R. Swanton, in the authoritative Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 145, The Indian Tribes of North America, identified the Keyauwee as Siouan. It seems likely the Coree were tribally related to the Keyauwee. Their migration from Currituck to the south side of the Neuse River, with the Saponis, suggests they were reluctant Siouan vassals of the Iroquoian Tuscaroras when first encountered historically.
The first lesson I learned from John Lawson's New Voyage to Carolina, etc. was that the Indian people, however denominated or derived, from Okracoke to Ohio, all spoke some Iroqouian dialect when Lawson got here. However, he gives us little insights into how they came under this cultural influence. Well, it's not a pretty story.
The Indians here in North Carolina in Lawson's time (circa 1700) were under the tread of the Iroquoian juggernaut, that had long before made the blue grass buffalo meadows of Kentucky the Indians' "Dark and Bloody Ground," in wars against the people who became known to us as the Algonquian and Siouan nations. It was the hard-times hunting ground of the Algonquian Shawnees and Delawares , who flitted ghost-like there, after being driven from their Atlantic seaboard homes by the Iroquois . It was the prehistoric home of the Neutral and Erie peoples, a remnant of which became the Catawba nation, while others were scattered all over the Far West, where they are shown on the 1718 DeLisle Map as the Padoucas and the Pawnees.
The buffaloes were run out of Kentucky by Indians who were trying to get away from the Iroquois. The Iroquois were a confederation made up of Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Mohawk and Oneida, to which was added, more or less loosely, the Susquehannocks, Tuscaroras and Cherokees, Meherrins, Nottoways, Doegs and others, as they came under the Iroquoian heel. The Iroquoian warriors liked to sport porcupine quill breast plates, and were referred to as Mingoes, or Mangoaks (rattlesnakes), perhaps because jogging Senecas sounded like rattlesnakes.
The Iroquois were proud of their prowess as foot soldiers, and prowled the land west of the Mississippi from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, on foot. They lorded it over everybody, regardless of race, color, creed or national origin. They were special terrors in rugged mountains where horses couldn't go. Historically, they kept the country safe from French encroachments for the English, but their own interests became more and more in conflict with those of the English, as time went on.
The time dimension dynamic has been somewhat lost by novelists like Pat Winters, who has rather shallowly exploited the Madoc myth. The mountains of the Southeast were originally populated by Siouan descendants of the Erie, for whom the buffalo was central to their existence. By the time the written history of our nation began, The Sioux (more properly Nadiosioux, the French corruption of Madawgwese, meaning "people of Madoc") had been scattered by the Iroquoians.
The historical deep raids into the South and West by "Senegers" and "Mingoes" were to reinforce the terror their ancestors had struck into the hearts of the ancestors of the Sioux. But when the Siouans got horses, they knew the bully days of the Iroquois were over. They cautiously began their horse breeding and plotted the overthrow of the Iroquois. Horses gave them a big edge, until the Iroquois got guns. Then the Sioux knew it was time to really move out. They also knew the buffalo was their best bet as field rations, however far they had to go to get clear of Iroquoian intimidation, and retribution, because the Siouan people were not ones to take a licking lying down.
First they moved out the women and children. That was the origin of the tipi. The Iroquois were pleased to see them go. Then the Sioux came back for the buffalo. That was when the Iroquois noticed there was a problem. The destruction, or scattering, of the Erie is typical of the way the Iroquois settled their political and economic problems. The destruction and displacement of the buffalo was the key to the undoing of all of America's Indians.
The destruction, or really the dispersion, of the Eries by the Iroquois is discussed by Fairfax Harrison in his well-documented Landmarks of Old Prince William. In this study of early Virginia he concluded that the Erie were the "Merry Monahoacs," who were ultimately destroyed as the Rickahockians, at the site of present day Richmond, at the falls of the James River. Our ancestors learned early on that the Indians had an eye for good real estate. The Monahoacs felt like they had plenty to be happy about. They and their southeastern Siouan relatives had access to buffalo beef well up into historical times.
The bulk of the Erie people went west with the buffalo. Remnants of the Eries migrated southward as the Saponi, Tutelos and Occanneechi, who allied themselves with the powerful Siouan Catawba, who are identified by John Franklin Phillips as descendants of the Niagras and Eries, in The American Indian in Alabama and Southeast. Now you know why there are no buffalos in Buffalo. The Erie resisted centuries of Iroquoian pressure, but were ultimately cut off from their western relatives by the Iroquoian ancestors of the Cherokee. The eastern remnants of these people are probably further identifiable with the Westos of South Carolina, identified as Yuchi by Swanton, with the synonym "Rickohockans."
Westos and others are identified as Yuchi by Swanton from the southeastern Atlantic seaboard to "near Fort St. Louis, near the present Utica, Ill." In this case, Utica is an interesting accommodation of the English to the name Yuchi, and has nothing to do with the ancient Greeks. The route of migration is classic for the "Padoucas," the mythical Welsh Indians who, like the Phoenix, continue to arise from their own ashes, however burned by the historical critics.
The cunning resilience of the Erie was more than the ancestors of the Iroquois had anticipated. When the buffalo were driven from the backdoor of the Iroquois Confederation, the Iroquois began to awaken from their dreams of nationhood, in alliance with Europeans.
The Yuchian language is identified by Swanton as having in it Muskhogean and Siouan elements. The early English colonists called them the "Round Town People." They called themselves "The People of the Sun." I believe they were the remnant of foreigners who imposed upon the Hopewell culture of the Mississippi tributary rivers a foreign veneer. Swanton said that Yuchi was a linguistic stock "distinct from all others, though structurally their speech bears a certain resemblance to the Muskhogean and Siouan families."
We learn from the Handbook of North American Indians Volume 15 Northeast, published by the Smithsonian Institution in 1978, that the Iroquoian Confederation was locked in mortal combat with the remnants of the Mississippian culture of the "weeping eye" and "the cross" when the Breton (Brythonic-speaking) Jacques Cartier first encountered the Iroquois 16 July 1534. The Mississippian culture coincides in time with Viking and Welsh explorations reported in ancient European sources. Cartier was on his way to Sanguenay (Algonquian for Cahokia), when he met the Iroquois, who were in pursuit of the Eries, some of whom made their way to the Southeast as the Yuchis.
Historically, the Yuchi are identified in locations ranging from eastern Tennessee to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to Florida and up to South Carolina. Archaeologically they are identified on the Hiwassee River by T.M.N. Lewis. In other sources they are identified as being in West Florida and the Mobile area, the home of the Tohome, who Swanton identifies as White Indians. Their synthetic language is probably identifiable with the trading lingua franca of the Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, Cherokees, Seminoles, Natchez, and others, referred to by Adair and Bartram.
William Bartram indicated in the late 1700's that the Yuchi town on the Chattahoochee River was the most beautiful Indian town he had ever seen; "the habitations are large and neatly built; the walls are constructed of a wooden frame, then lathed and plastered inside and out with a reddish well tempered mortar, which gives them the appearance of red brick walls; and these houses are neatly covered or roofed with Cypress bark or shingles of that tree."
However, Bartram compounds the problem of the linguistic identity of the Yuchi by saying, "Their own national language is altogether or radically different from the Creek or Muscogulge tongue, and is called the Savanna or Savanuca tongue; I was told by the traders it was the same with, or a dialect of, the Shawanese."
F.W. Hodge was an early classifier of Indian historical and linguistic relationships. The problem that Hodge, Schoolcraft, Speck, and others of the Bureau of Ethnology pioneers could not overcome was the tremendous turmoil that existed in the American Indian world, that seems to have begun with a cultural revolution that dated from about 1200 A.D. Now you know where the term "Hodge-podge" comes from. It's a pile of information, the sense of which is difficult to discern.
However, we learn from Swanton and other sources that the Shawnee spoke an Algonquian language, and drove the Yuchi out of the Savannah River Valley. The fact is that all subject people speak the language of the dominant population, out of sheer necessity, even though the mother tongue may be spoken privately and ceremonially. And we know that friend or foe is as much a function of time, as it is of geography, economics, politics or psychology.
The Iroquoian dialects of the Tuscarora and the Cherokees were, we assume, a patois of Iroquoian (more ancient in the Cherokee) and the languages of subjugated peoples. The Algonquian structure and content of the Shawnee language may be nothing more than the linguistic consequences of military misadventures of the proto-Shawnee with a linguistically Algonquian people.
I feel about the schema of the linguists of the speech of the North American Indians, much as I do about those of the arrowhead hunters; they are functional as systems of classification. All students of American Indian history agree, we know nothing of the languages of most of the indians who lived prior to the 17th century. Words gathered out of historical context in this century (when most of the studies were done) don't mean much.
However, I can accept the Yuchi-Siouan connection of James M. Crawford, in The Languages of Native America (edited by Lyle Campbell and Marianne Mithun) based on Sapir and others. I can accept the Tunica connection with the Siouan people, simply because the Tunica were civilized people who wore clothing and farmed, when their neighbors were wandering, naked, cannibalistic savages. Language is a political consequence of war.
Culture is the key to our origins. Flawed cultures fail and fall, forgotten in ignominy. Art, politics and economics continually distort and transform culture, and the lives of the people who share it. Without history, you can have no cultural quality control. Without history, your culture quickly, as my grandfather used to say, "goes to hell in a handcart."
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