Thursday, September 29, 2016
Yellow Spectral Seed/ Yellow Lunar Warrior - Electric Deer Moon of Service, Day 10
Detail of Chiaha on a 1584 map of La Florida.
Chiaha was a Native American chiefdom located in the lower French Broad River valley in modern East Tennessee, in the southeastern United States. They lived in raised structures within boundaries of several stable villages. These overlooked the fields of maize, beans, squash, and tobacco, among other plants which they cultivated. Chiaha was the northern extreme of the paramount Coosa chiefdom's sphere of influence in the 16th century when the Spanish expeditions of Hernando de Soto and Juan Pardo passed through the area. The Chiaha chiefdom included parts of modern Jefferson and Sevier counties, and may have extended westward into Knox, Blount and Monroe counties.
The Spanish explorers' accounts of Chiaha provide a rare first-hand glimpse of life in a Dallas Phase Mississippian-era village. The Dallas culture, named after Dallas Island near Chattanooga where its distinct characteristics were first observed, dominated much of East Tennessee between approximately 1300 and 1600 AD. Both the de Soto and Pardo expeditions spent several days at Chiaha's principal village. The Pardo expedition constructed a short-lived fort nearby called San Pedro. But, by the time English explorers arrived in the area in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the Chiaha area was largely uninhabited and dominated by the Cherokee.
The chief village of Chiaha was called Olamico in their own language. The Hernando de Soto expedition recorded the name as Chiaha and the Pardo expedition as Olamico. It was located on an island in the French Broad River, in modern times called Zimmerman's Island. This island was located 33 miles (53 km) upstream from the mouth of the French Broad and approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) upstream from the present location of Douglas Dam. With the completion of Douglas Dam in 1943, a reservoir was created that completely submerged Zimmerman's Island, ending possible archaeological excavation of Olamico and the area.
Chiaha was the first fortified town which the de Soto expedition encountered. The expedition's chroniclers described the village's location as "two crossbow shots" (appx. 600 yards (550 m)) from the upstream (eastern) end of the island. The island ranged between one and two crossbow shots in width. The river was wide on both sides, but could be forded. Maize was growing along the river banks opposite the island. The chief of Chiaha loaned de Soto his house, and the expedition members were initially well treated by the village's inhabitants. After approximately two weeks, however, de Soto angered the village elders when he asked them to provide thirty women for his expedition. The offended people quickly got all the women away from the village. De Soto threatened to attack the settlement, and the people fled to an impenetrable island further upstream. De Soto finally dropped his demand for women, and instead asked for porters, which Chiaha agreed to supply.
Chiaha was on the northern fringe of the Coosa chiefdom's sphere of influence, which stretched from Chiaha in the north to Talisi (near modern Childersburg, Alabama) to the south. While most villages visited by Pardo were headed by a low-level local chief known as an orata, three villages— Chiaha, Joara, and Guatari— were each headed by a major regional chief known as a mico (some Muskogean-speaking tribes still used the word "mico" for "chief" as late as the 19th century). Micos were apparently subject to a paramount chief. At the time of De Soto's expedition, paramount chiefs resided at Cofitachequi and Coosa, but by the time of Pardo's expedition, Cofitachequi's power had been greatly reduced. The only known paramount chief was at Coosa, which Pardo never visited.
Life at Chiaha was probably characteristic of life in a Dallas-phase Mississippian period village. The Mississippian period, which began in Tennessee around 900 AD, marked the transformation of Native American tribes into complex agrarian societies. Mississippian peoples lived in or near relatively large villages whose design was centered on large, constructed plazas. These public plazas were flanked by one or more mounds used for religious and political purposes and related to the people's cosmology. The larger mounds, known as "platform mounds", were topped by public buildings. The Dallas cultures also built elaborate burial mounds.
In 1940, archaeologists surveyed Zimmerman's Island before it was inundated by reservoir waters. They photographed a 30-foot (9.1 m) Mississippian-style platform mound near the upstream end of the island. Researchers have noted that the fortifications described by the Spanish chroniclers (i.e., having square towers or bastions at various intervals) at nearby Tanasqui were consistent with the Dallas-phase fortifications excavated at the Toqua site in the 1970s. They were likely to have been revealed by excavation on Zimmerman's Island as well.
Like most Dallas-phase peoples, the Chiahans relied heavily on corn for sustenance. At Chiaha, De Soto and his men were given large portions of sofkee (a gruel similar to hominy grits), honey, and a sweet-tasting sauce made from bear fat. The people also collected the wild fruits, such as mulberries and grapes, that grew in abundance in the surrounding hills. The Chiahans stored their crops in raised storehouses, which the Spaniards called barbacoas.
The relationship between the Mississippian people in the Tennessee Valley and the later Cherokee inhabitants has been a source of debate since the late 19th century. Some have argued that the Cherokee are the descendants of the Mississippian people who lived in the valleys of Southern Appalachia until the late 16th century. Based on both linguistic and archaeological evidence, most scholars agree that the Cherokee, an Iroquoian-speaking people, did not arrive in the region until later, after having migrated from the Great Lakes area, where they and other Iroquoian peoples coalesced. They either conquered the Mississippian inhabitants or occupied their already-abandoned villages. By contrast, the language of the Dallas-phase inhabitants of the upper Tennessee Valley (including the people of Chiaha) was a Muskogean language known as Koasati. It is still used today by the Koasati tribe of Louisiana.*
Kin 24: Yellow Spectral Seed
I dissolve in order to target
I seal the input of flowering
With the spectral tone of liberation
I am guided by my own power doubled.
To establish memory as continuing consciousness we must cultivate meditative awareness and the natural mind of innocence, the root of enlightened being.*
*Star Traveler's 13 Moon Almanac of Synchronicity, Galactic Research Institute, Law of Time Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2016-2017.
The Sacred Tzolk'in
Ajna Chakra (Gamma Plasma)