Mound Builders and Cliff Dwellers
By John Fuhler
When Edgar Cayce documented the Indian migrations from the Yucatan to the North American Southeast, he was engaging a subject that would become one of the most controversial in American archaeology. Though hypotheses of the Yucatan-American Southeast connection have circulated some 200 years, it was not until the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries that these relationships have been systematically explored and the hypotheses tested. Yet, as recently as 2003, some archaeologists considered the very discussion taboo! i
Language, like genetics, is an artifact of prehistoric cultures. With careful analysis of the data, linguists are able to deduce the origins and movements of peoples across space and time. The results are as relevant and incontrovertible as genetic data.
Joseph Greenberg assigned the Gulf languages of the American Southeast to the Penutian family of languages based his hypothesis that Yuki, a California language isolate, shares an affinity with the California Penutian languages and the Gulf languages of the American Southeast. ii In 1987, linguistics established the Penutian family to include California Penutian, Mexican Penutian, Yuki-Gulf Penutian, New Mexico Penutian (Zuni), as well as four other groups. Though not uncontested, this classification effectively confirmed the Yuki-Gulf relationship, thereby providing the crucial link required to affirm Greenberg’s rationale.iii
These data are very relevant to our study of the readings, two of which are crucial:
The entity was among those of the second generation of Atlanteans who struggled northward from Yucatan, settling in what is now a portion of Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio; being among those of the earlier period known as Mound Builders. (3528-1)
…the entity was…among those called the Cliff Dwellers, being of those peoples who came up from Yucatan to the Northeast and to portions of Arizona and New Mexico… (5729-1)
These two readings recall Greenberg’s hypothesis about the linguistic relationship between the peoples of the Yucatan, the American Southeast, the American Southwest, and California. Likewise it echoes an observation about the Yuki that Robert Melton wrote to Morris Swadesh:
Ethnological evidence [indicates] that the Yuki do not “belong” in California, and have had seemingly direct contact with the Pueblo and SW, most likely in passage from near New Orleans.iv
Cherokee mythology also remembers their migration from the Yucatan to the American Southeast.v And the Cherokee blood group and antigen traits cluster most closely with the Eastern Maya and Nahua.vi
Several readings document that some migrated directly from the Yucatan to the American Southwest:
The entity was among those who came to what is now the Yucatan land, later journeying with many of those peoples to the south and west – or in portions of Arizona… (2576-1)
The entity came to the South and West from what is now the Yucatan… (1204-3)
In this regard, then, the presence of the Zuni, one of the congeners of the Penutian family of languages, confirms a relationship between the American Southwest and the Yucatan.vii
Thus, linguistic data reveal the relationship between the Yucatan and the American Southeast; the readings, Cherokee mythology and blood data attest to migrations from the Yucatan to the Eastern United States; and the readings and linguistics reveal a connection to the American desert Southwest.
Morris Swadesh postulated that a minimum of 96 centuries was required for the lexicostatistic diversity among what he called Macro-Mayan, which he stated includes Sapir’s Penutian.viii From the readings we learn that the egress to the Yucatan began about 12,550 YBP.
From time as counted in the present we would turn back to 10,600 years before the Prince of Peace came into the land of promise, and find a civilization being disturbed by corruption from within to such measures that the elements join in bringing devastation to a stiffnecked and adulterous people… (5750-1)
Given the limitations of Swadesh’ lexicostatistic measures to estimate the depth of time required to produced the diversity now found among these languages, future research might well reveal a time depth closer to that suggested by the readings.
Now that Mexican and American anthropologists are daring to explore the question of a direct relationship between the Yucatan and the American Southeast, they have found compelling discoveries. These include well-documented monumental and ideological elements as well as a plethora of material artifacts, all testifying to that relationship. We are only just now discovering its scope.
John Fuhler has been involved in the field of alternative medicine for more than 25 years. He received his BA in anthropology from the University of Illinois and studied in Glasgow, Scotland, and Portland, Ore. As an amateur archaeologist, he participated in projects in Ariz., Calif., Hawaii, N.M., and Wis.; reporting discoveries in Ore. and Scotland. His tribal affiliations include: Saxon, Friesian, Bohemian, Irish (O'Meagher clan), and Wyandot. He volunteers his skills with organizations supporting the homeless, forest services, and families. He enjoys reading the bible in Greek and Latin.
i White, N.M. Prehistoric connections around the Gulf Coast. In White, N.M. (Ed.) 2005. Gulf Coast Archaeology: The Southeastern United States and Mexico. University Press of Florida: Gainesville, FL.
ii Greenberg, J.H. 1987. Language in the Americas. Stanford University Press: Stanford, CA. For a discussion of Greenberg’s hypothesis: Ruhlen, M. 1991 (reprinted with postscript). A Guide to the World’s Languages. Volume 1: Classification. 234-6.
iii Ruhlen, loc. cit.; Munro, P. 1994. Gulf and Yuki-Gulf in Journal of Anthropological Linguistics vol. 36 no. 2, 125-222.
iv Quoted in Ruhlen, op.cit. 235-6.
vi Kehoe, A.B. Wind Jewels and Paddling Gods: The Mississippian Southeast in the Postclassic Mesoamerican World. In White, N.M. (2005). 263.
vii Though the Zuni currently reside in New Mexico, this was not always the case. Cf. Reid, J. and S. Whittlesey. 1997. The Archaeology of Ancient Arizona. The University of Arizona Press: Tucson, AZ. 107.
viii Swadesh, M. Lexicostatistic classification. In McQuown, N. (Ed.) 1967. Linguistics. Vol. V. of Wauchope, R. (Ed.) Handbook of Middle American Indians. University of Texas Press: Austin, TX. 88-90.