The Spirit is Willing and the Culture is Confirming
The real import to the Yuchean Spiritual Lexicon is while many of these words have meaning and use in other languages -- it is a secondary or derived usage, whereas they have primary usage in Yuchean, i.e. they are borrowed from the Yuchean into the other languages. This can be established by the structure of the unique Yuchi language. First it is morpheme agglomerative (more so than German), that is the words are made up of elements (morphemes) that have specific meanings themselves -- therefore one can more easily trace the origins of any word as it arises in, or from the Yuchi. Second, Yuchean is a language isolate, which means it is not closely related to any other known language. It also is a very pristine isolate, which raises large questions of how the Yuchi lived intimately (particularly with the Koasati) and engaged in exchange without incorporating neighboring language words into the Yuchean. This is because the Yuchi were exceedingly protective of their language, more so than even the French are of theirs. However, the opposite is not true. When we look at the other neighboring languages, we find that they have borrowed quite a number of words from the Yuchean.
A classic example is the word for translator/interpreter: Yatiki. This word, and words derived from it, are widely used throughout the neighboring languages -- very likely because the Yuchi were long involved in commerce and trade. In these other languages their is no etymological trace of its evolution, but it clearly is made up of Yuchean morphemes. In Yuchean it is a dimorphic term made up of the morphemes for "fire" ("wood-yellow") and "hand" ("receiver"). Similar morphemes give rise to the term for "poleboy" (Yadjiki) as well. So one can most often establish a known origin for a word in Yuchean. The other words in the Spiritual Lexicon are also dimorphemes and polymorphemes leading to the conclusion that they are original words from the Yuchean. This does not argue against some terms having multiple origins and being used because they have dual meaningfulness -- but it does accumulate a very strong argument that the Yuchi language and the Greencorn/moundbuilding priesthood coevolved in time. This strongly supports oral traditions among the Yuchi elders that state the said same.
The import of the Spiritual Yuchean Lexicon also is that these words are as important as words like "land" and "water" (often used by linguists) for finding cross language connections. Iniha is a dimorpheme in Yuchi with the meaning of "true ceremony" and "people." It is used by many Southeastern peoples as a term for priests or religious leaders. It was a term used by the Algonquin (Lenape and Shawnee) for their priests, and the Yuchi were very close to these people, as they were with the Koasati -- often living among them all. So it is not just that these words have meaning in Yuchi, but that they have their roots of origin in Yuchean. So while Kutani means priest in several languages, its traceable roots are to be found in the Yuchean where it is a dimorpheme meaning "to make brothers." While Shawano is associated with the Shawnee, its traceable roots are in the Yuchean as a dimorpheme as Chief Sam Brown, Jr. taught us.
Based in this brief analysis of these several key words, one comes to a strong conclusion that the Yuchi were key players in the Moundbuilding/Green Corn Rites, and that the evidence indicates a coevolution of these Rites with the Yuchean language based on its structure and the words' subsequent spread to neighboring languages. Further etymological analysis will demonstrate that the Yuchi were instrumental in founding this pan-Southeastern culture, as traders and priests in order to maintain peace among the peoples -- as the elders have long maintained. It should also be noted that the culture was far more influential and significant in its range across Eastern North America as to be deemed more than just the original tribal confederacy (predating the Iroquois League and the Creek Confederacy), but understood as the First United States of this Land. For far to long the dimensions and quality of the Moundbuilding culture has been minimized, and portrayed as only a loose affiliation of warring tribes. I believe the evidence supports a new view, uncolored by the dominant cultural jingoism, marginalization and minimization that has been so long told of this culture.
Oral traditions may be suspect, but the confirming power encoded in the Yuchean language is a history unto itself, waiting to be unraveled. I have talked to spiritual leaders from a number of tribes who have been taught by their elders that the Tsoyaha Yuchi were indeed the Isopogogee, "Children of the Sun."
© 2010 David Hackett (Woktela)