Native American hunter-gatherers first arrived in the Appalachian region over 12,000 years ago in multiple migrations across the Bering Strait from Asia.

In 1789 Thomas Jefferson wrote,”I endeavor to collect all the vocabularies I can, of American Indians, as of those of Asia, persuaded, that if they ever had a common parentage, it will appear in their languages.”

In their research, ‘Linguistic Origins of Native Americans’, Joseph H. Greenberg and Merritt Ruhlen state,”The evidence of comparative linguistics indicates that the Americas were originally settled by three major migrations from Asia …… the recent discoveries at least in part fulfill Jefferson’s hope that one day the languages of native Americans would illuminate their relations to one another and will reveal the Asian origins of the first Americans.”

There is very little left of the Native American culture yet their are traces of some commonalities with ancient cultures of the East – some words that indicate that their languages might have been once close to that of Asia – even India.

The ‘Apalachee’ were a tribe of present-day Florida who lived in a village by the same name near Talahassee. It is sometimes believed that the Native American word ‘apache’, a collective term for several Native American tribes, has its source in the Yavapai word ‘epache’ meaning ‘people’. It is also sometimes traced to a Zuni word meaning ‘enemy’.

Some hold the view that this village got its name from the Apalachee word ‘abalahci’ which meant ‘the other side of the river’. Others say the word originated from the Muskogean ‘apalwahči’ which meant ‘dwelling on one side.’

In some languages of India that are derived from Sanskrit ‘apara‘ means on the other side, ‘vasi’ means ‘dweller’. ‘Paravasi’ or ‘aparavasi’ would then mean ‘dwellers on the other side of the river’- same as its Native American meaning.

Gene Matlock holds the view that the Apalachee derive their name from Palaza, a name of ancient Maghada, a powerful Yadava kingdom of India in what is today’s state of Bihar who migrated extensively establishing homes in various parts of the world. He states, “When the Palazis came to America, they came with the intention of staying”.

He adds, “Therefore, they became the Apalizis (ex-Palazis). Without a doubt, these ‘Apalazis’ were the founders of the mound-building cultures, for in other parts of the world they built the Egyptian pyramids, became the founding fathers of Greek civilization, and the like.” His view is identical with that of the 17th century scholar, Edward Pococke, who wrote in his book India in Greece: “Pelasa, the ancient name for the province of Bihar….Pelaska is a derivative form of Pelasa, whence the Greek ‘Pelasgos’…”

About the Pelasgis Edward Pococke further states, “So vast were their settlements, and so firmly rooted were the very names of the kingdoms, the nomenclature of the tribes – nay, the religious systems of the oldest forms of society – that I do not scruple to assert that the successive map of Spain, Italy, Greece, Asia Minor, Persia, and India may be read like the chart of an emigrant.”

The coast of Florida has many interesting names. What has caught the attention of people who have knowledge of Sanskrit are the coastal place names in Florida that end with the suffix ‘cola’ or ‘kUla’ (कूल) – which just happens to be Sanskrit for ‘coast’ or ‘river’ or ‘water-body’. Names include Apalacheecola, Pensacola, Wakulla and so on.

According to Florida Stae Department, “Apalacheecola” comes from the Apalachicola tribe and is a combination of the Hitchiti words apalahchi, meaning “on the other side”, and okli, meaning “people”. In original reference to the settlement and the subgroup within the Seminole tribe, it probably meant “people on the other side of the river”.

Native American ‘apalahchicola’, means ‘on the other side of the river’.
Same as the Sanskrit “Apara’-‘kula’.

Says Gene Matlock, “‘Cola’ in Sanskrit, means ‘coast’. Therefore, Apalachee-Cola means the coast of the ex-Palazas. The Palazas were the builders of the ancient world. They built Egypt, the foundations of Greek culture, and every other culture on earth….In that swampy area, they built huge mounds to build their first cities. Being master builders, the Apalachee probably built the first mound cultures in Apalachee-cola, the first place they began to inhabit after their arrival from India.”

About Pensacola Gene Matlock says, “Now for Pensacola. Pensacola is a great port. It has a gigantic, safe harbor. Therefore, it doesn’t take much guesswork to intuit that its original name was Panisha-Cola, or the coast of the Panis or Phoenicians. Again, as I say, the name goes with the game. No guesswork required. The Apalazis were builders. They built the type of edifices that could survive in the Florida swamps. The Panis were seamen and traders. Their natural place to settle first would have been in Pensacola.”

It is said that ‘Wakulla’ is a Timucuan (Native American) word, and it is unlikely that its meaning will ever be known. Wikipedia says, ‘Wakulla’ may contain the word ‘kala’ which signified a ‘spring of water’ in some Native American Indian dialects’.

Lets look at the word through the Sanskrit lens. In Sanskrit ‘v’ () means water. ‘Kulya’ (कूल्या) means a ‘stream’, a ‘canal’ or a ‘water body’. Kulini (कूलिनी) means a ‘river’. That explains Wakulla.

Talllahassee has a similar meaning. In Sanskrit, ‘tala’ (तल) again means a water body or pond and ‘talak’ means ‘spring’. ‘Ulhas’ (उल्लस्) means joyful, cause movement, jump, shine forth or come forth. Tallahassee therefore mean a place the ‘Water Springs Emerge’. Wakulla Springs in Tallahassee are said to be the largest freshwater springs anywhere in the world.

Click here for an interesting observation about the Sanskrit and Vedic connection to the Seven Peaks of the Appalachian Mountains, one of which is named Maneka, and the nearby Mononghaela River .

Click here on a bit about the Sanskrit connect to the name Saratoga.

Suggested Links:

1.  Sanskrit Roots of some Pre-Columbian Native American Words

2. Sanskrit found in Native American Tribal Names

3. Hindu Origins of the Amerindians by Gene Douglas


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