Cofitachequi



The “province” or “kingdom” of Cofitache which is a Muskogean-speaking chiefdom located in present-day South Carolina.

The Cofitache, which is to be attached to the Mississippi civilization, which covered the current southeastern United States between and, in approximate dates. Its existence is mentioned by the chronicles of the first Spanish and English explorers in the region. Archeology shows the construction of several important Mississippian sites, including truncated pyramid tumuli, to be surmounted by temples and aristocratic residences, in the Wateree Valley, from 1450. The local population could have come from the Savannah sites, deserted at the same time. The Mulberry site appears to have been continuously occupied until at least the middle of the month and is generally considered the most likely location of the “capital” of Cofitachequi. It was Garcilaso de La Vega, columnist of the expedition of the conquistador De Soto, who landed in Florida in 1539 to make a bloody journey through southeastern Florida to the shores of the Mississippi, which first mentions the “Kingdom of Cofitachequi”. In 1540, De Soto, at the head of Spaniards and a large number of native bearers, reached the borders of Cofitache, where they met the “queen” or “lady of Cofitache”. It seems that the chieftaincy was led by a woman at that time. The latter gave them a princely welcome and lodged them in her capital. The Spaniards looted the temples, collecting large quantities of freshwater pearls, copper and mica, but not the gold they expected. They also discovered some objects that revealed previous contacts with Europeans: glasswork, rosaries, metal knife. These contacts may perhaps be attributed to the epidemic that, according to the queen, ravaged the country one or two years earlier. The central city (called indifferently Yupaha or Cofitachequi) seems to have been important since they found housing in less than half of the houses. Other satellite towns are mentioned by the Spaniards, named Xuala, Aymay, Talimeco and Guaxule. These agglomerations had their own temples in which the mummified bodies of the ancient chiefs were exposed. The exactions of the soldiers quickly aroused the hostility of the population and De Soto took the queen as hostage to demand supplies and leave the country, shortly before crossing the borders of the chieftaincy, the “lady” managed to escape the Spaniards. They left then Cofitachequi to attack other chiefdoms and there is little information on Cofitachequi before the arrival of the expedition of Juan Pardo in 1568. Pardo had for mission to study the possibility of a land route linking Santa Elena, capital of Spanish Florida, to Mexico. He went to Cofitache, where he built a fort before returning to Santa Elena, convinced that tracing this road would involve excessive resources. The fort was abandoned by the Spaniards and destroyed by the Amerindians the following year. In 1627 and 1628, the Spanish authorities of San Augustin, alarmed by rumors of European horsemen who had been seen in the north of Florida, sent two new expeditions there, which visited Cofitachequi. These were the last Spanish expeditions in this region. In 1670, Henry Woodward, from Charles Towne’s new British colony (Charleston, South Carolina), visited Cofitache and met the leader whom he described as “Emperor”. Two years later, “the Emperor of Cofitache, who made an official visit to Charles Towne with his suite. There is a mention of Cofitachequi in a text of 1681. This is the last. In 1701, John Lawson visited the Wateree Valley and found it occupied by a group called the Congaree, whose largest village had a dozen houses and lived mostly on scattered farms. Archeology confirms the abandonment of Cofitachequi after 1670. The probable cause of the disappearance of the chieftaincy is undoubtedly to seek in the diversion of the traditional routes of trade towards the English colonies from the, adding to the effect of the Infectious diseases brought by Europeans since the and to the slave hunt by Carolina planters from the end of the. All of these factors seem to have caused the population of southeastern North America to fall by a factor of ten to one over the years (some researchers speak of twenty-one) causing the disintegration of political units. Aboriginal peoples, grouping themselves into smaller units that are the tribes encountered by Anglo-American colonization, Cherokee, Creeks, Choctaws, etc.

Its territory seems to have covered, summarily, a triangle of about side, whose

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