After his encounter with the Cherokee, De Soto travelled south into present-day Georgia where he found the “Chiefdom of Coosa”. At that point, according to De Soto’s chroniclers, the Coosa Chiefdom consisted of a “series of communities and fertile gardens containing much food.”
Inca Garcilasso de la Vega wrote, “[Hernando De Soto] reached [Coosa] on Friday, July 16th . The [Chief] came out to welcome him two crossbow flights from the town in a carrying chair borne on the shoulders of his principal men, seated on a cushion, and covered with a robe of marten skins of the form and size of a woman’s shawl. He wore a crown of feathers on his head; and around about him were many Indians playing and singing.”
The Coosa chief welcomed De Soto and his conquistadors into his village and offered them a feast. The chief’s hospitality was repaid by imprisonment. Inca described what happened next, “Those of Coosa, seeing their lord detained, thought ill of it and revolted and went away to hide themselves in the woods–both those of their lord’s town and those of other chiefs towns, who were his vassals. the governor sent four captains, each in a different direction… The seized many Indians, men and women, who were put in chains. Upon seeing the harm they received, and how little they gained in absenting themselves, they came, saying that they wished to serve in whatever might be commanded them. Some of the principal men among those imprisoned were set free on petition of the chief. Of the rest, each man took away as slaves those he had in chains, without allowing them to go to their lands. Nor did many of the return except some whose good fortune and assiduous industry aided them.”
The Chiefdom of Coosa was originally a powerful federation in what is today’s northern Georgia. It existed from about 1400 until about 1600, and dominated several smaller chiefdoms. The total population of Coosa’s area of influence has been estimated at 50,000. Unfortunately, the departure of De Soto was not the end of their perils. “Old World diseases” devastated the Coosa. “By the close of the 16th century, most of the core area of the Coosa was abandoned. The surviving population withdrew to a few villages along the Coosa River in Alabama.” Today, seven of the eight villages mentioned by the De Soto chroniclers have been found and recently excavations at the village of Abihka have revealed interesting new revelations about the Coosa confederacy and the Abihka. [ See more ]
Today, the Talladega Superspeedway is situated where the Abihka tribal lands once were. More mishaps have taken place at Talladega than ALL OTHER TRACKS COMBINED and many believe that there is a connection to the Abihka tribe. According to one of the legends, the Abihka once had horse races where the speedway is now. In one of the races, the Abihka chief was killed and the grounds became sacred. When Andrew Jackson forcibly removed the Abihka from their native lands, an Abihka priest placed a curse on the grounds. Reportedly, when Bill French purchased the land and planned to build the speedway, he was visited by an Abihka priest and warned of the curse.
Here is a summary published in Wikipedia: “The first race at the track was unlike any other; all the original drivers abandoned the track due to tire problems. In 1973, Bobby Isaac left his car during the race on lap 90 due to voices that he claimed to have heard which told him to park his car and get out. Earlier on lap 14 in the same race, young driver Larry Smith died in a seemingly minor wreck. In 1974, the morning before the Winston 500, drivers and crews alike found multiple cars sabotaged by cut brake lines and sand in the gas tank. That same year, Roger Penske crewman Don Miller lost part of his leg when the car his driver Gary Bettenhausen was pitting at the time, was hit by another driver and pinned Miller between the pit wall and Bettenhausen’s Matador. And in the 1975 Winston 500, Randy Owens, brother-in-law of Richard Petty and a crew member on the family team Petty Enterprises (father of current Sprint Cup crew chief Trent Owens) was killed by an air tank that exploded in the pits.
“To some, Bobby Allison’s wreck in 1987 described above was yet another reminder of the curse. In 1993, his son, Davey Allison, died in a helicopter crash in the infield of Talladega. That same month, Neil Bonnett was involved in a crash similar to B. Allison’s, in which his car went airborne and impacted the catch fence in the tri-oval. In 1996, Automobile Racing Club of America president Bob Loga died after a traffic accident in a parking lot. In the 2009 Aaron’s 499, Carl Edwards suffered a similar wreck.”
After removal to Indian Territory in Oklahoma, descendants from the Abihka mother-town established a ceremonial stomp dance ground near Henryetta, Oklahoma.