Manataka American Indian Council






by Takatoka


"The word Manataka has many beginnings, but has only one origin.  

The word Manataka has many definitions, but has only one meaning.

The word Manataka is spoken in many languages, but is of one people.

The word Manataka means the "Unbroken Circle"



During our first journey to Manataka back in 1955, we knew very little about this sacred place and its secrets.   During the next 50-odd years, we learned many things about this special place on earth, but even after a half-century, the origin and meaning of the word "Manataka" did not present itself as an important issue -- until now.


It was Apache Grandmother Napanee Henrietta Gray Horse who came to Manataka (Hot Springs) in 1927 at age 14 that first told this writer that the name of this these sacred grounds was Manataka.   


Napanee was the young wife of Chiricahua Chief Benito Altaha Gray Horse. She made her home with Benito in Gulpha Gorge at the foot of the great Manataka mountain until sometime after he stepped  over the stream of life in 1945.  Napanee then built a small shack on the mountain off Sleepy Valley Road and that is where we met years later when she wore white hair and was bent with age.    


While among dominant society, Napanee did not use her English first name "Louise" but preferred her middle name, Henrietta that she pronounced it Eh-ni-eeta.   Over a period of several years, Napanee told us many stories about her life with Benito and things she had learned from him, other Indians and spiritual elders who often came to pray at the sacred mountain.  Napanee was our blessed teacher.


Our first discussion about the name of the sacred Valley of the Vapors, began with the words she used to describe water.  We found it curious that she referred to the hot springs that flowed on the other side of the mountain as No-waa-sal-on - Breath of Healing and also called the cold-water stream that flowed in front of her home by the same name.  At the time we thought the name Nowaasalon was a fitting name for the hot waters because the meaning of the word obviously referred to the vapors that escaped from the hot springs -- but the cold water stream emitted no steam -- or Breath of Healing.  


As usual, it seemed like an eternity before she answered our question.  We learned it was best to remain patient and respectful while waiting for an answer, even though this wise elder sometimes did not respond to my incessant questions for weeks.  After staring into my eyes for several minutes she responded, "...One of the seven waters of this [cold- water] stream comes from a place of great healing within the Earth Mother...  The other waters [hot springs] heal the body, but these waters heal the spirit," she said. 


After a lengthy discussion over a period of several days about how the waters heal the body and spirit, Napanee spoke about the names of other places around the area.  Napanee Louise Henrietta Gray Horse was one of our teachers and guides. 


The second person to tell us the name of this sacred valley is Manataka was Marcus Phillips, who many years later wrote the "Indian Folk Lore Atlas of Hot Springs National Park" and at age 90 is the current president of the Hot Springs Historical Society.   Marcus was formally adopted by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in 1991 and later honored by the Choctaw Nation for his work to preserve American Indian history at Hot Springs.  


According to Mr. Phillips, the area of the hot springs was given the name Manataka hundreds, if not thousands of years ago by the people who first discovered this sacred site and long before the first modern tribes of the Caddo, Quapaw, Tunica and Shawnee wandered into this area.  Phillips says, "...Words like Manataka and Nowaasalon became widely used by the many travelers who regularly visited the hot springs."  Mr. Phillips is not certain of the name of the tribe who first named this site Manataka, but is confident that the meaning of the word is the "Place of Peace."  


Over the course of several decades, Marcus Phillips became an important contributor to the knowledge and understanding of this writer regarding the history and folklore of these mountains and valleys.   He remains today another of our honored teachers and guides.  (Marcus Phillips crossed over in 2007.)


The third source from which we learned about the name Manataka came from the United States Department of the Interior, Hot Springs National Park Service.  Two bronze plaques were prominently displayed in downtown Hot Springs by the NPS, and each gave a conflicting story about the name of this sacred site.  The first plaque said the Indian name for this Place of Peace was Nowaasalon, but as we have already learned, that word was used to describe the waters, not the entire area.  The second plaque got it right by saying Indians called this sacred place, Manataka. 


There is controversy concerning the exact location of the Tula village.  Some historians place its location near the Arkansas River close to Ozark, Arkansas.  However, the first Europeans to meet the Tula were Hernando De Soto's Conquistadors who in 1541 described the location in detail.  There is only one specific place in all North America that matches their description -- the area known today as Caddo Gap.  The Tula were the Keepers of Manataka.


Until the past few years, (since the time the Manataka American Indian Council became prominent in the area), the National Park Service appears to have had no problem with the names Manataka and Nowaasalon, as the names were used interchangeably by the NPS and these words appeared in various NPS documents.  Today, however, the local NPS bureaucrats have suddenly decided that Indians did not have a name for the sacred valley and mountains and none of the names used are valid -- in their mind.   


During the past twenty-five years, literally dozens of Indian elders gave us sacred words in their languages used to describe this holy place we know as Manataka -- the Place of Peace.  Sacred words cannot be repeated in print or used verbally outside the sacred circle, but the combination of all the words in native tongues and their meanings can be distilled down to a single phrase -- The Place of Peace.


As mentioned, the origin of the word Manataka is a matter of some conjecture.  For example, some say that the word originally came from the Capoose Tribe who lived in the area of Lake Manataka in northern Pennsylvania.  The Shawnees, Mingos and Linni Lenapes, who were also from the same area of Pennsylvania as the Capoose are also credited with giving the Place of Peace its name.  We discount these claims primarily because all these tribes were newcomers -- appearing sometime between 900 and 1500 C.E. and several tribes had already adopted the name Manataka.  


Did Ancient Star People Come to Mantaka?


The U.S. government falsely assumed in the Quapaw Treaty of 1824, that relinquished land between the Arkansas and Ouachita rivers to the Arkansas Territorial government  . The treaty bears the names and "X" marks of fifteen Quapaw men.  However, the Quapaw tribe never claimed the valleys and mountains surrounding Manataka (Hot Springs National Park).  They never established any permanent settlements there and there is no evidence to say the Quapaw ever claimed the area.


In 1673, when French explorers first encountered the Quapaw, they lived in four villages along the Mississippi River (230 miles from Manataka). They established one village, Kappa, on the east bank of the Mississippi. Two others, Tongigua and Tourima, were located on the west bank and a fourth, Osotouy, at the mouth of the Arkansas River. The last three were most likely located in present-day Desha County -- over 140 miles from Manataka.  


"In an 1818 treaty, the Quapaw agreed to a reservation of one million acres running northeast to southwest between the Arkansas and Ouachita rivers. They relinquished their claims to thirty million acres south of the Arkansas and to the west in exchange for $4,000 in goods and an annual payment of $1,000 worth of goods.  However, the Quapaw never established any permanent settlements outside the area where they lived prior to the 1818 treaty.  The 1818 treaty was not enough for settlers and territorial officials, who coveted valuable Quapaw land on the Arkansas River. These groups put pressure on the Quapaw, who signed the Treaty of 1824 and ceded their reservation to the United States. In return, they received land among the Caddo on the Red River in northwestern Louisiana."  Encyclopedia of Arkansas -


By 1824, there were fewer than 750 Quapaw who lived mostly north of the Arkansas River in present-day Desha and Arkansas Counties.  They were disease-ridden, destitute and starving.  The government forced the Quapaw to cede land they never claimed.  Because other tribes in the area had been decimated by inhumane genocidal policies of the government, there was no tribe who could dispute the claim.   The Quapaw did not claim Manataka, but the greedy bureaucrats in the government made it appear they had dealt with the Quapaw fairly in acquiring the area of Manataka.


Manataka was never claimed by any tribe, because it was a sacred site.


Even though the Caddo were the most prevalent tribe to the south and west of Manataka, no reference for the word can be found in Caddo stories and literature.  Likewise, no reference can be found among the Quapaw, Tunica and Choctaw tribes who were also found in the general area of the Mississippi River valley in Arkansas prior to European invasions.  


However, the Caddo considered Manataka a "Garden of Eden" where their ancestors were molded from the red clay and given life in the hot springs.  Other Caddo legends refer to the sacred medicine water and other unmistakable features of Manataka.   


(The picture and story on the left appears in "Through Indian Eyes", pp27, published by Reader's Digest Association, 1995.)


By our own estimation, the Tula Indians, who also occupied the area surrounding the Hot Springs are the most likely originators of the word Manataka.   Little is know about the language of the Tula although some historians mistakenly assume the Tula were of Caddo stock simply because they may have spoken the Kadohadacho dialect for trade purposes.  But the Tula were distinctively different from the Caddo.


The Tula are considered the "Keepers of Manataka" and were called "Rock Men" by other tribes because they traded heavily in novaculite rock they mined on Indian Mountain (one of the Three Sister Mountains of Manataka).  The Tula were fierce warriors feared by all their neighbors, including the warlike Osage in the north.  In September, 1541, Tula warriors, both men and women defeated Hernando DeSoto's Conquistador army at Tula, the only tribe to have caused the Spanish to retreat from battle.  DeSoto's scribes later wrote in his journals that the Tula were fiercest people the Conquistadors had ever encountered.  

Travels of De Soto's Spanish Conquistadors and the Tula People


The Tula disfigured their faces, heavily tattooed their bodies and practiced  cradleboard deformation that produced heads that were either pointed or flat according to family status within the tribe.  Regardless of their obvious fearsome appearance and proficiency in battle, the Tula were also known for their kindness and generosity.  After all, they allowed emissaries of all tribes to enter the sacred Valley of Peace and while there, the Tula played the role of the gracious host by assisting visitors to locate food and presented them with gifts. 

Honoring The Tula - People of the Great Water by Takatoka


Many historians believe both the Tula and Caddo originally came from Central America.  There is strong evidence to support this claim found in their art, language, tools and ceremonies.   In Central America, predecessors of the Aztec and Maya were the Toltec and their capital was Tula.   Many of the same traits of the Tula of Arkansas are also found among the Toltec of Tula.  The northern Tula raised ducks and domesticated turkeys, unlike any tribe in the entire region. They planted vegetables, such as Amaranth and Yam Beans, a turnip-like root, that were unknown to any local tribe but are found among tribes in Central and South America.  The Tula also built religious structures like sweat lodges and meeting places were built in the shape of a pyramid -- just like the Tula of Central America. 


It is our belief that the Tula were originally from Central America -- specifically 60 miles northwest of present day Mexico City.  Before the Aztec, 1400 - 1600 AD were the Toltec, 1000 - 1200 AD; before the Toltec were the Olmec, 1250 - 400 BCE; Before the Olmec were the Tula, ?? - 1100 BCE and migrated to the north.  Even though the capital of the Toltec was called 'Tula' recent scholarship does not see Tula as a "Toltec" site but rather is searching to find clues of the ethnicity of the people who built it.  



A Mississippi valley house and a Temple Pyramid in the background. American Museum of Natural History.  The Tula were the only tribe in North American to ever build a temple pyramid.


The primary distinction of the Tula, however,  is not their lifestyle, customs, or physical appearance, but the important role they played as the Keepers of Manataka.   As a fierce and independent people the Tula could have easily closed the doors to this sacred site.  Yet, in their wisdom and strength, the Tula welcomed all tribes in peace and helped their brothers and sisters during their stay.  They served as guides to the local area and spiritual guides to other realms.



The Tula vanished sometime between 1541 and the 1600's presumably as a result of disease brought by the Europeans.  Today in the center of Caddo Gap stands a large bronze figure of an Indian nine feet in height, mounted on a tall pedestal of native stone. The Indian has his right hand raised, giving the friendship sign, but history tells a different story. The inscription on the marble tablet in the face of the pedestal readsDeSoto 1541-A.D. Here DeSoto reached his most westward point in the United States. Here was the capitol of the warlike Tula tribe of Indians who fiercely fought DeSoto and his men. Relics found in this vicinity suggest the romance of past centuries about which history will ever be meager and incomplete. Arkansas State History Commission, 1936.


In May 1937 Chief Benito Gray Horse, an Apache and a later-day Keeper of Manataka then living in Gulpha Gorge at the foot of the great Manataka Mountain in Hot Springs, gave an Indian benediction at ceremonies and the raising of the bronze statute at Caddo Gap commemorating the achievements of the Tula Indians.


The Tula were the most prominent pre-modern tribe in the immediate vicinity of Manataka.  They protected and served this sacred site for all people.  Therefore, we give the Keepers of Manataka, the Tula the honor and credit for giving us the word Manataka -- the Place of Peace. 






The origin and meaning of the word "Manataka" is important now -- partly because a black-booted bureaucrat with the Hot Spring National Park Service now suddenly claims there is no such Indian word as Manataka and the valleys and mountains of the site are not sacred grounds.  

As a result of this nefarious claim, various forms of harassment, slander, theft of property and an outright denial of religious freedoms and human rights have been committed against members of Manataka and all Indian people. 

The temporary Hot Springs NPS Superintendent, Josie Fernandez, has established a pattern of religious persecution and bigotry.  A permit to gather at Manataka for prayer ceremonies has been twice been denied for absurd and false allegations.  Selective enforcement of arbitrary park rules have become common place.  The list offenses against Indian citizens is growing daily.

Probably the worse offense to date is the deliberate erasing of Indian history at Hot Springs. Displays the were prominent in downtown Hot Springs are gone only to be replaced by a display that says Manataka is a myth.  Thousands of visitors to the Hot Springs are regularly told by NPS employees and volunteers "...there is no proof that Indians were ever here..."  Brochures and other public information from the local NPS that once freely talked the Indians at the hot springs are gone.  Hundreds of thousands of artifacts are un-catalogued and remain unavailable to the public.   The United States government is allowing a small group of bureaucrats to dictate what our children will learn about their grandfathers.  These people are attempting to erase our history.  They are making us orphans in our own land.  But Josie Fernandez and her black-boots will not prevail! 

More to follow...




Interesting Side Notes about the Word "Manataka":

The word Mana-taka in the Arawak Taino language of my people literally means "The Place of Spiritual Power"

Joseph AmaHura RiverWind, President Native Touch


While Indian circles across the continent were broken subsequent to European invasions, the Great Circle of Peace at Manataka remains unbroken.   A complete, unbroken circle is the symbol of peace.  When a circle is undisturbed, not attacked from without or from within it is at peace.  It is the realization of the whole, the One -- Creator manifested on Earth.   As the Indian world struggles to mend its circles and we as individuals strive to maintain our balance, the Great Circle of Peace at Manataka shall remain forever unbroken.

  • The word Manataka in the Quechua language used by the Mapuche Tribe of South America means the "never broken circle."   An unbroken circle symbolizes peace.  The word Manataka is used in many other parts of South and Central America where it means -- the Unbroken Circle. 

  • The word Manataka in the native Maori language of New Zealand means "unbroken circle."  "Mana" is a prefix or root word that may be interpreted as "standing tall" (Unbroken) and "Taka" is a Maori affix word meaning "to come around" or circle.  Thus, Manataka in the Maori language means -- the Unbroken Circle.

Interesting Side Notes about the Word "Tula":

Libra, The Scales constellation in the Zodiac is a "fixed star" and the Sanskrit word in the ancient texts of India for this constellation is Tula, the 'Holy Land' located in the north. 


In William Henry’s book, The Peacemaker and the New Key of Life Tula is defined as “the place of Peace”. Henry says, The Key of Life is a secret teaching enabling the Children of Light to enter the Promised Land and the Promise Land is the biblical code for the ultimate human experience. Plus, Tula is a Sanskrit name for the Promise Land meaning ‘balance’ and that brings us back to Tula being a Sanskrit word for the constellation of the Scales.

"Tula is a place and a process of becoming. In Tula our thoughts, desires or fears will become instantly ‘real’. What is in our hearts cannot remain hidden. What is felt in the heart is what is seen in the world. Only love can flow through our hearts in Tula."
~Submitted by William Henry

"The primary stars of the Scales are Zuben Algenubi and Zuben Elshamali and they are representing a gateway or stargate access to the realm of Tula, the Promise Land, the place of balance and peace. This fits with the Scales weighing the heart of the dead to determine their next path." 
~Submitted by Deborah Massey


Ancient Tula Villages found worldwide:

  • Tula, Russia
  • Tula, Mexico, Central America 
  • Tula, Sardina, Italy
  • Tula, Kenya, Africa
  • Tula, USA, North America
  • Tula, Iran, Middle East
  • Tula, Antarctica

In most cases, where its history is defined, the villages were known as "...paradise in which the inhabitants master the sciences and arts..."

From Claude Lewenz of New Zealand:

Did you know that in the Maori language of New Zealand, Manataka has a similar meaning?

Mana is most difficult to translate, but has entered New Zealand English.  It combines four types of mana: 

  • Mana whenua which comes from the land  (whenua is the word for land and placenta).

  • Mana tipuna which comes from the ancestors  (tipuna is the word for the ancestors).

  • Mana tangata which comes from life deeds recognised by other people (tangata is the word for the people).

  • Mana atua which comes from the spirit realm (atua is the word for the gods). 

  • Mana is standing tall, influence, prestige, power, psychic force.   

  • Mana-aki is to show respect or kindness.   

  • Mana is never bragged about, it is acknowledged by others, both people and of the unseen realms.

  • Mana can be lost in a second, especially if one ceases to walk the path of uprightness.

  • Mana can and does grow.  Much of ones life, one would seek for it to grow, but through deeds, love and being graced by blessings.

  • Mana is one of the most important words in Maori.

Taka is a spiral pattern, to turn on a pivot, to come around, as in the four seasons, it also means to be formed, or developed.  It also means a company of persons, the whare taka is the common meeting house of a village (whare means house or building).  And finally it is a form of karakia, which is difficult to translate.  Karakia is a form of incantation, a connection with the spirit realms, although in modern New Zealand it has come to be the opening and closing prayers, blessings given and received. 


Manataka would be the life-dance of standing tall.   


I thought you might enjoy this, in thanks for your providing such an interesting web site.

~Kia Rongo, from Claude Lewenz


Tak-a means "circle" or "moon"


I was browsing in search of the word Taka (prounouced with hard T and both 'a' as in 'vast'). In Bengali language (I am from Kolkata, my mother tongue is Bengali or bangla), Taka means coin (later, also paper money).

I was wondering why the eastern part of India (3 states in India and the entire Bangladesh) uses this word for money while rest of India uses another word Rupee. And then I came through your article which gave me further insight on the original meaning of Taka.

As you have mentioned - ' "Taka" is a Maori affix word meaning "to come around" or circle.  Thus, Manataka in the Maori language means -- the Unbroken Circle.' This seems obvious now that some proto-language had this word used as circle or circular object. Further we may assume that Taka may had originated from these proto-tribe's circular dance form. Later it got attested to any circular objects, as in present Bengali, wheel is called C`aka < Sanskrit C`akra; and moon is raka.

Anyway, I found other similarities also related to the words you discussed.

1. tula - Yes, tula in Sanskrit means scale, also the zodiac sign libra. However, this attestation of zodiac sign or balance / scale may have been a loan word from Iranians during 100 BCE and 100 AD period. In Bengali, tula has another meaning. It means cotton. Thread production from cotton was an ancient trade in Bengal.


2. Quapaw - it is also very similar to the Bengali word kapash < Sanskrit karpash. This is a variety of cotton. The cloth (vastra) made from kapash variety of cotton (tula) is known as kapash-vastra. Also cloth in Bengali is kapoR, may have come from this same root of kapash.

The original Bengali people (pre-historic) were anthropologically Australoid, later mixed with Nordics and Mongoloids. These people knew to produce rice. Fish and rice were there staple food since beginning. Also, being the inhabitants of the down part of river Ganges and Bay of Bengal, they were able seafarers and good boat-makers. Their trade was mainly through the rivers and seas by different kind of boats and ships. These people used to reign and trade over Indian Ocean till Arab pirates came to rule around 9th or 10th century AD. Their chief trade goods were cloth (kapoR), rice (C`al), beetel-nuts (gua, supari) and beetel leaves (pan), tamarind (te-^n-tul) and jaggery (guR).

Also, hats almost similar to tula-hats (looks like an inverted V) which is still used by farmers of Bengal is called Toka. I don't know if there is any history associated with this word as well.  ~Regards, Argha Bagchi