A Light on Fort Mountain

 

Cabin at Fort Mountain“QUEST FOR A FIRMER FOUNDATION”

So,… Who ARE the Moon-Eyed people?

My first encounter with the subject came one evening in 2000 while I was reading the first chapter, Prehistoric Settlers of a book by Clifford S. Capps and Eugenia Burney published in 1972 by Thomas Nelson, Inc., entitled Colonial Georgia. It was only briefly mentioned, but immediately captured my attention.

Colonial Georgia - Capps & BurneyFor thousands of years before the dawn of written records, the Southeastern United States was home to humans that history traditionally called ‘Indians,’ (thanks to Christopher Columbus). Only fairly recently in the modern scheme of things did they acquire the definitive status of indigenous peoples or native Americans.

Capps and Burney begin by classifying the early inhabitants of Georgia as Wandering Hunters, Shellfish Eaters and Early Farmers who lived in small familial groups, employed limited farming skills, and hunted fish and game along the major waterways. Many sources describe the evolution of their various cultures from the nomadic Archaic Period to those marked by the emergence of the three stages of the Woodland Period – a time of ‘Pre Columbian’ Native American occupations in eastern North America dating from around 1000 B.C. to 1000 A.D. This transition took place mid the final stages of ‘pre-history,’ as the nomadic subsistence of hunter-gatherers was replaced by woodland farming.

CULTURAL REGIONS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS

Cultural Regions of the North American Indians

That prehistoric Georgia may have been inhabited for 17,000 years, throughout the  Paleoindian, Archaic, and Woodland periods is evidenced by sites along the Macon plateau at the fall-line. Archaic period pottery found in a mound at Stallings Island near Augusta is the oldest yet to be confirmed in North America, ALTHOUGH the base of another mound near Savannah’s Irene site, known as the Bilbo Mound may be even older – it’s been dated at 3,540 B.C. If this is correct, the culture represented by this Savannah site may well be the OLDEST in North America, preceding ALL others.

Achievements credited to the “Neolithic Revolution,” of the Early Farmers from this period include more substantial dwellings and permanent settlements, decorative symbolic pottery (Swift Creek & Weeden Island – Middle/Late Woodland), limited agricultural advancements, and the use of the bow and arrow. They also participated in the broader AdenaHopewellian and Fort Ancient trading cultures.

Hopewell_Exchange_Network_HRoe_2010

Hopewell Interaction Sphere & Trade Network (Heironymous Rowe, 2010)

Along the Etowah River southwest of Cartersville, Georgia in Bartow County, the Leake Mounds site contains the remains of a prehistoric occupation that lasted from approximately 300 B.C. until 650 A.D. A major center during the Middle Woodland period, it figured prominently in the interaction among peoples throughout the Southeastern and the Midwestern United States. Swift Creek pottery has been discovered throughout a major portion of Georgia as well as portions of surrounding states. The Leake site is at the northernmost edge of its distribution. 

interaction-movement-small

Swift Creek pottery has been discovered throughout Georgia as well as portions of surrounding states. Leake (red star) was at the northernmost edge of distribution.

The handiwork of these prehistoric peoples may still be seen at sites such as the Eagle Effigy Mound at Rock Eagle near Eatonton, at numerous stone effigy sites across North and West Georgia, and along the Chattahoochee River, as Richard Thornton describes, “a 310 mile long line of important towns and mountaintop shrines were described, which run from the mouth of the Apalachicola River to a stone architecture observatory on Ladd’s Mountain west of Cartersville, GA. Most of these towns and shrines were apparently constructed between around 0 AD and 600 AD. That certainly was the case for the two largest Woodland Period towns, north of Mexico . . . Kolomoki in SW Georgia and Leake Mounds in NW Georgia.” 

Capps and Burney note that somewhere around 900 A.D., “a group of migrants known as the Master Farmers, the Moundbuilders, began to extend their culture into the state of Georgia, gradually displacing the Early Farmers who had lived and hunted along the Ocmulgee River for a thousand years.” There is some speculation as to what the real impact these so-called Master Farmers had upon what was already developing in Georgia at the time toward the establishment of permanent settlements, organized societal chiefdoms and major trade networks. Exactly how these former local tribal identities began to unite into regional cultural/agricultural/religious collectives is still being evaluated today. There is no doubt however that more decorative ‘riverine’ and marine shell pottery, ceremonial copperplate engravings, and elaborate burial practices, emerged in the region during this period, along with the introduction of intense collection and/or horticulture of starchy seed plants such as maize (corn), squash and beans. Massive earthen ceremonial mounds like the ones at Ettowah near Cartersville, and Ocmulgee in Macon are impressively larger. Similar structures may be found from northern Vermont, to the major trading center known as Cahokia in western Illinois, to the Gulf of Mexico, and as far west as the Rockies. 

(77280.ngsversion.1422280964335.adapt.768.1)

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site – (Photograph by Ira Block, National Geographic)

ocmulgee-national-monument

Ocmulgee National Monument in Georgia – (Photograph from Trip Adviser)

Concerning the site at Ocmulgee, Capps and Burney state the following: “Ocmulgee was the center of Indian culture in Georgia at the time of the Master Farmers (around 1100 A.D.), who developed a form of civilization as advanced in many respects as any to be found north of Mexico. We do not know what happened to the Master Farmers. They lived less than two hundred years at Ocmulgee, after which the site was deserted for more than 250 years.”

There is still debate concerning the possible fate of these large population centers and trade networks throughout North America, but researchers are beginning to agree that certain factors facilitated an earlier transition from the Adena/Hopewell/Fort Ancient networks during the Woodland Period to the era of these ‘Mississippians.’

Sudden and extreme changes in climate that began around 535 to 536 A.D. were in varying degrees affecting populations on a world-wide scale including an extremely cold, dry snap caused by ashes or dust thrown into the air after the eruption of a volcano. It’s also speculated that around 539 A.D., the impact of a comet or meteorite in the southern Atlantic brought huge tsunamis to the southeast Atlantic and Caribbean coastlines. Such probable events drastically affected the Northern hemisphere for many years, and contributed to famine, disease, increased political turmoil, migrations and warfare across the globe.

Here’s this from Fundar.org.sv: “The greatest atmospheric aerosol loading event of the past 2000 years occurred in the year ca. A.D. 536. A ‘dry fog’ enveloped much of the earth and was followed by protracted global cooling lasting more than a decade from ca. A.D 536-550.”

It is speculated that such events ushered in the Middle Ages in Eurasia, and quite possibly the era of the great plagues. The ‘dust event’ dropped temperatures and changed weather patterns, and brought major societal changes also to China, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, and to North and Central America.

Evidence has also been found of another meteor disaster that took place in the year 1014 A.D. when “a swarm of large meteors or comet debris struck North America and the Atlantic Ocean, causing both a mega-tsunami and local, cataclysmic meteor damage.”

This event which greatly affected the British Isles and North Sea countries, as well, may have even caused the destruction of the Ocmulgee earth lodge by fire. Additional probable volcanic activity is suspected to have brought about climate changes to the American Southwest, near Flagstaff, Arizona beginning around 1100 A.D. Not long afterward, a series of  heavenly events, including the dramatic appearance of a “guest star” documented by Chinese astronomers, and Haley’s Comet,“coincided with the equally sudden florescence and eventual fate of a sophisticated, vibrant but mysterious civilization in the American Southwest known as the ‘Anasazi’.” (Joseph, Frank, 2009-12-21, Advanced Civilizations of Prehistoric America: The Lost Kingdoms of the Adena, Hopewell, Mississippians, and Anasazi (p. 176). Inner Traditions/Bear & Company. Kindle Edition.)

Meanwhile, according to Georgiaencyclopedia.org: “The Late Woodland subperiod, A.D. 600–900, is perhaps the most poorly understood portion of Georgia prehistory. The available evidence suggests that some of the trends of the Early and Middle Woodland subperiods may have been reversed during this interval, while other trends may have continued or even intensified… One of the trends that diminished was mound construction. Earthen mounds were constructed during the Late Woodland subperiod in Georgia, but the pace of construction appears to have diminished greatly from the preceding Middle Woodland. Along with this came a decrease in the trade of exotic items. Although the exchange of marine shell may have increased during the Late Woodland in some parts of the Southeast, there is little evidence of this in Georgia. The extensive regional trade in copper, rocks, and minerals that developed during the Middle Woodland subperiod declined precipitously in Georgia and throughout most of the Southeast during the Late Woodland… Corn agriculture became important in many parts of the Southeast during the Late Woodland. Until recently, the archaeological evidence for this in Georgia was equivocal. Recent excavations have revealed, however, that the growing of corn may also have become prevalent in Georgia during the Late Woodland, particularly in the northern part of the state and near the end of the period… The appearance in the archaeological record of small triangular stone projectiles suggests that the bow and arrow may have been adopted during the Late Woodland. Previously, stone points had been hafted on spears or small darts. The use of the bow and arrow no doubt facilitated the hunting of deer and other animals… The bow and arrow also may have made warfare more deadly. Perhaps not by coincidence, the first fortified settlements appeared during the Late Woodland at about the same time as arrow points. Fortifications included ditches and palisades of wooden posts. With the exception of these few fortified settlements, however, Late Woodland subperiod sites are generally small, and probably included no more than twenty dwellings. Excavations have revealed both circular and square or rectangular houses… The increases in warfare and corn agriculture during the Late Woodland subperiod set the stage for the final period in Georgia prehistory. The Mississippian Period would be marked by a continuation and elaboration of these trends.”

The whole of the Mississippian Period lasted about eight hundred years (800 to 1600 A.D.), and gave rise to some of the most complex societies that ever existed in North America. But the culture was already in decline especially in the Midwest and the  Northeast before the Europeans arrived, as chiefdoms with large population centers were broken apart into smaller ones. In Georgia, these smaller chiefdoms were evenly distributed across the state’s river valleys, and their individual cultures continued to evolve throughout areas of the Southeast, at least up untl the time of the Hernando de Soto expedition (1539–1541). The early ‘gold-seeking’ Spanish explorers reported encountering numerous native settlements in North Georgia, but by the mid 1600s, even these populations had mysteriously vanished.

There’s increasing speculation about what happened during the missing hundred years of historical accounting concerning their fate, and whether they were lost to disease or something worse. According to Richard Thornton, “the famous 16th century English historian, Richard Hakluyt, hinted that there was more going on in the interior of the Southeast than is taught to American school children.  He tells us that some traders from Santa Elena (South Carolina) made secret journeys to North Georgia between 1567 and 1584, but there is no official record of Spanish, French or English colonial activities in the Appalachian Mountains of Georgia until 1646. However from the 1570s onward, French maps labeled the region as containing gold and silver.”

Whatever occurred, the increasing presence of Europeans, and the new trade alliances they formed with the remaining smaller chiefdoms throughout the region, including a slave trade, brought all of the elements of former Mississippian cultural alliances to an end.

A map showing a proposed de Soto Expedition route, based on the 1997 Charles M. Hudson book "Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun". (Permission details CC-BY-SA-3.0; Released under the GNU Free Documentation) License.

– Proposed de Soto Expedition Route (Heironymous Rowe, 2008)

A most comprehensive map of eastern North America was created by a Virginia physician and botanist named John Mitchell (1711–1768). It depicts in great detail the territories, and regions of the colonial era, and attempts to place its native inhabitants by tribal names in the places where they were found at the time. The map is fascinating, and was for many years considered the most reliable recorded typographical source for colonial Americans. Even the smallest inscriptions and notations can easily be read if you zoom in on it, but of course it only tells part of the story – the latter part, and some of the names and locations are either incomplete or inaccurate…

Regardless, it’s a marvel for its time.

The Mitchell Map

The Mitchell Map, published by John Mitchell on February 13th, 1755 as, “A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America.”

The Capps and Burney narrative in Coastal Georgia includes a brief discussion of the Creek and Cherokee Indians in the state, and an even briefer mention of the Uchee (Euchee or Yuchi). As if the various spellings of this tribe’s name weren’t confusing enough, up until recently only a sparse amount of information was available about them. (The above map refers to Euchee settlements with varied yet similar spellings.)

While Colonial Georgia simply says “the Uchee lived along the banks of the Oconee, and at the headwaters of the Ogeechee, Chatanooga, and Savannah Rivers,” newer sources also confirm the tribe’s position farther south, and their association with the islands of Wahale or Guale, including Tybee at the mouth of the Savannah River. At one time it was used by regional tribes as a hunting and fishing ground, and a place to collect salt, a commodity that was abundant on the island.

Years ago, (as the newspaper clipping below indicates), a novice’s search to discover the origin and meaning of the name of Tybee Island ended, and the mystery was thought to have been solved, but a closer study has revealed that while the word “Tybee” is derived from the word Taube, which means ‘salt,’ the word is Itza Maya, Apalache Creek/Itzate (Hitchiti).

According to Richard Thornton, “Tybee Island is located at the mouth of the Savannah River. Tvbe meant ‘salt’ in Itsate. It’s Taab in Chontal Maya. In pre-European times, it was a major production center of the regional salt trade. The Southern Highlands and Piedmont were totally deficient in natural salt deposits and depended on salt, created from brine on the Atlantic and Gulf Coast. This was the most important item of regional trade, NOT seashells!” (Itsapa: The Itza Mayas in North America, Page 135).

It’s also been suggested that the Indians who initially lived at the mouth of the Savannah River were in fact “Chicora,” and the Uchee/Euchee who traded in this region may have simply adopted the word from the people of Parachicora, whose capital city stood where Savannah, GA stands today. The Uchee/Euchee were known to be one of the most assimilative and adaptive of all the ancient tribes, despite claims that their language kept them apart, so it sounds reasonable to me.

Meaning of Tybee

News article from the August 1951 concerning TIPD Chief David A. McCutchen’s search and discovery of the meaning of the word “tybee.” (PDF Source: Live Oak Library, Savannah, GA)

Indians Of Guale - Renderings by French Artist, Jacob Le Moyne (Georgia Historical Society

Source: Colonial Georgia by Clifford S. Capps and Eugenia Burney published in 1972 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Today’s Uchee/ Euchee, (which is the name descendants in Oklahoma now call themselves), were originally known as the “Tsoyaha” (The Children of the Sun), and they claim more ancient ties to the Southeastern United States than any other peoples. In fact, they say that only those who spoke the Algonquian language predated their arrival in the Eastern United States after their sailing vessels landed on the coast of Georgia near Savannah and Midway in prehistoric times. The  Algonkian (Lenape), still known today as the “grandfathers” or “ancient ones,” are the oldest known native tribe to inhabit Eastern North America, and their ancestral roots go back at least 10,000 years.

As I went about trying to piece together the puzzle concerning the history of the elusive Uchee/Euchee, I found the following:

According to journalist Chuck Hamilton at Chattanoogan.com“When first they encountered Europeans, the Yuchi (Chisca, Euchee, Hogohegee, Tomahitans, Tahogalewi, Tahokale, Ani-Yutsi, Tsoyaha) were in Southwestern Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, and Western North Carolina, the area often called the Appalachian Summit. Their towns at the time included Guasili, Canasoga/Cauchi,  Guapere on the upper Watauga River, Maniateque near Saltville, Virginia, and possibly Tanasqui at the confluence of the French Broad and Pigeon Rivers. In the first half of the 17th century, they lived along the Holston River, which was called by a version of their name (Hogohegee) on maps until 1799. Before the end of that century, the Yuchi were in the Hiwassee Valley and its vicinity, including the later ‘Old Tennessee Town’ of the Cherokee below the Savannah Ford in Polk County, Chestowee at the mouth of South Mouse Creek in Bradley County, Euchee Old Fields in Rhea County (now under Watts Bar Lake), and possibly other sites. Two traders from South Carolina living among the Cherokee in the Little Tennessee River town of Tanasi, Eleazer Wiggan and Alexander Long, tricked the Cherokee into destroying the Yuchi town about the mouth of South Mouse Creek, which led to a battle at Euchee Old Fields. That was the extent of the Cherokee-Yuchi War of 1714. However, it led to the Yuchi relocating southwest to the Cohutta, upper Chickamauga, and Pinelog Creeks, and to the Tennessee River above Muscle Shoals. One group of Yuchi lived on the Savannah River approximately 1722-1750 before moving to the Chattahoochee to live among the Creek.  In fact, the Yuchi were one of the most widely dispersed native peoples in North America, with bands reported in dozens of locations. The Euchee (Yuchi) Tribe of Indians is headquartered in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, and is currently seeking federal recognition. It has a seat on the board of Indian tribes of the State of Oklahoma.” (Tennessee’s Indians in the Historical Era, Part 5 of 5, May 22, 2013)

According to David Hackett (Woktela) at Yuchi.org“Yuchi were known to have widely scattered villages that ranged from Florida to Illinois, and from the Carolina coast to the Mississippi River. Legend has it that the tribe split in half over politics, and the fate of remaining half is not known. This actually seems to have happened several times over the past as portions of the tribe were absorbed into the Shawnee, Lenape, Cherokee and Creek peoples, as well as into the dominant culture. We do know that for at least 6 or 8 centuries much of what is now Tennessee was occupied by a tribe with cultural characteristics that, like the Mouse Creek site had significant elements of the Yuchean cultural footprint. The Yuchi villages were very often intermingled with those of the neighboring tribes. It was widely theorized that the Yuchi in their widely scattered villages throughout the Southeastern United States, represented the original inhabitants prior to the influx of the Muskhogean, Iroquoian, and Algonkian peoples.” (Who Were the Mysterious Yuchi of Tennessee and the Southeast? by David Hackett

There is growing evidence to suggest the Uchee/Euchee may have been the driving force of intense occupation of the Upper Chattahoochee River Valley which began with the Deptford Culture that originated out of Savannah, GA around 1000 BC. Capps and Burney do note the Euchee claimed to be part of a much larger, more ancient group of peoples that inhabited the Southeast many years prior to the tribe’s movement into Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia from the eastern Tennessee River Valley in the late 17th century.

Unfortunately, Wikipedia’s entry only mentions settlements after that time: Yuchi settlements were documented in Georgia and South Carolina, after the tribe had migrated there to escape pressure from the Cherokee. ‘Mount Pleasant’ was noted as being on the Savannah River in present-day Effingham County, Georgia, from about 1722 to about 1750. It was first a Yuchi town. To take advantage of trade, the British established a trading post and small military garrison there, which they called Mount Pleasant…

Yuchi war dance, illustration by Philip Georg Friedrich von Reck, Georgia, c. 1736

…’Euchee Town’ (also called Uchee Town), a large settlement on the Chattahoochee River, was documented from the middle to late 18th century. It was located near Euchee (or Uchee) Creek about ten miles downriver from the Muscogee Creek settlement of Coweta Old Town. The naturalist William Bartram visited Euchee Town in 1778, and in his letters ranked it as the largest and most compact Indian town he had ever encountered, with large, well-built houses. U.S. Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins also visited the town and described the Yuchi as ‘more orderly and industrious’ than the other tribes of the Creek Confederacy. The Yuchi began to move on, some into Florida, and during the Creek War of 1813 –1814, many joined the Red Sticks party, traditionalists opposed to the Creek of the Lower Towns. Euchee Town decayed. The tribe became one of the poorest of the Creek communities, at the same time gaining a bad reputation. The archaeological site of the town, designated a National Historic Landmark, is within the boundaries of present-day Fort Benning, GeorgiaColonists noted Patsiliga on the Flint River in the late 18th century. Other Yuchi towns may have been those on the Oconee River near Uchee Creek in Wilkinson County, Georgia, and on Brier Creek in Burke County, Georgia or Screven County, Georgia. A Yuchi town was sited at present-day Silver Bluff in Aiken County, South Carolina from 1746 to 1751… During the 18th century, the Yuchi consistently allied with the British, with whom they traded deer hides and Indian slaves. The population plummeted in the 18th century due to Eurasian infectious diseases, to which they had no immunity, and to war with the Cherokee, who were moving into their territory and were much more powerful. After the American Revolution, they maintained close relations with the Creek Confederacy. But after the defeat of the Creeks by South Carolina in the Yamassee War of 1716, some of the tribe had already relocated west to the Chattahoochee Valley, and to the town on the Georgia-Alabama border. In the 1830s, the U.S. government officially removed the tribe, along with the Muscogee Creek, from Alabama and Georgia to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma). Some escaped south however to Florida to became part of the newly formed Seminole tribe.”
Incidentally, according to Richard Thornton, there’s a lot that academia has gotten wrong concerning how both the Muscogee Creeks and the Uchee/Euchee lost their lands in Georgia after the Treaty of Augusta in 1773. I’ve cited him here.
* * *
Some say the Uchee/Echee were affiliates of the Muscogee/Creek Confederacy, who never assimilated. They say the native tongue of the tribe is a language isolate, one that does not resemble any known language that was spoken by the other tribes who inhabited the Southeastern United States, (although Yuchi.org asserts it may hold clues to  understanding the indigenous culture of all those other tribes).
* * *
Hmm… clues, indeed.
* * *
In comparison, the language of the Hitchiti and Mikasuki, (two indigenous tribes also loosely affiliated with the Creeks whose language was part of Muskogean family), was also spoken by the Chiaha, Oconee, Sawokli, Apalochicola, and Miccosukee tribes across Georgia and Florida during colonial times. The Mikasuki language is still spoken in Florida today by Seminoles and Miccosukees.
* * *
According to Ourgeorgiahistory.com, the naturalist, William Bartram penned this about the language of the Uchee/Euchee: “Their own national language is altogether or radically different from the Creek or Muscogulge[sic} tongue, and is {locally} called the Savanna or Savanuca tongue; I was told by traders that it may be the same with, or a dialect of, the Shawanese. They are in confederacy with the Creeks, but do not mix with them.” 
* * *
David Hackett (Woktela) states the following (Yuchi.org): “The name Yuchi is very probably from the Yuchean language. Elders say it is ‘Yudjiha’- probably meaning a people of significance – as they would say, ‘we are Tsoyaha yuchi’ (Children of the Sun, a people of significance)….The Yuchi are a mysterious indigenous people with a separate and distinct heritage form the other indigenous people of the United States. All myths aside, the Tsoyaha were one of the mound building peoples in the Southeast, and a contemporary culture of the great Mayan culture. They were at the heart of an extensive trade network that could have included an infrequent contact with the Old World. Despite firmly held myths that claim current era discovery, America has been a melting pot of ideas, culture and genes since long before the Colombian Era, and well into the Neolithic times as the intercontinental Maritime Archaic culture so clearly demonstrate.” (Who Were the Mysterious Yuchi of Tennessee and the Southeast? by David Hackett) 
* * *
And the following appears on the website of the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia: “They are a proud people, who today call themselves ‘Tsoyaha,’ or ‘Offspring of the Sun,’ or alternatively, ‘Children of the Sun.’ Others claim the name means ‘situated yonder,’ or ‘children of the Sun from far away’….
* * *
That’s a pretty descent stab at it, but anyone looking for particulars will want to look further…
* * *
Meanwhile, according to Wikipedia, Muscogee Creek legends say their ancestors migrated from the far Northwest and didn’t stop until they reached Florida, where they ‘retreated’ to occupy a region that originally extended west to the Coosa and the Tallapoosa, and east to the Ocmulgee. European explorers named the region, ‘Creek County,’ and the Indians who inhabited it, the ‘Creeks,’ but in fact, Europeans reported meeting Indians from other regions loosely identified as ‘Creeks’ in Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and North Georgia. Although archaeologists have also noted Muscogee-related finds along the Southeastern fall-line at least as far east as the present-day city of Camden, South Carolina, apparently, a lot more has gone missing from the record.
* * *
Wikipedia states the language of the Creeks is Muscogee (Mvskoke), the language traditionally spoken by the all of the Muscogee/Maskoki groups from Alabama and Georgia which is related to Hitchiti/Miccosukee, the primary language spoken by most kindred members of the Muscogee Confederacy. Access Genealogy further distinguishes the language known as Itsate, which “appears to have originally been a dialect of Alabama, but was altered by contact with Mesoamericans.”
* * *
I’d highly recommend the following article on the subject: A Big Pot of Bubbling Brunswick Stew, posted at Peopleofonefire.com, and written by author Richard Thornton.

There’s no doubt the Muscogee Creek are descendants of the same Mississippian peoples who built the first earthwork mounds at their regional chiefdoms located throughout the Mississippi River valley and its tributaries, but recent research at sites like Ocmulgee and Etowah is turning up information that contradicts some of the previously held and published opinions about their origins and identities, and the timeline surrounding their influence. It’s entirely plausible that all Muscogee Creeks are descended from the Olmec Civilization, while the Mayan influence upon the mound builders of the Southeast may be greater than anyone previously dared to imagine. By the way, the original Hitchiti-Creek Migration legend, (which corresponds with the newly discovered English version translated and presented by Access Genealogy) plainly states that “the ancestors came by water a long distance from the SOUTH.” 

Guess, some folks just missed all this, huh?

In the article, Access Genealogy Publishes the Original Migration Legend of the Creek People, Richard Thornton states, “Several Muskogean cultures in the Southeast used copper and brass tools and weapons. Although People of One Fire researchers have identified numerous examples of clustered or individual Itza Maya glyphs on the stone, ceramic, copper and shell art at sites in North Georgia, *Caucasian anthropologists have still refused to label Muskogean culture,  a civilization . . . on the grounds that ‘the ancestors of the Creeks, Seminoles, Miccosukees, Koasatis and Alabamas were illiterate’.” 

(*Personally, I think such failures may have less to do with being Caucasian than with being snobbishly established and intellectually lazy, … and more power to those who challenge the authenticity of stodgy conventions and misguided opinions.)

Now, back to Wikipedia. A post about Cherokee legends say their forefathers migrated to the Southeast as well, but much earlier than the Creeks, and that the language spoken by the Cherokee was Iroquoian, (as opposed to Algonquian). It notes they were the first of the known Southeastern tribes to keep written records, upon their adoption of a written language in 1820, a practice that ushered in the era of ‘historic’ documentation, at which time, historians and ethnographers were able to record the tribe’s oral tradition concerning their migration south from the Great Lakes region. Today’s research however has uncovered a number of discrepancies concerning the time of their migration(s), and the length of the people’s occupation(s) at certain reported habitations.

Wikipedia also cites this: There are two prevailing views about Cherokee origins. One is that the Cherokees are relative latecomers to Southern Appalachia. The other theory is that they have been there for thousands of years….. Some historians believe that Cherokees came to Appalachia as late as the 13th century. Over time they moved into Muscogee Creek territory and settled on the sites of Muscogee mounds. Several Mississippian sites have been wrongly attributed to the Cherokee, including Moundville and Etowah Mounds, but are in fact Muscogee Creek. Pisgah Phase sites are associated with pre-contact Cherokee culture, and historic Cherokee villages featured artifacts with iconography from the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex….The other possibility is that Cherokee people have lived in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee for a far longer period of time”….HOWEVER,.. “unlike most other Indians in the American Southeast at the start of the historic era, the Cherokee spoke an Iroquoian language, an indication of migration from another area. Since the Great Lakes region was the core of Iroquoian-language speakers, scholars have theorized that the Cherokee migrated south from that region. This is supported by the Cherokee oral history tradition. According to the scholars’ theory, the Tuscarora, another Iroquoian-speaking people who inhabited the Southeast in historic times, and the Cherokee broke off from the major group during its northern migration.”

Another Wikipedia entry, Hiwassee River, says the Euchee/Uchee (Yuchi) and other Muscogee Creek tribes (HitchitiKoasati, Chiaha) were well established in the river basin around Murphy, NC, up until such time as the Cherokee moved in to attack and later murder their leaders in their sleep. To quote: “Various Muskogean ethnic groups occupied the region for many centuries before the arrival of the Cherokee. Some historians originally thought that because the Europeans had encountered the Cherokee in the Hiwassee Valley in the 18th century, they had occupied the territory for a much longer period, but this is not the case…. earlier English explorers and traders in the 1690s found most of the river valley occupied by Muskogean and Yuchi towns” at a time when “Cherokee villages were east and north of the river.”

Hiwassee River Map

Hiwassee River Map

A report published by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior prepared for the Senate in 1914 entitled, “Indians of North America,” contains a thorough and valuable briefing, not only on the Cherokee, but on all of the tribes that inhabited the eastern part of the country. (The summary of Cherokee history, including their interactions with others in the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast, as well as their wars and conquests begins on page 133.)

The Smithsonian’s bulletin publication, “Peachtree Mound and Village Site, Cherokee, North Carolina” (online) documents archaeological finds at that site, and concludes (though somewhat reluctantly) that although the Cherokee occupied the site for a time, they were not its original creators. This isn’t the only instance where such sites may have been attributed to the Cherokee. Take the case of the ‘cut off’ Uchee/Euchee town along the Oconaluftee River in Cherokee, NC, which has mistakenly been labeled “the oldest documented Cherokee town in North Carolina.” Talk about usurping another’s identity, apparently, certain North Carolina ‘Cherokees’ have also lately and erroneously claimed to be descendants of the Clovis Culture in their zeal to portray themselves as the ‘oldest humans in North America.’ Would you believe, a film for public television and school classrooms also claimed that the Aztecs and Maya were descended from the Cherokee. Perhaps, someone never went to the trouble to do their homework, or worse, simply has been out to misrepresent Cherokee history, and not necessarily to the advantage of the Cherokee people. It happens. By the way, the famed Battle of Taliwa may well have never happened – no Creek town named Taliwa ever existed.

Many of the articles mentioned above were published by People of One Fire, (National Alliance of Muskogean Scholars and their Friends). The series on the Oconaluftee River town discusses other possibly mislabeled settlements across the state of Georgia, … and a whole lot more.

To quote Capps and Burney, “the Cherokee occupied the upper valley of the Tennessee River, the mountains and valleys of the Allegheny Range, and the headwaters of the Savannah River. Their ‘legends’ told how they had migrated from the ‘west,’ but much earlier than the Creeks.” 

Well, perhaps, … and perhaps not, since the Muscogee Creek, (and certainly the Uchee/Echee, and their allies, the Highland Apalache and Shawnee), were already there. Yet much of this information seems to have gone unnoticed, or maybe even ignored, much like recent reports about the Hitchiti/Muscogee Creek being the ones to exhibit a Maya-Itsate connection, … so go figure.

For the past twenty years, I wondered why certain peoples and cultures mentioned in earlier publications like the Capps and Burney book (1972), (and those whom I personally found most provocative) had yet to receive additional notation, though, as a novice, it never occurred to me that one possible reason might have been willful ignorance on the part of a few stubbornly conventional academics.

Tamachichi, Creek Delegation, and the Trustees at Westminister Palace by William Verelst - 1734

Tamachichi, Creek Delegation & British Trustees at Westminister Palace  – painting by the artist William Verelst (1734)

Just yesterday I came across another of Thornton’s latest articles entitled, Painting Shows Mayas Living in Georgia in 1734. (shown above.) The article discusses the physical/genetic characteristics of the group of Savannah River Echee, and Muscogee Creek who shared the area at the time of Oglethorpe’s landing, as illustrated by the painting done in Westminister Palace by William Verelst depicting Mikko Tamachichi’s delegation of Creek leaders to meet British officials in 1734. (By the way, some descendants of the Echee are still living in parts of southeast Georgia and South Carolina today.)

Thornton’s observations are extraordinary, and altogether believable. Toward the end of the article, he reminds us, The Uchee, Apalache and Itsate all told early British settlers that the first place they lived when they arrived in their current homeland was the general vicinity of Savannah. High King Chikili told the settlers that ‘our first emperor is buried in a mound near Savannah’.” (Again, see Savannah site, Bilbo/Irene Mounds

The people who were living in the low country at the time Oglethorpe met them in February 1733 knew their history well, and freely related it to the British. It’s definitely possible that their Uchee and Siouans ancestors who were the aboriginal peoples of the southeast had previously come from other parts of the ‘new’ world, to populate locations across prehistoric North America, so I fully expect to find more written about them in the future.

Lookout from the Slope

Fort Mountain Northeastern View

Getting back to the subject at hand, a single sentence on page 17 of the first chapter of Coastal Georgia explains what the Cherokee say took place during their ‘conquest’ of North Georgia. It reads as follows:

“They {the Cherokees} insisted they had driven out a ‘moon-eyed’ people who were unable to see at night.” 

Do what?

For a book that was published in 1972, that’s saying a lot, and in the days before internet search engines were able to quickly place whatever additional information might be  available at the tip of one’s fingers and the end of one’s nose, it was hardly enough. Early on, long hours at the library failed to produce enough substantial information to venture an educated guess so I set that goal aside.

Eventually, though, a number of theories surfaced, and several years ago, I stumbled upon the information supplied to the public on the Georgia State Parks Fort Mountain website.

Fort Mountain Plaque Near Stone Wall

Fort Mountain Plaque Near Stone Wall

The park is just west of Ellijay near the Cohutta Wilderness at the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Last fall, my friend and I visited the mountain, and spent the day hiking up and down its scenic pathways, taking photographs, navigating the ancient stones along the summit, all the while feeling like we were treading upon a special, and genuinely eerie … place.

The stone wall at Fort Mountain dates back to 400 A.D. (Some researchers say 500 A.D.) From previously discussed indications, either way that’s just prior to the major dust event that wreaked havoc upon the Northern hemisphere. That’s also over five hundred years before the Viking Norseman, Leif Erikson is said to have reached Newfoundland, and almost a thousand years before Columbus sailed. With all due respect, that pretty much eliminates one currently preferred theory that the wall was constructed by the Welchman, Prince Madoc, whom some believe established a colony in the American Midwest, and perhaps in the Carolinas, about 300 years before Columbus touched these shores. (As far as that goes, it’s most definitely before the arrival of the Cherokee. LOL!) By the way, the Knights Templar were not around until the 12th century, and while the Chinese monk, Hui Shen may well have visited the Pacific Northwest during the mid 5th century, it’s highly doubtful that he made it to the Southeast.

It’s also doubtful that the wall which zigzags between elevations of 2750 to 2760 feet along the mountain’s southern and western crests  was ever used as a fortification – it’s neither strategic nor substantial, and if it was built during the Middle Woodland period, a time when the wide-ranging Hopewellian sphere, and Fort Ancient trade networks were still providing broad interaction and cooperation between tribes from many regions, so, who knows, there may have been little need for it to have been fortified. Neither is it the only structure of its kind in the Southeast. Similar field stone walls have been discovered at Alec Mountain (Habersham County), Ladd Mountain, (Bartow County), Pigeon Mountain, (Dade County), Rocky Face, (Whitfield County), Sand Mountain (Catoosa County), Stone Mountain (Dekalb County), also, at another Fort Mountain in Union County, as well as Lookout Mountain in Tennessee, and DeSoto Falls in Alabama.

Aboutgeorgia.com: “Currently, most scholars believe that the wall (at Fort Mountain) originated about 500 A.D. and has a spiritual purpose. Many early cultures built structures related to astronomical events. In this case the wall runs east to west around a precipice. The effect is that the sun illuminates one side of the wall at sunrise and on the other side at sunset. North American Indian cultures generally spiritualized the sun and all things in nature. The absence of religious icons at the site actually supports this theory since it was common practice for American Indians to take ceremonial objects with them when they moved.”

More than likely the wall was originally constructed in ceremonial fashion and designed  to correspond with special occasions of celestial observance. Its creators and those who occupied the heights, were revered, not threatened, (at least up until the time newcomers like the Cherokee got there). Though it may date back as far as 400 A.D., the site also shows signs of additional occupancy and alteration, so, … it’s not just a question of who built the wall, but of who was occupying it at the time the Cherokees arrived (possibly as late as the 1700s), … if anyone.  🙂

Were they frightful, nocturnal creatures with poor eyesight that lived in caves  underground and only came out at night – remember the Morlocks? Or pale-faced, red-haired cannibalistic giants once known as the Allewegi (or Azgen) who fled the British Isles to practice ‘dark arts’ in America? Or perhaps, early refugees from South America who migrated north to escape brutal enemies in Peru and are also reported to have had red hair, fair-skins and blue-green eyes? There are also tales of tall, friendly extraterrestrials whose offspring became greatly revered leaders, and of ancient seafarers whose tell-tale identification symbol is the concentric circle…

Question: Do any of the above scenarios make sense?

Maybe. At least, they may not be as far-fetched as some may think …

Path Along The Wall - The Stone Seat

The Stone Seat

 

* * * * * *

Copyright 2016, Real Spooks – Cynthia Farr Kinkel

* * * * * *

6 thoughts on “A Light on Fort Mountain

  1. Since early childhood my dream was to be an Indian Princess. When I met a certain good looking man with the last name “cloud” I thought my dream could possible come true. Turns out he is not Indian at all. His family is from Cain England. Oh well!

    This fact filled post about my should have been family was wonderful.

    I also for the first time see where our president comes up with the idea that climate change is to blame for unrest in the Middle East and increased terrorist activity here in the United States.

    “Sudden and extreme changes in climate that began around 535 to 536 A.D. were in varying degrees affecting populations on a world-wide scale. Caused by ashes or dust thrown into the air after the eruption of a volcano, or possibly after the impact of a comet or meteorite, such changes contributed to famine, disease, increased political turmoil, migrations and warfare across the globe”.

    So there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 Climate change has been affecting global populations since the early days of whomever and whatever beings walked the earth. What can be done to stop it, is the real question.

      Glad you enjoyed the piece. If the archaeological establishment, and the educational system, textbooks, etc. ever catch up with some of the current viable research being reported about those who have gone before, we may come to know a lot more about this ancient land we call home.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting, Becky!

      Like

      • Not having been raised in the South, I had very little history about it’s first inhabitants. History has always been my favorite subject so naturally I was quite drawn to reading this post. I found it to be fascinating and quite informative. I enjoyed the maps and photos which made it even more interesting. This was a worthwhile read and I will be looking forward to the next one!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The name of Tybee Island is indeed derived from Taube, which means salt. However, taube is an Itza Maya, Apalache Creek and Itzate (Hitchiti) Creek word, not Uchee (Yuchi.) Your website is beautiful. We appreciate all the work and love that you put into it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So happy to have you visit, Richard, and to comment. Your insight is greatly appreciated.

      Concerning ‘Tybee,’ our police chief thought he’d at long last received an accurate answer to his query from Oklahoma, God bless him. I’m sure he’d be as anxious to learn more as I am.

      Meanwhile, my copy of “The Forgotten History of North Georgia” arrived today, and I look forward to the read.

      Thanks for all you do to set the record straight! 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s