A Light on Fort Mountain


So,… Who ARE the Moon-Eyed people? Will we ever know?

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 entitled Colonial Georgia, published in 1972 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. It was only a brief mention, but it 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. Prehistoric Georgia has been inhabited for at least 17,000 years, throughout the Paleoindian, Archaic, and Woodland periods, as¬†evidenced by sites along¬†the Macon plateau at the fall-line. Archaic period pottery found in a mound at¬†Stallings Island near Augusta indicates it may be one of the oldest mounds 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.

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.¬†The evolution of various Southeastern¬†Native American¬†cultures from the Archaic Period¬†to the Woodland Period was¬†marked by the emergence of three stages of¬†‘Pre Columbian’ occupation,¬†dating from 1000 B.C. to¬†1000 A.D.¬†It was during these final years of pre-history that some say the subsistence of the nomadic¬†hunter-gatherer was replaced by woodland farming.


Cultural Regions of the North American Indians

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


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, and the Leake site is at the northernmost edge of its distribution. 


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 noted researcher and CEO¬†of¬†The Apalache Foundation,¬†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‚Äôs 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. There’s 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¬†Etowah¬†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, south to the Gulf of Mexico, and as far west as the Rockies.¬†


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


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 suspect 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.”

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

Evidence has 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.” The event, that may have brought destruction upon the¬†Ocmulgee Earth Lodge, also greatly affected¬†the¬†British Isles and North Sea countries. Additional volcanic activity is thought to have resulted in climatic 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¬†Haley’s Comet, and¬†a ‘guest star’ documented by Chinese astronomers, “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‚Äď900, 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. However, the culture was already in decline across 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 up until the time of the¬†Hernando de¬†Soto expedition (1539 ‚Äď1541). 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. What happened during the missing hundred years¬†of historical accounting concerning¬†their fate, and whether they were lost to disease or something worse is still under investigation. 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 alliances formed with the remaining smaller chiefdoms throughout the region including a lucrative Indian slave trade, eventually brought all of the elements of the former Mississippian culture 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‚Äď1768). It depicts in great detail the territories and regions of the colonial era, and attempts to place 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 in colonial America. 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…

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 has a brief mention of¬†the Creek and¬†Cherokee Indians in the state, and¬†an even briefer mention¬†of¬†the Uchee Indians (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, similar spellings.)

While Colonial Georgia¬†simply states¬†“the Uchee¬†lived along the banks of the Oconee, and at the headwaters of the Ogeechee, Chatanooga,¬†and Savannah Rivers,” their presence has been¬†confirmed farther south on the islands of Wahale or¬†Guale, including Tybee at the mouth of the Savannah River. Fact is, Tybee Island wasn’t just a regional hunting and fishing ground. It was the place to collect a commodity that was precious and abundant: sea salt.

Years ago, (as the newspaper clipping below indicates), a¬†novice’s search to discover the origin and meaning of the name, “Tybee” came to an end, and the mystery was thought to have been solved. Only recently did I learn the true meaning of the word and from where it originates.

To quote 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, <Tybee> 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!”¬†(Published in Thornon’s,¬†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 ‚ÄúChicora,‚ÄĚ and that the Uchee 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. Despite claims that the language of the Uchee kept them apart, they’re known to be one of the most assimilative and adaptive of all the ancient tribes, 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 (or¬†Euchee,¬†which is the name adopted by those now in Oklahoma), 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 indigenous people. They¬†say that only those who spoke the Algonquian language¬†predated their arrival in the Eastern United States when 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 of the history of the elusive Uchee, 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 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. Even Capps and Burney note these people claimed to be part of¬†a much larger, more ancient group 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. 173

…’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 ‚Äď1814, 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, Georgia.¬†Colonists 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¬†Eurasianinfectious 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, and 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.”
* * *
(According to Thornton, however, many Uchee and Muscogee Creek peoples not directly associated with the Cherokee nation never left Georgia, and are still here. Incidentally, Thornton suggests there’s a lot that academia has gotten wrong concerning how some of them ‘officially’ lost their lands from the time of the Treaty of Augusta in 1773 onward…)
* * *
Those who say the Uchee were affiliates of the Muscogee Creek Confederacy who never assimilated, also 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 that the language may hold clues to understanding the indigenous culture of all of the 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:¬†“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 deeper. A lot deeper…
* * *
Now, 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 Country,’ and¬†the Indians who inhabited it, the ‘Creeks,’ BUT in fact,¬†Europeans reported meeting¬†peoples from other regions loosely identified as¬†‘Creeks’¬†in Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and North Georgia. Although academics 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.”
* * *
While the ‘Muscogee Creek’ may well have descended from the same Mississippian peoples who built the first earthwork mounds at their regional chiefdoms located throughout the Mississippi River valley and its tributaries, recent research at sites like Ocmulgee¬†and Etowah, and in Savannah, is turning up information that contradicts much of the previously held and published opinions about their origins and identities.¬†By the way, the¬†original Hitchiti-Creek Migration legend, (which actually 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.” But Thornton says it may be entirely possible due to the dates of these most recent archaeological finds that an advanced indigenous culture may have spread from the Southeastern United States to Mexico, and not the other way around. That means some of these peoples may have been returning to a land once occupied by THEIR ancestors. To say it would be a big game changer, should it prove to be true, is an vast understatement! Be sure to catch Roots of the Choctaw, Chicasaw and Creek People…a new series.

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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 . . . based on the grounds that ‘the ancestors of the Creeks, Seminoles, Miccosukees, Koasatis and Alabamas were illiterate’.‚Ä̬†

(*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 Uchee and various Muscogee Creek tribes (Hitchiti,¬†Koasati,¬†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 town along¬†the Oconaluftee River in Cherokee, NC,¬†which has mistakenly been labeled ‚Äúthe 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.

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, that’s a stretch, … given the fact that the ancestors of the Muscogee Creek, (and certainly the Uchee, and their allies, the Highland Apalache, Chickasaw, and¬†Shawnee), were living there long before the Cherokee arrived. Current research also indicates a very large population of Native American-European hybrids were living in the North Georgia and the Southern Highlands in the late 1600s and early 1700s. They were known as “Cofache” – a broad mix of peoples with greatly varying DNA markers, including English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Basque, Iberian, Peruvian, Mexican, Asturian, Sephardic Jew, Sami, Finnish… Yet much of this information seems to have gone unnoticed, even ignored, like recent reports about the Hitchiti/Muscogee Creek being the ones to exhibit a Maya-Itsate¬†connection, or that even more ancient peoples, the Alekmani and the Soque,¬†who were known as great scholars, historians and physicians, also populated the mountains and hills of North Georgia at one time! There’s even evidence they may have migrated from a region near the Baltic Sea. Go figure.

For the past thirty-five years, I’ve 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. 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  Рpainting by the artist William Verelst (1734)

Another¬†of Thornton’s articles was entitled,¬†Painting Shows Mayas Living in Georgia in 1734.¬†(Artwork shown above.) The¬†article¬†discussed the physical/genetic characteristics of the group of Savannah River Uchee, 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 Uchee descendants are still living¬†in coastal Georgia¬†and South Carolina today.)

Thornton’s¬†observations were extraordinary, and¬†altogether believable.¬†Toward the end of the article, he¬†reminded us, The Uchee, Apalache and Itsate all told early British settlers that the first place <their ancestors> 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.’ ‚ÄĚ (The Bilbo Mound)

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 possible their Uchee and Siouan ancestors were the aboriginal peoples of the southeast who had previously come from other parts of the 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 was saying a lot, and in a day before internet search engines could quickly place whatever additional information might be available at the tip of one’s fingers or the end of one’s nose, it was hardly enough. But after long hours at the library failed to produce enough substantial information to venture an educated guess, I set that goal aside.

Eventually, a number of theories surfaced, however, and several years ago, I stumbled upon some information that had been supplied to the public at 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. Several autumns ago, 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, and 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 prior to the major dust event that wreaked havoc upon the Northern hemisphere, and 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 Welchmen, 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 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 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 the Fort Ancient Trade Networks were still providing broad interaction and cooperation between tribes from many regions. Why would it need fortification? And it isn’t 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. It’s also possible that its creators and those who occupied the heights were regarded with esteem, rather than considered to be threatening, (at least up until the time newcomers like the Cherokee got there). The site also shows signs of additional occupancy and alterations, 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 mid-1700s), AND who had possibly been there for¬†much longer.

Were they frightful, nocturnal creatures with poor eyesight that lived underground and only came out at night? Remember the Morlocks? Where they Albinos? 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 reportedly also had red hair, fair-skins and blue-green eyes? There are tales of tall, friendly extraterrestrials whose offspring were greatly revered, of ancient seafarers whose tell-tale identification symbol is the concentric circle – (Hint: Swedish bronze-age petroglyphs look a lot like those discovered in the Georgia mountains.), and according to Richard Thornton, early French explorers who trapsed around eastern Tennessee claimed to have visited “a tribe of primitive humans/humanoids who were not American Indians, but had lighter skins, short tails, and bodies that were completely covered in hair.” Hmm, sounds like they might have been describing a tribe of what Canada’s First Nation Peoples call the ‘wild or harry men,’ better known as Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Skookum! Down in the lower forty-eight, they’re also called the Grass Man, the Fouke Monster, Momo, and here in the South, the Skunk Ape, the Wood Booger, and the Swamp Monster, just for starters…

So, do any of the above scenarios make sense?

Maybe. At least, they maybe not as far-fetched as you may think …

The quest for a firmer foundation is just beginning.

(*By the way, on Richard Thornton’s new website,¬†The Americas Revealed¬†– ApalacheResearch.com,¬†there’s an authentically thorough article entitled¬†“The Uchee – Everything You Wanted to Know, But Were Afraid To Ask.” It’s well worth a read. AND, on a new YouTube Channel,¬†People of One Fire, Thornton regularly publishes his trove of associated research. Since I’ve only scratched the surface in this article, I’d suggest that anyone sincerely interested in the rich indigenous history of the Southeastern United States spend some quality time on Thornton’s sites. The information found there is vital. Enjoy!)

Path Along The Wall - The Stone Seat

The Stone Seat

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Copyright 2015 – 2023, Real Spooks ‚Äď Cynthia Farr Kinkel

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