A 17th-century trading post and Indian town in central Georgia reveal evidence of culture contact and change
Ocmulgee Old Fields near Macon, Georgia, is the site of a Lower Creek village and associated English trading house dating from the late 17th and early 18th centuries. It was excavated in the early 1930s as part of a WPA project directed by A. R. Kelly, which focused primarily on the major Mississippian temple mounds of Macon Plateau. The specific data for the Old Fields was not analyzed until nearly 30 years after the excavation.
Part of the significance of this site lies in its secure identification with a known group of people and the linkage of those people with recognizable archaeological remains. The Old Fields site was among the very first for which this kind of identification was possible and stands at the head of a continuing tradition of historic sites archaeology in the Southeast.
Carol I. Mason's classic study of the Ocmulgee Old Fields site has been a model for contact-period Indian archaeology since the 1960s. The report includes a discussion of the historic setting and an analysis of the archaeological materials with an identification of the Lower Creek town and possibly of the English trader who lived there. Now, for the first time, the original report is widely available in book form. With a new foreword by the author and a new introduction from Southeastern archaeology expert Marvin T. Smith, readers have the benefit of a contemporary view of this very fine piece of careful scholarship.
The Muskogee Indians who lived along the lower Chattahoochee and Flint River watersheds had, and continue to have, a profound influence on the development of the southeastern United States, especially during the historic period (circa 1540–1836). Our knowledge of that culture is limited to what we can learn from their descendants and from archaeological and historical sources.
Combining historical documents and archaeological research on all known Lower Muskogee Creek sites, Thomas Foster has accurately pinpointed town locations discussed in the literature and reported in contemporary Creek oral histories. In so doing, this volume synthesizes the archaeological diversity and variation within the Lower Creek Indians between 1715 and 1836. The book is a study of archaeological methods because it analyzes the temporal and geographic variation within a single archaeological phase and the biases of that archaeological data. Foster's research segregates the variation between Lower Creek Indian towns through a regional and direct historic approach. Consequently, he is able to discern the unique differences between individual Creek Indian towns.
Foster argues that the study of Creek Indian history should be at the level of towns instead of archaeological phases and that there is significant continuity between the culture of the Historic Period Indians and the Prehistoric and Protohistoric peoples.
H. Thomas Foster II, a specialist in archaeology and human ecology, is Lecturer of Anthropology at Northern Kentucky University and editor ofThe Collected Works of Benjamin Hawkins, 1796–1810. Mary Theresa Bonhage-Freund is a specialist in archaeobotanical analysis at Alma College. Lisa O'Steen is a specialist in zooarchaeological analysis at Wildcat Ridge, Watkinsville, Georgia.
A comprehensive collection of the most important sources on the late historic Creek Indians and their environment.
In 1795 Benjamin Hawkins, a former U.S. senator and advisor to George Washington, was appointed U.S. Indian agent and superintendent of all the tribes south of the Ohio River. Unlike most other agents, he lived among the Creek Indians for his entire tenure, from 1796 to 1816. Journeying forth from his home on the Flint River in Georgia, he served southeastern Indians as government intermediary during one of the longest eras of peace in the historic period.
Hawkins's journals provide detailed information about European-Indian relations in the 18th-century frontier of the South. His descriptions of the natural and cultural environment are considered among the best sources for the ethnohistory of the Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and, especially, the Creek Indians and the natural history of their territory.
Two previously published bodies of work by Benjamin Hawkins are included here-A Sketch of the Creek Country in the Years 1798 and 1799 and The Letters of Benjamin Hawkins 1796-1806. A third body of work that has never been published, "A Viatory or Journal of Distances" (describing routes and distances of a 3,578-mile journey through parts of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi), has been added. Together, these documents make up the known body of Hawkins' work—his talks, treaties, correspondence, aboriginal vocabularies, travel journals, and records of the manners, customs, rites, and civil polity of the tribes. Hawkins' work provides an invaluable record of the time period.
Drowning in Fire
Craig S. Womack University of Arizona Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS501.S85 vol. 48 | Dewey Decimal 810.8
Josh Henneha has always been a traveler, drowning in dreams, burning with desires.
As a young boy growing up within the Muskogee Creek Nation in rural Oklahoma, Josh experiences a yearning for something he cannot tame. Quiet and skinny and shy, he feels out of place, at once inflamed and ashamed by his attraction to other boys. Driven by a need to understand himself and his history, Josh struggles to reconcile the conflicting voices he hears—from the messages of sin and scorn of the non-Indian Christian churches his parents attend in order to assimilate, to the powerful stories of his older Creek relatives, which have been the center of his upbringing, memory, and ongoing experience.
In his fevered and passionate dreams, Josh catches a glimpse of something that makes the Muskogee Creek world come alive. Lifted by his great-aunt Lucille’s tales of her own wild girlhood, Josh learns to fly back through time, to relive his people’s history, and uncover a hidden legacy of triumphs and betrayals, ceremonies and secrets he can forge into a new sense of himself.
When as a man, Josh rediscovers the boyhood friend who first stirred his desires, he realizes a transcendent love that helps take him even deeper into the Creek world he has explored all along in his imagination.
Interweaving past and present, history and story, explicit realism and dreamlike visions, Craig Womack’s Drowning in Fire explores a young man’s journey to understand his cultural and sexual identity within a framework drawn from the community of his origins. A groundbreaking and provocative coming-of-age story, Drowning in Fire is a vividly realized novel by an impressive literary talent.
The Federal Road was a major influence in settlement of the Mississippi Territory during the period between the Louisiana Purchase and removal of the Creek Indians. Histories of early Alabama covering this period are replete with references to isolated incidents along the Federal Road but heretofore no documented history drawn from original sources has been published.
Authors Southerland and Brown have explored many scattered and often obscure sources in order to produce this fascinating, informative account of the impact of the Federal Road on the timing, shape, and settlement of the lower South. What started as a postal horsepath through a malaria-infested wilderness occupied by Indians was widened into a military road for use during the War of 1812 and became a primary thoroughfare for pioneers. The accessibility to Indian land provided by the road was a principal cause of the Creek Indian War of 1813-1814; moreover, it expedited the exodus of the Creek Indians and permitted English-speaking settlers to enter western Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. This history of the Federal Road, describing its birth of necessity to fulfill an essential need, its short and useful service life, and its demise, opens a new window onto our past and reveals a historical period that, although now almost faded into oblivion, still affects our daily lives. This illumination of the life of the Federal Road will help present-day inhabitants appreciate how we came to be where we are today.
Told by a colonial governor, a Creek military leader, Native Americans, and British colonists, each account of Acorn Whistler’s execution for killing five Cherokees speaks to the collision of European and Indian cultures, the struggle to preserve traditional ways of life, and tensions within the British Empire on the eve of the American Revolution.
A revealing saga detailing the economic, familial, and social bonds forged by Indian trader George Galphin in the early American South
A native of Ireland, George Galphin arrived in South Carolina in 1737 and quickly emerged as one of the most proficient deerskin traders in the South. This was due in large part to his marriage to Metawney, a Creek Indian woman from the town of Coweta, who incorporated Galphin into her family and clan, allowing him to establish one of the most profitable merchant companies in North America. As part of his trade operations, Galphin cemented connections with Indigenous and European peoples across the South, while simultaneously securing links to merchants and traders in the British Empire, continental Europe, and beyond.
In George Galphin’s Intimate Empire: The Creek Indians, Family, and Colonialism in Early America, Bryan C. Rindfleisch presents a complex narrative about eighteenth-century cross-cultural relationships. Reconstructing the multilayered bonds forged by Galphin and challenging scholarly understandings of life in the Native South, the American South more broadly, and the Atlantic World, Rindfleisch looks simultaneously at familial, cultural, political, geographical, and commercial ties—examining how eighteenth-century people organized their world, both mentally and physically. He demonstrates how Galphin’s importance emerged through the people with whom he bonded. At their most intimate, Galphin’s multilayered relationships revolved around the Creek, Anglo-French, and African children who comprised his North American family, as well as family and friends on the other side of the Atlantic.
Through extensive research in primary sources, Rindfleisch reconstructs an expansive imperial world that stretches across the American South and reaches into London and includes Indians, Europeans, and Africans who were intimately interconnected and mutually dependent. As a whole, George Galphin’s Intimate Empire provides critical insights into the intensely personal dimensions and cross-cultural contours of the eighteenth-century South and how empire-building and colonialism were, by their very nature, intimate and familial affairs.
In the late 1700s, as white settlers spilled across the Appalachian Mountains, claiming Cherokee and Creek lands for their own, tensions between Native Americans and pioneers reached a boiling point. Land disputes stemming from the 1791 Treaty of Holston went unresolved, and Knoxville settlers attacked a Cherokee negotiating party led by Chief Hanging Maw resulting in the wounding of the chief and his wife and the death of several Indians. In retaliation, on September 25, 1793, nearly one thousand Cherokee and Creek warriors descended undetected on Knoxville to destroy this frontier town. However, feeling they had been discovered, the Indians focused their rage on Cavett’s Station, a fortified farmstead of Alexander Cavett and his family located in what is now west Knox County. Violating a truce, the war party murdered thirteen men, women, and children, ensuring the story’s status in Tennessee lore.
In Massacre at Cavett’s Station, noted archaeologist and Tennessee historian Charles Faulkner reveals the true story of the massacre and its aftermath, separating historical fact from pervasive legend. In doing so, Faulkner focuses on the interplay of such early Tennessee stalwarts as John Sevier, James White, and William Blount, and the role each played in the white settlement of east Tennessee while drawing the ire of the Cherokee who continued to lose their homeland in questionable treaties. That enmity produced some of history’s notable Cherokee war chiefs including Doublehead, Dragging Canoe, and the notorious Bob Benge, born to a European trader and Cherokee mother, whose red hair and command of English gave him a distinct double identity. But this conflict between the Cherokee and the settlers also produced peace-seeking chiefs such as Hanging Maw and Corn Tassel who helped broker peace on the Tennessee frontier by the end of the 18th century. After only three decades of peaceful co-existence with their white neighbors, the now democratic Cherokee Nation was betrayed and lost the remainder of their homeland in the Trail of Tears.
Faulkner combines careful historical research with meticulous archaeological excavations conducted in developed areas of the west Knoxville suburbs to illuminate what happened on that fateful day in 1793. As a result, he answers significant questions about the massacre and seeks to discover the genealogy of the Cavetts and if any family members survived the attack. This book is an important contribution to the study of frontier history and a long-overdue analysis of one of East Tennessee’s well-known legends.
The Old Beloved Path examines the lifestyles of the native American peoples of the Chattahoochee region of southeast Alabama and southwest Georgia. Organized chronologically, the book describes the region’s cultures in the Early, Middle, and Late Prehistoric periods. Fascinating essays illuminate origin myths, clan structures, townships (or tulwa), spirituality, diseases and medicine, social customs, and sports and games. The Old Beloved Path also describes foodways—native plants gathered and cultivated for food and game animals. Also included is a rich discussion of material culture and natural materials native Americans collected for food, clothing, shelter, and tools.
Red Eagle’s Children presents the legal proceedings in an inheritance dispute that serves as an unexpected window on the intersection of two cultural and legal systems: Creek Indian and Euro-American.
Case 1299: Weatherford vs. Weatherford et al. appeared in the Chancery Court of Mobile in 1846 when William “Red Eagle” Weatherford’s son by the Indian woman Supalamy sued his half siblings fathered by Weatherford with two other Creek women, Polly Moniac and Mary Stiggins, for a greater share of Weatherford’s estate. While the court recognized William Jr. as the son of William Sr., he nevertheless lost his petition for inheritance due to the lack of legal evidence concerning the marriage of his biological mother to William Sr. The case, which went to the Alabama Supreme Court in 1851, provides a record of an attempt to interrelate and, perhaps, manipulate differences in cultures as they played out within the ritualized, arcane world of antebellum Alabama jurisprudence.
Although the case has value in the classic mold of salvage ethnography of Creek Indian culture, Red Eagle’s Children, edited by J. Anthony Paredes and Judith Knight, shows that its more enduring value lies in being a source for historical ethnography—that is, for anthropological analyses of cultural dynamics of the past
events that complement the narratives of professional historians.
David I. Durham / Robbie Ethridge / Judith
Knight / J. Anthony Paredes / Paul M. Pruitt
Jr. / Nina Gail Thrower / Robert Thrower /
Gregory A. Waselkov
All communities are teeming with energy, spirit, and knowledge, and Spiral to the Stars taps into and activates this dynamism to discuss Indigenous community planning from a Mvskoke perspective. This book poses questions about what community is, how to reclaim community, and how to embark on the process of envisioning what and where the community can be.
Geographer Laura Harjo demonstrates that Mvskoke communities have what they need to dream, imagine, speculate, and activate the wishes of ancestors, contemporary kin, and future relatives—all in a present temporality—which is Indigenous futurity.
Organized around four methodologies—radical sovereignty, community knowledge, collective power, and emergence geographies—Spiral to the Stars provides a path that departs from traditional community-making strategies, which are often extensions of the settler state. Readers are provided a set of methodologies to build genuine community relationships, knowledge, power, and spaces for themselves. Communities don’t have to wait on experts because this book helps them activate their own possibilities and expertise. A detailed final chapter provides participatory tools that can be used in workshop settings or one on one.
This book offers a critical and concrete map for community making that leverages Indigenous way-finding tools. Mvskoke narratives thread throughout the text, vividly demonstrating that theories come from lived and felt experiences. This is a must-have book for community organizers, radical pedagogists, and anyone wishing to empower and advocate for their community.
Patricia Riles Wickman offers a new paradigm for the interpretation of southeastern Native American and Spanish colonial history and a new way to view the development of the United States.
In her compelling and controversial arguments, Wickman rejects the myths that erase Native Americans from Florida through the agency of Spaniards and diseases and make the area an empty frontier awaiting American expansion. Through research on both sides of the Atlantic and extensive oral history interviews among the Seminoles of Florida and Oklahoma, Wickman shatters current theories about the origins of the people encountered by the Spaniards and presents, for the first time ever, the Native American perspective. She describes the genesis of the groups known today as Creek, Seminole, and Miccosukee—the Maskoki peoples—and traces their common Mississippian heritage, affirming their claims to continuous habitation of the Southeast and Florida. Her work exposes the rhetoric of conquest and replaces it with the rhetoric of survival.
An important cross-disciplinary work, The Tree That Bends reveals the flexibility of the Maskoki people and the sociocultural mechanisms that allowed them to survive the pressures introduced at contact. Their world was capable of incorporating the New without destroying the Old, and their descendants not only survive today but also succeed as a discrete culture as a result.
The Very Worst Road contains sixteen contemporary accounts by travelers who reached Alabama along what was known as the “Old Federal Road,” more a network of paths than a single road, that ran from Columbus and points south in Georgia for more or less due west into central Alabama and to where the confluence of the Tallapoosa and Coosa Rivers forms the Alabama River.
These accounts deal candidly with the rather remarkable array of impediments that faced travelers in Alabama in its first decades as a state, and they describe with wonder, interest, and, frequently with some disgust, the road, the inns, the travelling companions, and the few and raw communities they encountered as they made their way, often with difficulty, through what seemed to many of them uncharted wilderness. The Very Worst Road was originally published by the Historic Chattahoochee Commission in 1998.