Extreme Northeast Georgia was occupied by Uchees in the 1700s, not ethnic Cherokees! The Rickohockens, Muskogee Creeks and Cherokees played a major role in an ethnic cleansing of indigenous peoples in Georgia and South Carolina. The eight “Lower Cherokee” villages in extreme northwestern South Carolina and the Elate Creeks in Northeast Georgia were originally Itsate Creek refugees from Muskogee depredations farther south. Hence they sought an alliance with another powerful alliance in Northeastern Tennessee to gain protection from the Muskogees.
The report that archaeologists Arthur Kelly, Lewis Larson and Joseph Caldwell wrote about their excavation of Etowah Mounds contains a fascinating story near the end. Throughout 1954, 1955 and 1956 the three men argued about whether Etowah Mounds was built by “the Creeks” or “the Cherokees.” Of course, we now know that both tribes are the entities that appeared in the early 1700s, but academicians back then didn’t understand that fact. Actually, they knew so little about the actual cultural history of the Creeks back then that they didn’t even know that Etowah was derived from the Muskogee-Creek word, Etalwa.
Kelly always thought the Creeks built Etowah Mounds. Caldwell always thought that the Cherokees built Etowah. Larson, who had the largest role in the excavations there, initially sided with Caldwell, but as the excavations continued, he shifted to leaning slightly toward Kelly’s view.
The Etowah Report ends with the archaeologists agreeing that the forthcoming excavations on the Tugaloo and Keowee Rivers in advance of the filling of Lake Hartwell would determine whether Etowah was Creek or Cherokee. In 1957, Caldwell started work on Tugaloo Island . . . one of the Lower Cherokee towns, according to all current references. Caldwell would find that his understanding of the Appalachian Mountains’ Native American history was entirely wrong. Meanwhile, no anthropologist bothered to look at Colonial Period maps. They showed the region around Tugaloo Island was never occupied by ethnic Cherokees. It could well be that Cherokees had nothing to do with the sacking of Tugaloo Island around 1700 AD, because the survivors soon allied themselves with the Cherokees. You will be surprised, who the “bad guys” were.
Lewis Larson took this photo on the day, he discovered the Etowah statues at the base of Mound C. Several of the Etowah museum’s exhibits from its 1990’s “renovation” are fraudulent. The original town, from c. 1000 AD to 1250 AD actually ran north-south across the channel, where the Etowah River now flows.
The reason that Georgia’s archaeologists now tell folks that “the Etowah Report” has disappeared is that it grossly conflicts with several of the key exhibits at the Etowah Museum, which a later generation of archaeologists planned. You see, the famous Etowah Marble Statues were found at the very bottom of Mound C in a round temple next to a rectangular temple with stone walls. The statues were NOT hastily buried in a pit at the top of Mound C. By the mid-1920s, Mound C had been excavated all the way down to its surrounding grade. This is one of the many fairy tales created by late 20th century academicians.
Joseph Caldwell at Tugaloo Island
Tugaloo Island was located in the Tugaloo River, east of Toccoa in Northeast Georgia. Today, it is mostly covered by the waters of Lake Hartwell. Because the archaeological work and the destructive effect of the water, its eight mounds are no longer visible. A nearby Georgia State Historical Marker brags to visitors that Tugaloo Island was the location of the oldest Cherokee town in Georgia and that the mounds were built by the Cherokees there around 1450 AD.
ACTUALLY, what Caldwell discovered was that there had been a small village on the island and on the Georgia shore of the river since around 1000 BC. It became a substantial village during the Middle Woodland Period, occupied by people, who made Swift Creek pottery. It was then occupied by “mound builders” around 800 AD and thrived until around 1700 AD or a little later . . . when it was burned and sacked. A few years later, a small hamlet, composed of simple round huts was built in one corner of the plaza at Tugaloo. The mounds were never utilized again.
During the long period of its primary occupation, the town on Tugaloo Island produced very similar artifacts to those found around Macon, GA. Caldwell had to admit that he was wrong. Both Tugaloo and Etowah were built by ancestors of the Creek Indians. We may never know why the generation of archaeologists after Caldwell ignored his project and wrote the false description of Tugaloo that one now sees on the historic marker and references.
Look at official maps from the early 1700s to the American Revolution. They all label what is now Stevens, Rabun and Hart Counties, Georgia as being Hogelogi . . . Uchee. They label the land between the Keowee and Tugaloo Rivers in South Carolina as being Uchee. Hogelogi is actually one of the ways that Algonquin speakers, such as the Shawnee, tried to pronounce the Muskogee-Creek word, Tokah-le-ki.
On several of these official maps there is an intriguing note. It states that after Cherokees killed the Creek delegates to a meeting at the Hogeloge town of Tugaloo (actually both words are derived from Tokah-le) war broke out between the Creeks and Cherokees. The Uchee at Tugaloo fled the island in 1716 and settled here (southern Stevens County.)
In 1736, the Rev. Charles Wesley, Indian Agent in the Province of Georgia, journeyed up the Savannah River to visit Tugaloo. He described it as “a miserable village of no more than 100 Uchee inhabitants.” It was on the Georgia side of the Tugaloo River near the island. In other words, the island was not significantly inhabited after December 1715. Apparently, frequent floods and the nuisance of having to cross the river to reach the island, made it an undesirable place to locate a village.
Arthur Kelly at Chauga, Cusseta and Tamasee
Joseph Caldwell also supervised a survey of the entire proposed Lake Hartwell Basin. Unfortunately, he went to the Elbert Mounds instead of the Rembert Mounds in Elbert County, GA. As a result an incredibly important archaeological site was covered by water before it could be studied by professional archeologists.
Caldwell did identify several village sites in the general vicinity of Tugaloo in South Carolina and southern Stevens County, GA, which contained mounds. Arthur Kelly excavated these sites. Cusseta at the time, was assumed to be a Lower Cherokee town, as were Chauga and Tamassee. However, we now know that Cusseta was the northernmost Upper Creek town in Northeast Georgia. Probably, most of its residents were actually mixed-blood Uchee-Creek-European ancestry.
Kelly found the same exact patterns at Chauga, Cussetta and Tamasee. Towns with the same cultural characteristics as the Creeks living around Macon, GA lived in these communities until around 1700 AD. A thick layer of ash covered the Muskogean town, which was followed by a smaller village with cultural characteristics, which archeologists at the time assumed to be “Cherokee.”
This is what Kelly wrote in the opening page of his 1961 report on these excavations:
“The analysis of artifacts and ceramic materials from good archeological contexts supports the conclusions arrived at tentatively from the study of the successive mound constructions. The final summary of all the evidence leads logically to a conclusion concerning Cherokee proto-history and prehistory somewhat opposed to theories hitherto regarded by many investigators which tended to bring the Cherokees into the region from a remote point of origin. Purely ethnological studies of Cherokee tribal culture have emphasized traits and complexes which derive from a more northern hearth. The archeological evidence at Chauga, and elsewhere in north and northeast Georgia, as it becomes available from historic landmark sites, are not congruent with the theories of Cherokee origins . . . which assume them to be long time residents of the region.”
Translation into comprehensible English: The “mound builder” towns were occupied by the same culture, who occupied the Proto-Creek towns around Macon, GA. However, the Lower Cherokees, who replaced them, were NOT from a long distance off like early Cherokee villages in Tennessee and North Carolina, but rather emigrants from a locale fairly close to these villages.
There were three mounds in Chauga, not one as stated in the Wikipedia article about Chauga. That is one of the areas, where the anthropology professor, who wrote the Wikipedia article, strayed from the facts. Keep in mind that Kelly’s report was published by the University of Georgia and is still available online. There is absolutely no excuse for a 21stcentury anthropology professor to write fiction in Wikipedia. Here is the link to the article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chauga_Mound
Chauga is the Cherokee pronunciation of chauka, the Creek word for the Black Locust tree.
Arthur Kelly at Sandtown
In 1968, Arthur Kelly led a team of students and professors from Georgia State University in the excavation of the Creek town of Sandtown, on the Chattahoochee River a mile downstream from Six Flags Over Georgia. A cluster of important archaeological sites were about to be destroyed to build the Great Southwest Industrial Park, being developed by a Texas corporation.
Kelly, as is the case of contemporary archeologists, was not aware that this locale was rich with evidence of Arawak occupation. Very close by is the Owl Rock and the location, where the Sweetwater Creek stela was found. In other words, it was in a region that was not always “Muskogean” like the Tugaloo River.
The archaeological team was surprised to discover that the Sandtown site had been burned and sacked twice . . . once during Pre-Columbian times and then again in the period around 1690 to 1710. The people, who lived in the town prior to the second burning, produced artifacts similar to those found at Early Lamar Cultural Period sites . . . like those in Macon. The final occupation was similar to Historic Period Creeks. In other words, one branch of the Creeks, probably Apalache or Itsate, had been replaced by Muskogee Creeks . . . not crude round huts, like was seen in extreme Northeast Georgia and extreme Northwest South Carolina.
When Richard Briggstock visited North Georgia in 1653, he was astonished to see the Apalache elite wearing brightly colored and ornately patterned clothing. The commoners normally wore off-white colored clothing unless given colored clothing by the elite as part of a religious ceremony.
By the 1720s, the Creeks had evidently forgotten how to even weave cloth. In his opening statement to Governor Oglethorpe in June 1735, High King Chiliki stated, “We were naked and you gave us cloth to wear.”
What the Colonial Archives tell us
There is a consistency to European maps between around 1550 and 1701. All Native American town names in present day Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and western North Carolina are Muskogean, Panoan (eastern Peruvian), Itza Maya or Arawak words. The town of Sara also appears in the Blue Ridge Foothills region of South Carolina. It is not clear what language Sara is derived from.
From 1570 to 1700 the Kingdom of Apalache dominated these maps and gave its name to the Appalachian Mountains. The plural of Apalache is Apalachen, but the word originally only applied to the North Georgia Mountains. Some maps even labeled the Nacoochee Valley, “Domus regae” . . . House of the King in Latin.
Suddenly, in 1701, Guillaume De L’Isle’s map of North America still lists the Apalache, but only as one of the tribes in the Lower Southeast. Many of the other major divisions of the future Creek Confederacy appeared on this map, including Coweta, Cusseta, Tuskegee, Chattahoochee and Apalachicola. Western North Carolina was labeled “Pays du Chouenons” (Land of the Shawnee) but the map also showed Creek towns on the Little Tennessee River within that region. There is no mention of the Cherokees. At that time, all eight of the future “Lower Cherokee” villages in South Carolina had Creek names.
The first map to mention the Cherokees was drawn in 1715 by John and Richard Beresford. It shows most of the Cherokee villages to be located in northeastern Tennessee, where formerly there had been Panoan, Shawnee and Muskogean villages. It also shows the eight “Lower Cherokee” villages in northwestern South Carolina. By this time, all of the major Creek towns of the 1700s and early 1800s were in existence. The 1721 map of South Carolina by Colonel John Barnwell, showed these Creek towns, plus all the major Cherokee villages, whose names would continue to the end of the 18th century.
Two very important details appeared on 1715 Beresford Map that are not mentioned in the history books. The French already had constructed at fort at the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers in Alabama, plus a much larger and older fort on Bussell Island in Tennessee, where the Tennessee and Little Tennessee Rivers meet. All current references state that Fort Toulouse was not built in Alabama until 1717 or later. There is no mention of the Tennessee River fort anywhere, except on the People of One Fire.
There was obviously a radical change in the cultural landscape of the Lower Southeast at the end of the 17th century. What was it? . . . or was there a combination of horrific events that wiped out much of the indigenous population of the region? Several wars radically changed the ethnic landscape of Southeastern North America, but it seems that a single epidemic wiped out most of its population.