Richard Thornton | May 9, 2017 | 23
1785 – The Lower Southeast – (Georgia and the Two Floridas)
After searching for several years, I finally found a legible version of a 1785 map of the Lower Southeast America on a UK web site. This is what the Lower Southeast looked like two years after the end of the American Revolution, before the Mississippi Territory was created. This map was also published before the series of land grab treaties that drastically changed the territories of the Southeastern tribes. At this time, Spain had repossessed West and East Florida for two years. All the Southeastern tribes will find it useful.
Note that the Chickasaw town of Eastanolee was still located where New Echota would eventually built and that the Creeks still occupied the Etowah River Valley, which Georgians called the Hightower River. When a flood of Cherokee refugees came into the region in the late 1780s, fleeing the violence of the Chickamauga War, Eastanolee moved to western Tennessee and the town was renamed Oostanaula by the Cherokees.
The population density, represented by noted towns, is deceiving. One gets the impression that most of the Creeks were on the Chattahoochee, Etowah and Lower Coosa Rivers. Georgia had been trying to illegally settle the Creek Nation’s land in the northeastern part of the state since 1783. Yet on November 22, 1785 at least 2,000 Creeks walked to the Yamacutah Shrine to pray that the sun would come out it again. That was the day in which night time never ended.
The shrine was 1415 feet in circumference. A crowd completely encircled it. The map and the eyewitness accounts confirm what I had long suspected. That there was a large Creek population in northern Georgia, when in 1785, much of that region was “reassigned” to the Cherokees as hunting territory. Nine years later, it would be given to the Cherokee Nation as its new semi-permanent home. The Cherokees thought it was permanent move. Under the table, federal officials promised Georgia that all the Indians would soon be moved much farther west.
High! Ho! A mapping we will go!
Footnote to the 1785 Map
In 1784 Tuckbatchee was located on the Chattahoochee River in the present day Atlanta Area! The location appears to be in the vicinity of the future Fort Standing Peachtree, but may be a little farther south.
Does that mean that in 1776 William Bartram actually went twice to the modern day Atlanta Area? At the time, all of Alabama and Mississippi were part of Georgia. Historians may have assumed wrong that he went to the 19th century site of Tuckabatchee near present day Wetumka, Alabama.
There are many other surprises on this map. Several major Creek towns are much farther north than a few years later. The majority of Chickasaw towns were in NW Alabama and NE tip of Mississippi. The majority of Cherokee towns were still in Tennessee in 1784. There is a Creek town on the Tennessee River (Creek Landing) that very soon would be in Cherokee territory.
Note also that the map says that the southernmost Creek town was a the confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers in present day SW Georgia.
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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history.Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.
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