Richard Thornton | Aug 9, 2017 | 5
More information about the Oconee/Okoni/Okvte, who were both Uchee and Creek
In eastern Georgia and southern South Carolina, the Uchee had a symbiotic relationship with the Apalache Creeks. Archaeologists have found that the Uchee lived in dispersed farmsteads and small hamlets, while the Apalache-Creek elite lived in relatively small fortified compounds. Pictured above is a fortified compound that is called Shoulderbone Mounds. This archaeological site is located in Hancock County, GA near Sparta. In times of war, the Uchee families would take refuge in these heavily fortifed compounds, which were much easier to defend than large sprawling villages. Also, by dispersing farms over a broad area, there was minimal impact on the environment. Large Native American towns almost always eventually consumed all of their natural resources within walking distance and thus were abandoned.
Both the Creeks and the Uchee in eastern Georgia were royally PO’ed at the dominant Muskogee leadership because of the Treaty of Augusta in 1773. I have noticed that almost all discussions of this treaty in books and online references state that the Creek Confederacy was deeply in debt and forced to cede their lands. White academicians speak with forked tongue. Read William Bartram’s book, if you don’t believe me! He was at the treaty conference and accompanied the surveyors when they marked off the new boundary. The Creeks were quite wealthy at this time, thank you. It was the Cherokees, who were economically depressed and deeply in debt.
The Cherokees claimed Creek land that they had never lived on and ceded it to Great Britain in order to settle their debts. The leadership of the Creek Confederacy living around present day Columbus, GA and at Tuckabatchee were given big bribes by British officials to sign off on this treaty, which gave away non-Muskogee Creek and Uchee land.
The East Georgia Creeks and Uchee never forgave the Muskogees for literally selling them out. They also became very hostile to the British Crown. Most of the East Georgia Creeks and Uchees either elected to assimilate with whites or move to Florida, where they became the core of the Seminoles.
At the beginning of the American Revolution, Creeks and Uchees in the Creek Confederacy were instructed to stay neutral. However, when the Cherokees attacked the North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia frontier without warning in 1776, the East Georgia Creeks joined the Patriot Cause and played a major role in defending the frontier. The Upper Creeks gravitated toward the British side. They later became allies of the renegade Chickamauga Cherokees. The Upper Creeks repeatedly attacked white, Patriot Creek and Uchee farmsteads in Northeast Georgia, creating a schism in the Creek population unto this day.
Exactly the same thing happened after the American Revolution. In fact, Upper Creek raids on Itsate (Hitchiti Creek) farmsteads and villages in Northeast Georgia never stopped when hostilities ended between the United States and Great Britain. They continued until around 1794. The self-proclaimed Principal Chief of the Creek Confederacy, Alexander McGillivray, was the son of a Tory officer, and continued to receive aid and encouragement from the British Crown to defy the United States. In 1785, the Cherokees ceded most of the remaining Creek lands in Northeast Georgia in the fraudulent Treaty of Hopewell in late 1785. McGillivray was hated so much by the victorious Patriots in Georgia, he was unable to do anything about it. The most sacred place in the Creek Nation, Yamacutah, was ceded away without a whimper from the central leadership. Apparently, McGillivray didn’t even know it existed. In October of 1787, several thousand Creeks and Uchees, living in Northeast Georgia walked to Yamacutah for the last time to worship there.
This is why Muskogee Creeks and Euchees in Oklahoma know virtually nothing about the Yamacutah Shrine and the terrace complexes in Northeast Georgia. Most of their ancestors are from other parts of Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and South Carolina.
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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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