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The Archaic Period of Lake Okeechobee

Archaeologists define the Archaic Period in southern Florida as lasting from around 7500 BC to around 500 BC.1 During the first half of this period, there were (in geological time) rapid environmental changes in the Florida Peninsula. In the latter half of this period, there were rapid cultural changes in Southeastern North America, but it is not known at the present time how completely those changes were manifested in southern Florida. A cultural connection between the Lake Okeechobee Basin and northeast Georgia remains little known, both inside and outside the archaeology profession. The Younger Dryas Stadial was a (1,300 ± period of cold climatic conditions and drought which occurred between approximately 10,800 and 9,500 years BC.2 Climatologists believe that the Gulf Stream shut down during this period. This could have potentially caused stark environmental changes in the Florida Peninsula, since heat energy would have not been transported across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. Between 11,000 and 7,000 BC there was widespread extinction of large mammals in North America. Notable extinctions in Florida during this period included the American Mastodon, Florida Speckled Bear and Giant Sloth.3 No evidence has been found of mastodons living in South Florida. There were no natural barriers between southern and northern Florida, which would have blocked migration, but the southern part of the peninsula may have lacked suitable vegetation for the mastodon diet. Early Archaic Period (8000 BC to 6000 BC) During this period, ocean levels rose dramatically, due to the melting of the North American glacial sheet.4 This resulted in both the land area declining rapidly and water tables rising in the remaining landscape....

Early Human’s Presence around Lake Okeechobee

Anthropologists believe that mankind has lived somewhere in southern Florida for at least 12,000 years. Its sub-tropical climate, abundance of water and fertile peat soils produces a diverse range of animal and vegetative food sources for humans year round. However, to date no Paleo-American artifacts have been discovered in or along the shores of the lake. Such evidences of the past are probably buried deep under the peat in scattered locations. They have been found in abundance about 88 miles (110 km) to the northwest in two natural springs near Sarasota, FL.

Lake Okeechobee Geology

Okeechobee is the Anglicization of the Itsate Creek (Miccosukee) words Oka chopi, which mean “Water Big.” Its aboriginal inhabitants called the lake either Maya-imi, which apparently means “Maya Water or Mayakaa, which means Maya People in several northern South American tongues. The Spanish called it Laguna de Mayaco or on some maps Laguna de Espiritu Santo. However, that name more typically applied to the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee River. In 1821, when Florida was ceded to the United States, the earliest English language maps generally retained the Mayaco name, but some called it Macaco.

Wiyot Tribe

A small tribe, whose name Powell adopted for the Wishoskan linguistic family, on the coast of North California about Humboldt Bay. The word seems to be a misapplication of their own name for their Athapascan neighbors, Wishashk. Wiyot, which has sometimes been used as an equivalent, is therefore probably a better term than Wishosk, though not entirely exact.

Plans for the Colonization and Defense of Apalache, 1675

Florida June 15, 1675 To His Majesty D. Pablo de Yta Salazar1 hereby renders account of the investigation made in regard to the most suitable places in these Provinces for settlement by Spanish families. All are agreed that the town of Apalache2 and the surrounding territory is best because of the great fertility of the soil. If the settlers be farmers the crops will be abundant on account of the richness of the land, as may be seen by the wheat which the friars3 sow for their sustenance. Pablo de Yta Salazar gives in detail the immense advantages of sending these families not only to Apalache but to the other provinces. They will serve as a check to the enemy English and French who have settled on the bay of Mexico and are trying to advance into this territory because of the rumor of its great fertility. A declaration of this has been made by an adjutant of that garrison who came from Apalache and brought testimony. Moreover it is suggested that these families and the necessary supplies could be brought with very little cost from the provinces of Canaria4 by chartering a ship which would go directly to those provinces, stopping only at Habana. This stop would serve to familiarize these settlers with the culture of cotton and indigo, for if there be no one who understands the matter, little progress would be made. My Lady: Having inquired into and investigated the most suitable places in these provinces to make a settlement of Spanish families, by reason of the interest displayed by Your Majesty in former years and...

A Visit to Track Rock in 1848

Logan’s Plantation, Georgia, April, 1848. During my stay at Dahlonega I heard a good deal said about a native wonder, called “Track Rock,” which was reported to be some thirty miles off, on the northwestern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. On revolving the information in my mind, I concluded that this rock was identical with one which had been mentioned to me by Professor James Jackson, of the University of Georgia, and I also remembered that the Professor had shown me a specimen of the rock he alluded to, which contained the imprint or impression of a human foot. My curiosity was of course excited, and I resolved to visit the natural or artificial wonder. I made the pilgrimage on foot, and what I saw and heard of peculiar interest on the occasion the reader will find recorded in the present letter.  In accomplishing the trip to “Track Rock” and back again to this place I was two days. On the first day I walked only twenty miles, having tarried occasionally to take a pencil sketch or hear the birds, as they actually filled the air with melody. My course lay over a very uneven country, which was entirely uncultivated, excepting some half dozen quiet vales, which presented a cheerful appearance. The woods were generally composed of oak and chestnut, and destitute to a considerable extent of undergrowth; the soil was composed of clay and sand, and apparently fertile; and clear sparkling brooks intersected the country, and were the first that I had seen in Georgia. I had a number of extensive mountain views, which were more beautiful...

Valley of Nacoochee, Georgia, April, 1848

I now write from the most charming valley of this southern wilderness. The river Nacoochee is a tributary of the Chattahoochee, and, for this country, is a remarkably clear, cold, and picturesque stream. From the moment that it doffs the title of brook and receives the more dignified one of river, it begins to wind itself in a most wayward manner through a valley which is some eight or ten miles long, when it wanders from the vision of the ordinary traveler and loses itself among unexplored hills. The valley is perhaps a mile wide, and, as the surrounding hills are not lofty, it is distinguished more for its beauty than any other quality; and this characteristic is greatly enhanced by the fact, that while the surrounding country remains in its original wilderness the valley itself is highly cultivated, and the eye is occasionally gratified by cottage scenes which suggest the ideas of contentment and peace. Before the window where 1 am now writing lies a broad meadow, where horses and cattle are quietly grazing, and from the neighboring hills comes to my ear the frequent tinkling of a bell which tells me that the sheep or goats are returning from their morning rambles in the cool woods. And now for the associations connected with the valley of Nacoochee. Foremost among them all is a somewhat isolated mountain, the summit of which is nearly three miles distant from the margin of the valley. It occupies a conspicuous position in all the views of the surrounding country, and from one point partially resembles the figure of a crouching bear, from...

A Description of the Towns on Coosau and Tallapoosa Rivers

Tal-e-see, from tal-o-fau, a town, and e-see, taken. Situated in the fork of Eu fau-le on the left bank of Tal-la-poo-sa, opposite Took-au-bat-che. Eu-fau-be has its source in the ridge dividing the waters of Chat-to-ho-che, from Tal-la-poo-sa, and runs nearly west to the junction with the river; there it is sixty feet wide. The land on it is poor for some miles up, then rich flats, bordered with pine land with reedy branches, a fine range for cattle and horses. The Indians have mostly left the town, and settled up the creek, or on its waters, for twenty miles. The settlements are some of them well chosen, and fenced with worm fences. The land bordering on the streams of the right side of the creek is better than that of the left; and here the settlements are mostly made. Twelve miles up the creek from its mouth it forks; the large fork of the left side has some rich flat swamp, large white oak, poplar, ash and white pine. The trading path from Cus-se-tuh to the Upper Creeks crosses this fork twice. Here it is called big swamp, (opil-thluc-co.) The waving land to its source is stiff”. The growth is post oak, pine and hard shelled hickory. The Indian- who have settled out on the margins and branches of the creek, have, several of them, cattle, hogs and horses, and begin to be attentive to them. The head warrior of the town, Peter McQueen, a half breed, is a snug trader, has a valuable property in Negroes and stock and begins to know their value. These Indians were very...

Ancient Tumuli on the Savannah River

Near the close of a spring day in 1776, Mr. William Bartram, who, at the request of Dr. Fothergill, of London, had been for some time studying the flora of Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, forded Broad River just above its confluence with the Savannah, and became the guest of the commanding officer at Fort James. This fort was situated on an eminence in the forks of the Savannah and Broad, equidistant from those rivers, and from the extreme point of land formed by their union. Fort Charlotte was located about a mile below, on the left bank of the Savannah. The stockade of Fort James was an acre in extent. Attended by the polite surgeon of the garrison, Bartram made an excursion up the Savannah River, “to inspect some remarkable Indian monuments,” four or five miles above the fort. Of them he writes as follows: “These wonderful labors of the ancients stand in a level plain very near the bank of the river, now 20 or 30 yards from it. They consist of conical mounts of earth, and four square terraces, &c. The great mount is in the form of a cone, about 40 or 50 feet high, and the circumference of its base two or three hundred yards, entirely composed of the loamy, rich earth of the low grounds; the top or apex is flat; a spiral path or track leading from the ground up to the top is still visible, where now grows a large, beautiful spreading red cedar1. There appear four niches excavated out of the sides of the hill, at different heights from the base,...

Bird-Shaped Stone Tumult in Putnam County, Georgia

The existence of curious effigy-mounds in the southern counties of Wisconsin was noted by Mr. Lapham in 1836. Subsequently, Mr. Taylor, Professor Locke, and Messrs. Squier and Davis furnished additional information in regard to the distinctive characteristics of these unusual structures. It was reserved, however, for the Smithsonian Institution, in the seventh volume of its “Contributions,” to furnish, from the pen of Mr. Lapham, the most complete account of these interesting remains. They were quite numerous along the great Indian trail or war-path from Lake Michigan, near Milwaukee, to the Mississippi above the Prairie du Chien. Generally representing men, buffaloes, elks, bears, otters, wolves, raccoons, birds, serpents, lizards, turtles, and frogs, in some instances they were supposed to typify inanimate objects, such as bows and arrows, crosses, and tobacco-pipes. While the outlines of not a few had been seriously impaired, others in a spirited and correct manner declared the objects of their imitation. Constructed of earth, they varied in height from 6 inches to 7 feet. In certain localities the animals were delineated not in relief but in intaglio, by excavations and not by elevations. Two animal mounds have been observed in Ohio. On an elevated spur of land near Granville is an earthwork known in the neighborhood as the Alligator. Its total length is 250 feet. The head and body, four sprawling legs and a curled tail, were all clearly defined. Across the body it was 40 feet broad, and the length of the legs was 36 feet. Four feet, expressed the average height, while at the shoulders the mound attained an elevation of 6 feet. It was...
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