Good News about
Ocmulgee National Monument
Architect Richard Thornton is a member of an alliance of Creek, Choctaw and
Seminole scholars, who over the past seven years have been intensely studying
the heritage of the Muskogean peoples. Much of their activities have involved
re-examination of the archives of the early Spanish, English and French
exploration of the Southeastern United States. We have asked Richard to provide
AccessGenealogy with some of his work. As we add to these articles we will
also be providing a question and answer section for the reader to ask questions
People of One Fire
An alliance of Muskogean scholars
P.O. Box 941 ~ Blairsville, GA 30512
News Update - 10/20/2010
Good News from Ocmulgee National Monument & the Southeastern
We heard good news this week from our friends, Hank Kratt at
the Southeastern Archaeological Center in Tallahassee and Ranger Lonnie Davis at
Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon. Before I relay their emails, let me say
this. The Creek People have always been known for their intelligence and their
ancient, advanced cultural heritage. You look at the track record of the
Muscogee (Creek) Nation and several eastern Creek tribes, and it is clear that
we are very supportive of archaeological and historical research. Most Creek
people are interested, in a positive way, in the work you archaeologists and
historians are doing. We are your friends.
The reason that the People of One Fire newsletters were started four years ago,
was that up-to-date information about on-going studies was not be communicated
at a broad enough scale to reach most Creek tribal members and descendants.
Conversely, Creek researchers were very frustrated because cliques within
academia were ignoring important information about Creek history and culture,
when interpreting archaeological sites in the Southeast.
No better example of the past situation can be described than a certain
archaeological conference in Charlotte, where archaeologists from North & South
Carolina argued an entire Saturday morning about whether Kofitachiki was a
Cherokee town or a Catawba town. The town's name is pure Hitchiti-Creek (means
mixed-people - house of) and all the words recorded by the de Soto chroniclers
in that part of the Southeast were pure Muskogean. Absolutely, no Cherokee word
was recorded by the chroniclers of the de Soto and Pardo Expeditions. No one
bothered to consult the Creeks or our dictionaries! Guaxule and Conesagua are
Medieval Castilian ways of writing the Hitchiti words, Wahvle and Konesawa.
Please . . . if your firm or archaeology department is doing studies of a
possible Muskogean archaeological site in the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama,
Tennessee, Mississippi or Florida, brag about it to us. We would love to hear
what you are finding! Creeks will never show up at your site in Sioux war
bonnets, war paint and ear rings to hassle you. We might drive by and cheer you
on, or maybe try to find more money for your project, but will never be
obstructive to the work of professional archaeologists and historians.
Now the good news about Ocmulgee
In the previous News Update, it was stated that the boxes containing artifacts
from the 1930's excavation of Ocmulgee had never been opened or curated. This
statement was based on the statements made by several books on Ocmulgee, and
those of guides, who several years ago took guests through the inner sanctum of
the Ocmulgee Museum. That is not the case. Here is what Hank Kratt and Lonnie
Davis stated in their emails:
I began working for the NPS's Southeast Archeological Center in Tallahassee in
June of 2000. We have worked on Ocmulgee collections every year since I started.
We have the majority of the OCMU collections here at the Center, technically "on
loan" to us from the park. Lonnie Davis, a ranger there at OCMU in Macon has
recently begun cataloging items he has up there. He brought some student interns
down this past summer so they could learn how we do analysis and data entry. I
believe they were working on the boxes you referred to in your previous email.
The majority of the artifacts we have cataloged here have come from excavations
that took place around Mound D, also known as the Cornfield Mound. Much of the
material is very fragmented, although we do occasionally run across sherds that
are large enough for us to assign a form to the vessel. I have seen some large,
shallow forms that could be considered salt pans. We don't reconstruct the
vessels, so sometimes it's difficult to determine the original form. We do note
when pieces cross mend and keep those together.
Thank you for your additional information. I know several local Muscogee folks
and always enjoy learning from them. I would be interested in receiving your
newsletter, if I may."
Ranger Davis added this important information:
“The artifacts collected in the 1930's were curated. In the 1930's these items
were collected at the site by WPA workers identified by archeologists or
archeology students, place in paper bags and shoe boxes. Later they were put
into plastic bags, poly boxes and museum cabinets. I would also like to state
that archeologist do not curate artifacts. “
Why Ocmulgee National Monument is important
In my humble opinion, the Ocmulgee-Oconee-Altamaha River Archaeological Zone is
one of the most important in our region to understanding the true history of the
Southeastern Indians. Newcomers to Ocmulgee were building post-ditch houses and
platform mounds, plus practicing all the other traits of the "Mississippian"
Culture 150 years before construction began on Monks Mound in Cahokia. My
analyses of the Maya influence on Creek language and culture points to this zone
being the point of entry for immigrants carrying Maya cultural traits. Yet it
has received insufficient study. Many books on Native American culture in recent
years have either completely ignored Ocmulgee National Monument or treated it as
an insignificant zone of tertiary importance. Meanwhile, a 28 mound town site on
the lower Ocmulgee River was completely obliterated by the bulldozers of a big
pulpwood corporation in the late 20th century, without professional
archaeologists being able to study it.
The first step to drawing more financial support for professional studies of the
Ocmulgee-Oconee-Altamaha Basin is the upgrading and expansion of Ocmulgee
National Monument into a national park. The Muskogean peoples of the Southeast
wholeheartedly support the efforts of the leaders in central Georgia, who are
trying to make this dream become a reality.
Notes About this Material
Source: Richard Thornton, an alliance of Muskogean scholars, professors and
professionals. Copyright Richard Thornton, Blairsville, GA, 2010. Used here with