Two, long forgotten eyewitness accounts from the Colonial Period, whose complete contents were published online for the first time on August 14, 2015 by the People of One Fire research alliance, describe the Chickasaws as one of four Native American groups that came together at present day Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, GA to form what is now the Creek Indian Tribe. Although this revelation is probably of casual interest to Mainstream America, it is bombshell for Native American scholars and tribal officials. It also has important implications for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Program (NAGPRA) of the National Park Service.
Transcribed copies of the two Colonial Era documents, entitled “Boos-ke-tau” and “Ways of the Creek Indians” were part of the archives of the Georgia Historical Society, when it was founded in 1838. Apparently, they have been overlooked by academicians. The original versions of these documents published by the People of One Fire for were part of a cache of colonial documents discovered in England in April 2015. They had been siting in a box for over 2 1/2 centuries, but two years ago were given an inventory number by the United Kingdom’s National Archives, which made their discovery possible.
The English language documents specifically state that the Cussetaws (Upper Creeks) Cowetaws (Mountain Lion People) Ochesees (Itza-se ~ Offspring of the Itza Mayas) and Chickasaws sat down together for the first time among the ruins of Ocmulgee Mounds and “buried the hatchet” in order to create the People of One Fire. Other well-known branches of the Creek Indians joined the alliance throughout the 18th century.
That cache included the original copy of the “Migration Legend of the Creek People,” which had been assumed long lost for 280 years. The Migration Legend, in much briefer language, stated that the Cussetaws, Cowetaws, Ochesee’s and Chickasaws were the “elder brothers” of the Creek Confederacy. POOF scholars, analyzing the “Migration Legend,” initially discounted that statement, since nowhere in the history books had the Chickasaws ever been considered “Creek Indians.”
The new information solves a riddle that has perplexed Georgia’s scholars for some time. No official federal government map shows the Chickasaws ever living in Georgia. However, the recently discovered documents describe the Chickasaws as the “brothers and neighbors” of the Cussetaws (Upper Creeks.) In other words, the Chickasaws were indigenous to North Georgia, but moved west before British colonial officials were familiar with the Southeast’s interior.
The memoirs of the famous frontiersman and author, James Adair, state that he led a regiment of Northeast Georgia Chickasaws against the Cherokees in the First Anglo-Cherokee War. His book also states that he married a Chickasaw woman, who lived in the Chickasaw town of Ustanauli in northwest Georgia, where the Cherokee capital of New Echota was later built.
Archaeological evidence also supports the newly discovered documents. In 1939, the famous archaeologist, Robert Wauchope, unearthed an 1,100 year old, oval-shaped village with oval-shaped houses in the contemporary village of Sautee in the Nacoochee Valley of the Georgia Mountains. He was aware of the Cherokee tradition that Sautee was named after a Chickasaw warrior and that the Chickasaws had once occupied the Nacoochee Valley, but discounted that story as being pure fiction.
The Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Chickasaw Nation was contacted confidentially after the two documents were first discovered in England. Its staff confirmed that oval houses were typical of the Chickasaw and that they had a tradition of once “living in the east,” but the staff members didn’t know where.
Lost documents will be published together in near future.
In early 2015, Lumbee historian and regional planner, Michael Jacobs, discovered a letter written in French on January 6, 1660 from a director of the long forgotten colony of Melilot in present day Northeast Metro Atlanta to a French Protestant minister in Rotterdam. The Melilot colony was founded by survivors of Fort Caroline in late 1565. Beginning around 1600, its name appeared on almost all European maps for almost a century, but its existence has been completely forgotten by contemporary academicians. During the 1600s Melilot evolved into a polyglot colony composed of Northern European Protestants, Spanish gold miners, Middle Eastern refugees and Sephardic Jews from the Netherlands.
Jacobs is currently translating the letter from Melilot into English. This translation, plus annotated translations into modern English of the British colonial documents discovered in April 2015, will be published together in one book, so that the general public may enjoy a unique journey into the past.
Native American researchers are diving into controversial issues.
In late 2007, 18 Native American professors and professionals formed an alliance to share research and promote scientific studies of the Southeast’s pre-European past. The group named itself, the People of One Fire, which was the original name of the Creek Indian Confederacy. Since then membership has grown to over a hundred Native Americans and sympathetic non-indigenous scholars. In 2008, researchers expanded their focus to include the Colonial Period and early 1800s.
A primary rule of POOF’s research, which is displayed prominently on their web site, is that facts can only be defined by scientific analysis, historical archives and eyewitness accounts, not by the opinion of academic authority figures or faculty committees, aka peer review. Anything else is considered speculation and theory that may or may not be true.
According to their web site, from the beginning, POOF included members, who were from the Creek, Yuchi, Chickasaw, Seminole, Lumbee and Choctaw Tribes. When DNA tests revealed that Georgia and South Carolina “Cherokees” had much more in common genetically with the Creeks than with other branches of the Cherokees, many Cherokees also began joining the organization. Research by Boston College graduate, Marilyn Rae, into the writings of 17th century ethnologist, Charles de Rochefort, has turned the history books upside down. She is a direct descendant of the last hereditary Cherokee Principal Chief, Pathkiller.
Also, according to the website, the People of One Fire always has included Native American university professors and museum directors. These academicians appear to play a very active role behind the scenes, but their names are seldom mentioned on the public web site. An Auburn University professor, who is a “secret” member of POOF requested to remain anonymous. He stated that “academic politics are vitriolic these days. Most Native American professors are resentful of the way their perspective has been ignored in the past, but we also must also avoid association with controversies to protect our jobs.”
It is obvious that the organization’s website only contains articles by academicians from north of the Mason-Dixon Line and Europe. Almost all the reports and articles from non-academicians were posted by Native American professionals, living in the Southeastern United States.
However, the situation is quite different among universities elsewhere in the nation and predominantly African-American universities everywhere. The only public presentation in Georgia by a POOF member, concerning the “Mayas in North America” controversy was personally funded by an African-American university professor and an African-American judge.
Most of POOF’s recent research, which is posted on their web site, involves analysis of Native American languages, Colonial Era maps and long-forgotten archives. Comments posted under the articles suggest that whenever their members interpret the Pre-European towns and shrines built by their ancestors, they are subjected to vicious personal attacks from anonymous persons on the internet. However, as a founding member of the organization, Ric Edwards, recently stated, “If someone is not controversial then they are not doing anything.”