Indigenous people in Oconee Valley– contemporary main Georgia– continued to live and actively withstand European impact for nearly 150 years after the arrival of Hernando de Soto, evidence suggests.
In American history, we learn that the arrival of Spanish explorers led by de Soto in the 1500 s was a watershed minute resulting in the collapse of Native tribes and customs throughout the southeastern United States.
These explorations unquestionably led to the deaths of numerous Indigenous people and the moving of staying people.
However the findings, released in American Antiquity, speak with the resistance and durability of Native people in the face of European insurgence, states lead author Jacob Lulewicz, a speaker in archaeology at Washington University in St. Louis.
” The case study provided in our paper reframes the historical contexts of early colonial encounters in the Oconee Valley by method of highlighting the durability and endurance of Indigenous Mississippian customs and rewriting stories of interactions in between Spanish colonizers and Native Americans,” Lulewicz says.
It also draws into concern the motives behind early explanations and interpretations that Euro-Americans proposed about Indigenous earthen mounds– platforms built out of soil, clay, and stone that were utilized for crucial events and routines.
” By the mid-1700 s, less than 100 years after the abandonment of the Dyar mound [now submerged under Lake Oconee], explanations for the non-Indigenous origins of earthen mounds were being espoused. As less than 100 years would have passed in between the Native usage of mounds and these explanations, it could be argued that the intentions for these myths were purposively racist, rejecting what would have been a current collective memory of Indigenous use in favor of explanations that stole, and disenfranchised, these histories from modern Native peoples,” Lulewicz states.
Dyar mound and artifacts
University of Georgia archaeologists excavated the Dyar mound in the 1970 s to give way for a dam. Lulewicz and coauthors got financing from the USDA Forest Service to re-date the platform mound, which included traditional markers of Native routines and events.
” Without this kind of work, we are adding to the disenfranchisement of Native individuals from their history.”
Using sophisticated radiocarbon dating techniques and intricate analytical designs, modern-day archaeologists are able to efficiently construct high-resolution, high-precision chronologies. In a lot of cases, they can figure out, within a 10- to 20- year range, dates of things that took place as far back as 1,000 years earlier.
” Radiocarbon dating is truly essential, not just for getting a date to see when things took place, however for comprehending the tempo of how things changed throughout time and truly comprehending the complex histories of people over centuries,” Lulewicz states. “In archaeology, it’s actually easy to group things in extended periods of time, but it would be false to state that nothing changed over those 500 years.”
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Their research yielded 20 new dates from up and down the mound, which offered a refined point of view on the effects that early Indigenous-colonizer encounters did, and did not, have on the Native people and their traditions.
Missing from the mound was any sign of European artifacts, which is among the reasons that archaeologists originally thought sites in the region were abruptly abandoned just after their first encounters with Spanish colonizers. “Not only did the forefathers of Muscogee (Creek) individuals continue their traditions atop the Dyar mound for almost 150 years after these encounters, however they also actively declined European things,” Lulewicz states.
According to Lulewicz, the Dyar mound does not represent an isolated hold-over after contact with European colonizers. There are a number of examples of platform mounds that were used beyond the 16 th century, consisting of the Fatherland website associated with the Natchez in Louisiana, Cofitachequi in South Carolina, and a variety of towns throughout the Lower Mississippi Valley.
” However, the mound at Dyar represents among the just validated examples, by means of absolute dating, of continued Mississippian traditions associated to mound-use and building and construction to date.”
Continuous traditions of the Muscogee Country
Today, members of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, descendants of the Mississippians who built platform mounds like the one at Dyar, live in Oklahoma. “We have a terrific, collective relationship with archaeologists of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Historic and Cultural Conservation Department, so we sent them the paper to review. It was really well gotten. They saw, reflected because paper, a lot of the customs they still practice in Oklahoma and were generous sufficient to contribute commentary that strengthened the results provided in the paper,” he states.
” This is where the archaeology that we write ends up being so crucial in today,” Lulewicz adds. “There are no Native tribes in Georgia today as they were all by force removed in the 19 th century, so to make that specific link to people whose ancestors as soon as lived all throughout Georgia for countless years is really important. Without this type of work, we are contributing to the disenfranchisement of Indigenous individuals from their history.
” Naturally, they currently knew numerous of the important things we ‘discovered,’ but it was still significant to be able to reaffirm their ancestral link to the land.”
In the end, Lulewicz says this is the most essential part of the paper. “We are composing about real human lives– Indigenous lives that we have traditionally dealt with very poorly and who continue to be dealt with inadequately today in some cases. With using innovative radiocarbon dating and the advancement of really high-resolution chronologies, we are able to better reinject lives into narratives of the past.”
Coauthors are Victor D. Thompson, professor of archaeology and director of the Laboratory of Archaeology at the University of Georgia, James Wettstaed, archaeologist at Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, and Mark Williams, director emeritus of the Laboratory of Archaeology at the University of Georgia.
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