Macon native’s research could shed light on Creek villages

jkovac@macon.comSeptember 16, 2013 

An English translation of talks between American colonizers and Creek Indians that was long thought lost to the ages has turned up in a British library.

A local archaeologist researching Creek settlements along the Ocmulgee River in what is now Middle Georgia recently happened upon the document, which details the Savannah talks in 1735.

Though a German translation of the Colonial-era conversation exists, the English version contains slight differences, said Stephen Hammack, the Macon archaeologist who unearthed it.

Hammack, a former archaeologist at Robins Air Force Base who is studying in a doctoral program at Oxford University, was combing missionaries’ records to learn more about settlements along the Ocmulgee River 300 years ago.

His research centers on Creek villages. He hopes to one day excavate what is believed to have been an Indian town at what is now Amerson River Park, but funding hurdles have hampered that effort.

Hammack says finding the document -- eight pages of handwritten text -- was an aside to his research, which focuses on life here between 1680 and 1716. But when he saw an archival index listing that noted a 1735 talk in Savannah, he knew that was when a branch of the Creeks known as the Kasitas told of their myths, legends and migration history.

A few decades before that Savannah meeting with settlers, Kasitas were living along the Ocmulgee.

In an interview Monday, Hammack said the Savannah talks tell “the story of how the Creek Indians came to Georgia -- well, how one part of the Creek Indians came to Georgia -- and joined with the other part.”

He said, “I think to archaeologists and historians and to the Creeks themselves, ... this will be a very significant discovery.”

He plans to publish copies of the document, which has been stored in a vast church library.

“The British basically didn’t realize it was there until I told the librarians. But I don’t think they were that excited about it. They get much more excited about earlier British things,” Hammack said. “Nobody has known it’s been in that archive as far as I know.”

Hammack has said he’d also like to excavate in Central City Park one day. He believes either Hitchiti or Ochese was the name of the town located in the area of the oval racetrack. Creek pottery, as well as Indian remains, beads, plates and other artifacts, have been found there over the years.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service