It was once considered by Native peoples as the most sacred place in North America. Yamacutah was a massive 450 feet diameter observatory that measured the positions of the visible planets, distant galaxies, plus functioned as a completely accurate solar calendar. It also marked the location where a supernatural being lived then suddenly disappeared.
This series contains excerpts and illustrations from the newly published book, “Nodoroc and the Bohurons” by Ancient Cypress Press in Fort Lauderdale, FL. They are reproduced by permission of the publisher.
The year is 1783. For seven years a band of Tory bushwhackers, based in the Georgia Mountains have been raiding and murdering pro-Patriot families on the South Carolina and Georgia frontier, 100-150 miles away. The raiders took advantage of the fact that most of the Creek Indian men of military age in northeast Georgia were elsewhere; fighting Chickamauga Cherokees in what would become Tennessee or British rangers and their Indian allies along the Florida-Georgia frontier. The raiders could slip through Creek territory to attack Anglo-American isolated farmsteads, whose young men were also away fighting the British. Many non-combatant families were massacred or burned out by the bushwhackers.
The Revolution in Georgia involved complex, brutal, guerilla warfare. The Creek Indians greatly outnumbered European settlers. Although the Creek provinces in northeast Georgia were pro-Patriot, Creek towns in other parts of the Southeast could be pro-Patriot, pro-British, hostile to all Europeans, or Neutrals. From 1779 to 1783, the British controlled the counties along the coast, were where most of the Europeans lived. One never knew, if the group of armed men ahead on the trail represented friend or foe.
In what was probably the last military action of the American Revolution, a combined force of South Carolina and Georgia militiamen, under the command of Col. Andrew Pickens and Lt. Col. Elijah Clarke traveled northwestward to the mountains to eradicate the predators. There were only three small Native American hamlets in the northeast Georgia Mountains at that time, with a total population of perhaps 200. At one of these hamlets was the base of the bushwhackers. Two of their names were Tugaloo and Naguchee. The name of a third village on Long Swamp Creek in present day Pickens County, GA is not known. It does not appear on maps of the Cherokee Nation in Georgia.
Although 20th century history texts label Naguchee and Long Swamp as Cherokee villages, recent research strongly suggests that at that time, most occupants of the Georgia Mountains were mestizos, who spoke a Creole language which mixed Spanish, Hebrew, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish, Itsate Creek, French and Dutch words together. They were the descendants of 17th century European gold miners and colonists.
There were no Tories at Tugaloo and Naguchee. The militiamen did find evidence that the bushwhackers were based in the third village. Perhaps they had women there. The Patriots surrounded and attacked the cluster of log cabins. Greatly outnumbered, the occupants quickly surrendered. They told the Patriots where the bushwhackers were hiding. Voluntarily, the “chief” of the village presented Colonel Pickens with a “peace treaty.”
The treaty gave away all the Creek Indian lands in northeast Georgia, but no Cherokee lands. Of course, the Creeks in northeast Georgia were allies of Pickens militia unit. The headman of hamlet in the boonies had no authority to negotiate a treaty for any Indian nation, whether it be Cherokee or Creek. The two senior officers of a roughly two companies of militiamen, had no authority to co-sign any treaty.
The American Revolution soon ended. Taking advantage of the weak central government created by the Articles of Confederation, Georgia’s new General Assembly quickly ratified the bogus treaty and began distributing tracts of land to veterans in lieu of back wages owed. Land hungry settlers rushed into the region. Responding to protests from the powerful Creek Confederacy, Congress declared the treaty to be invalid. In one of the first assertions of state’s rights, Georgia countered that it was sovereign within its boundaries and that the Native American tribes were subject to Georgia laws. The Supreme Court ruled otherwise.
Finding the continued holding of northeast Georgia to be impossible, the leaders of the Creek Nation finally relented and sold their most sacred soil to the United States government. They traded the hunted-out Georgia Mountains for about 75% of the future state of Alabama.
Surprisingly, relations between the Talasee Creeks and their new neighbors were quite good, since they had often fought together in the Revolution. Farther south, there were many altercations as local Oconee Creek and Yuchi villages tried to use force to drive out the squatters. Nevertheless, for many decades the Talasee and Anglo-Americans lived in harmony. Even after the land was no longer owned by the Creek Confederacy, many Creeks remained, because as Revolutionary War Patriots, they could claim veteran reserves.
A Mysterious Shrine
When white traders and later, settlers, entered what is now Jackson County, GA they encountered a massive shrine that was still in use. It was 450 feet diameter ceremonial ground that was defined by carved stone monuments, crossed paths that were paved with white sand and native grass that was kept mowed at about 18 inches tall.
On the carved stones were the strange letters of an unknown language, plus many abstract symbols. The most prominent symbols were of a sunrise and various combinations of crescent moons. At each cardinal direct were a different combination of carved rectangular stones, covered with writing and symbols.
Creek families living near the shrine told visitors that this place was the most sacred location in all North America. It was here that God had appeared one day. By God the Creek families really meant the sun god, whose description closely matched the invisible Creator, Yaweh (YHWH), of the ancient Hebrews. For a period of time he taught the ancestors of the Creeks mathematics, astronomy, surveying and how to maintain a perfectly accurate calendar.
Then one day, the extraterrestrial visitor disappeared before their eyes. Where he last stood was now a small conical mound, on top of which was a white stone statue of a man looking up to the stars. It was surrounded by a complex shrine that marked the locations of planets and distant galaxies in the sky, plus the days and months of the solar calendar that he introduced. It began on the Summer Solstice, contained leap days and was equally as accurate as the one we use today.
In the next part of this series, the stone monuments of Yamacutah will be described in detail. Readers wishing to ask Richard Thornton questions about architecture, urban planning or Native American history may contact him at NativeQuestion@aol.com.