Native American History of Oconee County, Georgia

Oconee County is located in northeastern Georgia. Its county seat is Watkinsville. It is named after the Oconee River, which was named after the Okonee branch of the Creek Indians. To the north of Oconee is Clarke County. It is bounded on the east by Oglethorpe County. Walton County forms its western boundary, while Greene defines its southeastern boundary and Morgan County adjoins Oconee on the south.

Geology and Hydrology

The entire county is in Georgia’s Piedmont, which was originally an ancient mountain range that has been leveled through the eons. This region is underlain by igneous and metamorphic rocks. There are outcrops of granite or gneiss in several locations.

Creek Chief

Most of Oconee County drains into the Oconee River. The north and middle forks of the Oconee form in Hall County, GA then join in Clarke County. Its terrain is characterized by rolling hills and stream valleys whose peripheries vary from being moderate to steep in slope. Due to improper farming techniques in the 1800’s and early 1900s, much of the exposed soil now is red clay. Fertile top soils can still be seen along some sections of river or creeks. There are a few shallow, seasonal wetlands near streams that usually dry up in the summer.

In pre-European times the alluvial soils suitable to cultivation with a hoe were relatively small in scale and scattered among stream valleys. This necessitated the dispersal of farmsteads and hamlets. Farm hamlets may have stayed at these stream hamlets no more than a generation.

Eastern Woodland Bison were plentiful in northeast Georgia until hunted to extinction in the 1700s. Several “buffalo wallows” were visible in and near Oconee into the 20th century. The large herds of bison combined with constant brush fires being set by the Creek Indians caused the landscape to resemble the hillier sections of the Great Plains. Late 18th century settlers quickly turned the sod into cultivated fields. In the late 20th century the abandoned farm lands have become mixed hardwood and pine forests.

Native American occupation

In Colonial times, the land of present-day Oconee County was occupied by the Keowee Branch of the Okate or Okani Indians. They were a branch of the Muskogeans that spoke the Itsati (Hitchiti-Creek) language. There is much confusion about the ethnicity of the Keowee, because the Keowee in South Carolina formed the core of the original Lower Cherokees. However, the Lower Cherokees were originally composed of towns that primarily spoke Muskogean dialects. They were not Algonquians or Iroquoians like other original branches of the Cherokees. The southern boundary of the Cherokee Nation was always north of present day Oconee County.

There are several mounds at the Keowee archaeological site in Oconee County. The site apparently was a regional capital. It has received minimal attention from professional archaeologists.

Native American Cultural Periods

Earliest Inhabitants

Archaeologists believe that humans have lived in Oconee County for at least 12,000 years, perhaps much longer. Clovis and Folsom points, associated with Late Ice age big game hunters have been found in the Oconee, Ocmulgee and Altamaha River Basins. During the Ice Age, herds of giant mammals roamed the river bottom lands. The mastodons, saber tooth tigers, giant sloths and other massive mammals died out about 8,000 years ago. It is believed by archaeologists that early bands of hunters followed the herds on their seasonal migrations through the region, but did not have a significant population

Archaic Period: 8,000 BC – 1000 BC

After the climate warmed, animals and plants typical of today soon predominated in this region. Humans adapted to the changes and gradually became more sophisticated. They adopted seasonal migratory patterns that maximized access to food resources. Archaic hunters probably moved to locations along the Oconee River during the winter, where they could eat fish and fresh water mussels, if game was not plentiful.

During the late Archaic Period, a major trade route developed along the Altamaha-Oconee-Ocmulgee River System that connected the South Atlantic Coast with the Appalachian Mountains, via the Upper Savannah and Chattahoochee Rivers. At this time, Native Americans began traveling long distances to trade and socialize. In Native American tradition, it was a long era of peaceful relations between peoples.

During the Early Archaic Period, bands of indigenous peoples, who survived by hunting, fishing, gathering edible nuts, fruits & roots, plus harvesting fresh water mussels, established seasonal villages and camps. The habitation sites were concentrated along the Oconee River and major streams. Villagers seasonally migrated between locations within fixed territorial boundaries to take advantage of maximum food availability from natural sources.

Beginning around 3,500 BC, Southeastern Native Americans began to intentionally cultivate wild plants near village sites. Over the centuries, selective cultivation resulted in domestic plants that were genetically different than their wild cousins. As the productivity of indigenous crops increased, the indigenous people were able to remain longer at village sites, and therefore had fewer habitation locations.

By the Late Archaic Period, c. 2500 BC, the knowledge of making pottery appeared in the Savannah River and Altamaha Rivers Basins. This Stallings Island pottery composes the oldest known ceramics in the Western Hemisphere. Large mounds of freshwater mussel shells developed along the Oconee at shoals, where villagers camped for generation after generation. More sedentary lifestyles made possible the development of pottery and carving of soapstone bowls. These items were impractical as long as people were migratory.

Woodland Period (1000 BC – 900 AD)

Beginning in the Woodland Period Native population began concentrating along the Fall Line of the Oconee River. A sedentary lifestyle was made possible by abundant natural food sources such as game, freshwater mussels and chestnuts and the cultivation of gardens. Initially, the cultivated plants were of indigenous origin and included a native squash, native sweet potato, sunflowers, Jerusalem artichoke, amaranth, sump weed, and chenopodium. Tobacco, maize, Mesoamerican types of squash, and finally several varieties of beans arrived later.

The early villages were relatively small and dispersed. There was probably much socialization between these villages because of the need to find spouses that were not closely related. Houses were round and built out of saplings, river cane and thatch.

The Woodland Period peoples of the region built some mounds. Apparently, most mounds were primarily for landmarks, stages for ceremonies or burials, but may have also supported simple structures that were used for rituals or meetings. They were constructed accretionally. This means that the mounds grew in size over the generations by piling soil and detritus from the village over recent burials. There were also shell middens that were the result of thousands of years of harvesting fresh water mussels, then feasting on them at the same location.

The first wave of Muskogeans (ancestors of the Alabama Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians) probably arrived in present day Georgia around 400-300 BC. Few Woodland Period archaeological sites have been professionally studied in the Oconee River Basin. It is not clear when the ethnicity of the Oconee Basin changed to being directly ancestral to contemporary Muskogeans. Studies show general similarity of Early Woodland cord marked artifacts to those of the Carolina Coastal Plain, which is thought to have been Siouan.

Middle Woodland villages apparently were concentrated along the Fall Line of the Ocmulgee, Oconee and Chattahoochee Rivers. The villages on the Upper Oconee showed some influence from the Swift Creek Culture, which produced ornately stamped pottery, but also continued Archaic Period artistic traditions. In Oconee County, the Middle Woodland village sites were probably very modest in size and located at the edge of the flood plain of Oconee River or major creeks.

Muskogean tradition remembers the Middle Woodland Period as time when there was much long distance trade and when Corn Woman came from afar to introduce the cultivation of foreign plants such as tobacco, maize, beans and some new types of squash.

Late Woodland Period 600 AD – 900 AD

Around 600 AD, many villages south of the Fall Line in the Ocmulgee-Oconee-Altamaha Basin were apparently abandoned. However, the Swift Culture continued for some time in northeastern Georgia. Swift Creek Style ceramics can be found near the headwaters of the Oconee, Chattahoochee and Savannah Rivers in northeast Georgia that date as late as 1000 AD.

Coinciding with the disappearance of Swift Creek villages is the wide spread use of the bow and arrow. Arrow points are easily distinguishable from atlatl (javelin) and spear points by their smaller size. It is not clear if the scarcity of known Late Woodland settlement equates to a drop in total population, or an adaptation to hunting and fighting with a bow. Muskogean tradition remembers the Late Woodland Period as a horrific time of chaos, when society broke down because of long term feuds between clans, while raiders in “Feathered Serpent” boats appeared out of nowhere to attack villages located on major rivers. The Creek Indians even made a special type of smoking pipe in the shape of a Feathered Serpent canoe . . . the cultural memory was that traumatic.

Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (900 AD – 1150 AD)

Stark cultural changes began appearing on the Middle Ocmulgee and Lower Chattahoochee Rivers around 900 AD. The earliest mounds of this new cultural tradition have been radiocarbon dated around 900 AD, but the initial cultural influences apparently came a little earlier on the Lower Chattahoochee. Creek Indian tradition remembers this time as when strangers known as Sun Man and Sun Woman came from afar and introduced the ways of civilization to highly dysfunctional Muskogean societies.

Around 900 AD, newcomers arrived on the Macon Plateau and established a large planned town. Large scale agriculture in the Ocmulgee Valley began almost immediately. At about the same time, people with an indigenous pottery tradition sculpted an enormous five sided mound in the present day village of Sautee in the Nacoochee Valley. Another people began constructing round, palisaded villages along major Appalachian and Piedmont rivers and streams. They grew corn, beans and squash at a large scale, but did not apparently build many mounds.

Later in that century, Etalwa (Etowah Mounds) was founded in northwest Georgia on the Etowah River, by people with yet another artistic tradition. The cultural symbols of Etalwa gradually spread across the Piedmont and Southern Highlands, while few examples can be found of the types of pottery made on the Macon Plateau. Most of the mounds were almost square, truncated pyramids. Almost in every town, the principal mound of a town faced the azimuth of the Winter Solstice sunset.

In the vicinity of the Fall Line along the Oconee River, there were some large villages that seemed culturally related to the early phase of development at Etalwa. One significant town site, known to archaeologists as Cold Springs, contained two mounds that were constructed during the Middle Woodland Period, and then probably used as building platforms during the 900s AD. The Cold Springs site is about 35 miles south of Athens.

During the second phase, beginning around 1250 AD, many towns and villages appeared on rivers in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain. In Georgia, they are characterized by the construction of large five sided mounds – but only one in this shape in each town. These five sided earthen pyramids faced the azimuth of the Winter Solstice sunset. There were clusters of towns with mounds at the Fall Line of the Oconee River, at the headwaters of the Savannah River and near the confluence of the Broad and Savannah Rivers, east of Oconee County.

In the third phase, beginning around 1350 AD, similar cultural traditions can be found over much of Georgia and the Southern Highlands. In Georgia, they are labeled the Lamar Culture. The mounds were much smaller and truncated ovals in shape. The principal mound in each town was oriented to the sunrise and sunset of the Summer Solstice. This fact suggests that there was a major change in the calendar, whereby the first day of the year shifted from the Winter Solstice to the Summer Solstice.

The Oconee People

Oconee is the Anglicized form of the Itsati (Hitchiti-Creek) word Okvni, which means “born from water” or “living on water.” It is pronounced “O–käu-ne-.” This branch of the Muskogeans is better known for the name given them by the chroniclers of the Hernando de Soto Expedition in 1540, Ocute – which is the Spanish version of the Itsati word Okvte. Okvte means “Water People” and pronounced, “O–käu-te-.”

According to Oconee tradition, their original homeland was in the Okefenokee Swamp of southeastern Georgia. In fact, a branch of the Oconee still lived in this vast expanse of water during the 1600s, when it was under the domain of Spain. The Oconee Creeks also once occupied towns and several villages in present-day northeastern Georgia, northwestern South Carolina and in the Great Smoky Mountains. Keowee may have just been an alternative name for the Oconees. Their presence in the Great Smoky Mountains is remembered by the name of the Oconaluftee River, which in the Itsati-Creek language means “separated Oconee people.” The river’s name has no meaning in Cherokee.

At the time of the de Soto Expedition, all the Oconee and Keowee Provinces spoke an upland dialect of the Itsati (Hitchiti) language. The Oconee towns and villages were concentrated on the middle section and upper sections of the river. They tended to be small; mainly consisting of one or more mounds, along with the residences of regional leaders and a chokopa (warm place in Itsati-Creek and Itza-Maya.) The chokopa was a large, cone-shaped structure that could hold as many as 500 occupants.

During the mid-1700s, the Oconee lost their separate political identity. Some migrated to Spanish Florida and became the core of the Seminole Indians. The majority in present day Georgia joined the Creek Confederacy, while most on the east side of the Savannah River either moved across the river or became members of the Cherokee Alliance.

The Native American Holocaust

There is no known European archive which describes a visit to the Oconee County Area in the 1500s or early 1600s by Europeans. Such an event may have occurred, but it is not known. The first documented European contacts in the Upper Oconee River basin are believed to have been instigated by British traders from the Charlestown Colony in 1674 or later.

The population of what is now northeast Georgia dropped by about 90% in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Anthropologists believe that this holocaust was caused by a series of plagues introduced by Spanish and French explorers. Mound-building stopped and the survivors consolidated into ethnic groups that became the building blocks of contemporary Native American tribes.

In 1663 King Charles II chartered the Colony of Carolina. The southern boundary of the colony was the mouth of the Altamaha River in southeast Georgia. All of present day northeast Georgia was included in the colony. Carolina was split into the colonies of North Carolina and South Carolina in 1729. All of northeastern Georgia was claimed by South Carolina until after the American Revolution.

In 1660 the fierce Rickohockens of southwestern Virginia were armed by that colony and given a contract to obtain Native American slaves from the planned Colony of Carolina and the Cumberland Plateau. Rickohocken raiders immediately had a devastating impact on the indigenous peoples of the Carolinas and eastern Georgia. Entire provinces, that had been trying to recover from plagues, were wiped out. A band of Rickohockens, later known as the Westo, established a cluster of villages near present day Augusta, GA. The principal Westo village was called Rickohocken.

Once they were based on the Savannah River, the Rickohocken-Westo raiders devastated eastern Georgia. The area around Oconee County would have been one of its first targets. They stole children, youth and women from villages, but killed all adult males when possible. The surviving towns were forced to form alliances with each other in order to combat the slave raiders. This is when the modern Native American tribes of the Southeast took form.

Formation of modern Native American tribes

Creek cultural traditions remember a war in the late 1600s in which a confederation of towns from the Middle Chattahoochee River Basin attacked the Kusa of northern Alabama and northwestern Georgia, plus the Itsati-speaking peoples of Georgia, South Carolina, western North Carolina and Tennessee. The confederacy steadily grew more powerful, because each time it defeated a province, that province was added to the confederacy with full voting rights. As the confederacy grew in size, it became much more desirable to voluntarily join the other towns, than fight them. The diplomatic language for the alliance was Muskogee. Prior to that era, Muskogee had spoken by only a few Muskogean towns.

In the late 1600s, when the word “Chorakee” was first mentioned in Carolina Colonial archives, it applied to an alliance of eight towns around the headwaters and tributaries of the Savannah River. Chora-ke means “splinter group” in the Muskogee language. Most references state it means “foreign speaker.” That Muskogee word is chilliki, chiliya or chiliya-kli. The Chorakee composed one of the alliances formed to both resist slave raids and also the expansion of the Muskogee Confederacy.

John Lawson explored the Blue Ridge Foothills in 1700. His description of the Kiawa (Keowee) People of that region exactly matches the description of the Okonee People made by the chroniclers of Hernando de Soto. He said that they were extreme tall, plus they wore turbans and mustaches. All the original Kiawa personal and town names can be translated by modern Creek dictionaries. Their province originally stretched from Italwa (Etowah, NC near Hendersonville.) to the Kiawah (Keowee) River, southwestward to present day Oconee County.. Both the Oconee and the Kiawa seem to have been at least partially, the descendants of the people, who built Etalwa (Etowah Mounds.)

When the French began settling Alabama in the 1690s, the British panicked. Their agents encouraged the Rickohockens in NE Tennessee to form an alliance with the Chorakees in South Carolina and move southward into the mountains of North Carolina. These divisions of the alliance were labeled as such by European maps until 1725 when a British map suddenly labeled a narrow band stretching from NE Tennessee through the North Carolina Mountains to northwestern South Carolina, the Cherokee Nation.

The Rickohocken-Cherokees were encouraged to attack the Muskogean and Yuchi allies of the French in what is now southeastern Tennessee. The French had built a trading post and fort on Hiwassee Island in the Tennessee River. The Cherokee Alliance finally succeeded in pushing the French allies out of the Upper Tennessee River Valley in the 1730s.

The alliance between the Chorakees and the Rickohockens was cemented by intermarriage. Within a generation, Rickohocken-Algonquin personal names began appearing among the Chorakee (Lower Cherokee) in South Carolina. In the almost non-stop wars fought by the Cherokees between 1710 and 1776 on behalf of the British or to expand hunting territories, the original Lower Cherokees became almost extinct. Rickohocken language and cultural traditions dominantly blended with Itsati-Creek, Catawba and Yuchi to create the modern Cherokee language and culture. This is why the Cherokees today speak an aberrant Algonquian-Iroquois language, but have many Muskogean customs such as the Green Corn Festival.

Colony of Georgia

The most favored status of the Cherokee Alliance began to decline after the founding of Georgia in 1732. General James Edward Oglethorpe soon traveled to the Creek Capital of Koweta and signed a treaty with the Creek Confederacy. Georgia established a trading post at Augusta on land claimed by South Carolina; then quickly gobbled up most of the Southeastern Indian trade. With a dependable supply of munitions available from Georgia, the Creeks were able to stop further Cherokee expansion. The Cherokees lost every war they fought after 1737.

The modern understanding of tribal territories in the 1700s varies considerably from what is stated in the British colonial archives. Maps of that era show all of northeast Georgia, east of the Chattahoochee River, to be either Koweta-Creek or Sawakee-Creek territory. Hogeloge (Yuchi) villages separated the Sawakee’s from the Cherokees. Until the end of the Revolution, official British maps showed the western boundary of the Georgia Cherokees to be Brasstown Bald in present-day Union County, GA. West of this landmark was the territory claimed by the Kusa (Upper) Creeks and the Conchakee (Apalachicola) Creeks; both of whom were often allies of France.

Because it was so close to Lower Cherokee towns, the region around Oconee County became a no-man’s land during the Creek-Cherokee War. It was dangerous for either Cherokees or Creeks to venture into the mountains and foothills that separated the two ethnic groups for forty years.

The Creek-Cherokee War ended dramatically in 1754 . . . and in an opposite manner than portrayed by all Georgia state historical markers today. At the onset of the French & Indian War, Great Britain frantically made concessions to the Upper, Middle and Lower Creeks, so that they would sign a peace treaty with the Cherokees . . . thus freeing the Cherokees to be sent north to fight Indian tribes allied with the Canadian French. The powerful, mother town of Koweta and its satellite towns, scattered about the Georgia Colony, refused to sign the treaty.

The Koweta People originated in the cluster of towns with mounds at the headwaters of the Little Tennessee River in what is now Rabun County, GA and Franklin County, NC. British maps show a Koweta satellite town in the vicinity of Athens, GA during the 1700s. In fact, some Koweta Creeks still occupied the mountains east of Franklin and south of Asheville – but they had signed peace treaties with the Cherokees because of their isolated situation. The Koweta Creeks wanted their lands back that had been conquered by the Cherokees in 1715, plus they wanted revenge for the deaths of their leaders.

An army of Koweta Creeks marched into northeast Georgia and destroyed every single Cherokee village. They then entered the Valley towns of the Cherokees and burned all of their towns. At the Cherokee town of Quanasee (now Hayesville, NC ~ originally the Itsati-Creek town of Konasee) the Creeks used an army of teenage boys and girls to defeat the Cherokees.

The Koweta victories essentially ended the existence of the Valley and Georgia Cherokees. Most of the Cherokees who later lived in northern Georgia were immigrants from other regions. In 1755 the famous cartographer, John Mitchell, produced a map of North America that has the phrase, “Deserted Cherokee settlements” overlaying that former area of Cherokee territory.

The following year, Upper Creeks renewed their alliance with France and attacked Overhills Cherokee towns in the Tennessee Valley. They captured all the territory up to the 1725 boundary between them and the Cherokees. The Overhills Cherokees then requested a British fort to be built on the Little Tennessee River for protection. However, its garrison was eventually massacred by the Cherokees when the first Anglo-Cherokee War broke out.

Impact of the French and Indian War

Stories of great military victories in 1754 by the Cherokees on Blood Mountain, GA and at a Muskogee-Creek town named Taliwa in Pickens County, GA permeate all contemporary books on Cherokee history and can be found in a legion of tourist brochures. According to these stories, Cherokees captured all of northern Georgia in that year.

In 2008 and 2009 a team of history and law professors from the University of Oklahoma thoroughly searched the colonial archives of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina in order to develop a clearer understanding of the English Colonial Period. They could find no mention of battles at either location. What they did find were numerous, frantic correspondences between colonial officials in South Carolina and Georgia concerning the catastrophic losses the Cherokees had incurred by the armies of the Koweta and Upper Creeks in 1754-1755. Georgia officials feigned concern, but the two colonies were legally fighting over ownership of what is now northern Georgia. The Creeks were Georgia’s hired guns, while the Cherokees were South Carolina’s hired guns. North Carolina just wanted the Cherokees’ land.

Treaty of 1773

By 1773 the Cherokee Nation had run up huge debts with traders, while the Creeks did not owe anybody. This is a direct quote from the famous botanist, William Bartram, who attended a conference with the Cherokees and Creeks in Augusta in 1773. The purpose of the conference was to carve off a 1.5 million acre chunk of what is now northeast Georgia to open it up for British settlement. Bartram states that the Creek delegation was very condescending to the smaller Cherokee delegation. The Creeks were giving up much more territory, but it had been long depleted of game and had not been heavily populated for 250 years. They still occupied over 40 million acres to the west.

Bartram accompanied the surveyors, astronomers, hunters and land speculators as they staked the land cessions northern boundary. In what is now Clarke County, a Creek mikko angrily pointed out to the surveyors that they were too far north. The surveyor insisted that his compass didn’t lie. The mikko said it did. His measuring methods were more accurate than those of the English.

The situation was about to get bloody, when an astronomer double-checked the Creek measurements and found them correct. The mikko demanded that he be allowed to accompany the party for the remainder of the survey, and be heavily compensated for his superior surveying skills . . . also that the compass which lied, was to be thrown away!

American Revolution

Creek and Yuchi farmsteads and hamlets remained in northeastern Georgia after the 1773 land cession, even on lands that were now open to settlement. Many of these Creeks were from branches of the Creeks across the Savannah River and did not feel bound by treaties made by the Muskogee-Creek Confederacy

In 1776, The Cherokee Nation agreed to fight the insurgents on behalf of the British Crown. Families living on the frontier were generally not aware that they were in danger. The revolution at that point in time was mainly being fought in New England and being fomented by planters along the coast of Georgia and South Carolina. Many politically neutral settlers were massacred in the South Carolina and Georgia Piedmont during the initial attack on the Southern frontier by Cherokee war parities.

The Creek Confederacy as a whole stayed neutral in the Revolution. However, Creeks in South Carolina and northeastern Georgia tended to be Patriot allies; the Middle Creeks of the Chattahoochee River Valley remained neutral, while the Creeks in Alabama were often British allies. The Sawakee (Raccoon People) Creeks in northeast Georgia and northwestern South Carolina formed the Raccoon Regiment, which fought both the Cherokees and Loyalists throughout the Revolution.

The Cherokees paid dearly for their alliance with the British. Most of their towns in North Carolina were destroyed. The Georgia militia burned the Cherokee town of Tugaloo in northeast Georgia. At least 2,000 Cherokee warriors were killed by the armies dispatched by Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The number of Cherokee civilians killed is unknown, but probably considerable.

The Battle of Long Swamp Creek . . . or how Oconee County became part of Georgia

Throughout the Revolution, a band of Tories and their Cherokee allies had hidden in the Northeast Georgia Mountains then made raids into the Georgia frontier, where they attacked farmsteads. In 1782 a small army of South Carolina and Georgia militia, led by Brigadier General Andrew Pickens and Colonel Elijah Clarke journeyed northward into the northeast Georgia frontier to find the Tory partisans. At an extremely isolated village on Long Swamp Creek near the Etowah River (present day Pickens County, GA) scouts saw numerous white men inside the village along with their horses. Pickens ordered an attack.

The Cherokees at Long Swamp Creek did not put up much resistance. They forced the Tories to leave the village and then shouted that they wanted to surrender. Meanwhile, the Tories set up a defensive position on a nearby wooded hill.

The village chief offered a treaty to Pickens and Clarke, which ceded all Native American lands east of the Oconee River and west of the Savannah River. At that time both Georgia and South Carolina claimed the region, Pickens signed the treaty on behalf of South Carolina, while Oconee signed it on behalf of Georgia.

There were serious problems with the legitimacy of this treaty. No village chief in any tribe could single-handedly give away a large tract land that belonged to an entire tribe. There was another problem. All the land that the Cherokee chief gave away actually belonged to the Creek Confederacy! In fact, it belonged to the faction of the Creek Confederacy that had actively fought for the Patriots.

The Patriot militiamen greatly outnumbered the Tories and so were able to surround them. After several Tories were killed, the remainder surrendered. Pickens and Oconee gave no quarter. They hung all of the Tories, even those who were seriously wounded. The skeletons of these executed prisoners-of-war were found almost exactly a hundred years later, when a railroad was being constructed between Atlanta and Copperhill, Tennessee.

When they learned about the fraudulent treaty in 1784, Creek leaders protested bitterly to the newly independent United States, but the central government was weak under the Articles of Confederation. Georgia’s General Assembly ratified the Treaty of Long Swamp Creek and began offering veterans tracts of land in northeast Georgia in lieu of paying past due salaries.

The Creek Confederacy squabbled with Georgia and the national government throughout the 1780s concerning the fraudulent treaty. During this period, thousands of Cherokees poured into northern Georgia from North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Many more thousands of white settlers were awarded tracts of land in the Creek’s northeast Georgia lands. Since the situation was confusing, considerable number of Creeks and Yuchi were able to stay put in the region, because they were Revolutionary veterans and eligible for veteran’s land grants.


Oconee County GA,

Thornton, Richard. People of One Fire. Web. Georgia. 2010-2013. Digital Rights Copyright 2010-2013 by

Search Military Records - Fold3

2 thoughts on “Native American History of Oconee County, Georgia”

  1. Hello! I am researching the history of Native Americans in Oconee County for my AP research project and I found this article to be the most informative resource pertaining to my topic. I would love to contact the author of the article if possible for more information as to where all of this information was found.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top