Many of the most fundamental assumptions by the Anthropology profession concerning the Pre-European history of the Lower Southeast were developed during the mid-20th century as a result of a massive, federally-funded excavation of archaeological sites near Macon, GA. While today, anthropologists, museums and the National Park Service present a united front stating that the body of knowledge, which resulted from the Ocmulgee Bottoms studies, was the result of comprehensive analysis, plus well-thought out consensus by some of the most brilliant men of their time, the truth is quite a bit different.
The Osage who left their old home and removed to the Verdigris, were known as the Arkansas Osage. They had no agent until 1822 when Nathaniel Philbrook was appointed sub-agent for them. He was drowned at the mouth of Grand River the latter part of March, 1824 as related by Colonel Chouteau. David Barbour was then appointed in his place at a salary of five hundred dollars yearly. Governor Alexander McNair 1Alexander McNair was born in Derry, Pa., in 1774; served in the Whiskey Insurrection as a lieutenant in 1794; appointed a lieutenant in the regular army April 23, 1799;
The year following his failure to secure the contract, Houston spent writing letters defending his acts and denouncing the officials who had been discharged. In addition to the Indian officials, he poured his wrath and denunciation on Colonel Hugh Love, a trader on the Verdigris whom Houston accused of being in league with the Indian Agent to rob the Creeks; Love replied to Houston with some spirited charges against the latter. Stung by the contents of an article appearing in a Nashville paper, in a burst of passion Houston gave to the press of Nashville a most intemperate letter, July 13, 1831, beginning:
In February, 1828, the vanguard of Creek immigrants arrived at the Creek Agency on the Verdigris, in charge of Colonel Brearley, and they and the following members of the McIntosh party were located on a section of land that the Government promised in the treaty of 1826 to purchase for them. By the treaty of May 6, 1828, the Government assigned the Cherokee a great tract of land, to which they at once began to remove from their homes in Arkansas. The movement had been under way for some months when there appeared among the Indians the remarkable figure of Samuel Houston. The biographers of Houston have told the world next to nothing of his sojourn of three or four years in the Indian country, an interesting period when he was changing the entire course of his life and preparing for the part he was to play in the drama of Texas.
Grant Foreman describes the early life in a Western Garrison; providing insights on some of the traders in the region, the deaths of Seaton, Armstrong, Wheelock and Izard, all soldiers obviously familiar to him. But he also shares the story of the elopement of Miss Sarah Knox Taylor, daughter of General Taylor, to Lieutenant Jefferson Davis… yes, THAT Jefferson Davis.
An interesting section of the chapter are the references to the punishments inflicted upon the soldiers in the event of their disobedience.
Painted by Catlin in 1834, the picture attached is of Clermont, chief of the Osage Tribe. Clermont is painted in full length, wearing a fanciful dress, his leggings fringed with scalp-locks, and in his hand his favorite and valued war-club.
One of the most important Indian conferences ever held in the Southwest, occurred at Fort Gibson in 1834 for it paved the way for agreements and treaties essential to the occupation of a vast country by one hundred thousand members of the Five Civilized Tribes emigrating from east of the Mississippi; to the security of settlers and travelers in a new country; to development of our Southwest to the limits of the United States and beyond and contributed to the subsequent acquisition of the country to the coast, made known to us by the pioneers to Santa Fe and California traveling through the region occupied by the “wild” Indians who, at Fort Gibson, gave assurances of their friendship. It is true, these assurances were not always regarded, and many outrages were afterwards committed on the whites and by the whites, but the Fort Gibson conference was the beginning and basis upon which ultimately these things were accomplished.
What was known as the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was entered into in Mississippi with the Choctaw Indians September 27, 1830; 1Kappler, op. cit., vol. ii, 221. pursuant to the terms of the treaty, in 1832 the movement of the Choctaw to their new home between the Canadian and Red rivers was under way but they were in danger from incursions of the Comanche and Pani Picts 2Called by early French traders Pani Pique tattooed Pawnee, and known to the Kiowa and Comanche by names meaning Tattooed Faces. [U.S. Bureau of Ethnology, Handbook of American Indians, part ii, 947.]
The McIntosh Creeks had been located along Arkansas River near the Verdigris on fertile timbered land which they began at once to clear, cultivate, and transform into productive farms. The treaty of 1828 with the Cherokee gave the latter a great tract of land on both sides of Arkansas River embracing that on which the Creeks were located. This was accomplished by a blunder of the Government officials, in the language of the Secretary of War, 1U.S. House, Executive Documents, 22d congress, first session, no. 116, President’s Message submitting the memorial of the Creek Indians. “when we had not a
With the help of contemporary records it is possible to identify some of the early traders at the Mouth of the Verdigris. Even before the Louisiana Purchase, hardy French adventurers ascended the Arkansas in their little boats, hunting, trapping, and trading with the Indians, and recorded their presence if not their identity in the nomenclature of the adjacent country and streams, now sadly corrupted by their English-speaking successors. 1Many tributaries of Arkansas River originally bore French names. There was the Fourche La Feve named for a French family [Thwaites, R. G., editor, Early Western Travels, vol. xiii, 156]; the Petit
Beginning in the late 1500s and continuing through the late 1600s, European maps showed a large lake in central Georgia that received both the Ocmulgee and Oconee River. Its outlet was the Altamaha River, which the French called the May River. The memoirs of the commander of Fort Caroline, René de Laudonnière, wrote in his memoir that several expeditions which he dispatched in a northwestward direction from the fort, encountered a large shallow lake at the headwaters of the May. These expeditions continued northward across the lake in their canoes and then traveled up the Oconee River to the Kingdom of Apalache and then the Appalachian Mountains. No mention is made of the Ocmulgee River by Laudonnière, but it also appeared on later maps of the region, flowing into Lake Tama. Apparently someone, either French or Spanish did canoe northwestward across the shallow lake and travel up the Ocmulgee.