The Apalachicola Ecosystems Project

Apalachicola (Alabama)

AEP scientists and students are conducting archaeological investigations at the immigrant and emigrant towns of Apalachicola (1715-1836).  The Apalachicola were a group of Native Americans who lived in what is now central Georgia and Alabama until around 1800.  They were assimilated into the Confederacy of the Creek Indians during the seventeenth century. Apalachicola was considered by the Creek Indians to be an old town. They were the Talwa thlucco or "big town" and were considered the Head town of the Creek Indians during the middle of the eighteenth century. They spoke Hitchiti and were probably the ancestors of the Indians who built earthen mounds along the Chattahoochee River Valley in prehistory and were powerful chiefdoms.

Recent research into the history of the Creek Indians has portrayed the Indians as drastically altered by the interaction with the European colonists. Historians have argued from historic documents that property ownership rules and gender relations were altered because of the deerskin trade. The deerskin trade involved the exchange of deer hides for trade goods such as guns, blankets, beads, and rum. The Indians may have begun to adapt cattle ranching and pig husbandry toward the beginning of the nineteenth century in response to the prodding of the United States government agents such as Benjamin Hawkins.

This archaeological research will help to clarify the degree to which the Indians were adopting European economic techniques. We will address the lifestyle of the Indians, what types of activities that men and women engaged in, what kinds of foods that they were consuming and if the foods were traditional or European foods. We will use archaeological and ethnohistoric research to investigate how the Apalachicola Indians adapted to this socio-political environment. We will use an innovative approach of excavating the emigrant and immigrant towns of a single group of Indian people. We will identify, excavate, and document a sample of the eighteenth century towns of Apalachicola and Apalachicola Old Town. These two towns represent the early eighteenth century and late eighteenth century location of the Hitchiti speaking people of the town of Apalachicola. We will use archaeological data from the early eighteenth century town and compare them to the late eighteenth century town in order to identify how a single Indian population adapted to the changing socio-political environment of the southern frontier of the eighteenth century.

Results from our investigation were exhibited at the Columbus Museum in Columbus, Georgia between March and September 2008.



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