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Georgia is quite fortunate to possess artifacts and other intact pieces of Native American history—burial mounds, ritual spots and significant log homes built later on still stand strong in the state. Often serving as museums and monuments which educate about the significance of this country’s first inhabitants, it’s pretty awesome that this part of the past is so accessible to the public. With a heavy concentration of sites in the Northwest, there’s plenty to see within nearly every region. So if you are looking to explore at least part of our nation’s extensive history on the very first people to occupy the land, Georgia is the perfect place to start.
Here you’ll find an impressive array of artifacts from the most prominent early human inhabitants of America such as Paleo, Archaic, Woodland and Mississippian tribes. Fernbank meticulously describes each treasure and connects them via timeline to help visitors grasp a greater understanding of the beginning influencers of this land. An impressive display of other important items for other eras and cultures can also be found here, within indoor and outdoor exploration areas. Wander the wooden paths to see some pretty amazing things that you’ve likely never viewed in person—inside you’ll find towering dinosaur bones and other interesting items.
The New Echota Historic Site in Calhoun, with sets northwest of Atlanta, served as the capital of the Cherokee nation from 1825 to 1838. An old tavern, the building where the old Cherokee English newspaper was published and other captivating structures still stand. Visit the museum which further details the area and the role it played in early years.
Indians traversed all over Georgia, and in Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth. A rock wall within the mountainous recreation hub has been identified by archeologists as a native built structure—it’s thought to have been used for ritualistic or protective reasons. The park is beautiful, with numerous overlooks and scenic hikes—one could easily spend days exploring. Other historic features, like an old fire tower, are iconic to Fort Mountain.
South of Atlanta, in little Flovilla, Georgia near Jackson, is a park that’s been built around an iconic mineral spring with deep ties to the Creek Indians. They believed the waters, that still trickle from beneath the ground, possessed healing powers. The Historic hotel across the street, where the 1825 Treaty of Indian Springs was signed, now serves as a surreal museum complete with artifacts and restored original aesthetics. It is a stand out among the state’s historic destinations, due to the preservation of its qualities, there’s quite a bit to experience within the park and the village that sits just outside.
An accumulation of Swift Creek and Weeden Island Indian mounds reside within this park, including a temple mound which is the oldest in the state, along with burial and ceremonial mounds. Here you can immerse in a re-enacted funeral ceremony which depicts an important part of Native American culture. These ceremonies are an important part of the past, so it’s exciting that guests can spectate such a demonstration.
Cartersville’s Etowah Mounds have been noted to be the most preserved Native American location in the southeast. A slew of places in Georgia were dismantled, but six mounds in this particular place escaped excavation and remain intact, while an extensive museum displays deeper cultural attributes. A peaceful trail along the Etowah River even features “v” traps that dwellers utilized for fishing.
Astoundingly, this incredible 10-foot pile of rocks was crafted into the shape of a 102 feet long bird and remains preserved to this day. Historians suspect the priceless structure was used as a place of ceremony, which now serves as the centerpiece for a popular outdoor retreat. Rock Eagle hosts camps and environmental education programs, while offering lodging in cozy cabins, and recreational activities in surrounding woods.
Wooden homes aren’t the first thing to come to mind when thinking of Native Americans, but the John Ross Home, a classic log building constructed in 1779, belonged to the principal chief of the Cherokees. Today, the house stands strong.
Chattahoochee Legacy, the permanent exhibit in the museum, has been touted as one of the most extensive artifact accumulations in all of the Peach State. Visitors are taken deep into the lifestyles of natives, which brings deep appreciation and understanding. Columbus‘ impressive museum also houses many other important displays.
A trail in Northwest Georgia that loops through most Indian enriched areas of the region hits many prominent locations in the area. Traversing the trail ensures a deep cultural experience, and is one of the top ways to explore the history of Georgia. This is definitely a good one to end on.