The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 5

The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 5

The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 5

The Encyclopedia of North American Indians - Vol. 5

Excerpt

GEORGIA

Georgia became a U.S. state when it ratified the U.S. Constitution along with the other original thirteen colonies. The state of Georgia has many connections to American Indians.

There is evidence of Indians having lived in present-day Georgia for a long time. Some archaeologists have studied the material culture of inhabitants in the area from a period dating to within a few hundred years before European contact. From 1925 through 1928, the Etowah Mounds—located near present-day Cartersville—were excavated. Many items were unearthed, including copper axes, engraved copper and shells, stone figurines, and stone coffins. The Etowah Mounds were part of a fortified village complex, which was occupied between 1200 and 1700 C.E. It is believed that the Etowah people are directly related to the Cherokee and Creek people.

Hernando de Soto was the first European to travel in the area now known as Georgia, when he crossed the region in 1539–1540. The first European settlement in Georgia was Savannah, which was established in 1733 by James Oglethorpe. Oglethorpe was a British general and member of Parliament who secured a charter for a colony in Georgia from King George II. Oglethorpe set up the colony as a sanctuary for the English poor, but it also served as an outpost against Spanish incursions from Florida.

At the time the English started invading Georgia, there were two major tribes living in the area. To the north were the Cherokees, and in the south lived the Creeks (also known as the Muscogee Confederation). The English invasion of the interior of the state was opposed by these two tribes, and it took seven decades to take the Cherokee and Creek homelands. By 1826, the last of the Creek land was seized, and by 1838, the last of the Cherokee land was lost.

There are currently no federal reservations in Georgia and no federally recognized tribes in the state. There is one state-recognized tribe, however, the Tama. The 1990 U.S. Census lists 13,348 Indians as Georgia residents, placing Georgia thirtieth among U.S. states in Native American population.

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