|By: Savannah Grandey, Director of Interpretation
The first confederacy in the southeast region, much like the more popular one that followed in the 19th century, was anything but monolithic. Differences among Creek people stemmed from their primary loyalties to clan and town, the extent to which they interacted with EuroAmericans, and the futures they imagined for themselves. Leaders of the Creek confederacy struggled to align the personalities, agendas, and engagements of several individual Creek towns and chiefs into feasible plans of actions and policies that would best preserve their lifeways, power, and slippery solidarity. Nowhere was this lack of uniformity more apparent than in their relationships with African Americans and their adoption or rejection of the concept of race and slavery within a market economy.
Archaeology: Where did we do it and why did we do it?
It is land development that most often destroys archaeological sites before they can be carefully recorded or even found. Yet, ironically, archaeology studies today mostly take place because of land development.
Federally funded land development sites, like those on Ft. Benning, are required by law to be studied by archaeologists before development. Completely privately-funded projects, like ours, are not required to do archaeology. In these cases, it is up to private developers like Westville, to be good stewards of the past and fund archaeology before beginning work on things like sewer, water, and utility lines. As a history museum, we look to engage and connect diverse communities by challenging and transforming perceptions of the 19th century South and its lasing impacts. Our goals where the archaeology is concerned are to respect this culture by consulting with the Indian Nations and to preserve and protect the archaeology as a valuable cultural resource, helping scholars of the present and the future present an even deeper understanding of mankind.
[Read more…] about Archaeology at Westville Part two
“What progress has preserved” are the words you see with the logo for Columbus, Georgia. With Westville’s move to Columbus we are preserving all of our buildings, artifacts and the stories of southerners. Before we put in the first water line, remove old power poles or bring in the first building, we are preserving something less easily seen.
The story begins around AD 900 but we are picking it up in 1958 because it is where progress leads to our story of preservation today. In the spring of 1958, Ft. Benning Boy Scouts found pottery in the vicinity of the power substation at the Ft. Benning end of Lumpkin Road. This find got the attention of Sergeant David Chase, Ft. Benning’s first archaeologist and the first director of the Infantry Museum, formed in 1959. There were previous archaeology excavations at Ft. Benning and in the greater Columbus area but this find was in an unexplored area. [Read more…] about Archaeology of the New Westville Site: Part 1 of a Series.
To help convey the chaos and complexity that accompanied the taking of land from indigenous people all over the continent, including the present day states of Georgia and Alabama, scholars have long complicated the seemingly straightforward implications of the familiar terms “New World” and “frontier.” Instead of solely relying on a geographical definition of “New World,” historians assert the dynamics at play on this continent after Europeans arrived created a new world for everyone involved, one to which everyone contributed and by which everyone was impacted. Usually, these words reflect the European point of view, to whom this continent, its people, animals, and landscape were actually new, thus comprising a frontier, an area that exceeds familiarity. In a similar but much more jarring and violent vein, North America was new to Africans who were “ripped out of the ‘social tissue’ that gave meaning to their lives and converted them into ‘marketable objects.” Despite indigenous peoples living here for thousands of years, it was a new world for them, too. [Read more…] about And You Think Things Are Complicated Today
I might be the last person you have to convince that history is relevant. The past is what happened, history is what we say happened, what we think happened, and how we understand it and use it to inform our present. That is relevant. What is more relevant is that people’s use of the past (i.e., history) can be used to bring diverse populations together, or it can be used to polarize people.
I’m often reminded how relevant our histories are and how misunderstanding our past, or not being open to other interpretations of that past from different people, hurts us as humans trying to live peaceably with one another. Through my reading, researching, and planning programs for the Creek Indian Interpretive Area for Westville’s reopening, and a consistent stream of news about the Dakota Access Pipeline, refugee crises, and the Black Lives Matter movement, it seems empathy for one another is relatively low, presenting the opportunity to use history as a lens through which to better understand people, or groups of people, we think we have nothing in common with. [Read more…] about Columbus Creek History
As careful as we sometimes are when crafting sentences, it’s easy to forget the biases and ideas that are implicit in words and phrases themselves. Take “Indian removal”, for example. In this country, we know that Indian Removal was an act passed by Congress in 1830, an idea, a goal to facilitate westward expansion, and a series of events that led to the majority of native peoples in the Southeast being coerced or forced across the Mississippi River to Indian Territory. What’s the problem? [Read more…] about What’s in a Word?