By Kristin Love
As difficult as it may be to imagine, Hall County and Chicopee Woods weren’t always the bustling metropolis areas we encounter every day, with businesses and residences connected by major highways spanning the county.
Archaeologists believe that humans have inhabited what is present-day Hall County for over 12,000 years. While many early peoples roamed these lands, two specific tribes of the Native American people are recognized for their indigenous history in Georgia. Those include the Georgia Tribe of the Eastern Cherokee and the Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe. Come along with us to explore the incredible intelligence of these peoples in working with the Earth to provide for their communities.
Native peoples were experts in the natural world, knowing everything from plants that were welcome additions to their diet versus toxic choices. This knowledge was passed from elder to younger generations through oral histories and lessons, to avoid losing such precious experiential knowledge.
Elachee continues this tradition with one of our most popular environmental educational programs, Lessons from the Cherokee. This program meets the Georgia Standards for Excellence for all 2nd grade students, making it a fall favorite for teachers to supplement their in-school instruction. This hands-on, experiential learning experience allows students to imagine themselves as part of the Cherokee clan within Chicopee Woods as they would have lived over 200 years ago.
The Creek and Cherokee were known to gather native plants for their food consumption along with planting crops and hunting, as it would be several centuries before grocery stores were commonplace. Solomon seal leaves were favorites and eaten as greens. Jack-in-the-pulpit roots were ground up into dough mixtures and fried. The process for these food preparations was very time and labor intensive, a testament to the work ethic of these native peoples.
While there are no longer any federally recognized active Native American tribes found in Georgia, the remnants of those cultures and peoples can be found throughout the state. By 2010, the Census Bureau reported over 800,00 residents as having Cherokee lineage. Several state and private agencies manage historic sites from Native Peoples, such as Fort Mountain, Track Rock Gap, Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site, Kolomoki Mounds State Park, and many more found throughout the state. For more information on places to visit, please check out https://georgiaindiancouncil.com/.
This November’s focus at Elachee is all about harkening back to nature. This purposeful reconnection with our natural world is never more prevalent when we learn about how native peoples worked with the land to provide for their tribes. You can join Elachee to learn immensely more about these practices on Discovery Saturday, November 12, including presentations and hike with Mark Warren, acclaimed author, historian and naturalist with an expertise in the Cherokee people and history. Act quickly to claim your spot, as space is limited!