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Rare Muskogee artifacts on display this month

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

In 2003, historic preservationists discovered remnants of a Lower-Muskogee (Creek) Indian village in Lamar County, Ga., with artifacts dating as far back as 8,000 B.C.

This Saturday, from 10 a.m., to 1 p.m., at the Lee Headquarters Library in Jonesboro, a descendant of the Lower-Muskogee tribe will share the history and importance of these artifacts with visitors. Containing over 300 Native American artifacts from the close of the Ice Age, the Native Collection will be on display at the library throughout the month of February.

Lewis Hales, CEO of The Celtic Collection Program, Inc., which owns the Native Collection, discovered the 16-square-mile Muskogee village in 2003 and excavated several artifacts in the summer of 2007. The collection, which contains weapons and tools used by an ancient people, was a significant find, Hales said.

"The artifacts we have go back to the early Archaic period, but we believe it goes much further than that," he said. "The current research says that native people lived here for much longer than we originally thought.

The oldest item in the collection, dating back to 8,000 B.C., is a quartz scrapper, which would have been used by the Muskogee to skin deer, scale fish, and to dig turtle meat from the shell. Another rare item is a 7,000-year-old ceremonial knife crafted entirely out of garnet, a gemstone considered sacred by the Muskogee people.

On Saturday, Morgana McIntosh Brock, a descendent of Chief William McIntosh and director of the Native Collection, will dress in native regalia to represent the village and serve as a docent of the artifacts.

"It is a major discovery, because it acknowledges an entire village of Lower Muskogee and it honors them and their history," said Brock. "A lot of people think that the Lower Muskogee came [from] the Cherokee. They did not ... they were a tribe unto themselves. They were a very honorable and hard-working people."

The Lower Muskogee, a tribe native to Georgia and Florida, were pushed out of their land in the early 1800s to reservations in Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears. Prior to that time, she said the Muskogee people had well-established communities with complex systems of government.

"I've always felt a deep connection to the Lower Muskogee," said Brock. During the presentation on Saturday, Brock will wear a traditional Muskogee, calico dress, typical of what would have been worn by a woman during the Muskogee people's tragic march westward.

Hales said the items in the collection have been cleaned, but not polished, in order give visitors a more authentic viewing experience.

"There have been [other] artifacts discovered, but these tell the story of a village," said Hales. "Most of the artifacts are not picture-perfect, but it really tells the story of their daily lives."