—Creek Heritage Trail —
The original builders of the Omussee Creek mound
had abandoned the site by around 1550, but the
area continued to be occupied by Native American
groups well into the early nineteenth century. As early as
the 1630s, Spanish missionaries from Florida recorded the
presence of native villages in the vicinity of the mound.
These communities were associated with the Chacato
people based in what is now northern Florida. This widely
scattered but powerful tribe exerted influence over a wide
region that includes modern Houston County, Alabama.
By the 1670s, Spanish authorities had established two
missions to the Chacato nearby, San Carlos and San Nicolas
in modern Jackson and Washington counties of Florida.
Soon several hundred members of the tribe had nominally
converted to Christianity.
The good will proved to be short-lived, however. The
Chacato resented constant Spanish meddling in their
cultural affairs, and growing tensions erupted into open
conflict after an altercation between a Spanish friar
and a leading chieftain known as Dioscale. The friar is
believed to have scolded Dioscale for having more than
to leave the area. By the early 1700s most of the
Chacato were living to the west in the Pensacola and
Mobile Bay areas, and some as far away as Louisiana.
The area to which they long
laid claim was occupied
by groups loosely associated with the Seminoles and
Creeks for more than another century, however. A
Creek village known as Yamassee was located near
the Omussee Mound around 1750. It is believed that
Omussee Creek received its name from a corruption
of the name of this settlement.
The Spanish Mission System
Between the late 1500s and early 1700s, Spanish colonial
authorities established a series of missions in what are now
northern Florida and southern Georgia. The purpose of these
outposts was to convert Native Americans to Christianity and
simultaneously increase Spanish influence in the region.
Most were led by Franciscan friars, members of a religious
order which dedicated themselves to following the teachings of
thirteenth century spiritual leader Francis of Assissi.
The mission system remained active in the region until the
early 1700s when altercations between Spain, England, and
their respective allies resulted in large-scale migration out of
Left middle map: This map gives the approximate locations of
native settlements, Spanish missions, and
Chacato territory ca. 1675. The name of the
Choctawhatchee River, which flows through
a large portion of southeastern Alabama,
is believed to have been derived from a
of the words "Chacato" and
"hatchee," a word for river.
From The Native American World
Beyond Apalachee: West Florida and the
Chattahoochee Valley, by John H. Hann
Courtesy of the University Press of Florida
Right middle map: This map of North America, drawn in 1747
by Emanuel Bowen, shows the approximate
locations of several native groups in the lower
Chattahoochee Valley River region.
Courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Collection
Right bottom map: Approximate locations of Spanish missions jn the southeast Courtesy of Dr. John Worth, University of West Florida
Bottom right: Buildings at Spanish missions in this area were usually built with
wooden posts and walled with wattle and daub or thatch. This
image of the reconstruction of Mission San Luis in Tallahassee,
Florida provides a depiction of what they may have looked like.
Courtesy of Mission San Luis