Omussee Creek Mound and the Ancestors of the Creek

Omussee Creek Mound and the Ancestors of the Creek (HM261T)

Location: Columbia, AL 36319 Houston County
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Country: United States of America
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N 31° 16.589', W 85° 7.002'

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—Creek Heritage Trail —

We do not know the exact date that residents of the community of which Omussee Creek Mound was a part abandoned the mound, but by around 1550 it was definitely in decline. Many believe this may have been part of a broader, regional depopulation due in large part to the spread of diseases brought into the Southeast by European explorers. Hernando De Soto famously explored portions of Alabama and Georgia in the 1540s, and other Europeans were active along the Southeastern coasts shortly after. The historic Creek tribe traces its origins to the banding together of small, scattered groups of native peoples who were displaced during this era. The tribe was comprised of several allied groups living over a wide area of Alabama and Georgia and first recognized as a culturally and politically distinct nation in the late 1600s. Modern Houston County lies in the southernmost reaches of the Creeks' expansive homeland. Creeks today still recognize this area's Mississippian period residents as among their ancestors.

Mounds required enormous amounts of labor to
build, being formed by basketfuls of earth placed by
teams of laborers. They could take generations to
build, their appearance changing slightly with each
new layer of construction. Archaeology has revealed
the Omussee Creek Mound to have been built in

distinct phases which progressively enlarged
the structure. Each featured an earthen base topped
with a clay cap and surrounded by a wooden wall
which gave it form. Atop each stage of the mound structures were likely built, but their exact size and purpose remains unknown. It was common practice at Mississippian mound centers that periodically, such as upon the death of a chieftain, any structures built on a mound be ceremonially burned or torn down and new ones built. While it is presumed that similar customs were observed at Omussee, much remains to be discovered about the mound and its use.

Bottom left: Mural in downtown Dothan depicting Hernando De Soto traveling through the Southeast. Courtesy of the Murals of the Wiregrass
Top right: Archaeological investigations undertaken by the Smithsonian Institution and other entities have discovered pottery here that originated from groups further north in the Chattahoochee River valley and elsewhere in the southeast. Most ceramics are closely associated with native groups from the immediate vicinity and in northern Florida. The most prevalent type of pottery found in this vicinity, which dates to the last occupation of Omussee Mound, is a style known as "Fort Walton." This pottery style features sand, grit, and certain clays as tempering, or hardening, agents. The items shown

here are samples from the collections of Landmark Park. Courtesy of Landmark Park
Bottom right: Mound complex at Moundville Archaeological Park
HM NumberHM261T
Year Placed2015
Placed ByThe Historic Chattahoochee Commission, the John P. and Dorothy S. Illges Foundation, Inc., the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, March 15th, 2018 at 4:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16R E 679285 N 3461773
Decimal Degrees31.27648333, -85.11670000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 31° 16.589', W 85° 7.002'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds31° 16' 35.34" N, 85° 7' 0.11999999999999" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)334
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 333 Omussee Creek Rd, Columbia AL 36319, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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