This was Hickory Ground, an important Creek town located just south of Wetumpka on the east bank of the Coosa River.
It wasn’t always located here. Creek towns were somewhat portable, and would sometimes move to a different location due to conflicts or because of the need for new, fertile land after the old land was worn out. But this was its location during the Creek Wars.
It was the scene of violent conflict between the dissidents who had been influenced by Tecumseh, and the National Council, which had adopted new ways and was heavily influenced by Benjamin Hawkins, the U.S. Indian Agent. Saunt tells us that Hilabee Hadjo, the leader of a group that had murdered some whites on the Duck River (along Tecumseh’s path), was tracked to the council house here at Hickory Ground by the National Council’s police force. (This sort of policing was a new thing for the Creeks — very different from the old system of private vengeance.) The Creek policers “shot him at the council house in Hickory Ground and threw his body into the Coosa River.”
That was in the summer of 1812.
Little Warrior was a Creek who had been living among the Shawnees in the Great Lakes country. He was a leader of the dissidents. Saunt tells what happened to him:
In April 1813, after a contentious debate, Upper Creek leaders organized a force of warriors to execute Little Warrior and his companions. Fifty to 100 Lower Creeks under William McIntosh assisted them. Little Warrior had successfully recruited four new supporters, but the larger force surrounded part of his band at Hickory Ground. The Creek dissidents barricaded themselves inside a house, gave the ‘war whoop,’ and began a dance, defending themselves by firing through holes they knocked in the chinking of the cabin. When the besieged men ran out of ammunition, the warriors of the nation set fire to the house. One dissident was burned alive, and two wounded men crawled to the door and pleaded for help. They were dragged twenty yards away and dispatched with tomahawks. The remaining two broke for the river, where one was overtaken and executed. When the other escaped, Creek leaders instead executed his aunt. The warriors of the nation also murdered three other dissidents in Hoithlewaule. ‘Every one, to the very last, called on the Shawnee General Tecumseh,’ reported Nimrod Doyle, an assistant to Benjamin Hawkins. Only Little Warrior remained alive, and he was soon flushed out of a swamp near the Coosa River and murdered.
The wars aren’t exactly over, even today. There is no more shooting and tomahawking, but there is still a conflict.
Hickory Ground is a place that academic researchers would like to have preserved for its archaeological and historical signifance. The descendents of the dissidents, who were later evicted from Alabama and re-established in Oklahoma, have a different interest. They consider it to contain a sacred burial ground. Both groups are disappointed in what happened. The U.S. Department of Interior conveyed the land to the Poarch Indians, descendants of some of the Creeks who cooperated with the U.S. Government and were allowed to stay. (This does not mean those who sided with the U.S. were treated fairly, but that’s a story for another time (and is perhaps one of the more well-known stories about the Creek wars).)
This is not a photo of archaeological excavation. The Poarch group was not influenced by the entreaties to preserve the land for its historical, anthropological, or sacred significance. It decided to build a casino here. You can read more about it here. When I rode to Hickory Ground to take a look (April 4, 2006) construction was in progress to enlarge it.