History

Tribal Language Groups.

The map and tribal names shown below are located at website http://www.native-languages.org/florida.htm
Our version of map

You will also find information regarding the formation of the Seminoles. This site states that, "Seminoles were not originally a single tribe but an alliance of Northern Florida and South Georgia natives who banded together in the 1700s."

Not all researchers agree on the history and tribal grounds of early Native Americans in Florida so read information on this issue from several sources to gain a deeper understanding of the issues.  Tribal groups particular to our local area include: Euchee, Chickasaw, Muskogee Creek, probably Choctaw, and the Alabamo,  Coosada (Koasati), Chatas and Sawoki.

Native Americans in Northwest Florida.

When tracing Indian ancestors in Okaloosa County, search the counties between Mobile, AL. and the Apalachicola River, FL.   During the later part of the 19th century Creeks from south Alabama and South Georgia migrated into West Florida, adding to the small Indian population already present here.  Some of those who were ‘removed,' upon returning to their home area tried to stay as close as possible to their ancestral tribal grounds. Florida Indians tended to live together in small family groups, usually in remote areas to avoid undue attention or trouble.  This way they could also move quickly to another area if necessary.  Creek country was from Pensacola, FL to the Apalachicola River; Seminoles were generally from Apalachicola to the East and South, the Uchees favored Uchee Valley and down to Ft. Walton Beach, FL.  The Creek/Seminole people, more connected to the Georgia Creeks, centered near Perry, FL.  They were not particularly close to the other tribal groups in the Panhandle.   Walton County was a center of gravity in the Creek wars of 1836-37. Understanding what happened in the Florida panhandle in those years is most significant.

The challenges of tracing Native American ancestry can be legion and complex so pace yourself and take the long view. Remember that the native peoples, as a rule, did not maintain a written tradition.  Most documentation was done by the white settlers via families named in land treaties or on trading post ledgers or census records. Also, many tribal associations have been deeply affected by whether they were ‘removed’ or ‘unremoved’ from their native lands.  More recently, the search is further convoluted by attempts to obtain tribal 'membership.' 

In the very early years (late 1700s - mid 1800s), the Creek peoples of the Southeast occupied territory as follows:

Upper Creeks - Occupied most of Alabama from south of the Tennessee River to Pensacola, FL.

Lower Creeks - Occupied most of Georgia and North Florida.

Seminole -" Breakaway" Creeks, Apalachees & Afro- American slaves who relocated to South Florida.

Here are a few profiles of key people who have played a role in the history of Native Americans in our general area:

-- Calvin McGhee Cultural Center. 5811 Jack Springs Rd. Atmore,  Alabama 36502

Trade Paths.

There were many paths – old Indian trails, animal migration routes, stagecoach and supply routes and hunting paths. They came into prominence, fell into disuse, or took different forms and connections over the span of years. Not all existed at the same time and many were renamed or combined with other routes.  This sometimes confuses researchers who may forget to match the right time frame with the correct usage of a particular path name.

Pensacola Trade Path. Actually a series of paths, much of it was in Alabama. The paths were known as the Pensacola trade path because that was its destination. This trail preceded and became part of the early Three-Notch Road and Old Spanish Trail systems.  Settlers and native peoples used the trail; settlers coexisted with the Creek Indians living along it.  Path names changed over time as do our present-day streets and roads.

Red Ground/Jackson Trail.  Also part of this early system of trails and paths, this trail took its name from Andrew Jackson and his travels in the area.  However, it was also known as the Red Ground Trail because it was a supply route between the Creek Indian Village of Econcate (meaning, Red Ground), near the Apalachicola River and Pensacola, FL.     


The Indianola Inn Hotel.

The hotel was built  just behind and almost on a Shell Midden which was originally considered to be an ordinary prehistorical shell  mound from the Woodlands Era, but archaeological work has revealed it has a greater prominence. The Smithsonian records that the area of northwest Florida supported a fairly large Native American population.  A large mound was evident at present-day Fort Walton Beach and two  historic reports relate the use of a shell mound by the Walton Guard as a high spot on which to mount a cannon during the early years of the Civil War.   Built in 1912, the hotel was destroyed by fire in 1962.


Chief of the Euchee Peoples (Okaloosa-Walton Counties)

Chief Sam Story's headstoneChief Sam Story and the Euchee People.  There were Euchee tribes in Tennessee and Georgia. And, in the early 1800s, Sam was Chief of a band of Euchee Indians in our area. They occupied lands on and to the west of the Choctawhatchee River - primarily in (present-day) Walton County.  Learn more about Chief Sam and his people  in the Culture & Heritage section of this web page, and in the Research & Resources section of this web page where you will find additional information on the topic.                                                                        

This headstone was erected in the forest near the confluence of the Choctawhatchee River  and its tributaries in Walton County, FL.

Baker Block Museum Educational Services. Corner Hwy 4 & Rt 189. Baker, FL 32531  (850)537-5714