City of Wetumpka Brochure
Approximately 83 million years ago, at just around the end of the Age of the Dinosaurs, a large meteor impacted the Earth at what is today Wetumpka, Alabama. At the time, Alabama was covered by a shallow ocean. This didn’t prevent the meteor from causing a massive deformation of the underlying bedrock that still gives Wetumpka many distinctive features in the hills just east of downtown. These rugged hills form the five-mile wide impact crater.
Based on the geological nature of the rocks it is estimated that the meteor was the size of a football stadium and weighed approximately 62 millions tons. A meteor this size would deliver the explosive energy of 2.3 billion tons of TNT. Scientists can’t say for sure the composition of the meteor because geological surveys have failed to uncover any meteor debris.
Albert James Pickett’s History of Alabama Chap. 3
1759: The Tookabatchas brought with them to the Tallapoosa some curious brass plates, the origin and objects of which have much puzzled the Americans of our day, who have seen them. 1759 Such information respecting them as has fallen into our possession, will be given. On the 27th July, 1759, at the Tookabatcha Square, William Balsolver, a British trader, made inquiries concerning their ancient relics, of an old Indian Chief, named Bracket, near a hundred years of age. There were two plates of brass and five of copper. The Indians esteemed them so much they were preserved in a private place, known only to a few Chiefs, to whom they were annually entrusted. They were never brought to light but once in a year, and that was upon the occasion of the Green Corn Celebration, when on the fourth day, they were introduced in, what was termed the “brass plate dance”. Then one of the high Prophets carried one before him, under his arm, ahead of the dancers — next to him the head warrior carried another, and then others followed with the remainder, bearing aloft, at the same time white canes, with the feathers of a swan at the tops.
Shape of the five copper plates: One a foot and a half long, and seven inches wide; the other four a little shorter and narrower.
Shape of the two brass plates: Eighteen inches in diameter, about the thickness of a dollar, and stamped as exhibited upon the face.
Formerly, the Tookabatcha tribe had many more of these relics, of different sizes and shapes, with letters and inscriptions upon them, which were given to their ancestors by the Great Spirit, who instructed them that they were only to be handled by particular men, who must at the moment be engaged in fasting, and that no unclean woman must be suffered to come near them or the place where they were deposited. July 27, 1759: Bracket further related, that several of these plates were then buried under the Micco’s cabin in Tookabatcha, and had lain there ever since the first settlement of the town; that formerly it was the custom to place one or more of them in the grave by the side of a deceased Chief of pure Tookabatcha blood, and that no other Indians in the whole Creek nation had much sacred relics. (1) Similar accounts of these plates were obtained from four other British traders, “at the most eminent trading house of all English America.” (2) The town of Tookabatcha became, in later times, the capital of the Creek nation; and many reliable citizens of Alabama have seen these mysterious pieces at the Green Corn Dances, upon which occasions they were used precisely as in the more ancient days. (3) When the inhabitants of this town, in the autumn of 1836, took up the line of march for their present home in the Arkansas Territory, these plates were transported thence by six Indians, remarkable for their sobriety and moral character, at the head of whom was the Chief, Spoke-Oak, Micco. Medicine, made expressly for their safe transportation, was carried along by these warriors. Each one had a plate strapped behind his back, enveloped nicely in buckskin. They carried nothing else, but marched on, marched on, one before the other, the whole distance to Arkansas, neither communicating nor conversing with a soul but themselves, although several thousands were emigrating in company; and walking, with a solemn religious air, one mile in advance of the others. (4) How much their march resembled that of the ancient Trojans, bearing off their household gods! Another tradition is, that the Shawnees gave these plates to the Tuckabatchas, as tokens of their friendship, with an injunction that they would annually introduce them in their religious observances of the new corn season. But the opinion of Opothleoholo, one of the most gifted Chiefs of the modern Creeks, went to corroborate the general tradition that they were gifts from the Great Spirit. (5) It will be recollected that our aborigines, in the time of De Soto, undertook the use of copper, and that hatchets and ornaments were made of that metal. The ancient Indians may have made them, and engraved upon their faces hieroglyphics, which were supposed to be Roman characters. An intelligent New Englander, names Barent Dubois, who had long lived among the Tookabatchas, believed that these plates originally formed some portion of the armor or musical instruments of De Soto, and that the Indians stole them, as they did the shields, in the Talladega country, and hence he accounts for the Roman letters on them. We give an opinion, but leave the reader to determine for himself — having discharged our duty by placing all the available evidence before him.
(1)Adair’s “American Indians,” pp. 178-179.
(2) Adair’s “American Indians” p. 179.
(3) Conversations with Barent Dubois, Abraham Mordecai, James Moore, Capt. William Walker, Lacklan Durant, Mrs. Sophia McComb, and other persons who stated that these plates had Roman characters upon them, as well as they could determine from the rapid glances which they could occasionally bestow upon them, while they were being used in the “brass plate dance.”
(4) Conversations with Barent Dubois.
(5) Conversations with Opothleoholo in 1833.
7. ANTIQUE MUSCOGEE BRASS PLATES.
TULLAHASSEE MISSION, CREEK AGENCY, W. Ark., 14th Sept., 1852.
Having understood that the Tukkabachee town or clan of Creek Indians, were holding their annual festival, (“the green corn dance,”) and that they would exhibit the much talked of “brass plates,” I determined to examine them, and therefore proceeded to their town, and camped for the night, on the 7th of August, 1850.
Before daylight next morning, I was aroused by the singing, dancing and whooping, of the Indians, and was informed that the dance with the plates had commenced
On reaching the place, I found 200 or 300 men assembled in the Square, with fires burning to give them light. About 80 or 100 of them were formed into a procession, marching with a dancing step, double file, around their “stamping ground,” which is about 240 feet in circumference. The procession was led by seven men, each of whom carried one of the plates with much solemnity of manner. After the dance was over, (which lasted about an hour,) I sent in my request for permission to inspect the plates.
The old chief Tukkabachee Mikko, came out and said that I could see them, on condition that I would not touch them. They profess to believe, that if any person who has not been consecrated for the purpose, by fasting or other exercises, six or eight days, should touch them, he would certainly die, and sickness or some great calamity would befall the town. For similar reasons, he said it was unlawful for a woman to look at them. The old chief then conducted me into the square, or public ground, where the plates had been laid out for my inspection. There were seven in all, three brass and four copper plates.
The brass plates are circular, very thin, and are, respectively, about twelve, fourteen and eighteen inches in diameter. The middle sized one has two letters (or rather a double letter) near its centre, about one-fourth of an inch in length; thus, AE, very well executed, as if done by a stamp. This was the only appearance of writing which I could discern on any of them.
The four copper plates (or strips,) are from four to six inches in width, and from one and a half to two feet in length. There is nothing remarkable about them. Like the brass plates, they are very thin, and appear as if they had been cut out of some copper kettle or other vessel.
The Indians cannot give any satisfactory account of any of these plates. They say that they have been handed down from father to son, for many generations past, as relics of great value, on account of the blessing supposed to be attached to the proper attention to them. They hold, that the health and prosperity of the town, depend in a great measure upon the proper observance of the rites connected with them. It is said, that this town is known to have had these plates in their possession for 200 years past.
There has been much conjecture about the writing upon them. Some supposed that it was Hebrew, and hence concluded that they might be descendants of the Jews. I was, therefore, the more anxious to see the plates, and very particular in examining them. But I could discover no appearance of writing, and not a single letter, but the above mentioned Roman letters.
Some have supposed the brass plates to be old shields. The largest one, (which I could not examine very closely,) appeared more like the remains of a shield than any of them.
But upon the whole, I am inclined to adopt the opinion given me by one of their dancers in the procession, that “they appear to have been covers for pots, or some other vessel, taken a great while ago from the Spaniards perhaps, in Florida.”
R. M. LOUGHRIDGE
Notes on the Creek Culture (excerpt)
Each Creek town took great pride in maintaining certain sacred artifacts that were brought forth at various times during the Green Corn Festival. The most famous of these objects was the brass plates kept by the Creek town of Tuckabatchee. It is believed that these five brass plates might have been copper but the metal was of a strange nature that confused the identification. One legend holds that the plates were acquired from the Spaniards when the De Soto expedition passed through the Creek lands of Alabama. Another legend holds that the metal was given in its pure form to the Creeks by the Master of Breath from out of the sky and that it was the Spaniards who took the metal from the Natives. The Spaniards transformed the metal into the plates. Having been robbed of their sacred metal, the Creeks, under the leadership of Chief Tuscaloosa, fought the Spaniards at the Battle of Mabila in order to regain the brass plates.
The Selma Tribune (excerpt) – 20 Mar 1982
Archaeologists Still Hunting for Mabila
The Spanish Conquistador Hernando De Soto led an army of 600 men on a four-year expidition (1593-1543) through what is today the Southeastern United States. The most significant event of this journey was the largest battle in North American history until the American Civil War. It is now known as the Battle of Mabila and the 600 conquistadors were forced to fight their way out of the village while being attacked and harassed by upwards of 3000-4000 Native American warriors led by Chief Tsscalusa.
According to Spanish chroniclers, the cause of the battle was a calculated ambush that had been planned for some time resulting in the natives growing agitated at the tactics of the Spanish in their manner of forcefully taking key members of the tribes as hostage in exchange for food, precious metals, supplies, and safe passage through their lands. And while the Native Americans left no written, first-hand accounts of the battle, it is widely believed among them that the cause was due to the fact that the Spanish had forcefully taken sacred objects from the tribes. The Spanish having gone too far, the Indians lured them into the town, surrounded them and retook their rightful magic items.
Archeologists are still actively searching for the location of Mabila and there are many competing theories for where its location just might be. It is the Holy Grail of Southeastern United States archaeologists today.