On the way back up, I took a little time to visit the Poarch Band Creek Indian museum in Atmore, Al. There, I learned about the Mississipian (mound) history of the Mvskoke people, the story of their origin (similar to one I recall from the Choctaw museum in Oklahoma). I saw a recreated village with the central round ceremonial building, the athletic field, and the multiple 4 house family units (I guess representing the 4 seasons since it seems unlikely that every family would have exactly 4 neat divisions).
I learned about the sacred fire that was annually rekindled from coals with the green corn ceremony, and from which every Creek family lit their hearth. It was considered a link between the physical and spiritual worlds. I learned about the various clans of the Creek nation, all named after animals, and some very basic Creek words (given to me by the museum director). I saw a corn masher so big that looked like it would need a few people to physically operate it. They were having a dress-making workshop, and I was invited to attend this.
I continued on quite a bit, exploring Lake Lanier in Georgia, but all of the campgrounds were closed for the season. Finally, the dogs and I found Victoria Bryant State Park, land historically used by the Creek nation. Victoria Bryant was the first woman to own land in Georgia after the Civil War, and her son deeded the land to the state as a park. I moved a barricade to get into the park, and then found all of the sites occupied, even the ones you had to hike into. It being the middle of the night, I finally pitched the tent all alone at an empty group shelter.
It was a beautiful site next to the stream that trickled all night. I contemplated Orion and his belt and a beautiful sky full of stars.
I left the fly off the tent. The coyotes came out (about 200 of them) and made their territorial claims all night long, and we had a visit from an owl that landed right next to the tent! It was about the limit for me temperature-wise, though, at my age.
The next morning, as I paid for my site, I got a lecture from the guy running the cash register about needing to reserve my spot with nature…