The early days of Sapphire Valley parallel the early history of Appalachia and North Carolina itself. The mountainous location remained part of the Cherokee and Creek Indian Nations until the early 1800’s.
The Indian Removal policy of President Andrew Jackson was prompted by the desire of white settlers in the South to expand into lands belonging to five Indian tribes.
After Jackson succeeded in pushing the Indian Removal Act through Congress in 1830, the U.S. government spent nearly 30 years forcing Indians to move westward, beyond the Mississippi River. The Removal Act include Cherokee, Creek/Muscogee, and other smaller tribes.
In the most notorious example of this policy, more than 15,000 members of the Cherokee tribe were forced to walk from their homes in the southern states to designated Indian Territory in present day Oklahoma in 1838.
This forced relocation became known as the “Trail of Tears” because of the great hardship faced by Cherokees. In brutal conditions, nearly 4,000 Cherokees died on the Trail of Tears. Unto These Hills is an outdoor historical drama staged Monday through Saturday evenings during summers at the 2,800-seat Mountainside Theater in Cherokee in western North Carolina. Image Courtesy: Cherokee Historical Association Web Site
It is the second oldest outdoor historical drama in the United States, after The Lost Colony in Manteo in eastern, North Carolina. The first version of the play was written by Kermit Hunter and opened on July 1, 1950, to wide acclaim.
The Creek Nation is a relatively young political entity. When Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas, no such nation existed. At that time most Southeastern natives lived in centralized mound-building societies.
Modern-day steps lead to the summit of one of the Indian mounds at the Etowah site.Etowah Indian Mounds whose architectural achievements are still visible today in such places as the Etowah Mounds at Cartersville and the Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Ga.About A.D. 1400, for reasons still debated, some of these large chiefdoms collapsed and reorganized themselves into smaller chiefdoms spread about in Georgia's river valleys, including the Ocmulgee and the Chattahoochee.
Ref: Saunt, Claudio. "Creek Indians." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 09 September 2014. Web. 24 December 2014.
Prior to the Creek Indians developing a political structure, native Americans were in the Sapphire Valley area. The 'Stone Basin' located near Fairfield Lake is a perfect example of early American activity. Parts of this structure are over 100 years and the oldest parts possible 800-1000 years old.
Map and some content courtesy:
Sapphire Valley Historical Society
64 East, Sapphire, North Carolina 28774, United States
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