“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Columbia in Houston County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)

The Chacato People


— Creek Heritage Trail —

The Chacato People Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, March 14, 2018
1. The Chacato People Marker
Inscription.  The original builders of the Omussee Creek mound had abandoned the site by around 1550, but the area continued to be occupied by Native American groups well into the early nineteenth century. As early as the 1630s, Spanish missionaries from Florida recorded the presence of native villages in the vicinity of the mound. These communities were associated with the Chacato people based in what is now northern Florida. This widely scattered but powerful tribe exerted influence over a wide region that includes modern Houston County, Alabama. By the 1670s, Spanish authorities had established two missions to the Chacato nearby, San Carlos and San Nicolas in modern Jackson and Washington counties of Florida. Soon several hundred members of the tribe had nominally converted to Christianity.

The good will proved to be short-lived, however. The Chacato resented constant Spanish meddling in their cultural affairs, and growing tensions erupted into open conflict after an altercation between a Spanish friar and a leading chieftain known as Dioscale. The friar is believed to have scolded Dioscale for having more
The Chacato People Marker on right. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, March 14, 2018
2. The Chacato People Marker on right.
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than one wife, even though polygamy was a custom among his people. To Dioscale, choosing only one wife would have resulted in a considerable loss of prestige, and in anger he is believed to have plotted to kill the friar. Dioscale fled to Chacato settlements in what is now Houston County when Spanish authorities sent troops to the region after learning of the unrest, but was eventually captured and imprisoned. In the aftermath of the affair, the missions at San Carlos and San Nicolas were abandoned.

Although the Spanish later established another mission to the Chacato, the difficulties with the Spanish and periodic raids by native groups allied with England forced many to leave the area. By the early 1700s most of the Chacato were living to the west in the Pensacola and Mobile Bay areas, and some as far away as Louisiana. The area to which they long laid claim was occupied by groups loosely associated with the Seminoles and Creeks for more than another century, however. A Creek village known as Yamassee was located near the Omussee Mound around 1750. It is believed that Omussee Creek received its name from a corruption of the name of this settlement.

The Spanish Mission System
Between the late 1500s and early 1700s, Spanish colonial authorities established a series of missions in what are now northern Florida and southern
View of marker on the side of the restroom building at the park boat ramp. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, March 14, 2018
3. View of marker on the side of the restroom building at the park boat ramp.
The Chattahoochee River is in the background.
Georgia. The purpose of these outposts was to convert Native Americans to Christianity and simultaneously increase Spanish influence in the region. Most were led by Franciscan friars, members of a religious order which dedicated themselves to following the teachings of thirteenth century spiritual leader Francis of Assissi. The mission system remained active in the region until the early 1700s when altercations between Spain, England, and their respective allies resulted in large-scale migration out of the area.

Left middle map: This map gives the approximate locations of native settlements, Spanish missions, and Chacato territory ca. 1675. The name of the Choctawhatchee River, which flows through a large portion of southeastern Alabama, is believed to have been derived from a corruption of the words "Chacato" and "hatchee," a word for river. From The Native American World Beyond Apalachee: West Florida and the Chattahoochee Valley, by John H. Hann Courtesy of the University Press of Florida
Right middle map: This map of North America, drawn in 1747 by Emanuel Bowen, shows the approximate locations of several native groups in the lower Chattahoochee Valley River region. Courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Collection
Right bottom map: Approximate locations of Spanish missions jn the southeast
Park sign at intersection of Picnic Road & Omussee Creek Road. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, March 14, 2018
4. Park sign at intersection of Picnic Road & Omussee Creek Road.
Courtesy of Dr. John Worth, University of West Florida
Bottom right: Buildings at Spanish missions in this area were usually built with wooden posts and walled with wattle and daub or thatch. This image of the reconstruction of Mission San Luis in Tallahassee, Florida provides a depiction of what they may have looked like. Courtesy of Mission San Luis

Erected 2015 by the Historic Chattahoochee Commission, the John P. and Dorothy S. Illges Foundation, Inc., the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionNative AmericansScience & Medicine. A significant historical year for this entry is 1550.
Location. 31° 16.589′ N, 85° 7.001′ W. Marker is near Columbia, Alabama, in Houston County. Marker is on Omussee Creek Road, half a mile north of Picnic Road, on the right when traveling north. Located near the Omussee Creek Park boat ramp. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Omussee Creek Road, Columbia AL 36319, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Omussee Creek Mound and the Ancestors of the Creeks (here, next to this marker); Omussee Creek Mound and Mississippian Period Societies (here, next to this marker); Old Columbia Jail / Columbia (approx. 1.1
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miles away); Columbia Elementary School Bell (approx. 1.1 miles away); Columbia, Alabama (approx. 1.2 miles away); Columbia Methodist Episcopal Church, South (approx. 1.2 miles away); Columbia Cemetery (approx. 1.2 miles away); Columbia Baptist Church (approx. 1.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Columbia.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 19, 2018. It was originally submitted on March 15, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 616 times since then and 182 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 15, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

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Dec. 6, 2022