The Hall of Ancients - Southeastern Indians
You will be greeted by a deer when you enter the Hall of the Ancients. This venue offers more detailed historical information about the Southeastern Indians who lived in Georgia including the Cherokee and Creek. You will be taken back in time through beautifully designed dioramas depicting more than 12,000 years of regional history.
Dioramas Depict Different Eras
You will find information about the Paleo-Indians, the Arachaic, Woodland, Mississippian and the Historic Periods. Looking at each diorama, picture yourself living during that period of time. Each population learned more ways to engage the land and provide new resources for their basic needs. These Native Americans respected the land and protected their environment because it provided their basic necessities. Archaeologists have provided us with information concerning how these people lived since there is no written history to document their life.
The centerpiece of the Hall of Ancients is a massive petroglyph.
This ancient and mysterious carved rock was found years ago on the Cline property in the Hickory Log area of Cherokee County. Early witnesses say there were three rocks. However, an analysis revealed that this was the center of a larger singular rock with two sides having been broken away from the surviving center. This could have happened naturally by earthquake or as legend would have it, by white men blasting the original rock looking for gold.
The designs on Reinhardt's petroglyph are identical to those found on boulders along the Atlantic Coast of Ireland which date from the Early Bronze Age. The Irish petroglyphs were carved by non-Celts at least 1,500 to 500 years before the use of a unique form of Celtic writing. Irish researchers are not certain of the original meaning of the concentric circles, but many of the Petroglyphs seem associated with graves.
The many other artifacts displayed in this room are examples from four large collections totaling more than 6,000 items from northwest Georgia. These artifacts were donated to the Funk Heritage Center from the collections of Margie and Tommy Dunn, Buck Cheeves, Hank Hitt and Jack Richardson. The more significant pieces are exhibited chronologically and described in detail.
Cherokee Removal - The Trail of Tears
You will see segments from a film, The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy. The film plays continually to give visitors insight into the Cherokee peoples' difficulties. They were removed from their homes in Georgia by federal soldiers in May, 1838. It took only 20 days to round up the Cherokee Indians and take them to camps where they slept on the ground until days later when they were moved to embarkation points and then traveled more than 800 miles to Oklahoma. This brief four-minute segment is from a two-hour film produced by Rich-Heape Films, Inc.*
Thanks to the generosity of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association and other anonymous donors, museum visitors can see a timeline, maps and information about the Cherokee Indian removal from Georgia. This section of the Hall of Ancients documents the hardships they endured. In 2013, The Funk Heritage Center was certified as an "interpretive center" and partner on the National Park Service Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. It is important to tell the story of this tragic part of history which includes the hardship, endurance and loss. 2013 was the 175th anniversary of this event. On the large map in this area, you will find the Hickory Log area where a 1995 archaeological excavation uncovered artifacts dating back more than 2,000 years.
The Trail of Tears exhibit will be enlarged beginning in early 2016. Donations from museum members, volunteers, friends and staff that matched a grant $1 for $1 from the Hudgens Foundation allowing funds to expand this exhibit. When the new exhibit is finished, it will include Cherokee artifacts excavated in 1995 from the Hickory Log area of Cherokee County.
*Copies of this two-hour DVD are available for purchase in the museum gift shop.
The film is hosted by well-known Cherokee actor Wes Studi and narrated by James Earl Jones. Other celebrity voices include actors James Garner and John Buttram, singer Crystal Gayle, former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder and a host of historical experts from major universities.
A small area in the Hall of the Ancients is designed for young children. Children's books about Native Americans and pioneers are available for young readers, or parents can sit in a rocker and read stories to preschool children.
Using hand puppets, children can act out stories about animals that inhabited this area long ago. They can also touch gourds, deer antlers and other items used by Native Americans. The children enjoy touching actual skins of animals that live in Georgia including deer, racoon, beaver, rabbit and skunk skins.