In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, this exhibit showcases one object from every national park museum collection in Alabama. We invite you to explore museum collections from Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Russell Cave National Monument, Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, and Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site
A major turning point during the Battle of Horseshoe Bend was the burning of the village of Tohopeka, an Upper Creek fort that was built at a bend in the Tallapoosa River. General Andrew Jackson instructed General John Coffee to lead his forces to the outside of the river and surround the village, giving his men the ability to attack Creek Red Stick warriors that would use the river as an escape route. As the battle raged, Coffee's men
could only wait. Sensing that the battle would be over, members of the Cherokee Nation, allied to the United States, saw an opportunity to cross the Tallapoosa River. Wanting to be a part of the battle and prove themselves to the United States, members led by Cherokee Warrior Whale
swam across the river and began to ferry men across using canoes left by the Red Sticks for escape. Whale then lead members into the village; the burning of the village signaled to General Jackson that the Red Stick defenses were weakened and ordered a full attack of the wooden barricade that obstructed American forces. After the war President James Madison commissioned a ceremonial rifle to be presented to Whale for the "valor and heroism" demonstrated during the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Two rifles were ultimately built for Whale, but it is unknown which, if any, he received.
Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, HOBE 39
This point signifies the length of time people visited Little River Canyon, though it is not the oldest object. It also signifies the mysteries the park still holds and the need for more archeological and historical studies. Only a few studies have been made, and much of the park’s resources are not studied. Little River Canyon National Preserve is a relatively new park, created in 1992. The people making this spear point or knife was a Late Paleo Culture related to other styles of points such as Daltons. These points were used into the Early Archaic Period and are among the earliest side notched points used during the Late Paleo to Early Archaic periods. This tool exhibits reuse and re-sharpening. The serrations may imply use as a knife or saw. Further study could possibly reveal use wear on the edges, the source for the flint, trade networks, and possibly DNA of materials that were cut or stabbed with this tool. The archeology of the park indicates that for over 10,000 years, people have visited the canyon that now contains approximately 100 rare species, with its cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, and quiet wooded hollows.
Little River Canyon National Preserve, LIRI 178
The significance of this projectile point is its distinct style or type, which is named for Russell Cave. It is one of the few tools of this style first identified and found in professional excavations at Russell Cave. Although not common throughout its range, this style of point is also found in most southeastern states. Dating to around 7,500 to 8,500 years ago, some archeologists suggest it is a re-sharpened or variation of the Kirk type point. Russell Cave still holds mysteries awaiting discovery. The archeology in the gaping mouth of Russell Cave in northeast Alabama has revealed the most complete sequence of early cultures, from beyond 10,000 years ago to about 1800 CE.
The double beveled edges, almost hexagonal cross section and opposing turned serration teeth are interesting adaptations to a tool style. It may have been more than just a spearpoint, it might have been used to cut and saw, much like a modern multi-tool, carried for a variety of uses. This could also be the result of distinctive re-sharpening. Casts are available for sale though the Eastern National Outlet at Russell Cave.
Russell Cave National Monument, RUCA 118
Park museum staff from: Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Russell Cave National Monument, Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, and Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site.
National Park Service, Museum Management Program Staff: