Unless you're driving into Helen from the north side, there's no reason you'd miss the Nacoochee Indian Mound located on the corner of 17 and highway 75.
This burial mound, which is located roughly 300 yards north of the Chattahoochee river in White County, was excavated for only a few months (due to excessive rain fall) in the summer of 1915 by the Heye Foundation, the Museum of the American Indian and the Bureau of American Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution.
Visitors to the area stop along 17 (Unocoi Turnpike) to take pictures of the Mound and read the historical marker, which starts with:
“The Nacoochee Indian Mound was the center of the ancient Cherokee town of Guauxule”
Referring to the roadside plaque, it’s easy to assume that the Cherokee’s constructed the mound as you read the above. Historic evidence tells us otherwise.
Experts believe that the Lamar Period societies in Georgia (Mississippian) constructed these flat-topped mounds in the centers of their villages.
It is also believed that the chiefs of these villages lived on the summits of the mounds. This mound in particular was clearly used as a burial and not necessarily the home top of the valley cheifton.
This valley location was ideal for ancient natives. Due to proximity of the river, the field contains rich soil in which the native farmers harvested crops such as corn, beans and squash.
The 1915 excavation discovered 75 human burials from a later time. Artifacts were also unearthed which indicating high social status, such included hammered copper celts and sheet ornaments, stone celts, conch shell beads and decorated pottery. Other artifacts found were European glass beads, a Spanish coin and brass ornaments from the seventeenth-century era.
There is plenty of evidence that indicates that the Cherokee occupied the Nacoochee Valley. But so did various other ancient peoples; one which constructed flat-top burial mounds.