The Hernando Preservation Society along with the Gulf Archaeology Research Institute (GARI) and the Seminole Tribe of Florida are undertaking a two-year archaeological study of the Chocochatti/ Chucochatti Seminole Village. Chocochatti is already a Florida Historical Landmark site with a marker on the truck bypass portion of Highway 50 a little east of Emerson Rd. A comprehensive study is planned covering several areas of the county in order to further study Chocochatti and early Seminole history. One study area is located within the city of Brooksville; a 56 acre property on Emerson Road, just south of Cortez Blvd. City council granted property access to GARI in order to conduct their research on April 15 following a presentation by Gary Ellis, Director Emeritus of GARI.
Prior to the presentation, community member Doug Davis remarked, “What we have here is something that can change Brooksville to the tune of what Saint Augustine is. This is going to be up to the leadership to do that, not us. These guys are fixing to make some discoveries that are off the charts and surprise most of you if you follow it….”
The Director of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum in South Florida wrote to Timothy Parsons of the State Historic Preservation Office in support of the Gulf Archeology Research Institute’s study of the Chucochatti site in Brooksville, which will provide much information on early Seminole history in the state of Florida.
“Dear Dr. Parsons:
The Seminole Tribe of Florida Tribal Historic Preservation Office (STOF THPO) supports the application being made by the Gulf Archaeology Research Institute (GARI) for the Chucochatti project in Hernando County. The town of Chucochatti Is extremely important to the Seminole Tribe of Florida as it was one of the first towns settled by Creek people in Florida. The STOF THPO is excited to work with GARI on this project since it will allow the Tribe to explain their history at a site founded by many tribal members’ ancestors. This project will further allow the Tribe to take an active role in learning about and documenting their history and how It might have shaped Florida’s overall historical narrative.”
Gary Ellis shared details of the project with the city council and asked for permission to include property owned by the City of Brooksville in this ongoing cultural resources assessment and archaeological studies. The project team of GARI would need access to conduct these studies and requested permission to be on the City’s property.
Dr. Ellis, explained, “One of our major research focus is the Seminole Wars.” GARI works to identify, locate and evaluate Seminole-US military sites. He gave a history of the Chucochatti site in Brooksville as well as the Creek Indians who inhabited it who originally came from Eufala, Georgia.
GARI researchers intend to complete a comprehensive technical report of their findings as well as GIS documentation in order to draft a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the site. GARI received a $74,000 American Battlefield Protection Program grant from the US Department of the Interior, National Park Service (NPS) for the Chucochatti project.
The scope of work includes historical and natural history research, predict defining features, conduct field work, laboratory work and analysis, ensure compliance, preparation of report, management and protection plan and finally nomination for the National Register of Historic Places.
Field work would include a pedestrian landscape survey, soil core program, metal detection survey, shovel testing program and a test unit program.
Council member Pat Brayton made a motion to grant property access to GARI with necessary permits from DEP. Council member Bernardini seconded the motion. Motion passed 5-0.
Mayor Kemerer said, “We hope you do find something.”