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Aaittafama' Archaeological Park History

How The Park Got It's Name

The archaeological town site would have had a Native American name when last occupied in the 15th century but Native American descendants have no way of knowing what it was. It is generally believed that the Mississippian archaeological culture is ancestral to the Muskogean speaking Creek and Chickasaw tribes. The site is presently designated by the Tennessee Division of Archaeology by the number 40 WM 10 being the 10th site recorded in Williamson County. After archaeological testing was done, it was named Kellytown after the Kelly family, long time owners of the site. Kellytown is still the name for the entire archaeological site.

When it became apparent that a portion of the site would become part of the Nashville Metro Parks and Recreation system, Friends of Kellytown had several discussions on naming the park. The Friends asked State Archaeologist Mike Moore to contact the Creek and Chickasaw nations to see if they had suggestions for a park name. The Chickasaw have a long history of interacting with the local citizens that dates back to the 18th century, when they were important allies of the early Cumberland settlements. Chickasaw leaders attended treaty councils in what is now Nashville in 1783 and 1792. In 1830 Chickasaw representatives led by Chief Levi Colbert met with President Andrew Jackson in Franklin and signed the first treaty made under the Indian Removal Act. More recently, Chickasaw Deputy Governor Jefferson Keel negotiated with the City of Brentwood about the treatment of Mississippian period graves discovered during construction of Brentwood library. The Chickasaw Nation also participated in consultations with the Tennessee Department of Transportation on the treatment of the Mississippian graves discovered during the Kellytown excavations and sent a representative to testify in Williamson County Chancery court proceedings involving the graves.

Mike Moore corresponded with Kirk Perry, the Executive Officer, at the Division of Historic Preservation Culture & Humanities Department, about various possible names. Traditionally the Chickasaw name places after local natural features. He suggested Oshan Bok-oshi' which means Otter Creek. After discussion by the Friends group, we contacted Kirk Perry again and explained that one of the prime missions of the park would be as a gathering place to interpret Native American cultures. Mr. Perry then suggested the name Aaittafama' which translates as 'meeting place'. The Friends group suggested that the park be named Aaittafama' Archaeological Park. This name was accepted by the Metro Parks Commission in February 2016, and became the official park name. Friends of Kellytown then changed the name of the organization to Friends of Aaittafama' Archaeological Park.

The word Aaittafama' is pronounced ah-IT-tah-fah-mah. The ' symbol at the end is a glottal stop, which sounds like the stop in the middle of "uh-uh" or "uh-oh". See the Chickasaw Nation Language Page for more information on the Chickasaw language.

Park History

Historical / Prehistoric Significance

Native Peoples and the Cumberland River Valley

Archaeology of the Site