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Moon-eyed people is a term referring to a Native American group allegedly remembered by the Cherokee when they came to their homeland in the Appalachians. The group was described in 1797 by Colonel Leonard Marbury to Benjamin Smith Barton, who reported it in New Views of the Origin of the Tribes and Nations of America. According to Marbury, when the Cherokee arrived in the area they had encountered a "moon-eyed" people who could not see in the day-time. They were said to track time by watching the night sky.
In his 1902 Myths of the Cherokee, ethnographer James Mooney described a "dim but persistent tradition" of an ancient race who preceded the Cherokee in lower Appalachia and were driven out by them. Accounts often describe this race as having white skin and credit them with building the ancient structures in the area. The earliest recorded mention of this race appears to be in Benjamin Smith Barton's 1797 book New Views of the Origin of the Tribes and Nations of America. Citing the authority of Colonel Leonard Marbury, Barton wrote that "the Cheerake tell us, that when they first arrived in the country which they inhabit, they found it possessed by certain 'moon-eyed-people,' who could not see in the day-time. These wretches they expelled." Barton suggested these "moon-eyed people" were the ancestors of the albinos Lionel Wafer encountered among the Kuna people of Panama, who were called "moon-eyed" because they could see better at night than day.
Mooney links Barton's "moon-eyed people" story to several similar accounts. One was by historian John Haywood who wrote in his 1823 The Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee of "white people, who were extirpated in part, and in part were driven from Kentucky, and probably also from West Tennessee", attributing this to Indian tradition, although later Haywood mentions that in the 17th century the Cherokee encountered "white people" on the Little Tennessee River, and describes fortifications left by French that were surrounded by "hoes, axes, guns, and other metallic utensils", adding that the Cherokee found no aboriginals when they arrived. Mooney cites two further independent accounts from Cherokee individuals of his time, of a people who lived north of the Hiwassee River when the Cherokee arrived there, and then went west; one of these describes them as a "very small people, perfectly white".
The Encyclopedia of Appalachia says that at Fort Mountain State Park in Georgia there is a set of various size boulders that have been associated[specify] with the ruins of man-made stone fortifications attributed to the moon-eyed people. The Moon-eyed people are noted in a historical marker in Fort Chatsworth, Georgia.