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Muscogee people

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Muscogee people

Muscogee (Creek)
Muscogee portraits
Total population
Regions with significant populations
United States ( Alabama,  Louisiana,
 Oklahoma,  Texas)
English, Muscogee
Protestantism, Four Mothers Society, other
Related ethnic groups
Muskogean peoples: Alabama, Koasati, Miccosukee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole

The Muscogee (or Muskogee), also known as the Creek, are a Florida. Their language, Mvskoke, is a member of the Muscogee branch of the Muscogean language family.

The Muscogee are descendants of the Mississippian culture peoples, who built earthwork mounds at their regional chiefdoms located throughout the Mississippi River valley and its tributaries. The historian William Williams and others believe the early Spanish explorers encountered ancestors of the Muscogee when they visited Mississippian-culture chiefdoms in the Southeast in the mid-16th century.[4]

The Muscogee were the first Native Americans considered to be "civilized" under Five Civilized Tribes", because they had integrated numerous cultural and technological practices of their more recent European American neighbors. Influenced by their prophetic interpretations of the 1811 comet and earthquake, the Upper Towns of the Muscogee, supported by the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, began to resist European-American encroachment. Internal divisions with the Lower Towns led to the Red Stick War (Creek War, 1813–1814); begun as a civil war within the Muscogee Nation, it enmeshed them in the War of 1812 against the United States.

During the Indian Removal of the 1830s, most of the Muscogee Confederacy were forcibly relocated to Indian Territory. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Kialegee Tribal Town, and Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, all based in Oklahoma, are federally recognized, as are the Poarch Band of Creek Indians of Alabama, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.



The Mississippian culture was a mound-building Native American culture that flourished in the United States before the arrival of Europeans.

At least 12,000 years ago, Native Americans or Paleo-Indians appeared in what is today referred to as "The South".[5] Paleo-Indians in the Southeast were hunter-gatherers who pursued a wide range of animals, including the megafauna, which became extinct following the end of the Pleistocene age.[5] The Woodland period from 1000 BCE to 1000 CE was marked by the development of pottery and the small-scale horticulture of the Eastern Agricultural Complex.

The Mississippian culture arose as the cultivation of Mesoamerican crops of maize led to population growth. Increased population density gave rise of urban centers and regional chiefdoms, of which the greatest was the settlement known as Cahokia, in present-day Illinois. Stratified societies developed, with hereditary religious and political elites, and flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States from 800 to 1500 CE.

The early historic Muscogee were probably descendants of the Utinahica of southern Georgia.

At the time the Spanish made their first forays inland from the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, many political centers of the Mississippians were already in decline, or abandoned.[7] The region is best described as a collection of moderately-sized native chiefdoms (such as the Coosa chiefdom on the Coosa River), interspersed with completely autonomous villages and tribal groups. The late Mississippian culture is what the earliest Spanish explorers encountered, beginning on April 2, 1513, with Juan Ponce de León's Florida landing and the 1526 Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón expedition in South Carolina.

Spanish expedition (1540–1543)

Hernando de Soto and his men burn Mabila, after a surprise attack by Chief Tuskaloosa and his people, 1540 CE, painting by Herb Roe, 2008

After Alabama and Mississippi area. The areas were later inhabited by the historic Muscogee Native Americans.

De Soto brought with him a well equipped army. He attracted many recruits from a variety of backgrounds who joined his quest for riches in the Americas. As the de Soto expedition's brutalities became known to the indigenous peoples, they decided to defend their territory. The Battle of Mabila was a turning point for the de Soto venture; the battle "broke the back" of the Spanish campaign, and the expedition never fully recovered.

Rise of the Muscogee Confederacy

De Soto's expedition, especially the new infectious diseases carried by the Europeans, caused a high rate of fatalities among the indigenous peoples. Historians believe that disease epidemics contributed to the depopulation and collapse of the Mississippian culture. As the survivors and descendants regrouped, the Muscogee or Creek Confederacy arose, which was a loose alliance of Muskogee-speaking peoples.

The Muscogee lived in autonomous villages in river valleys throughout present-day Hitchiti speakers were the first to be displaced by white settlers, and the language died out.

Muskogee was spoken from the Chattahoochee to the Alabama River. Koasati (Coushatta) and Alibamu were spoken in the upper Alabama River basin and along parts of the Tennessee River. The Muscogee were a confederacy of tribes consisting of Yuchi, Koasati, Alabama, Coosa, Tuskeegee, Coweta, Cusseta, Chehaw (Chiaha), Hitchiti, Tuckabatchee, Oakfuskee, and many others.[9]

The basin social unit was the town (idalwa). Flint, and Apalachicola rivers, and further east along the Ocmulgee and Oconee rivers, were Coweta, Cusseta (Kasihta, Cofitachiqui), Upper Chehaw (Chiaha), Hitchiti, Oconee, Ocmulgee, Okawaigi, Apalachee, Yamasee (Altamaha), Ocfuskee, Sawokli, and Tamali.

The Upper Towns, located on the Etowah Indian Mounds), Hothliwahi (Ullibahali), Hilibi, Eufaula, Wakokai, Atasi, Alibamu, Coushatta (Koasati; they had absorbed the Kaski/Casqui and the Tali), and Tuskegee ("Napochi" in the de Luna chronicles).[11]

The most important leader in Muscogee society was the mico or village chief. Micos led warriors in battle and represented their villages, but held authority only insofar as they could persuade others to agree with their decisions. Micos ruled with the assistance of micalgi or lesser chiefs, and various advisers, including a second-in-charge called the heniha, respected village elders, medicine men, and a tustunnuggee or ranking warrior, the principal military adviser. The yahola or medicine man officiated at various rituals, including providing black drink, used in purification ceremonies.

The most important social unit was the matrilineal kinship system, with children considered born into their mother's clan, and inheritance was through the maternal line. The Wind Clan is the first of the clans. The majority of micos have belonged to this clan.[12]

British, French and Spanish Expansion

A raiding party against Spanish missions in Florida passes the Ocmulgee trading post

Britain, France, and Spain all established colonies in the present-day Southeastern woodlands. Spain established Jesuit missions and related settlements to influence Native Americans. The British and the French opted for trade over conversion. In the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Spanish Florida built missions along Apalachee Bay. In 1670 English settlers from Barbados founded Charles Town, capital of the new Province of Carolina. Traders from Carolina went to Muscogee settlements to exchange flintlocks, gunpowder, axes, glass beads, cloth and West Indian rum for white-tailed deer pelts for the English leather industry, and Indian slaves for Caribbean sugar plantations. The Spanish and their "mission Indians" burned most of the towns along the Chattahoochee after they welcomed Scottish explorer Henry Woodward in 1685. In 1690, the English built a trading post on the Ocmulgee River, known as Ochese-hatchee (creek), where a dozen towns relocated to escape the Spanish and acquire English trade-goods. The name "Creek" most likely derived from Ocheese Creek and broadly applies to all of the Muscogee Confederacy, including the Yuchi and Natchez.[13]

In 1704–06, Carolina Governor Col. James Moore led colonial militia and Ochese Creek and Yamasee warriors in raids that destroyed the Spanish missions of the Florida interior. They captured some 10,000 unarmed "mission Indians," the Timucua and Apalachee, and sold them into slavery. With Florida depopulated, English traders paid other tribes to attack and enslave the Yamasee, leading to the Yamassee War of 1715–17.

Yamacraw leader Tomochichi and nephew in 1733

The Ochese Creeks joined the Yamasee, burning trading posts, and raiding back-country settlers, but the revolt ran low on gunpowder and was put down by Carolinian militia and their Altamaha River. As the three European imperial powers established themselves along the borders of Muscogee lands, the latter's strategy of neutrality allowed them to hold the balance of power.

Yamacraw Creek Native Americans meet with the Trustee of the colony of Georgia in England, July 1734. Notice the Native American boy (in a blue coat) and woman (in a red dress) in European clothing.

The colony of Savannah exported up to 50,000 deerskins a year.[15]

In 1736, Spanish and British officials established a neutral zone from the Altamaha to the St. Johns River in present-day Florida, guaranteeing Native hunting grounds for the deerskin trade and protecting Spanish Florida from further British encroachment. Ca.1750 a group of Ochese moved to the neutral zone, after clashing with the Muskogee-speaking towns of the Chattahoochee, where they had fled after the Yamasee War.

Led by Chief Secoffee (Cowkeeper), they became the center of a new tribal confederacy, the Seminole, which grew to include earlier refugees from the Yamasee War, remnants of the 'mission Indians,' and escaped African slaves.[16] Their name comes from the Spanish word cimarrones, which originally referred to a domestic animal that had reverted to the wild. Cimarrones was used by the Spanish and Portuguese to refer to fugitive slaves—"maroon" emerges linguistically from this root as well—and American Indians who fled European invaders. In the Hitchiti language, which lacked an 'r' sound, it became simanoli, and eventually Seminole.

American Revolutionary War

With the end of the French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Years' War) in 1763, France lost its North American empire, and British-American settlers moved inland. Indian discontent led to raids against back-country settlers, and the perception that the royal government favored the Indians and the deerskin trade led many back-country white settlers to join the Sons of Liberty. Fears of land-hungry settlers and need for European manufactured goods led the Muscogee to side with the British, but like many tribes, they were divided by factionalism, and, in general, avoided sustained fighting, preferring to protect their sovereignty through cautious participation.

During the Savannah was routed by Continental Army troops under Gen. 'Mad' Anthony Wayne.

After the war ended in 1783, the Muscogee learned that Britain had ceded their lands to the now independent Alexander McGillivray led pan-Indian resistance to white encroachment, receiving arms from the Spanish in Florida to fight trespassers. The bilingual and bicultural McGillivray worked to create a sense of Muscogee nationalism and centralize political authority, struggling against village leaders who individually sold land to the United States. He also became a wealthy landowner and merchant, owning as many as sixty black slaves.

In 1784, he negotiated the Treaty of Pensacola with Spain, recognizing Muscogee control over 3,000,000 acres (12,000 km2) of land claimed by Georgia, and guaranteeing access to the British firm Marinus Willet, who persuaded him to travel to New York City, then the capital of the U.S., and deal directly with the federal government. In the summer of 1790, McGillivray and 29 other Muscogee chiefs signed the Treaty of New York, on behalf of the 'Upper, Middle and Lower Creek and Seminole composing the Creek nation of Indians,' ceding a large portion of their lands to the federal government and promising to return fugitive slaves, in return for federal recognition of Muscogee sovereignty and promises to evict white settlers. McGillivray died in 1793, and with the invention of the cotton gin white settlers on the Southwestern frontier who hoped to become cotton-planters clamored for Indian lands. In 1795, Elijah Clarke and several hundred followers defied the Treaty of New York and established the short-lived Trans-Oconee Republic.

Muscogee and Choctaw land dispute (1790)

In 1790, the Muscogee and Choctaw were in conflict over land near the Noxubee River. The two nations agreed to settle the dispute by ball-play. With nearly 10,000 players and bystanders, the two nations prepared for nearly three months. After a long daylong struggle, the Muscogee won the game. A fight broke out and the two nations fought until sun down with nearly 500 dead and much more wounded.

State of Muskogee and William Bowles

William Augustus Bowles (1763–1805) was also known as Estajoca, his Muscogee name.

Cherokee, Upper and Lower Creeks, Chickasaw and Choctaw. Bowles' first act was declaring the 1796 Second Treaty of San Ildefonso which drew the boundary between the U.S. and West Florida null-and-void, because the Indians were not consulted.

He denounced the treaties Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins, who won the loyalty of the Lower Creeks. He built a tiny navy, and raided Spanish ships in the Gulf of Mexico, and, in 1800, declared war on Spain, briefly capturing the presidio and trading post of San Marcos de Apalache before being forced to retreat. Although a Spanish force that set out to destroy Mikosuki got lost in the swamps, a second attempt to take San Marcos ended in disaster. After a European armistice led to the loss of British support, Bowles was discredited. The Seminole signed a peace treaty with Spain. The following year, he was betrayed by Lower Creek supporters of Hawkins at a tribal council. They turned Bowles over to the Spanish, and he died in prison in Havana, Cuba two years later.[20]

Pre-removal (late 18th–early 19th centuries)

Painting (1805) of Benjamin Hawkins on his plantation, instructing Muscogee Creek about European technology
Muscogee Creek bandolier bag, glass beads on wool stroud, lined with calico, edged with silk ribbon, ca. 1820, Birmingham Museum of Art

Henry Knox, the first U.S. Secretary of War, proposed a cultural transformation of the Native Americans.[21] Washington believed that Native Americans were equals as individuals but that their society was inferior. He formulated a policy to encourage the "civilizing" process, and it was continued under President Thomas Jefferson.[22] Noted historian Robert Remini wrote, "[T]hey presumed that once the Indians adopted the practice of private property, built homes, farmed, educated their children, and embraced Christianity, these Native Americans would win acceptance from white Americans."[23] Washington's six-point plan included impartial justice toward Indians; regulated buying of Indian lands; promotion of commerce; promotion of experiments to civilize or improve Indian society; presidential authority to give presents; and punishing those who violated Indian rights.[24] The Muscogee would be the first Native Americans to be "civilized" under Washington's six-point plan. The Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole would follow the Muscogee efforts to implement Washington's new policy of civilization.

In 1796, Washington appointed slaves and workers, cleared several hundred acres, and established mills and a trading post as well as his farm.

For years, Hawkins met with chiefs on his porch to discuss matters. He was responsible for the longest period of peace between the settlers and the tribe, overseeing 19 years of peace. In 1805, the Lower Creeks ceded their lands east of the Ocmulgee Old Fields. They allowed a Federal Road linking New Orleans to Washington, D.C. to be built through their territory. A number of Muscogee chiefs acquired slaves and created cotton plantations, grist mills and businesses along the Federal Road. In 1806, Fort Benjamin Hawkins was built on a hill overlooking the Ocmulgee Old Fields, to protect expanding settlements and serve as a reminder of U.S. rule.

Hawkins was disheartened and shocked by the outbreak of the Creek War, which destroyed his life work of improving the Muscogee quality of life. Hawkins saw much of his work toward building a peace destroyed in 1812. A faction of Muscogee joined the Pan-American Indian movement of Tenskwatawa and Tecumseh, rejecting accommodation with white settlers and adaptation of European-American culture. Although Hawkins personally was never attacked, he was forced to watch an internal civil war among the Muscogee develop into a war with the United States.

A comet, earthquakes, and Tecumseh (1811)

The Great Comet of 1811, as drawn by William Henry Smyth

A comet appeared in March 1811. The Shawnee leader Tecumseh, whose name meant "shooting star,"[27] traveled to Tuckabatchee, where he told the Muscogee that the comet signaled his coming. McKenney reported that Tecumseh would prove that the Great Spirit had sent him by giving the Muscogee a sign. Shortly after Tecumseh left the Southeast, the sign arrived as promised in the form of an earthquake.

On December 16, 1811, the New Madrid Earthquake shook the Muscogee lands and the Midwest. While the interpretation of this event varied from tribe to tribe, one consensus was universally accepted: the powerful earthquake had to have meant something. The earthquake and its aftershocks helped the Tecumseh resistance movement by convincing, not only the Muscogee, but other Native American tribes as well, that the Shawnee must be supported.

The New Madrid Earthquake was interpreted by the Muscogee to support the Shawnees' resistance.

The Muscogee who joined Tecumseh's confederation were known as the Red Sticks. Stories of the origin of the Red Stick name varies, but one is that they were named for the Muscogee tradition of carrying a bundle of sticks that mark the days until an event occurs. Sticks painted red symbolize war.[28]

Red Stick rebellion

Menawa was one of the principal leaders of the Red Sticks. After the war, he continued to oppose white encroachment on Muscogee lands, visiting Washington, D.C. in 1826 to protest the Treaty of Indian Springs. Painted by Charles Bird King, 1837.

The Creek War of 1813–1814, also known as the Red Stick War, began as a civil war within the Muscogee Nation, only to become enmeshed within the War of 1812. Inspired by the fiery eloquence of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh and their own religious leaders, and encouraged by British traders, Red Stick leaders such as William Weatherford (Red Eagle), Peter McQueen, and Menawa won the support of the Upper Creek towns. Allied with the British, they opposed white encroachment on Muscogee lands and the 'civilizing programs' administered by Benjamin Hawkins, and clashed with many of the leading chiefs of the Muscogee Nation, most notably the Lower Creek Mico William McIntosh, Hawkins' most powerful ally. Their opponents, who sought peaceful relations with white settlers, were known as the White Sticks. Before the Muscogee Civil War began, the Red Sticks attempted to keep their activities secret from the old chiefs. They were emboldened when Tecumseh rallied his followers and joined with a British invasion to capture Fort Detroit in August 1812.

In February 1813, a small party of Red Sticks, led by Little Warrior, was returning from Detroit when they killed two families of settlers along the Duck River, near Nashville. Hawkins demanded that the Muscogees turn over Little Warrior and his six companions. Instead of handing the marauders over to the federal agents, Big Warrior and the old chiefs decided to execute the war party. This decision was the spark which ignited the civil war among the Muscogee.[29]

The first clashes between Red Sticks and the American whites took place on July 21, 1813, when a group of American soldiers from Fort Mims (north of Mobile, Alabama) stopped a party of Red Sticks who were returning from West Florida, where they had bought munitions from the Spanish governor at Pensacola. The Red Sticks fled the scene, and the U.S. soldiers looted what they found, allowing the Red Sticks to regroup and retaliate with a surprise attack that forced the Americans to retreat. The Battle of Burnt Corn, as the exchange became known, broadened the Creek Civil War to include American forces.

On August 30, 1813, Red Sticks led by Red Eagle William Weatherford attacked Fort Mims, where white settlers and their Indian allies had gathered. The Red Sticks captured the fort by surprise, and carried out a massacre, killing men, women and children. They spared only the black slaves whom they took as captured booty. After the Indians killed nearly 250-500 at the fort, settlers across the American southwestern frontier were in a panic.

The Red Stick victory spread panic throughout the Southeastern United States, and the cry "Remember Fort Mims!" was popular among the public wanting revenge. With Federal troops tied up on the northern front against the British in Canada, the Mississippi Territory militias were commissioned and invaded the Upper Creek towns. They were joined by Indian allies, the Lower Creek under William McIntosh and the Cherokee under Major Ridge. Outnumbered and poorly armed, being too far removed from Canada to receive British aid, the Red Sticks put up a desperate fight. On March 27, 1814, General Andrew Jackson's Tennessee militia, aided by the 39th U. S. Infantry Regiment and Cherokee and Lower Creek warriors, crushed the Red Sticks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on the Tallapoosa River. Though the Red Sticks had been soundly defeated and about 3,000 Upper Muscogee died in the war, the remnants held out several months longer.

Muscogee diaspora (1814)

Depiction of Red Eagle's surrender to Andrew Jackson after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Jackson was so impressed with Weatherford's boldness that he let him go.

In August 1814, the Red Sticks surrendered to Jackson at Wetumpka (near the present city of Montgomery, Alabama). On August 9, 1814, the Muscogee nation was forced to sign the Treaty of Fort Jackson. It ended the war and required the tribe to cede some 20 million acres (81,000 km²) of land— more than half of their ancestral territorial holdings— to the United States. Even those who had fought alongside Jackson were compelled to cede land, since Jackson held them responsible for allowing the Red Sticks to revolt. The state of Alabama was created largely from the Red Sticks' domain and was admitted to the United States in 1819.

Many Muscogee refused to surrender and escaped to Florida. They allied with other remnant tribes, becoming the Seminole. Muscogee were later involved on both sides of the Seminole Wars in Florida.

Seminole War

The Red Stick refugees who arrived in Florida after the Creek War tripled the Seminole population, and strengthened the tribe's Muscogee characteristics.[32] In 1814, British forces landed in West Florida and began arming the Seminole. The British had built a fort on the Apalachicola at Prospect Bluff, and after the end of the War of 1812, offered it to the Seminole. The Seminole were returning to their villages, so the British offered the fort to fugitive slaves. It came to be called 'Negro Fort' by Southern planters, who felt its existence inspired escape or rebellion by their slaves and complained to the US government. After notifying the Spanish governor, who said he had insufficient forces to take the fort, the US sent in soldiers in 1816 on a pretext and destroyed the fort. It blew up as a result of heated cannon shot from a gunboat hitting the powder magazine, killing all its inhabitants.

The Seminole continued to welcome fugitive black slaves and raid American settlers, leading the U.S. to declare war in 1817. The following year, General Andrew Jackson invaded Florida with an army that included more than 1,000 Lower Creek warriors; they destroyed Seminole towns and captured Pensacola. Jackson's victory forced Spain to sign the Adams–Onís Treaty in 1819, ceding Florida to the U.S. In 1823, a delegation of Seminole chiefs met with the new U.S. governor of Florida, expressing their opposition to proposals that would reunite them with the Upper and Lower Creek, partly because the latter tribes intended to enslave the Black Seminole. Instead, the Seminole agreed to move onto a reservation in inland central Florida.

Treaties of Indian Springs

Mico matrilineal system of descent and inheritance, he achieved his chieftainship because of her. He was also related to Alexander McGillivray and William Weatherford, both mixed-race Creek.

In the late 1810s and early 1820s, McIntosh helped create a centralized police force called 'Law Menders,' establish written laws, and form a National Creek Council. Later in the decade, he came to view relocation as inevitable. In 1821, McIntosh and several other chiefs signed away Lower Creek lands east of the Flint River at the first Treaty of Indian Springs. As a reward, McIntosh was granted 1,000 acres (4 km2) at the treaty site, where he built a hotel to attract tourists to local hot springs.

The Creek National Council responded by prescribing the death penalty for tribesmen who surrendered additional land. Georgian settlers continued to pour into Indian lands, particularly after the discovery of gold in northern Georgia. in 1825 McIntosh and his first cousin, Georgia Governor Arkansas River. It provided for an equally large payment directly to McIntosh.

In April, the old Red Stick Menawa led about 200 Law Menders to assassinate McIntosh according to their law. They burned his upper Chattahoochee plantation. A delegation of the Creek National Council, led by the speaker Opothleyahola, traveled to Washington D.C. to protest the 1825 treaty. They convinced President John Quincy Adams that the treaty was invalid, and negotiated the more favorable Treaty of Washington (1826). The tribe ceded their lands to Georgia in return for $200,000, although they were not required to move west. Troup ignored the new treaty and ordered the eviction of the Muscogee from their remaining lands in Georgia without compensation, mobilizing state militia when Adams threatened federal intervention.

Removal (1834)

In the aftermath of the Treaty of Fort Jackson and the Treaty of Washington (1826), the Muscogee were confined to a small strip of land in present-day east central Alabama.

Andrew Jackson was elected president of the United States in 1829, and with his inauguration the government stance toward Indians turned harsher.[33] Jackson abandoned the policy of his predecessors of treating different Indian groups as separate nations.[33] Instead, he aggressively pursued plans to move all Indian tribes living east of the Mississippi River to Oklahoma.[33]

At Jackson's request, the United States Congress opened a fierce debate on an Indian Removal Bill.[33] In the end, the bill passed, but the vote was close. The Senate passed the measure 28 to 19, while in the House it squeaked by, 102 to 97. Jackson signed the legislation into law June 30, 1830.[33]

Following the Indian Removal Act, in 1832 the Creek National Council signed the Treaty of Cusseta, ceding their remaining lands east of the Mississippi to the U.S., and accepting relocation to the Indian Territory. Most Muscogee were removed to Indian Territory during the Trail of Tears in 1834, although some remained behind.

Some Muscogee in Alabama live near the federally recognized Poarch Creek Reservation in Atmore (northeast of Mobile), and Muscogee live in essentially undocumented ethnic towns in Florida. The Alabama reservation includes a casino and 16-story hotel. The Creek tribe holds an annual powwow on Thanksgiving. Additionally, Muscogee descendants of varying degrees of acculturation live throughout the southeastern United States.

American Civil War (1861)

Members of the Creek Nation in Oklahoma around 1877. They included men of mixed Creek, European and African ancestry.

At the outbreak of the American Civil War, Opothleyahola refused to form an alliance with the Confederacy, unlike many other tribes, including many of the Lower Creeks. Runaway slaves, free blacks, Chickasaw and Seminole Indians began gathering at Opothleyahola's plantation, where they hoped to remain neutral in the conflict between the North and South. On August 15, 1861, Opothleyahola and tribal chief Micco Hutko contacted President Abraham Lincoln to request help for the Union loyalists. On September 10, they received a positive response, stating the United States government would assist them. The letter directed Opothleyahola to move his people to Fort Row in Wilson County, Kansas, where they would receive asylum and aid.[34] They became known as Loyalists, and many were members of the traditional Snake band in the latter part of the century.

Because the majority of the Creek did support the Confederacy during the Civil War, the US government required a new treaty with the nation in 1866 to define peace after the war. It required the Creek to emancipate their slaves and to admit them as full members and citizens of the Creek Nation, equal to the Creek in receiving annuities and land benefits. They were then known as Creek Freedmen. The US government required setting aside part of the Creek reservation land to be assigned to the freedmen. Many of the tribe resisted these changes. The loss of lands contributed to problems for the nation in the late 19th century.

The Loyalists among the Creek tended to be traditionalists. They formed the core of a band that became known as the Snakes, which also included many Creek Freedmen. At the end of the century, they resisted the extinguishing of tribal government and break-up of communal tribal lands enacted by the US Congress with the Dawes Commission of 1892. These efforts were part of the US government's attempt to impose assimilation on the tribes, to introduce household ownership of land, and to remove legal barriers to the Indian Territory's achieving statehood. Members of the Creek Nation were registered as individuals on the Dawes Rolls; the Commission separately registered intermarried whites and Creek Freedmen, whether or not they had any Creek ancestry. This ruined their claims to Creek membership later, even for people who had parents or other relative who were Creek. The Dawes Rolls have been used as the basis for many tribes to establish membership descent. European-American settlers had moved into the area and pressed for statehood and access to some of the tribal lands for settlement.


Selocta (or Shelocta) was a Muscogee chief.

Muscogee culture has greatly evolved over the centuries, combining mostly European-American influences; however, interaction with Spain, France, and England greatly shaped it as well. They were known for their rapid incorporation of modernity, developing a written language, transitioning to yeoman farming methods, and accepting European-Americans and African-Americans into their society. Muscogee people continue to preserve chaya and share a vibrant tribal identity through events such as annual festivals, stick ball games, and language classes. The Stomp Dance and Green Corn Ceremony are revered gatherings and rituals.


While families include people who are directly related to each other, clans are composed of all people who are descendants of the same ancestral clan grouping. Like many Native American nations, the Muscogee Creek are matrilineal; each person belongs to the clan of his or her mother, who belongs to the clan of her mother. Inheritance and property are passed through the maternal line. Hereditary chiefs were born into certain clans.

Biological fathers are important within the family system but must come from another clan than the mother. But, within the clan, it is the mother’s brother (the mother’s nearest blood relation) who functions as the primary teacher, protector, disciplinarian and role model for children, especially for boys. Clan members do not claim "blood relation" but consider each other as family due to their membership in the same clan. This is expressed by their using the same kinship titles for both family and clan relations. For example, clan members of approximately the same age consider each other "brother" and "sister", even if they have never met before. Muscogee clans are as follows:[35]

Because of this system, the Creek absorbed children born of European fathers, as part of their mother's clans, and reared them as Creek. They sometimes saw advantages to alliances between high-ranking daughters of chiefs and European traders, who could provide them with goods. They believed young men who became educated in European ways could help them manage under the new conditions related to colonialism, while preserving important Creek traditions.[21]

  • Bear Clan (Muklasalgi, Nokosalgi),
  • Beaver Clan (Itamalgi, Isfanalgi, Itchhasuaigi),
  • Bird Clan (Fusualgi),
  • Bog Potato Clan (Ahalakalgi),
  • Cane Clan (Kohasalki),
  • Deer Clan (Itchualgi),
  • Fish Clan (Hlahloalgi),
  • Fox Clan (Tsulalgi),
  • Hickory-Nut Clan (Odshisalgi),
  • Maize Clan (Aktayatsalgi, Atchialgi),
  • Mole Clan (Takusalgi),
  • Otter Clan (Osanalgi),
  • Panther Clan (Chukotalgi, Katsalg),
  • Raccoon Clan (Wahlakalgi, Wotkalgi),
  • Salt Clan (Okilisa, Oktchunualgi),
  • Skunk Clan (Kunipalgi),
  • Toad Clan (Pahosalgi, Sopaktalgi),
  • Turtle Clan (Locvlke) - related to Wind Clan
  • Wild-Cat Clan (Koakotsalgi),
  • Wind Clan (Hutalgalgi),
  • Wolf Clan (Yahalgi)[35] - related to Bear Clan.


Ancestral Muscogee peoples wore clothing made of woven plant materials or animal hides, depending upon the climate. During the summer, they preferred lightweight fabrics woven from tree bark, grasses, or reeds. During the harsh winters, they used animal skins and fur for warmth.

During the 17th century, the Muscogee adopted some elements of European fashion and materials. Cloth was lighter and colorful than deerhide, it quickly became a popular trade item throughout the region. Trade cloth in a variety of patterns and textures enabled Muscogee women to develop new styles of clothing, which they made for both men, women, and children. They incorporated European trade items such as bells, silk ribbons, glass beads, and pieces of mirror in the clothing.


The Muscogee language is a member of the Muskogean family and was well known among the frontiersmen, such as Gideon Lincecum, of the early 19th century. The language is related to the Choctaw language and with some words being identical in pronunciation. The following table is an example of Muscogee text and its translation:

Mvskoke: Fayet aresasvtēs. Mont fayēpat vrēpēt omvtēs, hopvyēn. Momēt vrēpēt omvtētan, nake punvttv tat pvsvtēpet, momet hvtvm efvn sulkēn omvtēs. Momet mv efv tat efv fayvlket omekv, nak punvttuce tayen pvsvtēpēt omvtēs. Mont aret omvtētan, efv tat estvn nak wohēcēto vtēkat, nake punvttvn oken mv efv-pucase enkerrēt omvtēs.[36]

English: Someone was hunting. He went hunting in far away places. He went continually, killing small game, and he had many dogs. And the dogs were hunting dogs, so he had killed many animals. When hunting, he always knew his dogs had an animal trapped by the sound of their barking.[36]


Muscogee (Creek) land cessions 1733-1832
Ceded area as deemed by the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814.

Land was the most valuable asset, which the Native Americans held in collective stewardship. The southern English colonies, US government and settlers systematically obtained Muscogee land through treaties, legislation, and warfare. Some treaties, such as the Treaty of San Lorenzo, indirectly affected the Muscogee. The treaties were:

Treaty Year Signed with Where Purpose Ceded Land
Treaty of Savannah 1733 Colony of Georgia ? ? ?
Treaty of Coweta Town 1739 Colony of Georgia ? ? ?
Treaty of Savannah 1757 Colony of Georgia ? ? ?
Treaty of New York 1790 United States New York City Boundaries defined, Civilization of Creek, Animosities to cease ?
Treaty of Colerain 1796 United States Colerain (Camden County, Georgia) Boundary lines, Animosities to cease ?
Treaty of Fort Wilkinson 1802 United States Fort Wilkinson Land cession ?
Treaty of Washington 1805 ? ? ? ?
Treaty of Fort Jackson 1814 United States Fort Jackson near Wetumpka, Alabama Land cession 23 million acres (93,000 km2)
Treaty of the Creek Agency 1818 ? ? ? ?
Treaty of the Indian Spring 1821 ? ? ? ?
Treaty of Indian Springs 1825 ? ? ? ?
Treaty of Washington 1826 ? ? ? ?
Treaty of the Creek Indian Agency 1827 ? ? ? ?
Treaty of Cusseta 1832 United States Washington City create allotments
Treaty With The Creeks 1833 ? ? ? ?
Treaty With The Creeks 1838 ? ? ? ?
Treaty With The Creeks And Seminole 1845 ? ? ? ?
Treaty With The Creeks 1854 ? ? ? ?
Treaty With The Creeks, Etc., 1856 ? ? ? ?
Treaty With The Creeks 1866 ? ? ? ?

Indian Appropriations Act of 1871

In 1871 Congress added a rider to the Indian Appropriations Act to end the United States' recognizing additional Indian tribes or nations, and prohibiting additional treaties.

Muscogee tribes today

The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana are a tribe of Muscogee people, descended from the Koasati, as are the Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas.

Federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma

Muscogee Creek bike messenger, originally from Okmulgee, Oklahoma

The [38]

Three Muscogee tribal towns are federally recognized tribes: Alabama-Quassarte, Kialegee, and Thlopthlocco. [40]

Micah Wesley, Muscogee Creek-Kiowa artist and DJ[41][42]

Federally recognized tribes in Alabama

Eddie L. Tullis led the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in their petitioning the United States government to recognize a government-to-government relationship. On August 11, 1984, these efforts culminated in the United States Government, Department of Interior, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs acknowledging that the Poarch Band of Creek Indians existed as an "Indian Tribe." The Tribe is the only Federally recognized tribe in the state of Alabama. On November 21, 1984, the US government took 231.54 acres (0.9370 km2) of land into trust for the tribe as a communal holding. On April 12, 1985, 229.54 acres (0.9289 km2) were declared a reservation.

State-recognized tribes


  • Cher-O-Creek Intra Tribal Indians
  • Ma-Chis Lower Creek Indian Tribe of Alabama (petitioned for federal recognition 6/27/83, acknowledgment declined 8/18/88)[43]
  • Star Clan of Muscogee Creeks


Notable people

See also


  1. ^ 69,162 enrolled in Muscogee (Creek) Nation. "Pocket Pictorial." Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission. 2010: 23. (retrieved 16 July 2010)
  2. ^ 2340 enrolled in Poarch Band of Creek Indians. "Culture." Poarch Band of Creek Indians. (retrieved 16 July 2010)
  3. ^ a b Transcribed documents Sequoyah Research Center and the American Native Press Archives
  4. ^ Walter, Williams (1979). "Southeastern Indians before Removal, Prehistory, Contact, Decline". Southeastern Indians: Since the Removal Era. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. pp. 7–10. 
  5. ^ a b Prentice, Guy (2003). "Pushmataha, Choctaw Indian Chief". Southeast Chronicles. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  6. ^ Finger, John R. (2001). Tennessee Frontiers: Three Regions in Transition. Indiana University Press. p. 19.  
  7. ^ About North Georgia (1994–2006). "Moundbuilders, North Georgia's early inhabitants". Golden Ink. Retrieved 2008-05-02. 
  8. ^ Gentleman of Elvas (1557). "Chapter II, How Cabeza de Vaca arrived at court". Narratives of the Career of Hernando de Soto in the Conquest of Florida as told by a Knight of Elvas. Kallman Publishing Co. (1968), Translated by Buckingham Smith. ASIN B000J4W27Q. 
  9. ^ Ethridge, Robbie (2003). "Chapter 5: "The People of Creek Country"". Creek Country: The Creek Indians and their World. The University of North Carolina Press. p. 93.  
  10. ^ Isham, Theodore and Blue Clark. "Creek (Mvskoke)." Oklahoma Historical Society's Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Retrieved 20 Aug 2012.
  11. ^ Creek Towns (accessed May 12, 2010).
  12. ^ "Creek Indian Leaders." New Georgia Encyclopedia. Accessed May 12, 2010.
  13. ^ Walker 390
  14. ^ "Mary Musgrove," Georgia Encyclopedia Online (accessed May 12, 2010).
  15. ^ "Creek Indians," New Georgia Encyclopedia (accessed May 12, 2010).
  16. ^ Forbs, Gerald, "The Origin of the Seminole Indians," p. 108, Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 15, No. 1, March 1937.
  17. ^ Edward Cashin The King's Ranger: Thomas Brown and the American Revolution on the Southern Frontier Pg. 130
  18. ^
  19. ^ Jane G. Landers (1 June 2010). ATLANTIC CREOLES IN THE AGE OF REVOLUTIONS. Harvard University Press. p. 113.  
  20. ^ Chris Kimball, "W.A. Bowles", Southern History
  21. ^ a b Perdue, Theda (2003). "Chapter 2 "Both White and Red"". Mixed Blood Indians: Racial Construction in the Early South. The University of Georgia Press. p. 51.  
  22. ^ Remini, Robert. ""The Reform Begins"". Andrew Jackson. History Book Club. p. 201. . 
  23. ^ Remini, Robert. ""Brothers, Listen ... You Must Submit"". Andrew Jackson. History Book Club. p. 258. . 
  24. ^ Miller, Eric (1994). "George Washington And Indians". Eric Mille. Retrieved 2008-05-02. 
  25. ^ Bunn, Mike; Clay Willams. "Original Documents, Excerpt from Tecumseh's Speech at Tuckaubatchee". Battle for the Southern Frontier. The History Press. p. 163.  
  26. ^ "Shawnee Chief Tecumseh Delivers War Speech to Creek Indians at Tuckabatchee, Alabama in October 1811". Battlefield Biker. 2006–2008. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  27. ^ Sugden, John. "The Shooting Star.' New York Times: Books. 1997 (retrieved 5 December 2009)
  28. ^ "The Creeks." War of 1812" People and Stories. (retrieved 5 December 2009)
  29. ^ Adams, 777–778
  30. ^ Steve Canerossi. "Ft. Mims Massacre Baldwin County, Alabama August 30, 1813". Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  31. ^ Paul Burke. "Treaty with The Creeks". First People. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  32. ^ Merwyn Garbarino, The Seminole Pg. 40
  33. ^ a b c d e f Sharyn Kane & Richard Keeton. "Fort Benning – The Land and the People". SEAC. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  34. ^ Woodson County history
  35. ^ a b "Creek Confederacy". 1999–2005. Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  36. ^ a b Earnest Gouge (2010). "The Creek stories of Earnest Gouge, Panther Helps Man Defeat Giant Lizard". The College of William and Mary. Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  37. ^ Onecle (November 8, 2005). "Indian Treaties". Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  38. ^ American Indian Cultural Center & Museum. Oklahoma Tribes
  39. ^ Oklahoma Indian Affairs. 2008 Pocket Pictorial:17
  40. ^ a b "Oklahoma's Tribal Nations." Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission. 2010 (retrieved 10 April 2010)
  41. ^ Native American Rights Fund. Visions for the Future: A Celebration of Young Native American Artists, Volume 1. Boulder, CO: Native American Rights Fund, 2007: 82. ISBN 978-1-55591-655-8.
  42. ^ "Native American Week Planned at UNM-Gallup." University of New Mexico Today. 8 November 2007 (retrieved 25 February 2010)
  43. ^ [1]
  44. ^ [2]
  45. ^ " Grant-Lee Phillips." The Ark. Retrieved 23 Sept 2013.
  46. ^ La Bella, Laura. Carrie Underwood New York: Rosen Publishing, 2008: 15. ISBN 978-1-4042-1370-8. (retrieved 5.April 2009)
  47. ^ "Creek Nation Tribal Member Carrie Underwood Wins Grammy", Free Press. 14 February 2007 (retrieved 5 April 2009)


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