The Muscogee tribe lived in Georgia, Alabama and Florida. British traders gave them the name Creeks as a result of a large number of tribal villages by the Ocmulgee River.

In the War of 1812 some of the Creeks supported the British. On 27th March, 1814, an American Army led by General Andrew Jackson defeated the Red Stocks Creeks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Alabama. The surviving Creeks were moved to new lands in Indian Territory.

In 1832 the Muscogee reached an agreement over tribal lands in Alabama. This led to hostility to the new settlers and this led to the Creek War (1835-36). It is estimated that over 10,000 members of the tribe were killed during this war. Another 5,000 were killed during the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.

A rebellion led by Chitto Harjo took place in 1909. Creeks complained that frauds were depriving them of land and resources. This was the last major Native American uprising in the United States.

There is a large village of Cree Indians in the valley below, and for several days they were a great nuisance in the garrison. One bright morning it was discovered that a long line of them had left their tepees and were coming in this direction. They were riding single file, of course, and were chanting and beating "tom-toms" in a way to make one's blood feel frozen. I was out on one of the little hills at the time, riding Bettie, and happened to be about the first to see them. I started for the post at once at a fast gait and told Faye and Colonel Palmer about them, but as soon as it was seen that they were actually coming to the post, I rode out again about as fast as I had come in, and went to a bit of high ground where I could command a view of the camp, and at the same time be screened by bushes and rocks. And there I remained until those savages were well on their way back to their own village.

Then I went in, and was laughed at by everyone, and assured by some that I had missed a wonderful sight. The Crees are Canadian Indians and are here for a hunt, by permission of both governments. They and the Sioux are very hostile to each other; therefore when four or five Sioux swooped down upon them a few days ago and drove off twenty of their ponies, the Crees were frantic. It was an insult not to be put up with, so some of their best young warriors were sent after them. They recaptured the ponies and killed one Sioux.

Now an Indian is shrewd and wily! The Sioux had been a thief, therefore the Crees cut off his right hand, fastened it to a long pole with the fingers pointing up, and with much fuss and feathers - particularly feathers - brought it to the "White Chief," to show him that the good, brave Crees had killed one of the white man's enemies! The leading Indian carried the pole with the hand, and almost everyone of those that followed carried something also - pieces of flags, or old tin pans or buckets, upon which they beat with sticks, making horrible noises. Each Indian was chanting in a sing-song, mournful way. They were dressed most fancifully; some with red coats, probably discarded by the Canadian police, and Faye said that almost everyone had on quantities of beads and feathers.

Bringing the hand of a dead Sioux was only an Indian's way of begging for something to eat, and this Colonel Palmer understood, so great tin cups of hot coffee and boxes of hard-tack were served to them. Then they danced and danced, and to me it looked as though they intended to dance the rest of their lives right on that one spot. But when they saw that any amount of furious dancing would not boil more coffee, they stopped, and finally started back to their village.

Creek Freedmen

Creek Freedmen is a term for emancipated Creeks with African Descent who were slaves of Muscogee Creek tribal members before 1866. They were emancipated under the tribe's 1866 treaty with the United States following the American Civil War, during which the Creek Nation had allied with the Confederacy. Freedmen who wished to stay in the Creek Nation in Indian Territory, with whom they often had blood relatives, were to be granted full citizenship in the Creek Nation. Many of the African Americans had removed with the Creek from the American Southeast in the 1830s, and lived and worked the land since then in Indian Territory.

The term also includes their modern descendants in the United States. At the time of the war and since, many Creek Freedmen were of partial Creek descent by blood. [1] Registration of tribal members under the Dawes Commission often failed to record such ancestry. In 2001, the Creek Nation changed its membership rules, requiring all members to prove descent to persons listed as "Indian by Blood" on the Dawes Rolls. The Creek Freedmen have sued against this decision.


The first we know of Minnehaha Creek (pronounced “crick”), is in May 1822, when two 17-year old boys, William J. Snelling, the son of Colonel Snelling, and Joseph Renshaw Brown, a drummer boy from Maryland, followed the creek up to Lake Minnetonka. Snelling couldn’t take the mosquitoes and headed back, but Brown and two soldiers from the fort made it all the way, past Indian settlements, up to Gray’s Bay and Big Island, where they encountered a Chippewa village.

Although their 1823 map inaccurately described the course of the creek, they are thought to be the first white men to leave a record of having passed through the area, which was to become St. Louis Park. For years afterwards, the creek was known as Joe Brown’s River in 1853, surveyor Jesse T. Jarrett called it Brown’s Creek.

Mills were built on the Creek (also called Little Falls Creek), which was much more powerful than it is today. The mill closest to St. Louis Park was Schussler’s Mill (1874), located off of Excelsior Blvd. at about Powell Road by the Hopkins border. Also nearby was the Waterville Mill (1857), located at 50th and Browndale in Edina. A note in the 1894 Mail newspaper described the water in Minnehaha Creek as “so high that the falls here quite rival that of the Minnehaha.” But a dam was built in 1895 at Grays Bay (Lake Minnetonka), the source of the Creek, lowering the water level and dooming all of the creek’s mills. Foster W. Dunwiddie wrote an article about the Six Flouring Mills on Minnehaha Creek for the Spring 1975 issue of Minnesota History.

Some of the first settlers built homes along the Creek, and in the Brookside neighborhood, people built summer cottages when the land was first platted in 1907. Creekside property is still sought after today, and many smaller homes that back on to the Creek are often supersizing their homes or tearing them down and starting over with bigger houses. The photo below is of Kay Fox Bevan at the point where Brookside Ave. and Yosemite Ave. meet. It was probably taken in the 1920s.

The creek also ran by present-day Knollwood. Here’s a picture taken by the Ruedlingers, probably in the 1920s or 30s.

Back in the early days of the Park, local boys swam (sometimes without benefit of trunks) at “Mosquito Point,” a spot where the Creek ran through the swamp west of the MN&Southern tracks. Between the two bridges the creek made a right angle turn and formed a rather large pond area, with water 5 or 6 ft. deep. Older kids swam at a place known as the Mud Hole, although if the girls were swimming at one place, the boys would go to another.

In July 1917, the Commercial Club looked into dredging the Creek and creating a bathhouse and a beach. A dam was built at Mosquito Point and two bathhouses were erected with lumber and nails provided by Mr. McCarthy and Pockrandt Lumber. The creek has since been straightened out and Mosquito Point is no more.

The June 9, 1945 issue of the St. Louis Park Spectator reported:

To Confer on ‘Haha Creek Conservation

Further plans for the preservation of the shores of Minnehaha Creek in rural Hennepin County will be made at a conference to be held at the office of Chester Wilson, state conservation commissioner, at 1 a.m., Tuesday when a delegation consisting of Mayor O.B. Erickson of St. Louis Park, Mayor T.L. Todd of Edina a members of the Board of County Commissioners will confer with the conservation commissioner on the subject.

In 1949, the County dredged the creek at 4240 Colorado Ave. “for bathing beach and park purposes.” This remains vacant land owned by the City.

On December 7, 1953, Mr. G.A. Morse of the Hopkins Terminal, Inc. explained to the Council how he wanted to change the course of the creek north of Excelsior and east of St. Louis Park. He showed the council the proposed new course, and was told to consult with Village Engineer Phil W. Smith so that he would be informed as to what was being proposed.

In 1954 comes an approval of the State Conservation Commission of proposed changes to the SW ¼ of the NW ¼ of Section 20. The Commission considered the change to be “a desirable improvement for the property in the area adjacent.”

In 1954, the Village asked the County to dredge the creek at 4240 Colorado Ave. as they had done in 1949, but the County refused. The refusal seemed unfair, as the County had just dredged Crystal Lake.

In 1968, L.M. Canfield of the Isaac Walton League appeared before the City Council and complained about dumping in the creek. The Council ordered the Parks and Recreation Commission to study the creek and made recommendations. They also authorized the City to test for pollution.

The creek was dredged in about 1971.

The Mudcat dredged the creek starting October 6, 1981. The Mudcat was designed for dredging lakes and had to be re-anchored several times a week on the creek. The $12,000 cost was picked up by the city (10 percent), the watershed district (30 percent) and property owners along the creek (60 percent).

In 2008-09, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, in partnership with Methodist Hospital, restored one section o the creek channel and the surrounding wetland area. The channel was relocated to the northeast and created seven deep, flowing curves (meanders) to restore the straightened portion of the creek.

Here’s a site that shows pictures of all the bridges over the creek in St. Louis Park and Edina by John A. Weeks III.

1960 Photo by Emory Anderson

In 2012, plans were made to restore a 3,000-foot stretch of the creek, which had been the site of dumping. The site is between Louisiana Ave. and Meadowbrook Road, upstream from the section that was restored in 2008-09. The project will be funded by $300,000 from a Clean Water Legacy grant from the State, with the remaining $800,000 coming from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. See Tom Meersman’s article in the StarTribune. Freezing temperatures in the winter of 2012-13 allowed work to begin, as bulldozers and trucks cleared away trees without sinking into the swamp.


The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is headquartered in Okmulgee, Oklahoma and serves as the seat of tribal government. The Muscogee Nation's Reservation status was affirmed in 2020 by the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Sharp v. Murphy, which held that the allotted Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation in Oklahoma has not been disestablished and therefore retains jurisdiction over tribal citizens in Creek, Hughes, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Mayes, McIntosh, Muskogee, Rogers, Seminole, Tulsa, and Wagoner counties in Oklahoma. [6]

The government of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. Okmulgee is the capital of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and also serves as the seat of government. [7]

Executive branch Edit

The Executive branch is led by the Principal Chief, Second Chief, Tribal Administrator, and Secretary of the Nation. The Principal Chief and Second Chief are democratically elected every four years. Citizens cast ballots for both the Principal Chief and Second Chief as they are elected individually. The Principal Chief then chooses staff some of which must be confirmed by the legislative branch known as The National Council. The current members of the executive branch are as follows:

Legislative branch Edit

The legislative branch is the National Council and consists of sixteen members elected to represent the 8 districts within the tribe's jurisdictional area. National Council representatives draft and sponsor the laws and resolutions of the Nation. [7] The eight districts include: Creek, Tulsa, Wagoner, Okfuskee, Muskogee, Okmulgee, McIntosh, and Tukvpvtce (Hughes).

Judicial branch Edit

Under the inherent sovereign authority of the Mvskoke Nation, the Nation's citizens ratified the modern Mvskoke Nation Constitution on October 6, 1979. The Supreme Court was re-established by Article VII. The Court is vested with exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters that fall under Mvskoke jurisdiction and serves as the final interpretive authority on Mvskoke law. The Court consists of seven justices who serve six-year terms after nomination by the Principal Chief and confirmation by the National Council. Annually, the Court selects from its members a Chief Justice and Vice-Chief Justice. The Justices are as follows: [8]

  • Chief Justice Richard C. Lerblance
  • Vice-Chief Justice Amos McNac
  • Justice Andrew Adams III
  • Justice Montie R. Deer
  • Justice Leah Harjo-Ware
  • Justice Kathleen R Supernaw
  • Justice George Thompson Jr.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation also has its own Bar Association, referred to as the M(C)N Bar Association. The Board members include President Shelly Harrison, Vice President Clinton A. Wilson, and Secretary/Treasurer Greg Meier. The M(C)N Bar Association has Facebook and Twitter accounts for members to stay connected. [9]

In 2019, the total population of Muscogee (Creek) citizens was 87,344. Oklahoma accounted for 65,070 of this population, with California accounting for 4,787 and Texas with some 4,466 citizens. Tulsa, Oklahoma was the city most populated with citizens at 11,194. The population is split exactly in half, 50% of the citizens are female and 50% are male, with the age range of 18-54 dominating. [10] The criteria for Citizenship is that you must be Creek by Blood and trace back to a direct ancestor listed on the 1906 Dawes Roll by issuance of birth and/or death certificates. The Citizenship Board office is governed by a Citizenship Board consisting of five members. This office provides services to citizens of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma or to potential citizens in giving direction or assisting in the lineage verification process of the Muscogee (Creek) people. The mission of this office is to verify the lineage of descendants of persons listed on the 1906 Dawes Roll. In doing so, research is involved in the whole aspect of attaining citizenship. The Director of the Citizenship Board is Nathan Wilson. [11]

The Nation operates its own division of housing and issues vehicle license plates. [1] Their Division of Health contracts with Indian Health Services to maintain the Creek Nation Community Hospital and several community clinics, a vocational rehabilitation program, nutrition programs for children and the elderly, and programs dedicated to diabetes, tobacco prevention, and caregivers. [12]

The Muscogee Nation operates the Lighthorse Tribal Police Department, with 43 active employees. [13] The tribe has its own program for enforcing child support payments.

The Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative is sponsored by the nation. It educates and encourages tribal members to grow their own traditional foods for health, environmental sustainability, economic development, and sharing of knowledge and community between generations. [14]

The Muscogee Nation also operates a Communications Department that produces a bi-monthly newspaper, the Muscogee Nation News, and a weekly television show, the Native News Today.

The tribe operates a budget in excess of $290 million, has over 4,000 employees, and provides services within their jurisdiction. [15]

The tribe has both gaming (casino related) and non-gaming businesses. Non-gaming business ventures include both Muscogee Nation Business Enterprise [16] (MNBE) and Onefire. [17] MNBE and Onefire oversee economic development as well as investigating, planning, organizing and operating business ventures projects for the tribe related to non-gaming business. [1] Gaming enterprises consist of 9 stand alone casinos the largest being River Spirit Casino Resort featuring Margaritaville in Tulsa. The revenue from both gaming and non-gaming business are reinvested to develop new businesses, as well as support the welfare of the tribe.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation also operates two travel plaza truck stops.

The Creek National Capitol, also known as the Council House, was built in 1878 and is located on a landscaped city block in downtown Okmulgee. Exterior walls of the symmetrical Italianate building are constructed of rough-faced sandstone in a coarse ashlar pattern with paired brackets at the cornice. The building measures 100 by 80 feet with two identical entrances on both the north and south elevations. A bracketed porch with a balcony above covers each entrance and 6-over-6, double-hung sash windows line the exterior walls. The hipped roof is crowned with a square wooden cupola, which originally housed bells to call tribal leaders to meetings. The inside of the building is centrally divided by a stair hall, creating an east and west side. The stairs lead to a similarly divided second story. The House of Warriors had a large meeting room on the east side, while the House of Kings had a meeting room, referred to as the Supreme Court Room, on the west side. The capitol served as a meeting place for the legislative branches of the Muscogee Nation until 1907, when Oklahoma became a state. Tribal business in the capitol ended in 1908, when Congress authorized the possession of tribal lands, effectively ceasing tribal sovereignty. From the time of statehood to 1916, the Council House served as the Okmulgee County Courthouse. In 1926, Oklahoma Native Will Rogers visited Okmulgee to entertain a crowd of nearly 2,000. While doing so, he said that it was important to maintain buildings like the Creek National Capitol, since people were speculating on what they would use the Capitol for now that its legislative use had expired. His words had an impact, considering the building is still standing to this day. Since then, the building has served as a sheriff’s office, Boy Scout meeting room, and a YMCA. In 1961, the building was designated as a National Historic Landmark. By 1979, tribal sovereignty had been fully renewed and the Muscogee (Creek) adopted a new constitution. The Creek Council House underwent a full restoration in 1989–1992 and reopened as a museum operated by the City of Okmulgee and the Creek Indian Memorial Association. In 2010, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation purchased the building back from the City of Okmulgee for $3.2 million. It now serves as a museum of tribal history, which is open to the public and exhibits Native American History and culture. [18] [19] [20]

In 2004, the Muscogee Nation founded a tribal college in Okmulgee, the College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN), one of only 38 Tribal Colleges in the US. CMN is a two-year institution, offering associate degrees in Tribal Services, Police Science, Gaming, and Native American Studies. It offers Mvskoke language, Native American History, Tribal Government, and Indian Land Issue classes as well. The CMN offers financial aid through FAFSA and offers on-campus housing. For the spring trimester in 2018, individual student enrollment was 197. A needs assessment survey revealed that a majority of Muscogee citizens were interested in attending the tribal college. Of 386 tribal citizens from the 8 districts, 86% of those were interested in attending college responded that they would attend a tribal college. When asked if they had others in their family who were interested in attending a tribal college 25% of the survey sample responded yes. [21]

The Nation includes the Creek people and descendants of their African-descended slaves [22] who were forced by the US government to relocate from their ancestral homes in the Southeast to Indian Territory in the 1830s, during the Trail of Tears. They signed another treaty with the federal government in 1856. [23]

During the American Civil War, the tribe split into two factions, one allied with the Confederacy and the other, under Opothleyahola, allied with the Union. [24] There were conflicts between pro-Confederate and pro-Union forces in the Indian Territory during the war. The pro-Confederate forces pursued the loyalists who were leaving to take refuge in Kansas. They fought at the Battle of Round Mountain, Battle of Chusto-Talasah, and Battle of Chustenahlah, resulting in 2,000 deaths among the 9,000 loyalists who were leaving. [25]

After defeating the Confederacy, the Union required new peace treaties with the Five Civilized Tribes, which had allied with that insurrection. The Treaty of 1866 required the Creek to abolish slavery within their territory and to grant tribal citizenship to those Creek Freedmen who chose to stay in the territory this citizenship was to include voting rights and shares of annuities and land allotments. [26] If the Creek Freedmen moved out to United States territory, they would be granted United States citizenship, as were other emancipated African Americans. [27]

The Creek established a new government in 1866 and selected a new capital of Okmulgee. In 1867 they ratified a new constitution to incorporate elements of the new peace treaty, and their own desire for changes. [4]

They built their capitol building in 1867 and enlarged it in 1878. Today the Creek National Capitol is a National Historic Landmark. It now houses the Creek Council House Museum, as more space was needed for the government. During the prosperous final decades of the 19th century, when the tribe had autonomy and minimal interference from the federal government, the Nation built schools, churches, and public houses. [4]

At the turn of the century, Congress passed the 1898 Curtis Act, which dismantled tribal governments in another federal government attempt to assimilate the Native American people. The related Dawes Allotment Act required the break-up of communal tribal landholdings to allot land to individual households. This was intended to encourage adoption of the European-American style of subsistence farming and property ownership. It also was a means to extinguish Native American land claims and prepare for admitting Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory as a state, which took place in 1907.

The government declared that communal land remaining after allotments to existing households was "surplus". It was classified as excess and made available for sale to non-Natives. This resulted in the Creek and other tribes losing control over much of their former lands.

In the hasty process of registration, the Dawes Commission registered tribal members in three categories: they distinguished among "Creek by Blood" and "Creek Freedmen," a category where they listed anyone with visible African ancestry, regardless of their proportion of Creek ancestry and "Intermarried Whites." The process was so confused that some members of the same families of Freedmen were classified into different groups. The 1906 Five Civilized Tribes Act (April 26, 1906) was passed by the US Congress in anticipation of approving statehood for Oklahoma in 1907. During this time, the Creek had lost more than 2 million acres (8,100 km 2 ) to non-Native settlers and the US government.

Later, when Creek communities organized and set up governments under the 1936 Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act, some former Muscogee tribal towns reorganized that were in former Indian Territory and the Southeast. Some descendants had remained there and preserved cultural continuity. Others reorganized and gained recognition later in the 20th century. The following Muscogee groups have gained federal recognition as tribes: the Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Kialegee Tribal Town, and Thlopthlocco Tribal Town of Oklahoma the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, and the Poarch Band of Creeks in Alabama.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation did not reorganize its government and regain federal recognition until 1970. This was an era of increasing Native American activism across the country. In 1979 the tribe ratified a new constitution that replaced the 1866 constitution. [4] The pivotal 1976 court case Harjo v. Kleppe helped end US federal paternalism. It ushered in an era of growing self-determination. Using the Dawes Rolls as a basis for determining membership of descendants, the Nation has enrolled more than 58,000 members, descendants of the allottees.

From 1981 to 2001, the Creek had membership rules that allowed applicants to use a variety of documentary sources to establish qualifications for membership.

In 1979 the Muscogee Nation Constitutional Convention voted to limit citizenship in the Nation to persons who could prove descent by blood, meaning that members had to be able to document direct descent from an ancestor listed on the Dawes Commission roll in the category of "Creek by Blood". Persons proving they are descended from persons listed as Creek by blood can become citizens of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. The 1893 registry was established to identify citizens of the nation at the time of allotment of communal lands and dissolution of the reservation system and tribal government. [28]

The 1979 vote on citizenship excluded descendants of persons recorded only as Creek Freedmen in the Dawes Rolls. This decision has been challenged in court by those descendants, according to the 1866 treaty [29] of "Creek Freedmen." [30] [31]

The Freedmen were listed on the Dawes Rolls. Some descendants can prove by documentation in other registers that they had ancestors with Creek blood. The Freedmen had been listed on a separate register, regardless of their proportion of Creek ancestry. This classification did not acknowledge the unions and intermarriage that had taken place for years between the ethnic groups. Prior to the change in code, Creek Freedmen could use existing registers and the preponderance of evidence to establish qualification for citizenship, and were to be aided by the Citizenship Board. The Creek Freedmen have challenged their exclusion from citizenship in legal actions [32] [33] which are pending. [34]

Creek War

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Creek War, (1813–14), war that resulted in U.S. victory over Creek Indians, who were British allies during the War of 1812, resulting in vast cession of their lands in Alabama and Georgia. The Shawnee leader Tecumseh, who expected British help in recovering hunting grounds lost to settlers, travelled to the south to warn of dangers to native cultures posed by whites. Factions arose among the Creeks, and a group known as the Red Sticks preyed upon white settlements and fought with those Creeks who opposed them. On August 30, 1813, when the Red Sticks swept down upon 553 surprised frontiersmen at a crude fortification at Lake Tensaw, north of Mobile, the resulting Ft. Mims Massacre stirred the Southern states into a vigorous response. The main army of 5,000 militiamen was led by Gen. Andrew Jackson, who succeeded in wiping out two Indian villages that fall: Tallasahatchee and Talladega.

The following spring hundreds of Creeks gathered at what seemed an impenetrable village fortress on a peninsula on the Tallapoosa River, awaiting the Americans’ attack. On March 27, 1814, at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (Tohopeka, Ala.), Jackson’s superior numbers (3,000 to 1,000) and armaments (including cannon) demolished the Creek defenses, slaughtering more than 800 warriors and imprisoning 500 women and children. The power of the Indians of the Old Southwest was broken.

At the Treaty of Ft. Jackson (August 9) the Creeks were required to cede 23,000,000 acres of land, comprising more than half of Alabama and part of southern Georgia. Much of that territory belonged to Indians who had earlier been Jackson’s allies.

Creeks in Alabama

Battlefield at Horseshoe Bend A confederacy of a number of cultural groups, the Creeks, now known as the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, played a pivotal role in the early colonial and Revolutionary-era history of North America. In 1775, author and trader James Adair described the Creek Indians as "more powerful than any nation" in the American South. Despite the fact that they were able political and economic partners of the colonial and early U.S. government, the Creeks suffered the same fate as their fellow southeastern tribes, and many of them were forced from their lands in the 1830s. Creek culture is kept alive in Alabama among the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, based in Escambia County. Mississippian Pottery The Creek Indians, along with other southeastern tribes such as the Choctaws and Cherokees, are descended from the peoples of the Mississippian period (ca. AD 800-1500), known for its giant earthen mounds and complex, hierarchical social structure. In the sixteenth century, the arrival of Europeans brought epidemics and widespread warfare and violence to the Southeast, resulting in the scattering of the region's indigenous peoples. Beginning in the seventeenth century, these diverse populations joined together and established settlements along the central Chattahoochee River, the lower Tallapoosa River, and the central Coosa River in what is now east-central Alabama. For the next two centuries, these areas served as the heart of what came to be called Creek country, and these new towns (talwa in the Muskogean language of the Creeks)—devoid of the earthen platform mounds that typified Mississippian villages—became the centers of Creek political and ceremonial life and defined the political identity of each Creek individual. Engraving of Creek Town Layout Though the numbers fluctuated over time, the Creek nation was generally comprised of between 30 and 60 towns (talwa), with each group primarily identifying itself with the major town in its region. Thus national unity was often hard to come by in Creek country, given the independence of each town and the multiethnic composition of the nation. In fact, the name "Creek" was a term English traders first used as a convenient way to label the people of various Creek towns. The Creeks themselves tended to view their nation as a confederacy consisting of three distinct provincial groups: the Ochese or Coweta of the Chattahoochee River basin, the Tallapoosa of the lower Tallapoosa River, and the Abeika of the upper Tallapoosa and Coosa rivers. The British and Americans, however, tended to refer to the first group as the "Lower Creeks" and the latter two groups together as the "Upper Creeks." Benjamin Hawkins and the Creek Indians Creek contact with European colonists was intermittent at first and largely occurred through trade and diplomacy with Spanish Florida. Their involvement with colonial powers became more pronounced by the middle of the 1680s, when traders from South Carolina began venturing directly to Creek villages. A brisk trade ensued, and colonial traders exchanged cloth, guns, and steel tools for deerskins and, notably, Indian slaves taken in warfare from other tribes. In 1690, in order to facilitate trade with the South Carolinians, the Chattahoochee towns and allies from among the Tallapoosas and elsewhere moved and relocated their towns on the Ocmulgee and Oconee Rivers in central Georgia. At one such town—Ocmulgee—English traders built a permanent trading post that has been the subject of archaeological investigation. Its remains are contained within the Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Georgia. Creek Warrior Sketch The Yamasee War of 1715 ushered in a new diplomatic era in Creek history. On Good Friday (April 15, 1715), the Yamasees, Creeks, and other allies launched a war against South Carolina, while at the same time seeking new alliances with the Spanish and French. By the end of the war the Creeks had settled upon a strategy by which they pledged to remain neutral in times of war between the three European powers. Established at a meeting in the Lower Creek town of Coweta in March 1718, and devised by that town's chief, known to the English as the "Emperor" Brim, the policy of neutrality increased their political leverage by enabling them to defend their ancestral territory by "playing off" one European power against another. Creek leaders, for example, welcomed the French and allowed them to build Fort Toulouse at a location near Wetumpka, Elmore County, while at the same time they maintained their economic relationship to traders in South Carolina and, later, Georgia. Neutrality became the distinguishing characteristic of Creek diplomacy for the remainder of the colonial era. Their neutral status, though precarious at times, enabled the Creeks to trade with Europeans with little disruption and may account for Creek population growth before the American Revolution. William McIntosh Many Creeks accepted, if not embraced, the new order of things. Creek leaders such as William McIntosh of the Coweta and Big Warrior of the Tuckabatchee benefited from the new economy and became close allies with Hawkins and other U.S. agents. Creek traditionalists, in contrast, became increasingly defensive of their sovereignty and culture. Their concerns reached new heights after white settlers began pouring into Alabama Territory along the newly constructed Federal Road, which connected Fort Mitchell, in present-day Russell County, with Mobile. In 1813, a group of warriors belonging to this traditionalist group, inspired by local "prophets" such as Josiah Francis (Creek name, Hilis Hadjo) and the pan-Indian, nativist movement founded by Shawnee warrior Tecumseh (who himself visited the Creeks in 1811), began fighting back. The Creek War, also known as the Red Stick Revolt after the red war clubs carried by the Creek fighters, was partly a war against the U.S. government and partly an internal war between rival Creek factions led by Francis and Big Warrior. After scoring early victories at places such as Ft. Mims, the Red Stick Creeks, led by Menawa, were ultimately defeated by U.S. forces, led by Gen. Andrew Jackson, and their Creek and Cherokee allies at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (1814). In the subsequent Treaty of Fort Jackson (1814) and Treaty of Indian Springs (1825), the Creeks ceded all of their remaining lands in Georgia, causing the nation to relocate entirely into Alabama. Only a small faction of Creek leaders, led by William McIntosh, signed the Indian Springs treaty, and many Creeks thus viewed it as fraudulent. Under Creek law, McIntosh's action was punishable by death, and the Creek National Council shortly thereafter executed McIntosh and three others who had signed the treaty. Opothle Yoholo In 1830, the federal government passed the Indian Removal Act, which authorized the eventual removal of all the southeastern tribes to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Although a few Creek leaders embraced removal as a means of self-preservation, the vast majority of Creeks opposed abandoning their ancestral homelands. White squatters continued to infiltrate the Creeks' remaining homelands in Alabama, and the state government asserted its sovereignty in 1831 by extending its laws to unceded Creek territories. Creek leaders sent a delegation, headed by Tuckabatchee leader Opothle Yoholo, to Washington to defend their treaty rights and issue complaints against such actions, which authorities in Washington had done nothing to address. While in Washington, the delegation sensed the futility of their attempts to avert removal and on March 24, 1832, Creek delegates agreed to the Treaty of Cusseta, which set forth the conditions of their removal. On paper, the treaty included several incentives, such as land grants for leading chiefs and the promise of protection from white intruders, which might have encouraged a sizable number of Creeks to stay in Alabama or, at the very least, allow them to make advance preparations for removal. But the defeat of an attempted Creek rebellion in 1836 during the Second Creek War brought immediate forced removal by the U.S. government to the Creek Nation. Opothle Yoholo led several thousand of his followers out west after a failed attempt at purchasing land in Mexico. A year later, 5,000 more Creeks departed. A few who accepted land allotments or evaded removal stayed behind. Some of their descendants have unified as the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, headquartered in Atmore, Alabama.

The majority of the Poarch Band's 2,340 members live in Escambia County, Alabama, on a 230-acre reservation. They are the only federally recognized Indian tribe in Alabama and operate as a sovereign nation with their own system of government and bylaws. Long ignored, impoverished, and subjected to the "separate but equal" provisions of Jim Crow laws, the Poarch Band now operates three gaming facilities in Alabama. In partnership with the state of Alabama, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians contributes to economic and cultural life of its members and the surrounding communities.

Braund, Kathryn E. Holland. Deerskins and Duffels: The Creek Indian Trade With Anglo-America, 1685–1815. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Creek War of 1813-14

Chief Menawa The Creek War of 1813-14 began as a civil war, largely centered among the Upper Creeks, whose towns were located on the Coosa, Tallapoosa, and upper reaches of the Alabama rivers. The struggle pitted a faction of the Creeks who became known as Red Sticks against those Creeks who supported the National Council, a relatively new body that had developed from the traditional regional meetings of headmen from the Creek towns. Under the auspices of federal Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins, the National Council's authority and powers had been expanded. The war broke out against the backdrop of the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain. Americans, fearful that southeastern Indians would ally with the British, quickly joined the war against the Red Sticks, turning the civil war into a military campaign designed to destroy Creek power. To prove their loyalty to the United States, contingents of Choctaw and Cherokee warriors joined the American war against the Creeks. Thus, the Creek civil war was quickly transformed into a multidimensional war that resulted in the total defeat of the Creek people at the hands of American armies and their Native American allies. William McIntosh In January 1813, another group of whites was murdered by a small party of Creeks in communication with the Shawnee, and Hawkins again pressed the Creek National Council to act quickly and punish the offenders. The council sent out warriors, known as the Law Menders, led by William McIntosh (Tustunnuggee Hutkee) of Coweta to execute the dissidents, who were largely from the Upper Creek Towns. Traditionally, such matters had been handled by clans, rather than the council. Thus, in spite of their intentions to preserve peace with the United States, this action by the council split the Creek Nation. The dissidents, attempting to subsist in a broken economy in which only a few prospered and resenting the increasing border encroachments and traffic along the contested Federal Road, acted against the council. These Creek dissidents blamed the expanding conflict on the relatively new exercises of power by the National Council. The executions came at a time of intense religious prophecy among many Native American groups that urged a spiritual awakening and a return to pre-contact traditions combined with a denunciation of foreign influences and the use of armed force if necessary to regain Indian land. Creek prophets, influenced by the Shawnee brothers Tenskwatawa (known as The Prophet) and Tecumseh, gained adherents, especially among Creek traditionalists who resented the infringement of traditional clan authority that the Creek National Council had assumed in ordering the execution of leading warriors. Diagram of Fort Mims In preparation for action against the National Council, the dissidents travelled to Pensacola to seek ammunition and assistance from the Spanish government. On their return home, they were attacked by Mississippi militia and Tensaw area settlers who wanted to prevent Spanish ammunition from reaching the main body of disaffected warriors. The attack on July 27, 1813, near Burnt Corn Creek (in present-day Escambia County near Brewton), changed and escalated the nature of the war. In retaliation for the attack at Burnt Corn, the dissidents turned their fury on the fortified settlement of Samuel Mims. These dissidents were soon called Red Sticks because they had raised the "red stick of war," a favored weapon and symbolic Creek war declaration. The brutal attack on Fort Mims on August 30, 1813, by nearly 700 Red Sticks was a complete victory and left 250 of the defenders and civilian inhabitants dead, with perhaps 100 others taken captive by the Red Sticks. Sporadic attacks were likewise launched against American settlers along the Chattahoochee River, and among the Upper Towns, support for the Red Sticks expanded rapidly. Following the attack on Fort Mims and the ensuing escalation, the divided Creek towns faced an invasion of their country by military forces from Mississippi, Georgia, and Tennessee. The sprawling and open lay-out of Creek towns, however, made them difficult to defend or fortify. Creek prophets cast "magic" incantations and spiritual barriers to protect warriors and locations from bullets, and the Red Stick leadership fortified towns and removed noncombatants from exposed locations. Moreover, the embattled towns sought strength in numbers, relocating scattered residents to fortified centers, one for each of the three major Creek divisions. The Alabama towns collected at the Econochaca (Holy Ground), Tallapoosas congregated near Autossee, and the Red Stick Abeikas (primarily Okfuskees) took refuge behind a formidable barrier they erected at Tohopeka (Horseshoe Bend). These hastily constructed positions became the focus of American attacks. John Coffee Gov. William Blount of Tennessee called for 3,500 volunteers from across the state to be mustered in two armies, led by rival commanders: John Cocke and Andrew Jackson, whose West Tennessee militia of 1,000 men was supported by 1,300 cavalry commanded by John Coffee. Jackson's force was also supplemented by a sizeable contingent of Cherokee warriors. Their objective was to attack the Red Sticks among the Abeika towns. By November 3, Jackson secured the first American victory in the war when Coffee's cavalry routed Creeks at the town of Tullusahatchee, killing 200 Red Stick warriors as well as a number of women and children. A few days later, a large Red Stick force laid siege to the Creek town of Talladega. Jackson attempted to encircle the town, but most of the approximately 1,000 attackers managed to escape, although with heavy losses of perhaps one-third of their warriors. Meanwhile, Hillabee residents sent word to Jackson that they did not intend to support the Red Stick faction. Without Jackson's knowledge, Cocke sent a contingent of his army to attack the town, killing roughly 70 warriors and capturing nearly 300. Those who escaped joined the Red Sticks. Supply problems, short enlistments, poor communications, and quarrels between Jackson and Cocke plagued the Tennessee forces, and by year's end, Jackson was left with approximately 150 men at Fort Strother on the Coosa River. Canoe Fight Gen. Ferdinand Claiborne, whose troops included Mississippi Territory militia, poorly trained and equipped volunteers who had joined after the Mims massacre, and Choctaw warriors, commanded the third arm of the American invasion force. In the early fall of 1813, after several minor skirmishes along the Alabama River, including Samuel Dale's famous "canoe fight," Claiborne's troops made for their main objective, the Holy Ground, a settlement located on the bluffs above the Alabama River, approximately 30 miles west of present-day Montgomery, which they attacked on December 23, 1813. Most of the Red Sticks escaped, however. After pillaging the town for corn, Claiborne's troops burned the town and retreated south and disbanded. Map of Horseshoe Bend Thus, by the middle of January, only one American army remained active—that of Andrew Jackson the army of 60-day enlistees had expanded to nearly 1,000 men. Seeking to defeat the Red Sticks before his army dissolved again, Jackson moved south from Fort Strother. By the end of the month, he had engaged the enemy at Emuckfau Creek and Enitachopco Creek with little success. The arrival of the 600-man Thirty-ninth U.S. Infantry Regiment allowed Jackson to embark on an ambitious campaign against the single largest remaining Red Stick settlement: Tohopeka at the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River. There, on March 27, aided by Cherokee and Creek allies, Jackson's army routed the Red Sticks, killing nearly all of the estimated 800 warriors who had gathered behind an impressive barricade. From Horseshoe Bend, Jackson proceeded along the Tallapoosa River, burning towns and improvements in his path, until he reached the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers, where he built Fort Jackson, the site of the earlier French post, Fort Toulouse. In addition to dispatching scouting parties who attacked any Creeks they encountered, Americans also burned virtually every town in the Upper Creek Nation, nearly 50 in all. Treaty of Fort Jackson The Creek War is sometimes portrayed by historians as a war between the two major divisions of the Creeks: the Upper and Lower Towns. Others have attempted to portray it as a conflict of Muskogean speakers vs. non-Muskogean Creeks, such as the Alabamas and the Yuchis. Some have viewed the conflict as one in which traditionalist Red Sticks attacked acculturated or "progressive" Creeks, such as those seeking shelter at Fort Mims. None of these interpretations are supported by facts. Although the majority of the action was among the Upper Towns and the divisions there were greatest, some Lower Creeks supported the Red Stick faction. On the other hand, many Upper Creeks not only opposed the Red Sticks, they also fought against them. Likewise, whereas many Alabama Indians sided with the Red Sticks, the Yuchi and Natchee Creek Indians (also non-Muskogean speakers) fought on the side of the national Creeks. And notable warriors of mixed ancestry fought on both sides, the most famous of whom are William Weatherford for the Red Sticks and William McIntosh with the national Creeks. Nor was the divide simply between the "haves" and "have nots." Perhaps the greatest Red Stick hero of the war, Menawa, was reported to be the wealthiest Upper Creek before the conflict.

Following the war, the Creek people rebuilt their towns and economy. The National Council, under the leadership of many Creek War veterans, would direct the Creek response to increasing pressure by Americans for Creek land. By 1825, the power of the National Council was not contested by the Creek people, and they united behind it when law-menders dispatched by the National Council, led by the former Red Stick leader Menawa, executed William McIntosh for illegally ceding Creek land in Georgia. After his victory at Horseshoe Bend and his later victory at New Orleans against the British, Andrew Jackson achieved national fame and was elected to the presidency in 1828, based on his status as a war hero and a proponent of Indian Removal. Ironically, the man regarded as the leader of the Red Stick Creeks at Fort Mims, William Weatherford, withdrew from tribal affairs. His family remained in Alabama when the Creek people were forcibly removed from the state in the 1830s.

Halbert, Henry S., and Timothy H. Ball. The Creek War of 1813 and 1814. Edited by Frank L. Owsley Jr. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1995.

Notes On Creek History

To offer a history of the Creek tribe from its discovery down to our epoch to the readers does not lie within the scope of this volume, and for want of sufficient documents illustrating the earlier periods it could be presented in a fragmentary manner only. But a few notes on the subject, especially on the Oglethorpe treaties, will be of interest to the reader.

In the year following their departure from the West Indies (1540), the troops led by H. de Soto traversed a portion of the Creek territory, taken in its extent as known to us from the end of the eighteenth century. De Soto’s presence is proved by the mention of Creek tribes bearing Creek name’s in the reports of his three chroniclers. The most circumstantial report in topography is that of the Knight of Elvas. He states that de Soto’s army usually marched five to six leagues a day in peopled countries, but when passing through deserted lands proceeded faster. From Chiaha H. de Soto reached Coste in seven days. From Tali, probably contiguous to Coste, he marched for six days, through many towns, to Coca, arriving there July 26th, 1540. Leaving this town after a stay of twenty-five days, he reached Tallimuchase on the same day, Ytava on the next, and had to remain there six days, on account of a freshet in the river. Having crossed the river he reached Ullibahali town, fortified by a wooden wall, and on the next day stopped at a town subject to the lord of Ullibahali, to reach Toasi the day after. Then he traversed the Tallise “province,” peopled with many towns, and entered the great pueblo of Tallise on September 18th, to stay there twenty days. Many other towns were visible on the opposite side of the “maine river,” on which Tallisi 1 stood. On leaving this pueblo he reached Casiste on the same day, and Tuscalusa, whose chief was lord of many territories, after another march of two days. From there Piache, on a great river, was reached in two days, and Mavila in three days from Piache. De Soto arrived in Mavila on October 18th, and the whole distance from Coca to Tuscalusa is computed by the Knight of Elvas at sixty leagues, the direction of the route being from north to south. In this particular Biedma differs from him.

The villages of Chiaha (Chisca, Ychiaha, China, var. lect.) and of Coste (Costehe, Acostehe) provinces were fortified and stood on river-islands. This latter circumstance makes it probable that they lay on Tennessee River, and hence were held by Cheroki Indians. Tali is either the Creek term tali dry, exsiccated, or the Cha’hta tali rock. Coca, then in a flourishing condition, is the town of Kúsa. Talli-muchasi, or “Newtown,” near Coca, is clearly a Creek term, and so is Ytava, Itáwa, which I take for the imperfectly articulated italua, tribe. Toasi is, I think, the town of Tawasa, which was one of the Alibamu villages, q. v., and lay on the southern shore of the Alabama River.

Tallisi is undoubtedly Talua-hassi, “old town,” but which one of the numerous settlements of this name it may have been is now impossible to determine. Casiste resembles Kasí’hta, but cannot have been Kasiχta on Chatahuchi river, for de Soto reached Tuskalusa or “Black Warrior,” which I take to be a town on the river of that name, within two days from Casiste, traveling west. 2 Piache, if Creek could be ápi údshi little pole, small tree. Garcilaso de la Vega states that Tascalusa was on the same river (?) as Tallisi and below it. The documents of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries frequently give names of localities and tribes to the local chiefs, as was done here in the case of Tascalusa, Mavila, Alimamu and others. Chiaha is a Cheroki name, and is explained elsewhere as “place of otters.” Some modern (1884) critics believe that de Soto’s army did not cross the mountains into what is now North Carolina and Tennessee, the “over-hill” seats of the Cheroki people, but only skirted the southern slope of the Apalachian ridge by passing through Northern Georgia west into Northern Alabama, and then descending Coosa river. In order to determine de Soto’s route in these parts, we have to decide first, whether the days and directions of the compass noted by his chroniclers deserve more credence than the local names transmitted in cases when both form conflicting statements. The names of localities could not be pure inventions they prove by themselves, that tribes speaking Creek or Maskoki proper were encountered by the adventurous leader in the same tracts where we find them at the beginning of this nineteenth century. It follows from this that the Creek immigration from the west or northwest, if such an event ever occurred within the last two thousand years, must have preceded the time of de Soto’s visit by a long lapse of time. Thus the terms italua, talófa, talássi belong to the Creek dialect only had H. de Soto been in a country speaking a Hitchiti dialect, he would have heard, instead of these, the term ókli, and instead of tálua mútchasi: ókli imásha. 3

In 1559 another Spanish leader, Tristan de Luna, disembarked in or near Mobile bay, then went north in quest of gold and treasure, reached Nanipacna, or “pueblo Santa Cruz de Nanipacna,” and from there arrived, after experiencing many privations and trials, among the Cocas, who were then engaged in warfare with the Napochies (naⁿpíssa? cf. Chicasa). He made a treaty of alliance with the Cocas, and deemed it prudent to return. The distance from Coca to Nanipacna was twelve days, from there to the harbor three days march. 4

In 1567 Captain Juan del Pardo set out from St. Helena, near Charleston Harbor, S. C., on an exploration tour with a small Detachment, following partly the same aboriginal trail which had guided de Soto through the wastes of Georgia and the Cheroki country. On leaving the banks of the Tennessee River, he turned south, touching Kossa, a sort of a capital (evidently Kusa), then Tasqui, Tasquiqui and Olitifar. These are the only names of places mentioned by his chronicler, Juan de la Vandera (1569), which refer to the Creek country. Tasquiqui cannot be anything else but Taskigi, near the junction of Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers.

From the beginning of the eighteenth century the French, Spanish and British colonists endeavored to win over the tribes of the confederacy to their interests. The Spaniards established in Northern Florida paid honors to the “emperor of the Cowetas,” therewith hoping to influence all the Lower and Upper Creeks, and in 1710 received Kawita delegates with distinction at St. Augustine. After the conflict with the Spaniards the British established Fort Moore for trading purposes among the Lower Creeks. In 1713 chiefs of the Alibamu, Koassáti and other tribes visited the French colony at Mobile, entered into friendly relations, invited them to construct Fort Alibamu, also called Fort Toulouse, near Odshi-apófa, q. v., and were helpful in erecting it. The French entertained a small garrison and a trader’s post there, and subsequently the fort was called Fort Jackson.

The first British treaty with the Creeks was concluded by James Oglethorpe, Governor of the Carolinas. He set out May 14th, 1733, from Charleston, his residence, and on May 18th met in council the representatives of the Lower Creek tribes at Savannah. During the meeting many facts of interest were elicited. The Creeks then claimed the territory extending from the Savannah river to the Flint river, and south to St. Augustine, stating that their former number of ten tribes had been reduced to eight. Wikatchámpa,, the Okoni míko, proclaimed that his tribe would peaceably cede to the British all lands not needed by themselves. The Yamacraw chief Tomochichi, then banished from one of the Lower Creek towns, spoke in favor of making a treaty with the foreigners, and Yahola ‘láko, míko of Kawita, allowed Tomochichi and his relatives “to call the kindred, that love them, out of each of the Creek towns, that they may come together and make one town. We must pray you to recall the Yamasees, that they may be buried in peace among their ancestors, and that they may see their graves before they die and our own nation (of the Lower Creeks) shall be restored again to its ten towns.” The treaty of land-cession, commerce and alliance was signed May 21st, and ratified by the trustees of the colony of Georgia, October 18th, 1733. It stipulated a cession of the lands between the Savannah and Altamaha rivers, and of some islands on the Atlantic coast, to the British it further stipulated promises to enter into a commercial treaty at a later date, to place themselves under the general government of Great Britain, to live in peace with the colonies, to capture runaway slaves and deliver them at Charleston, Savannah or Palachukla garrison for a consideration. The treaty was confirmed by pledges on the side of the Creeks, which consisted in a bundle of buckskins for each town, whereas the English made presents of arms, garments, etc. in return. The Indians expressed a desire of receiving instruction through teachers, and the success obtained in concluding this first treaty was mainly attributed to the influence of Tomochichi upon his fellow-countrymen. The eight tribes represented were Kawita, Kasiχta, Ósotchi, Chiaha, Hítchiti, Apalatchúkla, Okoni, Yufala. The “two lost towns” were certainly not those of the Sawokli and Yuchi, although these do not figure in the list. Only one of the headmen signing the treaty of 1733 figures in the prooemium of our legend (written in 1735): “Tomaumi, head warrior of Yufala, with three warriors” he is identical with Tamókmi, war captain of the Eufantees (in 1735). Chekilli is not mentioned.

The above treaty is printed in: Political State of Great Britain, vol. 46, p. 237 sqq extract in C. C. Jones, Tomo chichi, pp. 27-37.

Although encouraged by this first successful meeting with the Creeks, the colonists knew so well the fickleness of the Indian character that they were distrustful of the steadiness of their promises, and thus sought to renew the friendly relations with them as often as possible.

A convention was arranged with the chiefs of the Lower Creeks at Savannah in 1735, during which the legend of the Kasiχta migration was delivered, but it does not appear whether any new treaty stipulations were mooted or not at that meeting.

Just after his return from England, Governor Oglethorpe again came to Savannah on October 13th, 1738, to meet in council the míkos of Chiaha, Okmulgi, Ótchisi and Apalatchúkla, who were accompanied by thirty warriors and fifty-two attendants. They assured him of their firm and continued attachment to the crown, and notified him that deputies of the remaining towns would come down to see him, and that one thousand warriors of theirs were at his Disposal. They also requested that brass weights and sealed measures should be deposited with the míkos of each town, to preclude the traders settled among them from cheating.

On the 17th of July, 1739, Oglethorpe with a large retinue started to meet the Creeks in their own country, at Kawita. He traveled up Savannah River to the Yuchi town, twenty-five miles above Ebenezer, then followed the inland trail, for two hundred miles, without meeting any Indians. The council lasted from August 11th to 21st, and terminated in a treaty, by which the towns renewed their “fealty” to the king of Great Britain, and confirmed their cessions of territory, while Oglethorpe engaged that the British should not encroach upon their reserved lands, and that their traders should deal fairly and honestly with the Indians. The towns on Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers participated in the treaty. 5

It may be regarded as a consequence of this compact, that Creek warriors joined the British as auxiliaries in the expedition against St. Augustine in 1742.

Important and detailed information on the relations of the Creeks and all other Southern tribes with the British and French settlers of colonial times may be found in the documents preserved at the State Paper Office, London. The contents of such papers as relate more especially to South Carolina are hinted at in numerous abstracts of them given in a catalogue in Collections of South Carolina Historical Society, Vols. I, II, Charleston, 8vo (Vol. II published in 1858) cf. II, 272. 297-298. 315-317. 322, etc. Compare also W. de Brahm’s writings, mentioned in: Appendices.

An incomplete and unsatisfactory, though curious list of the elements then (1771) composing the Maskoki confederacy and of its western allies is contained in B. Romans, East and West Florida (p. 90). The passage first alludes to the Seminoles as allies, and then continues: “They are a mixture of the remains of the Cawittas, Talepoosas, Coosas, Apalachias, Conshacs or Coosades, Oakmulgis, Oconis, Okchoys, Alibamons, Natchez, Weetumkus, Pakanas, Taensas, Chacsihoomas, Abekas and some other tribes whose names I do not recollect.”

An interesting point in early Creek history is the settlement of Cheroki Indians in Georgia, and their removal from there through the irruption of the Creeks. W. Bartram, Travels, p. 518, in describing the mounds of the country, states “that the region lying between Savanna River and Oakmulge, east and west, and from the sea-coast (of the Atlantic) to the Cherokee or Apalachean Mountains (filled with these mounds) was possessed by the Cherokees since the arrival of the Europeans but they were afterwards dispossessed by the Muscogulges, and all that country was probably, many ages preceding the Cherokee invasion, inhabited by one nation or confederacy (unknown to the Cherokees, Creeks) . . . etc.” In another passage he gives a tradition of the Creeks, according to which an ancient town once built on the east bank of the Okmulgi, near the old trading road, was their first settlement in these parts after their emigration from the west.

The topographic names from the Cheroki language throughout Georgia testify strongly to the presence of Cheroki Indians in these countries. The tracts on the Okoni and Okmulgi are nearer to the seats of the Élati Cheroki than the Creek settlements on Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers, where Cheroki local names occur also.

The legend reported by C. Swan 6 that the Creeks migrated from the northwest to the Seminole Country, then back to Okmulgi, Tallapoosa and Coosa Rivers, deserves no credit, or applies to small bodies of Indians only.

From an ancient tradition John Haywood (9John Haywood, the Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee (up to 1768). Nashville, 1823.)) relates the fact (pp. 237-241) that when the Cheroki Indians first settled in Tennessee, they found no other red people living on Tennessee River, except a large body of Creeks near the influx of Hiwassee River (and some Shawanese on Cumberland River). They had settled “at the island on the Creek path/ meaning a ford of the Great Tennessee River, also called “the Creek crossing,” near the Alabama State border. At first they lived at peace with them, but subsequently attacked them, to drive them out of the country. By stratagem they drew them from their island, with all the canoes in their possession, to a place where others lay in ambush for them, engaged them in battle, took away their canoes to pass over to the island, and destroyed there all the property of the tribe. The enfeebled Creeks then left the country and went to the Coosa River.

The Broad River, a western affluent of Savannah River, formed for many years the boundary between the Cheroki and the eastern Creeks. It figures as such in Mouson’s map of 1775.

The Creeks remained under the influence of the British government until after the American Revolutionary war, and in many conflicts showed their hostility to the thirteen states struggling for independence. Thus they acted in the British interest when they made a night attack on General Wayne’s army, in 1782, led by Guristersigo, near the Savannah River. An attack on Buchanan’s station was made by Creek and Cheroki warriors near Nashville, Tenn., in 1792. Treaties were concluded with them by the United States at New York, August 7th, 1790, and at Coleraine, Georgia, June 29th, 1796. An article of these stipulated the return of captured whites, and of Negro slaves and property to their owners in Georgia. Trading and military posts were established among them, and an agent of the Government began to reside in one of their towns. Further cessions of Creek lands are recorded for 1802 and 1805.”

Instigated by the impassioned speeches of Tecumseh, the Shawano leader, the Upper Creeks, assisted by a few Yuchi and Sawokli Indians, revolted in 1813 and massacred the American garrison at Fort Mimms, near Mobile bay, Alabama, on August 30th of that year. General A. Jackson’s army subdued the revolt, after many bloody victories, in the battle of the Horse-Shoe Bend, and by taking Pensacola, the seaport from which the Spaniards had supplied the insurrection with arms. A peace treaty was concluded on August 9th, 1814, embodying the cession of the Creek lands west of Coosa River. Surrounded as they were by white settlements on all sides, this revolt, known also as the Red Stick War, was the last consequential sign of reaction of/the aboriginal Creek mind against civilizing influences.

Previous to the departure from their lands in the Gulf States to the Indian Territory (1836-1840), scattering bands of the Creeks joined the Seminoles in 1836, while others took arms against the United States to attack the border settlements and villages in Georgia and Alabama. These were soon annihilated by General Scott. The treaty of cession is dated April 4th, 1832, and the lands then granted to them in their new homes embraced an area of seven millions of acres. On October 11th, 1832, the Apalachicola tribe renewed a prior agreement to remove to the west of Mississippi river, and to surrender their inherited lands at the mouth of the Apalachicola River. Only 744 Creeks remained east of the Mississippi River.

At the outbreak of the Secession war, in 1861, the Creeks separated into two hostile parties. Chief Hopó’li yahóla with about 8000 Creeks adhered firmly to the Union cause, and at the head of about 800 of his warriors, aided by auxiliary troops, he defeated the Confederate party in one engagement but in a second action he was defeated, and with his followers fled into Kansas. Both rencontres took place in the territory of the Cheroki Indians, in November and December 1861.

The statistic dates of the Creek population given before B. Hawkins time are mere estimates. In 1732 Governor Oglethorpe reported 1300 warriors in eight towns of the Lower Creeks (Schoolcraft V, 263. 278), and in 1791 all the Creek “gun-men” were estimated to number between 5000 and 6000 the same number is given for these in the census of 1832 (Schoolcraft V, 262 sqq. VI, 333), living in fifty-two towns, the whole population being between 25,000 and 30,000. In the same year the Cha’hta population was conjectured to amount to 18,000 (Schoolcraft VI, 479). The Report of the U. S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1881 gives a Creek population of 15,000, settled upon 3,215,495 acres of land one half of these are tillable, but only 80,000 acres were cultivated during that year by these Indians.

Legends of America

The Muscogee tribe, also called the Creek, was made up of several separate tribes that occupied Georgia and Alabama in the American Colonial Period. Their confederacy, which formed the largest division of the Muscogean family, included other Muscogean tribes such as the Catawba, Iroquois, and Shawnee, as well as the Cherokee. Together, they were sufficiently numerous and powerful to resist attacks from the northern tribes. They received their name from the English on account of the numerous streams in their territory.

It is believed that the Creek culture began as a way to guard against other larger conquering Indian tribes of the region. One of the Five Civilized Tribes, they formed the Creek Confederacy with other Muscogean speaking tribes, the Alabama, Hitchiti, and Coushatta. The Creek Confederacy was in constant flux, its numbers and land possessions ever-changing as small bands joined and withdrew from the alliance. Society was organized in matrilineal, exogamous clans, each bearing the name of its totem animal.

The economy centered upon agriculture, growing corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, melons, and sweet potatoes. When war erupted in 1813 between the United States and the Red Stick faction of the Creek Nation, a series of raids were launched against the white settlements. These raids culminated in the sacking of Fort Mims, in which 400 settlers were killed. General Andrew Jackson defeated the Red Sticks at Horseshoe Bend and exacted a disastrous cession of 23 million acres of land from the Creek tribe.

Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Alabama

When Jackson became president, he forcibly removed the Creek to what is now Oklahoma. Today, the Creek Confederation has its capital in Okmulgee, Oklahoma but there are a few surviving bands in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

Nothing certain can be said of their previous condition, or of the time when the confederacy was established, but it appears from the narratives of the Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto’s expedition that leagues among several of these towns existed in 1540, over which, head chiefs presided.

For more than a century before their removal to the west, between 1836 and 1840, the people of the Creek Confederacy occupied some 50 towns, in which were spoken six distinct languages — Muscogee, Hitchiti, Koasati, Yuchi, Natchez, and Shawnee. The first three were of Muscogean stock.

About half the confederacy spoke the Muscogean language, which thus constituted the ruling language and gave name to the confederacy. The meaning of the word is unknown. Although an attempt has been made to connect it with the Algonquian, the probabilities seem to favor a southern origin. The people speaking the cognate Hitchiti and Koasati were contemptuously designated as “Stincards” by the dominant Muscogee. The Koasati seem to have included the ancient Alibamu of central Alabama, while the Hitchiti, on lower Chattahoochee River, appear to have been the remnant of the ancient people of southeast Georgia, and claimed to be of more ancient occupancy than the Muscogee. Geographically the towns were grouped as Upper Creek, on the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers in Alabama, and Lower Creek, on the middle or lower Chattahoochee River, on the Alabama-Georgia border.

While the Seminole were still a small body confined to the extreme north of Florida, they were frequently spoken of as Lower Creeks. To the Cherokee, the Upper Creeks were known as Ani-Kusa use, from their ancient town of Kusa, or Coosa, while the Lower Creeks were called Ani-Kawita, from, their principal town Kawita, or Coweta. The earlier Seminole emigrants were chiefly from, the Lower Creek towns.

The history of the Creek begins with the appearance of De Soto’s array in their country in 1540. Spanish conquistador, Tristan de Luna came in contact with part of the group in 1559, but the only important fact that can be drawn from the record is the deplorable condition into which the people of the sections penetrated by the Spaniards had been brought by their visit. Another Spanish explorer, Juan del Pardo, passed through their country in 1567, but Juan de la Vandera, the chronicler of his expedition, has left little more than a list of unidentifiable names.

Creek Warrior by Frederic Remington, 1906

The Creek came prominently into history as allies of the English in the Apalachee Wars of 1703-08, and from that period continued almost uniformly as treaty allies of the South Carolina and Georgia colonies, while hostile to the Spaniards of Florida. The only serious revolt of the Creek against the Americans took place in 1813-14, in the well-known Creek war, in which General Andrew Jackson took a prominent part. This ended in the complete defeat of the Indians and the submission of Weatherford, their leader, followed by the cession of the greater part of their lands to the United States. The extended and bloody Seminole War in Florida, from 1835-1843, secured permanent peace with the southern tribes.

The removal of the larger part of the Creek and Seminole people and their black slaves to the lands assigned them in Indian Territory took place between 1836 and 1840.

The Creek woman was short in stature but well-formed, while the warrior, was generally larger than the Europeans, often above six feet in height, said to have been erect in his carriage, and graceful in every movement. They were described as proud, haughty, and arrogant brave and valiant in war. As a people, they were more than usually devoted to decoration and ornament, were fond of music, and ball play was their most important game. Marriage outside the clan was the rule, adultery by the wife was punished by the relatives of the husband, and the descent was in the female line.

In government, it was a general rule that where one or more clans occupied a town they constituted a tribe under an elected chief, or miko, who was advised by the council of the town in all important matters, while the council appointed the “great warrior” or tustenuggi-hlako. They usually buried their dead in a square pit under the bed where the deceased lay in his house.

Certain towns were consecrated to peace ceremonies and were known as “white towns,” while others set apart for war ceremonials were designated as “red towns.” They had several orders of chiefly rank. Their great religious ceremony was the annual puskita, of which, the lighting of the new fire and the drinking of the black drink were important accompaniments.

The early statistics of the Creek population are based on mere estimates. In the last quarter of the 18th century, the Creek population may have been about 20,000, occupying from 40 to 60 towns. Estimates made after the removal to Indian Territory placed the population between 15,000 and 20,000.

After being forcibly removed to Indian Territory, most of the Lower Muscogee located farms on the Arkansas and Verdigris Rivers. The Upper Muscogee re-established their farms and towns on the Canadian River and its northern branches.

The Civil War was disastrous for the Muscogee people, even though the majority of the tribe desire neutrality. The first three battles of the war in Indian Territory occurred when Confederate forces attacked a large neutral band led by Opothle Yahola. Eventually, hundreds of Muscogee men fought on both the Union and Confederate sides. After the war ended, the reconstruction treaty of 1866 required the cession of approximately half of the Muscogee land — some 3.2 million acres.

In 1867, the Muscogee people adopted a written constitution, which provided for a Principal Chief and a Second Chief, a judicial branch, and two legislative chambers composed of a House of Kings (similar to the Senate) and a House of Warriors (similar to the House of Representatives.) Representation in both houses of this Legislative assembly was determined by each tribal town. A new capitol was established the same year at Okmulgee. In 1878 the tribal government constructed a native stone Council House. Today, it serves as the Council House Museum in the center of the modern city of Okmulgee.

This “constitutional” period lasted for the remainder of the 19th century. However, in the late 1800s, the Dawes Commission began negotiating with the Muscogee Nation for the allotment of land and in 1898, Congress passed the Curtis Act which required for the dismantling of the National governments of the Five Civilized Tribes.

In 1904 the “Creeks by blood” living in the Creek Nation, numbered 9,905, while Creek freedmen aggregated 5,473. The number of acres in their reserve in 1885 was 3,215,395.

Council House Museum, Okmulgee, Oklahoma

In the early 20th century, the process of allotting lands to individual citizens was completed, but, dismantling of the Muscogee government was never fully executed, as the nation continued to maintain a Principal Chief

Long after the partial dismantling of the nation’s government, the tribe drafted and adopted a new constitution in the 1970s. They also revitalized the National Council and began challenging the earlier demands of the Federal Government in the Supreme Court, which affirmed the Nation’s sovereign rights to maintain their own court system and levy taxes.

Today, the Muscogee tribe is a federally recognized Indian Nation, with their capitol continuing to be in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

There are also federally recognized Creek tribes in Alabama. Other bands in Alabama and Georgia are recognized by the state but their requests for federal recognition have been denied. Other Muscogee living in Florida and Texas have not been recognized by either state or federal governments.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation
P.O. Box 580
Okmulgee, Oklahoma 74447

Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated March 2020.

Coal Creek was first settled in the early 1870’s just after coal was discovered. The first plat maps were filed by William and Henry Teller in Fremont and Arapaho county in November of 1878. On October 8th, 1881 about 65 citizens of the village of Coal Creek decided to petition to become incorporated. Coal Creek became incorporated February 27th, 1882.

During the 1880’s coal creek was a hustling, bustling place with 16 saloons, two drug stores, two hotels, all sort of grocery stores, a company store, numerous millinery shops, a lumber yard, notions store, a macaroni factory, theater, a couple of race tracks, busy ball park and a railroad depot. The railroad yard was busy with cars of coal, passengers and freight. The population was about 5,000 people.

Baseball was a major activity, one that was treated very seriously. The Coal Creek baseball team was a dandy known all over Colorado. Coal Creek also had a brass band with a big bash thrown on the fourth of July. This 4th of July celebration drew people from all over the state.

Jesse Frazier is credited with digging the first coal in our country and started the first apple orchard, delivering the first load of coal in Canon City to Anson Rudd. Others saw the potential in coal and entered the picture… Caldwell, Canfield, Allen, Clark, Thompson, Haddon and finally the CF&I Corporation.

By the 1890’s it was decided that the little school-house wasn’t big enough to handle all the children and a nice two-story school was built next to the old one and School District #15 was formed.

In June 1907 a fire broke out at Alf Salmon’s Bottling Works which almost destroyed the town. The loss was estimated at nearly $200,000. Only a few of the original buildings remain standing today with a population in Coal Creek of under 500 people.

The History of Teaneck Creek Conservancy

The recorded story of the of Teaneck Creek’s wetlands begins in the 1600s, when Lenape Indian leader Sachem Oratam deeded more than 2,000 acres to Dutch colonist Sarah Kiersted. The English Governor Philip Carteret granted a “patent” to Sarah Kiersted, a deed confirming her ownership of land that included the current Conservancy site.

Click the image for a larger view of the map

At the time Oratam deeded the property to Kiersted, a diverse ecosystem existed there with a wealth of water resources, including, according to the words of the English deed, “woods, pastures, fields, Meadows, Pools, Ponds, Islands, Creeks, Marshes, River.” The water-rich ecosystem contained tributaries to the Hackensack River and provided habitat that the deed describes as conducive to “Hawking, Hunting fowling, fishing.”

Teaneck Creek’s wetlands declined during the late 19th- and 20th-century periods of industrialization, urbanization, and the resultant draining and filling of marshlands. The New Jersey Meadowlands, of which the wetlands of Teaneck Creek are a historic remnant, were described as “pest” lands that offered huge financial potential if drained for development. (Waring 1879) “ A nuisance and an eyesore…allowed to remain worse than useless…. The inherent wealth of the land is locked up, and all of its bad effects are produced, by the water with which it is constantly soaked or overflowed.”

(Bergen County report to the NJDEP 2006) The Sanborn Map (1926 through 1957) shows that parts of the site were used by a laundry, a construction company, a dance hall, and residences, among other uses. From 1899 until 1938, a trolley line ran through the site.

In the early 1950s, Bergen County developed a plan for the wetlands of Teaneck and Overpeck Creeks which proposed filling the wetlands with municipal waste and clean dredge, and then redeveloping the area as a 1,000-acre park. The Township of Teaneck transferred property for the creation of a public park and recreation area (Deed 1951).

Overpeck Creek was widened and deepened through dredging, and tidal gates were constructed in the vicinity of the New Jersey Turnpike Overpass. Land elevations surrounding the creeks were raised above the water level by placement of sanitary waste and material dredged from Overpeck Creek. These fill activities resulted in the berming of Teaneck Creek, and the downstream tidegate caused the creek to be cut off from the tidal flow of the Hackensack River.

Although the wetlands of Teaneck Creek (aka Area 1 of Bergen County’s Overpeck Park) were not used for disposal of municipal waste, the 46-acres that would be come the park experienced further degradation from dumping and filing by both private companies and the New Jersey Department of Transportation, which used the site in the 1960’s as a staging and disposal area for dredge and construction debris while building the New Jersey Turnpike and Interstate 80. [excerpted from A Historical Perspective on the Urban Wetlands of the Teaneck Creek Conservancy].

In 2001, the nonprofit Teaneck Creek Conservancy was created to serve the property in partnership with Bergen County Department of Parks. Since the formation of the Conservancy, the organization has served in its mission of enhancing the park land, cultural and artistic expression, and historic preservation.

In the fall of 2020, Bergen County Department of Parks began the long awaited ecological restoration of Teaneck Creek Park which will enhance the natural resources, stop the erosive forces of stormwater throughout the site, and improve public access to the park.

Watch the video: Exploring for Creek Creatures! (January 2022).