Creek Indians Culture Biography
The Creek Indians (or Muskogee) belong to the Muskhogean linguistic stock. The historical Creek, a union known as the Creek Confederacy was made out of the remains of the several separate tribes that occupied Georgia and Alabama in the American Colonial Period. It is believed that the Creek culture began as a way to guard against other larger conquering Indian tribes of the region. The Confederacy was in constant flux, its numbers and land possessions ever-changing as small bands joined and withdrew from the alliance.
In the early 1500's, the Creeks dominated all of the South-East United States up until the 1600's when the Cherokee, and later the Europeans, would force them westward to Alabama and ultimately to what is now known as Oklahoma.
The name Creek, from the shortening of "Ocheese Creek" Indians came from the English colonists to the tribes living along the Ocmulgee River, (or Ocheese Creek). It was common practice at the time for the colonists to designate tribes based upon their geographical location.
The tribes that were part of the confederacy were called tribal towns (or Italwa). Each maintained political autonomy and proprietary land holdings. Smaller surrounding villages ( or Talofa), associated with the larger town were created as populations grew. The Creek were sedentary and lived in thatched huts, not the teepees ( or wigwams) used by nomadic tribes. They built their homes around the Pascova, sophisticated ceremonial centers which also included impressive earth pyramids. The Creek practiced agriculture and raised cows, horses and pigs as livestock. Each year, the Green Corn Festival (or Busk) was held at the Pascova where the Sacred Fire would be rekindled.
As time passed, The Italwa began to spread out, and at the end of the 1700's homes were beginning to be separated by miles of crops. Some began to build log homes with chimneys, perhaps based on their exposure to the Europeans and their predisposition to architectural engineering.
Creek Governmental structure was comprised of the following: Chief (or Mico), Assistant to the Chief and a Chief Speaker (or Mico Apokta, and is believed to be a model for a large part of today's Western Governments.
Be sure to visit our FAQ section for further information about the Creek Indians
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians are descendants of a segment of the original Creek Nation, which once covered almost all of Alabama and Georgia. Unlike many southeastern Indian tribes, the Poarch Creeks were not removed from their tribal lands, and have lived together for over 150 years.
In the late 1700's, the Creek Confederacy consisted of Alabama land north of current day Stockton, with the heart of the Creek Nation centralized along the intersection of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers near Montgomery. The ancestors of the Poarch Creek Indians lived along the Alabama River, including areas from Wetumpka south to the Tensaw settlement.
In the 1790 Treaty of New York, the Creeks gave the U.S. government permission to use and improve the Indian trail through Alabama to facilitate American settlement following the Louisiana Purchase. After the Treaty, the Creeks were allowed to establish businesses along the Indian trails, to accommodate settlers passing through Indian Territory. This Indian trail was widened and became the Federal Road.
Ancestors of the Poarch Creeks moved down the Alabama River to meet demand for these necessary services to the young American government. These "Friendly Creeks" signed contracts with the new federal government to serve as guides, interpreters, ferrymen and river pilots for those traveling through the Creek Territory. They also operated inns and raised free-range cattle. These families acquired land along the Alabama River from Tensaw to Claiborne and eastward along Little River.
As settlers passing through Indian Territory began to increase, a growing number stopped within the Creek Nation and began settling Indian land. Tensions also increased between Creeks considered "friendly" and those deemed "hostile" towards the U.S. Government. In 1813, a military skirmish at Burnt Corn and the retaliatory attack at Fort Mims resulted in the final battle and defeat of the Creek Nation at Horseshoe Bend. Andrew Jackson took command of Fort Toulouse, renamed it Fort Jackson, and signed the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814. As a result of the Treaty of Fort Jackson, the Creeks were illegally forced to cede their territory to the United States and were forcibly removed from their land in Alabama.
Despite the policy of removal of Southeastern Indians to Oklahoma, several Creek families in the Tensaw community who had assisted the United States by providing essential services, including Manac, Hollinger, Sizemore, Stiggins, Bailey, Colbert, and Weatherford, were allowed to retain their land. Others, such as Semoice and Lynn McGhee, had been unable to file their land selections earlier. In 1836, a special act of Congress permitted land grants to Lynn McGhee, Semoice, Susan Marlow and Samuel Smith, or their heirs.
By 1836, the Tensaw settlement was well populated and the timber companies had already purchased large tracts of timber land. This development left little nearby land available for land grants. Those families receiving 1836 land grants moved inland away from the River into the Poarch area near the Head of Perdido (Headapadea) and Huxford area in order to find sufficient tracts of grant land.
Because of close family ties, the Indian families intermarried with each other so that a distinct group emerged. This group, which became the Poarch Creek Indians, was distinguished from whites and the other descendants of Creeks in the area, and in later years became discriminated against by them. These settlements became tightly clustered geographically and became more strongly based on a network of close kinship.