Native American Tribes Nations and Confederacies: Creek

Creek was a native North American confederacy and the groups forming it were mostly of the Muskogean branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock. The Creek received their name from early white traders because so many of their villages were located around rivers and creeks. They lived primarily in Alabama and Georgia and were settled, agricultural people.

There were more than 50 towns, generally called tribes, in the confederacy, which was formed chiefly for protection against the tribes to the north. Certain villages were set aside for war ceremonies, others for peace celebrations. Each had its annual green corn dance. This festival was a time for renewing social ties and was a period of amnesty for all criminals, save murderers.

The Creek Confederacy was not ruled by a permanent central government. The structure was a combination of democratic and communal principles. Decisions by the national council were not binding on towns or individuals who wished to dissent. Nevertheless, civil strife was almost unknown among them. Private ownership of land was rare, but crops were privately owned to a degree. Each owner was required to contribute a certain portion for public use.

They were hostile to the Spanish and therefore friendly to the British in colonial days, but, frightened by white encroachment and incited by the teachings of the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, they rebelled in the Creek War of 1813-14. They massacred a large number of American settlers at Fort Mims, and Andrew Jackson won part of his reputation by defeating them at the battle of Horseshoe Bend.

By a treaty signed in 1814 the Creek ceded approximately two thirds of their land to the United States, and subsequent concessions further reduced their holdings. Eventually they were moved to the Indian Territory, where they became one of the Five Civilized Tribes. A treaty signed by the confederacy in 1889 permitted white settlement of their lands, which led to great bitterness among the Creek. In 1990 there were over 45,000 Creek, most of them living in Oklahoma.

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