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| United States ( Alabama, Louisiana,
Protestantism, Four Mother's Society, other
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The Muscogee (or Muskogee), also known as the Creek or Creeks, are a Native American people originally from the southeastern United States. Mvskoke is their name in traditional spelling. Modern Muscogees live primarily in Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Their language, Mvskoke, is a member of the Muscogee branch of the Muscogean language family.
They were descendants of the Mississippian culture peoples, who built earthwork mounds at their regional chiefdoms located throughout the Mississippi River valley and its tributaries. Historian Walter Williams and others believe the early Spanish explorers encountered ancestors of the Muscogee and Choctaw when they visited Mississippian culture chiefdoms in the Southeast in the mid-16th century. In the 19th century, Muscogees were known as one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" because they had integrated numerous cultural and technological practices of their European American colonial neighbors.
In 1795, along with the Seminoles, William Bowles formed a short-lived state in northern Florida known as the State of Muskogee. The Muscogee would be the first Native Americans to be civilized under George Washington's civilization plan. In 1811, the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, with the help of a prophetic comet and earthquake, convinced the Muscogee to resist the efforts of American civilization. The Red Stick War, begun as a civil war within the Muscogee Nation, enmeshed them in the War of 1812. During Indian Removal of 1830, the Muscogee Nation would be moved to Indian Territory and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians would eventually be formed in Alabama.
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 both highly revered gatherings and rituals that have largely remained closed to non-tribal members and thus have maintained their traditional integrity.
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. Mucogee Creeks are matrilineal, and each person belongs to the clan of his or her mother, who belongs to the clan of her mother. Fathers are important within the family system; 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. Clan members do not claim "blood relation" but consider each other family due to their membership in the same clan. The same titles are used for both family and clan relations. For example, clan members of approximately the same age consider each other as Brother and Sister, even if they have never met before.
Ancestral Muscogee peoples wore clothing made of woven plant materials or animal skins, depending upon the climate. During the summer, they preferred lightweight fabrics woven from tree bark, grasses or reeds. During the harsh winters, animal skins and fur were used for their warmth.
During the 1600’s the influence of European fashion became apparent in Southeastern clothing styles. Cloth was more comfortable and colorful than buckskin and quickly became a popular trade item throughout the region. Bolts of cloth could be obtained in a variety of patterns and textures, and allowed an individualized style of dress to evolve. Muscogee people were soon incorporating trade novelties and trinkets such as bells, ribbons, beads and pieces of mirror.
At least 12,000 years ago, Native Americans or Paleo-Indians appeared in what is today referred to as "The South." 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. 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 arrival of the Mesoamerican crops of corn and beans led to population growth and the rise of urban centers and hereditary religious and political elites, and flourished in what is now the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States from 800 to 1500 C.E. The early historic Muscogee were probably descendants of the mound builders of the Mississippian culture along the Tennessee River in modern Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, and possibly related to 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 gone. 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.
After castaway Cabeza de Vaca of the ill-fated Narváez expedition returned to Spain, he described to the Court of Hernando de Soto that the New World was the "richest country in the world." Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer and conquistador who led the first expedition into the interior of the North American continent. De Soto, convinced of the "riches", wanted Cabeza de Vaca to go on the expedition, but Cabeza de Vaca later declined his offer because of a payment dispute of a ship. From 1540–1543, Hernando de Soto travelled through Florida and Georgia, and then down into the Alabama and Mississippi area that would later be inhabited by the Muscogee.
De Soto had the best-equipped army at the time. His successes were well known throughout Spain, and many people from all backgrounds joined his quest for untold riches to be plundered in the New World. However, the brutalities of the de Soto expedition became known to the Muscogee ancestors, so they decided to defend their country. This battle, known as the Battle of Mabila, was a turning point for the de Soto venture; the battle "broke the back" of the campaign, and they never fully recovered.
The devastation of De Soto's expedition and the diseases it introduced wiped out most of the indigenous population, and led to the disappearance of the Mississippian culture. As the survivors regrouped, the Muscogee Confederacy was one of the largest entities that emerged. A loose confederacy rather than a single tribe, the Muscogee lived in autonomous villages in river valleys throughout present-day Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama, speaking several related Muskogean languages. Hitchiti was the most widely spoken in present-day Georgia; 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, Koasati and Alibamu were spoken in the upper Alabama basin and parts of the Tennessee River. The Muscogee were a confederacy of tribes consisting of Yuchi, Koasati, Alabama, Coosa, Tuskeegee, Coweta, Cusseata, Chehaw (Chiaha), Hitchiti, Tuckabatchee, Oakfuskee, and many others.
The basin social unit was the town (idalwa). Abihka, Coosa, Cusseta (Kasihta) and Coweta are the four 'mother towns' of the Muscogee Confederacy. Traditionally, the Cusseta and Coweta bands are considered the earliest members of the Muscogee Nation. The Lower Towns, along the Chattahoochee, 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 Coosa, Tallapoosa and Alabama rivers, were Tuckabatchee, Abhika, Coosa (Kusa; the dominant people of East Tennessee and North Georgia during the Spanish explorations), Itawa (original inhabitants of 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).
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 advisors, including a second in charge called the heniha, respected village elders, medicine men, and a tustunnuggee or ranking warrior, the principle military advisor, while the yahola officiated various rituals, especially administering the black drink imbibed in purification ceremonies. The most important social unit was the clan. Clans organized hunts, distributed lands, arranged marriages, and punished lawbreakers and the authority of the micos was greatly limited by the clan leaders, mostly elderly women, because clan membership was matrilineal. The Wind Clan was considered the first of the clans, and the overwhelming majority of micos belonged to this clan.
Britain, France and Spain all established colonies in the present-day Southeastern U.S. Spain used missions to control the natives, 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 Virginia and Carolina exchanged flintlocks, gunpowder, axes, bells, glass beads, cloth and West Indian rum for white-tailed deer pelts for the English leather industry and Indian slaves for Caribbean 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. They were known as the "Ochese Creek Indians", this was later shortened to "Creek Indians", and applied to all the Muscogee. In 1704-06, Carolina Governor Col. James Moore led colonial militia and Ochese Creek and Yamassee warriors in raids that destroyed the Spanish missions of the Florida interior; some 10,000 unarmed 'mission Indians,' the Timucua and Apalachee, were captured and sold into slavery. With Florida depopulated, English traders paid other tribes to attack and enslave the Yamassee, leading to the Yamassee War of 1715-17.
The Ochese Creeks joined the Yamassee, burning trade-posts and raiding back-country settlers. However, the revolt ran low on gunpowder and was put down by Carolinian militia and their Cherokee allies; the Yamasee took refuge in Spanish Florida, the Ochese Creeks fled west to the Chattahoochee. The Yamassee War ended the Indian slave trade, eclipsed by the African slave trade, and redirected British economic interest to the deerskin trade. French Canadian explorers had founded Mobile as the first capital of Louisiana in 1702, and took advantage of the war to build Fort Toulouse at the confluence of the Tallapoosa and Coosa in 1717, trading with the Alabama and Coushatta. Fearing they would come under French influence, the British reopened the deerskin trade with the Lower Creeks, antagonizing the Yamassee, now allies of Spain, and leading the French to instigate the Upper Creeks to raid the Lower Creeks. In May 1718, the shrewd 'Emperor' Brim, mico of the powerful Coweta band, invited representatives of Britain, France, and Spain to his village and, in council with Upper and Lower Creek leaders, declared a policy of Muscogee neutrality in their colonial rivalry. That year, the Spaniards built the presidio of San Marcos de Apalache on Apalachee Bay, and in 1721 the British built Fort King George at the mouth of the Altamaha River. As the three European imperial powers established themselves along the borders of Muscogee lands, this strategy of neutrality allowed them to hold the balance of power.
The colony of Georgia was created in 1732; its first settlement, Savannah, was founded in 1733, on a river-bluff where the Yamacraw, a small band allied with the British, had allowed John Musgrove to establish a trading post. His wife, Mary Musgrove, the daughter of an English trader and a Muscogee mother from the powerful Wind Clan who was a sister of 'Emperor' Brim, was the principle translator for Georgia's founder and first Governor Gen. James Oglethorpe, and used her connections to foster peace between the Muscogee and the new colony. The deerskin trade grew, and by the 1750s, Savannah exported up to 50,000 deerskins a year.
In 1736, Spanish and British officials established a neutral zone from the Altamaha to the St. Johns River, guaranteeing hunting grounds for the deerskin trade and protecting Spanish Florida from further British encroachment. Ca.1750 a group of Hitchiti 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.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.
With the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, France lost its North American empire, and British-American settlers moved inland. In 1773 some Lower Creek and Cherokee chiefs ceded two million acres of land to Georgia. 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 whites to join the Sons of Liberty. Fears of land-hungry settlers and need for access to European manufactured goods led the overwhelming majority of American Indians to side with the British. However, like many tribes, the Muscogee were divided by factionalism, and, in general, avoided sustained fighting, preferring to protect their sovereignty and trade through cautious participation. The political upheaval of the American Revolutionary War led to the decline of the deerskin trade, while enabling the Muscogee to acquire trade goods through military service.
The Upper Creeks allied with the British, fighting alongside the Cherokee under Dragging Canoe in the Chickamauga Wars against Patriot white settlers in present-day Tennessee. This alliance was orchestrated by Coushatta Mico Alexander McGillivray, son of Lachlan McGillivray, a wealthy Scottish Loyalist fur-trader and planter whose plantations were confiscated by the revolutionary government of Georgia. His ex-partner, Scots-Irish Patriot fur-trader George Galphin, initially persuaded the Lower Creeks to remain neutral, although Loyalist Capt. William McIntosh led a group of pro-British Hitchiti, and most of the Lower Creeks nominally allied with Britain after the 1779 Capture of Savannah. Muscogee warriors fought on behalf of Britain during the Mobile and Pensacola campaigns of 1780-81, where Spain re-conquered British West Florida. Loyalist leader Thomas Brown, who raised a division of King's Rangers to contest Patriot control over the Georgia interior, was royal superintendent of the Cherokee and Muscogee. He instigated Cherokee raids against the North Carolina back-country after the Battle of King's Mountain, and seized Augusta in March 1780, aided by an Upper Creek war-party. Hoped for reinforcements from the Lower Creeks and local white Loyalists never came, and Georgia militia led by Elijah Clarke retook Augusta in 1781. In 1782, an Upper Creek war-party trying to relieve the British garrison at Savannah was routed by Continental Army troops under Gen. 'Mad' Anthony Wayne.
After the war ended in 1783, the Muscogee discovered that Britain had ceded their lands to the now independent United States. That year, two Lower Creek chiefs, Hopoithle Miko (Tame King) and Eneah Miko (Fat King), ceded 800 square miles of land to the state of Georgia. 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 three million acres of land claimed by Georgia, and guaranteeing access to the British firm Panton, Leslie & Co. which controlled the deerskin trade, while making himself an official representative of Spain. In 1786, a council in Tuckabatchee decided to wage war against white settlers on Muscogee lands. War parties attacked settlers along the Oconee River, and Georgia mobilized its militia. McGillivray refused to negotiate with a state that had confiscated his father's plantations, but President George Washington sent a special emissary, Col. 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 leaders 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 of the United States and promising to return fugitive slaves who sought refuge with the tribe, in return for federal recognition of Muscogee sovereignty and promises to evict white settlers on Creek lands. 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 on Muscogee lands.
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.
William Augustus Bowles was born into a wealthy Maryland Tory family, enlisting with the Maryland Loyalists Battalion at age 14 and becoming an ensign in Royal Navy by age 15. Cashiered for dereliction of duty after returning too late to his ship at Pensacola, Bowles escaped north and found refuge among the Lower Creek towns of the Chattahoochee basin. He married two wives, one Cherokee and the other Hitchiti Muscogee, and became heir to a Muscogee chiefdom. In 1781, a 17-year old Bowles led Muscogee forces at the Battle of Pensacola. After seeking refuge in the Bahamas, he travelled to London, where he was received by King George III as 'Chief of the Embassy for Creek and Cherokee Nations'; it was with British backing that he returned to train the Muscogee as pirates to attack Spanish ships.
In 1799, Bowles formed the State of Muskogee, with the support of the Chattahoochee Creeks and the Seminoles. He established his capital at Miccosuki, a village on the shores of Lake Miccosukee near present-day Tallahassee, ruled by Mico Kanache, his father-in-law and strongest ally. Bowles envisioned the State of Muskogee, with its capital at Miccosuki, encompassing large portions of present-day Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, and incorporating the 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 Alexander McGillivray had negotiated with Spain and the U.S., threatening to declare war on the United States unless it returned Muscogee lands, and issuing a death sentence against George Washington's 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, and after European armistice led to the loss of British support, Bowles was discredited, and the Seminole signed a peace treaty with Spain. The following year, he was betrayed by Lower Creek supporters of Hawkins at a tribal council, and was turned over to the Spanish, dying in prison in Havana, Cuba two years later.
George Washington, the first U.S. President, and Henry Knox, the first U.S. Secretary of War, proposed a cultural transformation of the Native Americans. Washington believed that Native Americans were equals but that their society was inferior. He formulated a policy to encourage the "civilizing" process, and it was continued under President Thomas Jefferson. 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." 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. 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's efforts to implement Washington's new policy of civilization.
In 1796, Washington appointed Benjamin Hawkins as General Superintendent of Indian Affairs dealing with all tribes south of the Ohio River. He personally assumed the role of principal agent to the Muscogee. He moved to the area that is now Crawford County in Georgia. He began to teach agricultural practices to the tribe, starting a farm at his home on the Flint River. In time, he brought in 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 and 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 to Georgia, with the exception of the sacred burial mounds of the Ocmulgee Old Fields, and 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 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 appeared in March 1811. The Shawnee leader Tecumseh, whose name meant "shooting star," traveled to Tuckabatchee, where he told the Muscogee that the comet signaled his coming. McKenney reported that the 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 11, 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 Indians were filled with great terror ... the trees and wigwams shook exceedingly; the ice which skirted the margin of the Arkansas river was broken into pieces; and the most of the Indians thought that the Great Spirit, angry with the human race, was about to destroy the world.||”|
—- Roger L. Nichols, The American Indian
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 symbol war.
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, the old chiefs decided to execute the war party themselves. This decision was the spark which ignited the civil war between the Muscogees. 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 received 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 a massacre ensued, as the Red Sticks killed their white captives, including women and children, sparing only black slaves who they took as captured booty. After the deaths of nearly 250 at the fort, settlers across the American southwestern frontier were in a panic.
|“||On the morning of August 30, 1813, few of Fort Mims’ defenders stirred in the steaming heat. In the forested shade, the Creeks watched and waited. The fort’s main gate, located on the east side of the stockade, had not been closed by the garrison troops ... No sentries occupied the blockhouse.||”|
—A Short History of the Ft. Mims Massacre of 1813 during the Creek Indian War
The Red Stick victory spread panic throughout the Southeastern United States, and the cry 'Remember Fort Mims!' took hold as an enraged public demanded revenge. With Federal troops tied up on the northern front against the British in Canada, Tennessee, Georgia, and the Mississippi Territory militias invaded the Upper Creek towns, joined by their Indian allies, the Lower Creeks under William McIntosh and the Cherokees 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, finally 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.
In August 1814, exhausted and starving, 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, which ended the war and required them 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 carved largely out of their domain and was admitted to the United States in 1819.
|“||WHEREAS an unprovoked, inhuman, and sanguinary war, waged by the hostile Creeks against the United States, hath been repelled, prosecuted and determined, successfully, on the part of the said States, in conformity with principles of national justice and honorable warfare-- And whereas consideration is due to the rectitude of proceeding dictated by instructions relating to the re-establishment of peace: Be it remembered, that prior to the conquest of that part of the Creek nation hostile to the United States, numberless aggressions had been committed against the peace, the property, and the lives of citizens of the United States ...||”|
—Treaty of Fort Jackson, 1814
Many Muscogee refused to surrender and escaped to Florida. Some allied themselves with Florida Indians (who eventually become collectively called the Seminole) and the British against the Americans. They were involved on both sides of the Seminole War in Florida.
The Red Stick refugees who arrived in Florida after the Creek War tripled the Seminole population, and strengthened the tribe's Muscogee characteristics. In 1814, British forces landed in West Florida and began arming the Seminoles. The British built a fort on the Appalachicola at Prospect Bluff, and after the end of the War of 1812, encouraged runaway slaves to occupy it. The 'Negro Fort' was viewed by Southern planters as a grave threat, and in 1816 it was destroyed by a U.S. invasion, aided by the Lower Creeks. The Seminoles 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 over 1,000 Lower Creek warriors, destroying Seminole towns and capturing 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 Creeks, partly because the later tribes intended to enslave the Black Seminoles. Instead, the Seminole agreed to move onto a reservation in inland central Florida.
Mico William McIntosh led the Lower Creek warriors who fought alongside the U.S. in the Creek War and the First Seminole War. The son of the Loyalist officer of the same name who had recruited a band of Hitchiti to the British cause, McIntosh never knew his white father, but had family ties to Georgia's planter elite, and after the wars became a wealthy cotton-planter. In the late 1810s and early 1820s McIntosh helped create a centralized police force called 'Law Menders,' establish written laws, and form a National Council, but later in the decade, he came to view displacement as inevitable, and the McIntosh-faction, the mixed-race elite of the Muscogee, were amenable to proposals for Indian removal, hoping to establish themselves as landowners on a frontier safely removed from white settlers. In 1821, McIntosh signed away Lower Creek lands east of the Flint River at the first Treaty of Indian Springs, and as a reward was granted 1,000 acres at the treaty site, where he built a hotel to attract tourists to local hot springs. The Creek National Council responded by proscribing the death penalty for tribesmen who surrendered additional land. However, Georgian settlers were pouring into Indian lands, and in 1825 McIntosh signed the second Treaty of Indian Springs at his hotel with his first cousin Georgia Governor George Troup, a leading advocate of Indian removal. The treaty surrendered the last Lower Creek lands to Georgia, and agreed to the relocation of the Muscogee to the Arkansas River, with McIntosh pocketing a considerable sum of money in the process. Troup promised to protect McIntosh, but in April, the Law Menders, led by the old Red Stick Menawa, killed McIntosh and burned his upper Chattahoochee plantation. A delegation of the Creek National Council, led by Chief Opthleyahola, traveled to Washington D.C., convincing President John Quincy Adams that the treaty was invalid, and negotiating the more favorable Treaty of Washington (1826), in which the tribe ceded their lands to Georgia in return for $200,000 but 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 after Adams threatened federal intervention.
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. 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 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.
|“||By 1836, when extensive Creek removal was underway, Eneah Emathala emerged as leader of the Lower Creeks ... their desire was only to be left alone in their homeland ... Gen. Winfield Scott was ordered to capture Eneah Emathala ... Captured with Emathala were some one thousand other person ... their [racial] colors were black, red, and white ...||”|
—Burt & Ferguson- Indians of the Southeast: Then and Now
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 indeed assist them. The letter directed Opothleyahola to move his people to Fort Row in Wilson County, Kansas, where they would receive asylum and aid.
Land was the most valuable asset Native Americans held in collective stewardship. Muscogee land was systematically obtained through treaties, legislation, and warfare. Treaties, like 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 Washington||1832||?||?||?||?|
|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||?||?||?||?|
Three Muscogee tribal towns are federally recognized tribes: Alabama-Quassarte, Kialegee, and Thlopthlocco. Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town is headquartered is Wetumka, Oklahoma and its chief is Tarpie Yargee. Kialegee Tribal Town is also headquartered in Wetumka, and Jennie Lillard is the current mekko or chief. The Thlopthlocco Tribal Town is headquartered in Okemah, Oklahoma. Vernon Yarholar is the tribe's mekko.
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 exists as an "Indian Tribe." The Tribe is the only Federally recognized Tribe in the State of Alabama. On November 21, 1984, 231.54 acres (0.9370 km2) of land were taken into trust. On April 12, 1985, 229.54 acres (0.9289 km2) were declared a Reservation.