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Creek Clans

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Perryman said that each town consisted of a number of clans or rather a number of segments of clans, and the Town Chief (Talwa Miko) was chosen from the principal one. Whenever another clan increased in numbers and importance so as to exceed that of the principal clan, a part or the whole of this clan would separate from the village and establish a new one. This happened only when the people were so numerous and the leading men so popular that they could induce members of the other clans to unite with them in the enterprise. In this way the chiefs of the several tribes came to be widely distributed among the clans. This statement must, however, be taken with some qualification since a number of related towns are known to have been governed by the same clan.

In the Red towns the leading officers were selected from the military line by the civil moiety, and the leading officers of the White towns1 were selected from the civil moiety by the people of the military moiety, in whom inhered the military government and who to some extent took part also in civil affairs, as in a similar manner the civilians took part in military affairs. But questions of peace were decided by the people of the White towns, and civil officers were chosen from their body. Questions relating to war were settled by the people of the Red towns, and the military officers were chosen there from.

Among the Creeks the clan was a body of kindred, actual or by the legal fiction of adoption, which did not embrace the entire body of persons represented in a community having a kinship system. The persons who belonged to a clan might be regarded as the descendants of a common ancestor, a woman, through women. Only the descendants of the women belonged to the clan. The descendants of the males belonged to the several clans with which they had intermarried. Thus, a group of brothers and sisters belonged to the clan of their mother; but only the children of the sisters remained in the clan; the children of the brothers belonged to the clans of their wives, as has just been said.

The organization of the clan was based on kinship. The unit of the organization of the tribe was the clan, since each tribe was composed of a group of clans. The town was usually constituted of a number of segments of clans, each segment retaining its blood kinship rights and duties. Each household or fireside, of course, consisted of members of two different clans.

The clans were separated into two divisions, one called Hathagalgi, “People of the White,” and the other Tcilokogalgi, “Foreigners,” who were enemies, fighters, bloody red. One authority called the second of these “Olumhulkee”, probably intended for Lamhalgi, “Eagle People,” the Eagle clan, although now nearly extinct, having at one time been important. Each of these is said to have consisted of four principal clans front which the others had theoretically, become separated, and these, along with some of their subdivisions, were given by Perryman as follows:

Hathaga (White Moiety)

  1. Hotalgalgi, Wind Clan.
    1. Konalgi, Skunk Clan.
  2. Itchaswillgi, Beaver Clan.
  3. Nokosalgi, Bear Clan.
    1. Yahalgi, Wolf Clan.
  4. Fuswalgi, Bird Clan.

Tcilokoko (Red(?) Moiety)

  1. Aktayatcalgi, said to be the old name.
    1. Toclalgi, Fox Clan.
  2. Katcalgi, Panther Clan
    1. Kowakatcalgi, Wildcat Clan (all cat clans came from it).
  3. Ahalagalgi, Potato Clan.
    1. Halpatalgi, Alligator Clan.
    2. Wotkalgi, Raccoon Clan.
    3. Sopaktalgi, Toad Clan.
  4. Itcoalgi, Deer Clan.

The arrangement by fours falls in line with a tendency noteworthy in Morgan’s treatment of clans among various tribes and might be attributed to him since his influence was all-powerful in the Bureau of Ethnology in its early years. This, however, would be a mistake. The number four is the cardinal ceremonial number among the Creeks and use of it may readily be attributed to that fact. Again, so far as the White clans are concerned, the data I got agrees precisely with that of Perryman. Even in this moiety it was probably a convention, as I learned from two or three good sources that the Katcalgi — of all clans — had formerly been on the White side. The arrangement of clans in the Red moiety is still more doubtful, outside of what has already been said of the Katcalgi. The Aktayatcalgi and Ahalagalgi were sometimes put together. More often the Tcolalgi were associated with the Ahalagalgi. On the other hand, the Wotkalgi were usually made one of the leading clans, or the leading clan of its group, and the Halpatalgi were generally given all independent position though classed with the Itamalgi, given by Perryman as an unclassified clan, and the Pinwalgi or Turkey Clan. The Sopaktalgi, however, I never before heard of associated with this group. They were always placed with the Takosalgi or Mole Clan and the Tcokotalgi, and sometimes these were put in one phratry with the Itcoalgi. Besides those clans already given. Perryman knew of two others, one called the Atcialgi or Corn Clan, of unknown affiliations. The other, the Panosalgi, is probably intended for Pahosalgi, a clan closely connected with the Deer.

Footnotes

  1. Forty-second Ann. Rept. Bur. Ethn., pp 276-333; Smithsonian Misc. Colls., vol 85, No. 8 


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