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Creek Tribal Divisions And Gentes
Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Native American | No Comments
Parallel to the two íksa of the Chahta the Creeks are divided into two fires (tútka), a civil fire and a military fire. The term fire evidently refers to council fires, which had to be kindled ceremonially by the friction of two pieces of wood.
The term fire was also applied by Sháwano and other Northern Indians to the States formed by the early colonists, and is still used of the States now (1884) constituting the American Union: the thirteen fires, the seventeen fires, etc.
Concerning the gentes (aläíkita) of the Creek people, it is important to notice that in their towns each group of houses contained people of one gens only,1 and these gentes are often mentioned in their local annals; and that the gens of each individual was determined by that of his mother. Some of the towns had separate gentes for themselves, all of which had privileges of their own.
Marriage between individuals of the same gens was prohibited; the office of the míko and the succession to property of deceased persons was and is still hereditary in the gens. In the Tukabatchi town the civil rulers or míkalgi were selected from the eagle gens; those of Hitchiti town from the racoon gens only; of Kasiχta from the bear gens; those of Taskígi probably from the wind gens. The beloved men or ístitchakálgi of Kasiχta were of the beaver gens.
In adultery and murder cases the relatives of the gens of the injured party alone had the right of judging and of taking satisfaction; the míko and his council were debarred from any interference. This custom explains why treaty stipulations made with the colonists or the Federal Government concerning murders committed have never been executed.2
There is probably no Indian tribe or nation in North America having a larger number of gentes than the Maskoki proper. This fact seems to point either to a long historic development of the tribe, through which so large a segmentation was brought about, or to internal dissensions, which could produce the same result. About twenty gentes are now in existence, and the memory of some extinct ones is not lost in the present generation.
The list of Creek gentes, as obtained from Judge G. W. Stidham, runs as follows:
The Creek phratries and their names were not fully remembered by my informants. The only points which could be gathered were, that individuals belonging to the panther and the wildcat gentes could not intermarry, nor could the Tchukótalgi with the individuals of the toad gens or Sopáktalgi. This proves that the two groups formed each a phratry, which perhaps comprised other gentes besides. It is possible that among the above totemic gentes some are in fact phratries and not gentes; and the two fires (or tútka) of the Creeks are not real phratries, but formal divisions only.
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