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Creek War Titles

Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Military,Native American | No Comments

War-titles are important distinctions bestowed in almost every part of the world, for military achievements; but, to pre serve their distinctive value, are usually conferred only on a small portion of the warriors. Among the Creeks war-names are, however, so common that at present one is conferred upon every young man of the people. According to the old reports, a Creek warrior of the eighteenth century could obtain a war-title only after taking one or several scalps, but the traditions current among the modern Creeks are silent on this point. In earlier days many warriors had several, even four or five of these titles (tassikáya inhotchíf ka), and when participants of a war party were present in numbers at the taking of a scalp, each of them obtained a war-title according to the report of the fight made by the paká’dsha on his return home. The war-titles were not always, though most frequently, conferred upon the warriors during the busk, or within the square.

Chief Chicote informs me, that the names in question were distributed by the “beloved men” or ist’-táskalgi while sitting in their cabins or arbors on two opposite sides of the square. The ist -atsákalgi called out young men from the side opposite to them, and imparted one of the five titles to be mentioned below, according to their free choice, and simultaneously entrusted each with some office connected with the busk. These offices consisted either in sweeping the area or in carrying water, in building and keeping up the fire in the centre, in setting up the medicine-pots or in helping to prepare black drink. War-titles and busk-offices were formerly given also to such who had never joined a war party. The use of the other name, which every man had obtained during childhood, was prohibited within the square.

To the five war-titles below, the totem of the gens was often added, so that, for instance, one of the yahólalgi, who offered the black drink, could be called ítcho yahóla hádsho, or y. míko, y. fíksiko, etc. It is said, that anciently some titles were limited to certain clans only. The idea that advancement by degree was connected with these titles is an erroneous inference from our own military institutions. Although regarded as war-names at the present time, they seem to have been mere busk-titles from the beginning, and are such even now. In connection with ítcho deer, a gens name, they are as follows:

ítcho tassikáya deer warrior.
itcho hádsho tassikáya deer crazy (foolish, mad, drunken) warrior.
itcho fiksiko tassikaya deer heartless warrior.
itcho yahóla tassikáya deer hallooing warrior.
itcho ima’’la tassikaya deer (leading?} warrior.

Other war-titles were: holá’hta tustěnúggi, míko tustěnúggi, hiniha, hiniha ‘láko. Inholá’hti, plur. Inholáχtagi figures in war-titles, but stands in no connection with the busk. The appellation of immíkagi comprehends all the men of that gens from which the míko in the town ceremonies, not the míko as a political office-holder, is selected. The pronoun im-, in-, i- in all these names (ihinihálgi, intastěnaχalgi, etc.), signifies that they “belong to the míko” of the tribal ceremonies.

War-titles should be clearly distinguished from war-names and other names. Any of the nine appellations contained in the item above, and any name composed with one of them, is a war-title; all others, as Old Red Shoe, are simply names or war-names. Women and boys never had but one name, and whenever a warrior had, by successive campaigns, five or six honorific titles conferred upon him, he became generally known by one or two of these only.

These names and war-titles are highly important for the study of Creek ethnography, and have been already referred to in the chapter on gentes. A brief list of war-names of influential men is contained in Major C. Swan s Report, as follows:1

“Hallowing King (Kawita); White Lieutenant (Okfuski); Mad Dog (Tukabatchi míko); Opilth míko (Big Talahássi); Dog Warrior (Náktche); Old Red Shoe (Alibamu and Koas-sáti). To these may be added the “dog king,” Tamhuídshi, of the Hitchiti, mentioned in the prooemium of the legend, and “a war-leader, the son of the dog-king of the Huphale town.”2 The Cha’hta war-titles frequently end in -ábi, -ápi: killer; cf. the Creek term póyas, tipóyäs I kill.”

The Creeks often conferred war-titles on white men of note, and made Milfort, who became a relative of the chief McGillivray by marriage, the chief warrior of the nation. The ceremonies performed on that occasion are described at length by himself.3

We give a few instances of historical and recent Creek war-names and war-titles:

  • Abiχkúdshi míko, Hútalg’-imá’la, Kawita tustěnúggi, all members of the Creek “House of Kings.”
  • Ássi yahóla “the black drink hallooer;” Osceola, chief.
  • Hiniha ‘láko hupáyi “great hiniha charmer,” a Creek leader in the battle at Atasi and other engagements.
  • Hopú-i hí’l -míko “good child-chief.”
  • Hopú-i hi li yahóla “handsome child yahóla”; a Creek chief.
  • Hú’li ma’hti “war-leader,” a frequently occurring war-name; má’hti is abbreviated from homaχti.
  • Hútalg míko “chief from wind gens;” is chief of Taskigi town.
  • Ifa hádsho, or “dog warrior”; cf. Hawkins, p. 80.
  • Ispahidshi, name of a headman, and usually spelt Spiechee: “whooping, brawling” while taking off the scalp.
  • Kátsa hádsho “tiger-hádsho,” a Seminole chief, erroneously called Tigertail.
  • Kósisti, abbr. Kósti; occurs in Kósti fíksiko, etc. The signification is lost, but we may compare the town Acostehe, visited by de Soto s army in coming south from the Cheroki country.
  • ‘Lawaχaíki “lying in ambush; creeping up clandestinely.”
  • Míko imá’la “chief leader.”
  • Núkusi íli tchápko “long-footed bear,” war-name of S. B. Callahan, Creek delegate to the United States Government.
  • Sutak’háχki “men fighting in a line.”
  • Tálua fíksiko “heartless town;” presently judge of the Wiwúχka district, I. T.
  • Tassikaya míko “chief warrior;” president House of Kings.
  • Uχtaha-sasi hádsho “sandy-place hádsho;” chief.

Wáksi, Cha’hta term referring to the drawing up of the prepuce. Occurs in Wáksi holá hta and other Creek titles, perhaps also in the tribal name of the Waxsaws on Santee River, S. C., and in Waxahatchi, town in Alabama. The name conveyed the idea of a low, unmanly behavior, but had no obscene meaning. Other nations regard epithets like these (άπέλλατ, verpi} as highly injurious, and load their enemies with them, as the Tchiglit-Inuit do the Tinné Indians of the interior: taordshioit, ortcho-todsho-eitut.4

Footnotes

  1. 1791 Schoolcraft, Indians, V, 263. 

  2. Adair, History, p. 278. 

  3. Milfort, Memoire, p. 41 sqq., 220 sqq. The council of the nation, assembled at Tukabatchi, conferred this charge on him in May 1780. 

  4. E. Petitot, Tchiglit, preface p. xi. 


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