The Creek Indian
The present paper originated in an attempt to prepare a report on the Indians
of the Creek Confederacy similar to that made in Bulletin 43 for those along the
lower course of the Mississippi River.1 In this study, however, it is
still possible to add information obtained from living Indians, about 9,000 of
whom were enumerated in 1910.2 But when material from all sources had
been tentatively brought together the amount was found to be so great that it
was thought advisable to divide the work into two or three different sections
for separate publication. As our account of the distribution, interrelationship,
and history of these people is to be gathered rather from documentary sources
than from field investigations it is naturally the first to be ready for
presentation. Since it has been compiled primarily for ethnological purposes, no
attempt has been made to give a complete account of the later fortunes of the
tribes under consideration, such important chapters in their career as the Creek
and Seminole wars and the westward emigration belonging within the province of
the historian strictly so considered. The writer's main endeavor has been to
trace their movements from earliest times until they are caught up into the
broad stream of later history in which concealment is practically impossible.
Although not pretending that this work is as yet by any means complete, he has
aimed to furnish something in the nature of an encyclopedia of information
regarding the history of the southeastern Indians for the period covered, and
hence has usually included direct quotations instead of attempting to recast the
material in his own words.
It was found that a satisfactory study of the Creek Indian would make it
necessary to extend the scope of this work so as to consider all of the eastern
tribes of the Muskhogean stock as well as the Indians of Florida. The Yuchi, on
the ethnological side, have been made a special subject of inquiry by Dr. Frank
G. Speck,3 but so many new facts have presented themselves in the
course of this investigation regarding the early history of these Indians that
they have been treated at length. Some new information is also given regarding
the Natchez and those Shawnee who were for a long period incorporated with the
Creeks. The Siouan tribes of the east have been made the subject of a special
study by Mr. James Mooney,4 and all that we know regarding two other
southern Siouan tribes, the Biloxi and Ofo, has been given by the writer in
another publication.5 The ramifications of the Creek Confederacy
extended so far that even the Chickasaw are found to be involved, and they have
in consequence been considered in this paper. The Choctaw, however, form a
distinct problem and the principal attention paid them has been to incorporate a
statement regarding their population so that it may be compared with that of the
other Muskhogean tribes.
Sections have been included on the ethnology of the Cusabo Indians and the
Florida tribes, for which we are dependent entirely on documentary sources.
To illustrate this work several of the more significant of the older maps have
been reproduced, and two from data compiled by the author. It must be understood
that the main object has been to trace historical movements and give the
relative positions of the various tribes and bands, so that few of the locations
may be considered final. It is hoped that eventually intensive work in the
Southeast, and in other parts of the country as well, will take form in a series
of large-scale maps in which the historical as well as the prehistoric village
sites of our Indians will be recorded with a high degree of accuracy. So far as
the Southeast is concerned, an excellent beginning has been made by the Alabama
Anthropological Society. The handbook of this society for 1920, which comes to
hand as the present work is going through the press, contains a catalogue of
"Aboriginal Towns in Alabama'' (pp. 42-54), which marks an advance over anything
which has so far appeared and should be consulted by the student desirous of
more precise information regarding the locations of many of the towns dealt with
in this volume. In two points only I venture a criticism of this catalogue.
First, I am entirely unable to embrace that interpretation of De Soto's route
which would bring him to the headwaters of Coosa River below the northern
boundary of Georgia; and secondly, it seems to me a little risky to attempt an
exact identification of the towns at which that explorer stopped in the
neighborhood of the upper Alabama. At the same time I grant that such
identifications are highly desirable and have no personal theories in conflict
with the ones attempted.
- Swanton, Indian Tribes of the Lower
Mississippi Valley, Bull. 43, Bur. Amer.
- This includes the Creek and Seminole
Indians of Oklahoma, the Seminole of
Florida, and the Alabama and Koasati of
Texas and Louisiana. (Ind. Pop. in the
U. S. and Alaska, 1910. Wash., 1915.)
Ethnology of the Yuchi Indians,
Anthrop. Pubs. Univ. Mus., Univ. Pa., I,
No. 1, 1909.
- Siouan Tribes of the East, Bull. 22,
Bur. Amer. Ethn., 1894.
- Dorsey and Swanton, Dictionary of
the Biloxi and Ofo Languages, Bull. 47,
Bur. Amer. Ethn., 1912. Introduction.
Notes About Book:
Source: Swanton, John R., Early
History of the Creek Indians and Their
Neighbors. Pub. Smithsonian
Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology,
Bulletin 73. Washington, 1922.
Notes about Online Publication: This manuscript has been ocr'd and heavily
edited. Many of the Native American words have been reproduced as clearly as
online publication will allow us, but not all are exactly the way they were in
the original work. The structure of this manuscript has been changed to allow
better online presentation.