Creeks became Creeks
This is the era when the Creeks became the Creeks. During the late 1600s the
English colonial records described dealings with several Muskogean ethnic groups
in South Carolina (which include the future states of Georgia and Alabama.)
Their English names were the Oconee, Sawakee, the Cusabo, Soque, Hillabee, Pee
Dee, Cusa, Santeetly, Ochese, Yamasee, Tamatly. Caskenampo, Tallassee and
Apalachicola. By the time, that the Colony of Georgia was founded n 1732,
several more proto-Creek groups were known, but the Coweta were dominant.
Generally, both the Georgia and the French colonial governments called most
proto-Creeks, Coweta’s. The French spelled the word, Cohuita. It is the origin
of the Cohutta Mountain’s name. The French consistently labeled all of the
mountains in Georgia as the Cohuita (or Creek) Mountains until 1763. This is
more evidence that it was never jointly owned by the Creeks and Cherokees.
The French called the Apalachicola, the Conchaqui. or Conk People. Beginning
in the mid-1740s, the members of the Creek Confederacy began functioning more as
a single tribe. It was then, that they collectively became known as Creek
Indians. The word Muskogee was not to be seen until the turn of the century.
The Colony of Georgia came closest to creating a multi-ethnic society in which
Native Americans prospered equally with Europeans. A Creek village prospered
adjacent to Savannah until the American Revolution. Relations between the two
peoples were excellent, and characterized by mutual respect during the Colonial
Era. There was considerable intermarriage between the allies on the Georgia
frontier. Mixed heritage families from South Carolina also moved into this
An Opportunity for the History Departments of LSU and USC
Much of the history of the 1600s in the Southern Highlands, Piedmont and
Eastern Tennessee remains a riddle to this day. There is a date of 1615
inscribed on a rocky face overlooking the Little Tennessee River Gorge in Graham
County, NC with a message in Spanish stating, “We will defend what we hold.”
There is a brief report of a English expedition to the Tanasa People on the
Tennessee River in the mid-1670s. Since the expedition traveled entirely though
lands of people speaking Muskogean languages, its guides were ancestors of the
Creeks. The Creek word for the Tanasa People was Tenesaw. The Creek name for
their province was Tenesi (meaning offspring of the Tanasa Mother Town.) There
are early French maps that show the heart of the North Carolina Mountains
occupied by the Shawnee and the Tuskegee (Taskeke.) The earliest English maps
show a multi-ethnic alliance in the northwestern corner of South Carolina and
the northeastern tip of Georgia that was called the Chorakee (splinter group.)
To the northwest of the Chorakee are generic labels for other Indian
villages, which state “Allies of the Chorakee.” That does not mean that these
peoples in the North Carolina Mountains were either Chorakee or proto-Cherokee.
However, archaeological work by Joseph Caldwell proved that Tugaloo and Chauga
were occupied by proto-Creeks until at least 1700 AD. There is a report from a
joint British-Chorakee expedition in 1690, which viewed a Spanish mining colony
in the Nacoochee River Valley of Georgia. In 1745, Cherokees entering the
Tuckaseegee River Valley in what is now Jackson County, NC (Sylva) for the first
time, reported that the region was occupied by Europeans with skin the color of
Supporting this minimal archival evidence is even sparser archaeological
information. In the mid-1970s, archaeologist excavated a hamlet on the upper
Tuckaseegee River, which appeared to date from around 1684-1690. In recent
years, a large village on the Oconaluftee River near the entrance to the Great
Smoky Mountains National Park was excavated in advance of the construction of
the new Cherokee High School. All of its architecture was consistent with known
Yuchi traditions, but was labeled Cherokee by the North Carolina archaeologists.
Meanwhile, archaeology departments in the region do not seem very interested in
the 1600s and early 1700s, especially in regard to possible Spanish or Melungeon
The Louisiana State University History Department is in a unique position to
examine the French Colonial Archives for additional information about the
Southern Highlands and Piedmont. The university has direct access to the
archives and a significant number of professors, who speak French. The French
are known to have sent many diplomatic expeditions into southeastern Tennessee,
northwestern Georgia and western North Carolina. These expeditions were
typically accompanied by engineers, who functioned as cartographers. In fact,
the presence of the Apalachicola in northwest Georgia during the first 2/3 of
the 1700s may be the result of French diplomatic activities.
Likewise, the University of South Carolina History Department is in a unique
position to thoroughly examine the archives of the Colony of South Carolina.
Surely, some Indian trader penetrated the western North Carolina and Georgia
Mountains during the late 1600s, and wrote down what he saw.
It is also very difficult to make definitive statements about the 1600s,
because so many of the available historical studies started with preconceptions
and misconceptions. The most common mistake of these studies is that they
analyzed common Creek words, but never bothered to consult Creek dictionaries,
before making outlandish interpretations. The media has also been saturated with
a version of history that magnifies every Cherokee military victory and neglects
to mention any defeats. The truth of history is that after about 1738, the
Cherokees lost every war they fought – in most cases they suffered catastrophic
defeats, but were generally able to get their friends in the British government
to mitigate the damage through diplomatic efforts.
One of the funniest examples of biased studies of the 1500s and 1600s, was
published in a book and on the Internet. It decided the towns visited by de Soto
were occupied by Moslems, since “their leaders were called Mecca’s and their
towns were called Talwamecca’s. Of course, the Spanish spelled the word mecco,
that was the Muskogean word for leader, mikko. These particular “scholars”
decided that de Soto’s chroniclers really meant to write down Mecca instead of
Myths Perpetuated by Standard History Books and Websites
The “official” histories of the first half of the 18th century contain some
major orthodoxies that are so far from fact that they are farcical. Generically,
they can be described as an over-simplification of history that leaves out
important details, a grossly inaccurate description of the ethnic landscape of
the era, a minimizing of the histories of all the Southeastern indigenous ethnic
groups other than the Cherokees, and an exaggeration of the Cherokee’s cultural
level, territory and military power during that era. The Alabamo, Shawnee,
Catawba, Chickasaw, Apalachicola and Yuchi are barely mentioned, if mentioned at
all, in the standard history textbooks of Georgia and North Carolina. However,
all of these ethnic groups were “major players” in the Lower Southeast between
1700 and 1776. The following myths are replicated over and over again in the
history books and websites.
Myth # 1: Most of Alabama was always occupied by the Muskogee-Creeks.
Fact: At the beginning of the 18th Century, true Muskogees only occupied a
relatively small area of the middle Chattahoochee River Basin and a triangular
wedge in west-central Georgia. Their language used “kli” for “people or clan.”
Their population in what is today Alabama would have been insignificant.
The Achese (Ochese), Sawakee and Okamoleke (Ocmulgee) Creeks of middle
Georgia spoke a form of Mvskoke that mixed Hitchiti with true Mvskoke. Sawa is
the Hitchiti word for raccoon. Okamoleke is a mixture of Hitchiti and Highland
Mvskoke. It means “Water - Swirling – People.”
The Kowete (Coweta) of the Upper Chattahoochee River Valley and Blue Ridge
Mountains in North Carolina apparently spoke a dialect of Hitchiti, mixed with
some Mvskoke words by 1700.
The Upper Creeks had moved into northeastern Alabama along the Tennessee and
Coosa Rivers, but they primarily spoke Highland Muskogee (the Apike and Taskeki,)
plus Koasati and Hitchiti. Highland Muskogee used “ke” for “people or clan.”
The Apalachicola (Lower Creeks) of southwestern Alabama, spoke a language that
was a mixture of Hitchiti and Choctaw. Their word for “people or clan” was
The Alabamo occupied the Alabama and Black Warrior River Basins, plus much of
central Alabama. Choctaw speakers occupied west central Alabama, while the
Chickasaw occupied the region of Alabama north of the Tennessee River. The
Mobile, Biloxi and Chatot occupied the Gulf Coast region of Alabama.
Myth # 2: All of western North Carolina was occupied by the Cherokees from at
least 1000 AD.
Fact: None of the town names and political titles recorded by the Chroniclers
of the de Soto Expedition in North Carolina and Georgia are Cherokee words.
These words may be easily translated with contemporary Hitchiti, Koasati, Mvskoke, Alabama or Itza Maya dictionaries.
Furthermore, there is extensive evidence that Muskogean speakers continued to
occupy the western and eastern ends of the North Carolina Mountains until they
were occupied by English-speaking settlers in the 1760s. All but one of the
Indian place names in Graham County, NC are Muskogean-or-Maya-origin words
(Tallassee, Chiaha, Talula, Santeetlah, Tennessee and Tuskeegee.) Graham is the
location of Fontana Lake, Lake Santeelah and much of the Smoky Mountains. All of
the Native American place names, east of Franklin, NC and south of Asheville are
Mvskoke or Hitchiti words.
The Valley Cherokees did not cross west and south of the Hiwassee River until
1714, when they drove out the Apalachee and Yuchi. They did not enter the upper
Tuckaseegee River Valley until 1745. The famous Tuckaseegee Village site in
Jackson County, NC has been labeled a Quala I, Proto-Cherokee site dating to
1684. It probably is not ethnic Cherokee, and may be either be Yuchi, Shawnee or
The only region of the Southern Highlands, where Cherokee place names
predominate is northwestern Georgia, where they lived last. Even there one finds
Apalachicola place names (Oothlooga, Taliwa and Itawa [Etowah.])
Myth # 3: Prior to 1755, northern Georgia was a joint Cherokee-Creek hunting
Fact: Before the early 1700s there were no Cherokee communities in what would
become the State of Georgia. Until 1763, the Apalachicola occupied northwest
Georgia; the Catawba’s,, Kusa and Koweta occupied north central Georgia; and the
Apalachee, Hogeloge (Tennessee Yuchi) and Koweta occupied northeast Georgia.
After 1714, when the Cherokees captured the Hiwassee Valley of Georgia and North
Carolina there were a few small Cherokee villages in White, Towns, Rabun and
Stephens Counties, which compose the extreme northeastern tip of Georgia. In the
1760s, the British established a relatively small joint hunting ground in
northeast Georgia that was about 20 miles wide and 50 miles long.1
Myth # 4: A great Cherokee victory over the Muskogee Creeks in 1755 at Taliwa
gave the Cherokees complete control of all of northern Georgia west of the
Chattahoochee River. A historical marker in Ball Ground, GA describes a battle
in which the Overhills Cherokees captured and burned Taliwa (on the Etowah
River) – and thus won all of northern Georgia.
Fact: The Cherokees may have burned Taliwa in 1755, but they were quickly
driven out of what is now Georgia. Taliwa is an Apalachicola word, however, not
Muskogee. That means that the so-called Muskogee Creeks fighting the Cherokees
were actually Apalachicola allies of the French. Prior to the arrival of the
Apalachicola, northwest Georgia had been occupied by the Kusa-Creeks – who were
Upper Creeks, not Muskogee-Creeks. Up until 1763 or later, some Kusa’s still
lived in north-central Georgia. By 1758, several bands of the Cherokees were
active French allies and therefore, allies of the Apalachicola. It could very
well be that some Apalachicola;s NEVER left NW Georgia, but were absorbed by the
masses of Cherokee refugees that arrived there in the later stages of the
American Revolution. Updated French military maps showed that until 1763 the
territory of their Indian allies had expanded during the war.
The Muskogee Creeks were allies of Georgia and Great Britain. They are not
show by French or English maps as ever living in northwest Georgia in the 1700s.
The Colony of South Carolina DID promise the Cherokees what is now northwestern
Georgia, if they would attack the French allies there, but the lands west of the
Chattahoochee River were not occupied by the Cherokees until the end of the
French & Indian War. Remember, South Carolina believed it owned northern
Georgia. The only maps of the period that showed the region to be in the Colony
of Georgia were drawn in Savannah.
Myth # 5: A great Cherokee victory over the Creeks in 1755 on the slopes of
Blood Mountain gave them control of all of northern Georgia. Historical signs in
the north-central part of the state describe an epic battle on the sides of
Blood Mountain, in which the Cherokees won all of northern Georgia. The evidence
cited in the markers is regard to the many arrowheads that early settlers found
on the side of the mountain and in Slaughter Gap.
Fact: By 1755, all of the Cherokee villages in northeast Georgia and the
Hiwassee Valley of North Carolina had been burned by the Koweta Creeks and
abandoned by the Cherokees. At that time, all of what is now Georgia and the
southern portions of western North Carolina were under the control of the Koweta
Creeks. There may have been a battle fought on Blood Mountain in prehistoric
times, but it couldn’t have involved the Cherokees. They were nowhere around.
Most likely the arrowheads are the result of thousands of years of hunting and
the battle, the result of fertile imaginations by settlers or fireside stories
by aging Cherokee warriors.
Myth # 6: A great Cherokee victory over the Creeks on top of Fort Mountain,
GA (before the arrival of the English) gave them complete control of northern
Georgia. This story was treated as a historical fact by the famous ethnologist,
James Mooney. Supposedly there was a large Muskogee Creek town on top of the
mountain that contained their most important temple. Inside the temple was a
snake idol with ruby eyes that the Creeks worshiped. Once the Cherokees had
these ruby eyes in their possession their warriors were invincible and quickly
seized all of the northern part of the future state.
Fact: All of the branches of the Creeks are monotheistic and do not worship
idols. No map shows a Cherokee presence in NW Georgia before 1763. The Kusa
occupied NW Georgia in the 1300s-1500s. The Apalachicola occupied NW Georgia
until 1763. From then until the early 1780s, the region was primarily hunting
grounds. There is no evidence of a large town or temple mound on Fort Mountain.
The stone walls were buttresses for a palisade at some time in the ancient past,
but no other structures are visible. At this time, no artifacts have been found
on Fort Mountain to link it to any ethnic group.
Myth # 7: The mounds at the Tugaloo, GA and Chauga, SC Sites were built by
the Cherokees. The Museum of the Cherokee Indian in North Carolina states that
the mounds at both towns were built by the Cherokees, as does the Tugaloo
Corridor Project, which is co-sponsored by such organizations as Georgia Power,
the U.S. Forest Service, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Georgia Historical Commission erected
historical markers in the 1970s that stated that Tugaloo founded by the
Cherokees around 1450 AD. South Carolina literature generally describes both
sites as ancient Cherokee towns with multiple mounds
Fact: Both town names are derived from Muskogean words. Tokahle means
“freckled people” and refers to an indigenous Siouan people, who were vassals of
Mississippian Culture Muskogeans. Chauga is derived from Chauka, which means
“black locust” in both Hitchiti and Mvskoke.
In the late 1950s, Archaeologist Joseph Caldwell of the National Park Service
excavated Tugaloo and dug test pits at Chauga. Archaeologist Arthur Kelly of the
University of Georgia did more extensive investigative work at Chauga. Both
archaeologists clearly described the mounds as being built by ancestors of the
Creeks. Extensive deposits of proto-Creek pottery and lithic artifacts were
found in multiple layers at both sites, whereas a thin layer possible European
and Historical Period Native American artifacts were found near the surface. The
Historical Cherokee occupation was very brief and confined to a much smaller
surface area. Radiocarbon dating indicated that both towns were first occupied
by the Cherokees in the early 1700s and abandoned permanently in 1776.
A map produced by the Colony of South Carolina in the 1720s describes the
area around Tugaloo and Chauga as being occupied by the Hogeloge, a branch of
the Yuchi that originally lived in Tennessee. Apparently, the Hogeloge were
allies of the Cherokees at this time.
Chronology: The Deerskin Trading Era (1722 – 1755)
Investigation of the causes of the Yamassee War finally convinced British
authorities that the Native American slave trade was a very dangerous policy to
maintain. The truth was, however, that much of the countryside of the Carolinas
and eastern Georgia had been depopulated by slave raids by 1715, so it had
accomplished its original goal – namely genocide. The taking of captives in war
and selling them into slavery would continue until 1752, when King George I
banned Native American slavery in the North American colonies, and freed all
existing Native American slaves.
Freedom was not to come for many slaves of predominant Native American
heritage, however. Most colonies in the South passed laws that stated if a slave
was as much as 1/64 African, they could not be freed. Since Native American and
African slaves were often housed together, it was quite common for slave babies
to be of mixed racial ancestry. A person, who was 63/64 Native American and 1/64
African could usually pass for a full-blooded Indian. Undoubtedly, many of these
people found a way to escape to freedom west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Southeastern tribes during this era tended to cluster around loyalties to
either France or Great Britain. The Choctaws were solidly in the fold of the
French. The Chickasaw, their arch-enemies, were solidly in the British fold. The
Alabamo, Apalachicola and Tallapoosa-Kusa-Apika-Taskekee (Creeks) were
pro-French. The Muskogee-Coweta-Okonee-Tallassee Creeks were pro-British. The
Yuchi seemed to have traded with whoever was closest to their particular town.
The Catawba were pro-British.
As Native American slaves became less and less salable, another issue began
to spark warfare between the Southeastern tribes. Trade shifted to deerskins and
furs. However, the deer population was rapidly being exterminated by mass
hunting for skins. Ironically, the nutrition of the families of Southeastern
Native Americans suffered. The goal of this type of intertribal warfare changed
from the capture of slaves to the ethnic cleansing of regions, so that they
could be utilized as hunting grounds.
Another type of intertribal warfare dragged on for decades in the early
1700s. It was totally based on revenge and the development of military societies
in the eastern United States. Males could not be called adult names unless they
fought in a battle. The Cherokees and Iroquois had been enemies prior to the
rival of European settlers. This war probably originated when the ethnic core of
the Cherokees, the Rickohockens, lived in southwestern Virginia. However, the
war took on new vigor, when the Cherokees assisted the Carolina colonies in the
crushing of the Tuscaroras. The surviving Tuscaroras fled to New England and
became the sixth member of the Iroquois Confederacy.
The Cherokees, however, had made many enemies during the period when the
majority of their trade income was derived from capturing other Native Americans
and selling them into slavery. The Upper Cherokees were constantly involved with
skirmishes with the tribes of the Great Lakes region and the Choctaws. These
skirmishes generally involved only small bands of warriors out to prove their
An ongoing war with the Koweta, Okonee, Kusseta and other proto-Creek groups
in Georgia, though, was a war of mutual extermination. The proto-Creeks had
never forgotten the Cherokee’s treachery in 1715 at Tugaloo when all of the
Creek mikkos were murdered in their sleep while attending a diplomatic
conference. This war was primarily between the Valley Cherokees, the Lower
Cherokees against the Georgia Creeks. Initially, the Upper Creeks also attacked
the Overhills Cherokees, but neither side was as enthusiastic, since many towns
in both regions had the same Muskogean names.
1717 - The French constructed Fort Toulouse at the conjuncture of the Coosa and
Tallapoosa Rivers. The fact that this fort was constructed in the same year that
the Yamassee War ended, was probably not coincidental. One of the earliest acts
of war by the Ochesee Creeks was the burning of the British trading post on the
Ocmulgee River on the terrace opposite Macon. At this time, the region was
occupied by Alabamo Indians. Its name in Archaic Alabamo was Franca Choka Chula
(French House Pine) This may surprise Creeks, who always assume that area of
Alabama was always Creek. The French initially considered the fort and trading
post to be oriented to the Alabamo. Ethnic groups later associated with the
Creek Confederacy eventually moved closer to the fort to take advantage of
1717 - The Chitimachas, who occupied the region between the Mississippi River
and Biloxi Bay, rebelled against the French. The cause of the war was repeated
slave raids by French soldiers and settlers from Biloxi. Those not killed by the
French and the Choctaw allies, were enslaved.
1718 – New Orleans was founded on the Lower Mississippi River. Large gangs of
Chitimacha slaves were utilized to clear the land, plus dig drainage ditches and
canals, that would make construction possible. Many, if not most, of the
Chitimacha slaves died of disease and physical abuse.
1720 – Large numbers of Muskogees began moving into central and eastern Georgia
to re-settle lands formerly occupied by the members of the Yamassee Alliance.
1721 – Treaty of Charleston – The Lower Cherokees sold lands in South Carolina
that they had taken from indigenous tribes to the South Carolina Colony.
1723 - New Orleans became to the capital of the Province of Louisiana. The
capital was moved from Mobile, because it was thought that Mobile was too
vulnerable to British sea power.
1723 – Yamassee raiding parties from the Spanish province of Florida did serious
damage to plantations and villages in far southern South Carolina.
1723 – As allies of the French, the Choctaws attacked the Chickasaws and were
defeated. The Chickasaws were furnished weapons and munitions by the English
1724 – A Catawba war party overtook an Iroquois war party near modern-day
Franklin, WV, and defeated it.
1725 – Colonel George Chicken went on a tour of the Lower Cherokee towns. The
purpose of his mission is confusing, because one version has him urging the
Cherokees to continue their war with the Creeks. The other was that he wanted to
end the war. There were no Creek Indians in 1725, so either version is of a 19th
or 20th century origin.
The confusion may arise from the fact that perhaps, Chicken wanted the Cherokees
to continue fighting the proto-Creeks, who were allies of the French, but cease
fighting the proto-Creeks, who were allies of the British. The Cherokees could
have been on good terms with one branch of the Muskogeans and at war with
Chicken apparently met with the leaders of the Lower and Valley Cherokees at
Nikasi, which is now in Franklin, NC. Probably, very few North Carolinians know
that Nikasi was at the eastern edge of the Cherokee frontier. To the immediate
east was territory controlled by the Koweta Creeks until 1763. All Native
American places names in the North Carolina Mountains, east of Franklin are
Muskogean words. It is not clear in the North Carolina Kowita’s were friends or
allies of the early Cherokees.
1728 – The endless wars fought by the Catawba had reduced its numbers down to
400 warriors and approximate total population of 2000.
1729 – A very violent war began between the Natchez and the French. The primary
issues were the abduction of Natchez youth to make them slaves, and the seizing
without compensation of Natchez farmlands by French planters.
1730 – The Natchez warriors made a last stand on Sicily Island north of
Jonesville, LA. Most of the Natchez were either killed or captured. Captives
were transported to French sugar plantations in the Caribbean, where they
suffered short, brutal lives as slaves.
The survivors fled eastward. Half were assigned by the Apalachicola to set up a
village now named Pine Log about 13 miles north of Cartersville, GA. The other
half were taken in by Cherokees and were assigned land at what is now Pine Log,
NC. The name Pine Log came the mistranslation of the Cherokee word Ani-Natsi
(Natchez People) by Protestant missionaries in the early 1800s. One of the most
famous families of Cherokee history – that included Major Ridge, John Ridge,
Stand Wattie and Elias Boudinot – was descended from a Natchez family who took
refuge among the Cherokees.
1730 – Sir Alexander Cumming visited with the Cherokees in Nikwasi and convinced
to make Moytoy, the chief of Tellico, their emperor. In June of 1730 a
delegation of 7 Cherokee leaders arrived and London, and temporarily became the
talk of the town. The Treaty of Whitehall was signed while they were in England.
1730 – Fort Prince Frederick was constructed at Port Royal, SC to protect the
colony from a Spanish invasion.
1732 – Colony of Georgia was founded in Savannah. The Yamacraw, a small
Muskogean tribe on the lower Savannah River, immediately became close allies
(and true friends) with the Georgia colonists. Relations between the Creeks and
the Georgians would continue to be excellent and mutually beneficial up until
1733 – Governor James Oglethorpe met with proto-Creek leaders at Koweta at which
time their leaders formally ceded sections of the coast to the new colony. The
initial site named Kowita was probably Indian Springs, between Macon and
Atlanta. Soon thereafter, a Creek capital named Kowita was designated on the
middle Chattahoochee River.
1735 – Augusta was founded on the Savannah River by Georgia colonial
authorities. South Carolina considered the town to be in South Carolina, but it
quickly stole almost all the Indian trade from Charleston, and shifted it to
1736 – Fort Frederica was constructed on Saint Simons Island in the new Colony
of Georgia. I was designed as an outer barrier to Spanish invasion from Florida.
Spain claimed all of the Georgia coast because in the 1500s and 1600s, many
missions had been developed there. Spain also claimed the entire Chattahoochee
River Basin, which reaches to within a few miles of North Carolina.
1736 - A Catawba war party overtook an Iroquois war party near modern-day
Leesburg, VA, and defeated it.
1737 – A band of Chickasaws settled on the Georgia side of the Savannah River
1738 – A terrible smallpox epidemic struck both the Cherokees and the Catawba.
Approximately, 1/3 of each tribe was killed by the plague.
1739-1748 – War of Jenkins Ear between Great Britain and Spain - The war began
as primarily naval engagements in the Caribbean Sea. For a few years, it
consisted of land-based military actions in the British Colony of Georgia and
the Spanish Colony of Florida. After 1742 most of the combat shifted to
battlefields in Continental Europe, where the war between Great Britain and
Spain merged with the War of Austrian Succession.
1740 – Governor and General James Edward Oglethorpe led an army of British
Redcoats, Georgia militia and Creek Indians southward to Saint Augustine. They
captured the town of St. Augustine, but lacked the cannons and supplies to lay
siege to the Castillo San Marco. The British Navy failed to arrive after two
weeks, so Oglethorpe’s army returned to Savannah.
The only Spanish soldiers, who gave any resistance to the Georgia army was that
of the Free Blacks at Fort Mose (Moses.) The Spanish used them in a manner
comparable to the Texas Rangers. They were already adopting Creek traditions and
were also expert shots and horse-riders.
1741 - Amo-sgasite (Dreadful Water) attempted to succeed his father as Cherokee
Emperor, when Moytoy died. but the Cherokees elected another leader, Cunne Shote
(Standing Turkey) of Chota.
1742 – An armada of 36 Spanish ships, plus 1,950 soldiers and marines attacked
the Georgia coast in June of 1742. The British Crown had refused to send
reinforcements, even though it knew that a Spanish attack was pending. General
Oglethorpe had only 900 Redcoats, militia, Creeks and Yuchi to defend the
colony. The outnumbered Georgians confronted the Spanish on Saint Simons Island
on July 7, 1742. They beat the Spanish twice in one day. The limping Spanish
army assumed that Oglethorpe had far more troops than he did. They immediately
sailed back to St. Augustine, and never returned. Minor skirmishes along the
border between the Creek soldiers and Spanish militia continued for the next six
years, but there were no more major battles.
There is something very unique about this war from a Native American
perspective. British Army officers generally had contempt for both Indians and
the militia. Oglethorpe did not. He knew how to use them effectively in the
guerilla warfare that was common in North America. Oglethorpe had the highest
respect for his Creek allies. He repeatedly sent reports to London that raved
about the intelligence, physical height and self-discipline of the Creeks.
Oglethorpe was also aware that the Creeks had a written language capable of
transmitting complex thoughts. Most American scholars today, are not.
In the other colonies, Indians were used as sappers, assassins and to fight
other Indians. In Georgia, Creek soldiers fought along side and lived along side
European soldiers. They were treated as equals.
1744 – The Treaty of Lancaster ended the long war between the Catawbas and the
1744 – Armies from the Choctaws, Chickasaws, Upper Creeks and Koweta Creeks
coordinated an attack on the Cherokees, which was intended to exterminate them.
1745 – The first official British government map to use the term “Creek Indians”
1745 – Cherokees entering the Tuckaseegee River Basin near Sylva, NC (Jackson
County) for the first time encountered villages of white men with olive skin and
long beards. The Cherokees reported to the British authorities that the men
worshiped a book and lived in log houses with arched windows. The men apparently
both farmed and worked silver in order to support their families. The silver ore
they smeltered, probably came from Nantahala Gorge or the Snowbird Mountains.
The Cherokees said that they drove the dark-skinned white men out of the region.
1748 – Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ended the War of Austrian Succession – Having
lost to Great Britain, Spain renounced her claims to the Georgia coast and the
Chattahoochee River Basin. The border between Georgia and Florida was moved
southward and Spain officially recognized the Colony of Georgia as a legal
1749 – Overhills Cherokees vs. Upper Creek War ends – The war began because of
the outrage of the Upper Creeks over the murder of their chiefs. France
encouraged the war because it claimed all of the lands occupied by the Upper
Cherokees, Overhills Cherokees, Middle Cherokees and Valley Cherokees.
Apparently, Great Britain initially encouraged this war against a branch the
Creeks, since they were French allies. The war appears to have consisted
initially of revenge raids by small bands of warriors from either side. However,
over time the British realized that constant warfare on the frontier was harmful
to the colony’s economy and dangerous, because Europeans might get drawn into
the crossfire. The branch of the Creeks based in Koweta Town, refused to sign
1750 – A band of Okonee Creeks under Mikko Sekofee, migrated from northeast
Georgia to northern Florida, which was still a Spanish colony. Their descendants
became known as the Seminoles. Even before this time Free Africans and runaway
slaves had been seeking refuge in Florida. As more and more Creeks entered
Florida, the Africans began to adopt Creek clothing, language and religion. By
the early 1800s, they would be known as the Black Seminoles.
1751 – The Upper Creeks and Overhills Cherokees formalized a peace treaty.
1752 – A 26 member Osochee–Creek war party assassinated a Cherokee delegation in
or near Charleston, SC. The Coweta Creeks claimed that Cherokees had killed one
of their own near Charleston and refused to continue peace negotiations. A
diplomatic crisis followed, but the Creeks based in Koweta refused to negotiate
with the Cherokees. Thank you, Joshua Piker from the University of Oklahoma for
telling us about this incident.
1753 – The Upper Creeks tried to persuade the Coweta Creeks to negotiate a peace
with the Valley and Lower Cherokees. They were winning battle after battle
against the Cherokees and saw no reason to negotiate peace. A British trader
later remembered that the Coweta’s “defeated the Cherokees so easily, that in
contempt, they sent several of their women and small boys against them.” The
town of Coweta had a special location where it burned Cherokee captives. Fifty
years later, this location was shown to visitors.
Special Note: The reader needs to understand that the branches of the Creek
Confederacy operated independently. The Okonee ancestors of this writer had
sought revenge on the Cherokees earlier in the century, but were not involved
with this war. In fact, most of the branches of the Creeks were not involved.
They did not consider themselves to be in a Creek or Muskogee tribe. In fact,
the word Muskogee would not appear for several more decades. However, the
Koweta’s alone had such a powerful military machine that they could take on all
comers and defeat them. Part of the reason for the Koweta’s successes was that
Creeks tended to be disciplined soldiers, while most other tribes were not. They
fought side by side with Georgia militia during the wars with the Spanish.
1754 – Beginning of the French and Indian War - The Cherokees agreed to send
warriors to help the British fight Indian allies of the French in upstate New
York. It is not clear which division of the Cherokees sent volunteers. The Upper
Creeks and the Overhills Cherokees had signed a peace treaty in 1750. However
the Alabama, Choctaw and Shawnee were allies of the French, as were the
Cherokee’s old enemies in the Midwest. The Overhills towns were very vulnerable
to attacks from these tribes. At the onset of the war, the Shawnees attacked
Chota, the principal Overhills Cherokee town, and did considerable damage.
1755 - Battle of Taliwa – In one of the most famous stories of Cherokee military
tradition, an army of Cherokees traveled southward about 129 miles to attack the
Creek town of Taliwa, which was defended by 2000 Muskogee Creeks. The occupants
of the town supposedly took refuge in some woods and resisted four charges. The
fifth charge was led by 18 year old Nancy Ward. It was successful. The victory
at Taliwa was so complete that the Muskogee Creeks immediately ceded all of
northern Georgia to the Cherokees.
There may have been a battle at the town of Taliwa and Nancy War probably did
lead a charge against its defenders. None of the other aspects of this folklore
could possibly be true. Taliwa was a small Apalachicola village on the site of
one of the oldest Muskogean towns, which was associated with the Province of
Etalwa (Etowah Mounds.) Taliwa means “town” in Apalachicola. If this was a
surprise attack as claimed, it is unlikely that 2000 Upper Creek allies could
have arrived at the village in time to defend it. The Muskogee Creeks would not
have been involved with the battle, since in 1755 they were allies of the
British, while the Apalachicolas were allies of the French. The French and
Indian War began in 1754. Furthermore, northwest Georgia continued to be
occupied by French Indian allies until at least 1763, at which time, the
Cherokees were awarded the region by the British, as partial compensation for
the lost of most of their territory in North Carolina.
1755 – A map of western North Carolina was produced by the famous cartographer,
John Mitchell. It showed all of the Valley and Georgia Cherokee towns, burned
and abandoned. This confirms the statements of numerous Georgia officials and
traders, who commented that the Koweta’s were decimating the Cherokees
throughout the 1750s. Historians not familiar with the actual history of the
region, have assumed that these towns were destroyed by the South Carolina
militia during the First Anglo-Cherokee War, but that war began two years after
this map was produced. See Map
1. English and
French maps show the Catawba located in the vicinity of modern day Gainesville,
Notes About this Material
Source: Richard Thornton, an alliance of Muskogean scholars, professors and
professionals. Copyright Richard Thornton, Blairsville, GA, 2010. Used here with