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The Creek Councils

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The Council1 was called Inłałaka, łałaka being a word which signified “great men” or “officers.” The town council is said to have been composed of the Town Chief (Miko), the Square Chief (Tcoko-lako Miko), the “Speaker to the Chief,” who in this case seems to be identified with the head Tastanagi, and a Councilman from each of the clans, that is, its Ancient. Although it is not so stated, I feel that it must leave included the other speaker for the chief, the Taskheniha, though he may have been admitted to it as Ancient for his own clan. This, indeed, appears to be indicated in another place.

It is said that town councils were called together by the Fire Maker, presumably at the instance of the Chief. The Fire Makerwould go to the town house and beat upon the drum, and then summon the Town Chief, the Square Chief, the man who had charge of the Square Ground ceremonies, and three or four other Councilmen called “lawmakers.” These last2 would then call the people together and state the case to them. If a trespass, for instance, had been committed against some other town, the latter would appoint. two persons to meet the others and agree upon some definite method of adjustment. Representatives of both parties would meet and settle the difference.

It was the duty of the Ancient to call the clansmen together in council. If they dwelt near one another, he sent a messenger to notify them. If they lived far apart, he broke up a number of sticks and sent to each a bundle containing as many sticks as there were days between that times and the date of the Council. The one who received the sticks threw one away each day, and when he threw away the last one he went to the place of meeting. In the town they all lived within sound of the drum but they did not use it in calling the clan together.

At least some of the people were privileged to petition the Town Chief to summon general gatherings. On such occasions the Taskiheniha, or the several Henīhas, were also consulted. After the Council had assembled the Chief would set before its members the. reason for calling it, and tell them to take the subject matter into consideration. This was communicated to them directly by the Chief’s Speaker.

In the case of a Council of the Confederation, the łałakas, or “officers,” included the Simiabaiyas, but it is uncertain how many others were added. It was their duty to bring with them the officers of their respective towns, but these were usually only listeners. There was commonly one presiding officer of this Council with a second chief under him, but sometimes there were two of each. The first usage was probably the original one, but it may have been changed to the second “owing to some difference of opinion.” The two principal chiefs had equal power and so did the subordinates, but the latter had no duties to perform, being merely in line of succession to the leadership. They would choose two others to succeed them when they became principal chiefs. The presiding officer of the Council informed the Town Chief of any decision that had been made, whereupon the latter would go over the matter with his own speaker in a low voice and the speaker would announce the decision to the officers of the town there met together. It was duty of the officers to pay strict attention to this so that they could repeat it substantially as it had been announced to them. The speaker would instruct them that on their return to their respective towns they must call their people together and communicate to them the laws or other matters that had been resolved upon at the, General Council. They were also to say what the result of disobeying these would be.

There was no set time for the meetings of the Confederate Council. Whenever these great men thought it necessary to call it together, it was summoned by direction of the Chief. This apparently means the presiding officer of the Council, who would then send the broken or split sticks to every town in the nation which was expected to attend the Council.

Footnotes

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

  2. See Forty-second Ann. Rept. Bur. Anger, Ethn., pp. 97-108. 

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