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The Creek Language

The Creek Dialect of Maskoki is a harmonious, clearly vocalized form of speech, averse to nasalization. In forms it is exceedingly rich, but its syntax is very simple and undeveloped. An archaic form, called the female language, exists outside of the common Creek, and mainly differs from it in the endings of the verbs. Creek possesses all sounds of the general Maskoki alphabet; but here and in Hitchiti the gutturals g, k, χ are often pronounced with the tongue resting upon the fore or alveolar part of the palate. The alternating processes observed here also occur in most other Indian and illiterate languages: tch, dsh alternate with ts, ds, h with k, χ, g with the other gutturals, b with p, d with t, ä with e, o with u. The accent shifts for rhetoric and syntactic causes, and many unaccented syllables are pronounced long. In the pronunciation of the natives there is a sort of singing modulation, which likes to lengthen the last syllables of a sentence.1 Syllables not final generally terminate in a vowel. Creek Morphology The nominal inflection shows but three cases: The first in -i (or -a, -o, -u), which may be called absolute;2 the subjective case in -t, -it (-at, -ut), and the objective in -n, -in (-an, -un. The absolute case, when used as a vocative, often lengthens or strongly accentuates the last syllable. The suffix -n indicates the direct and indirect object, and also sometimes the locative case. Diminutives are formed by means of the suffix -odshi, -udshi. Substantive. The substantive noun does not inflect for number except in a few terms...

Creek Indian Tribe

The Creek Indians or Maskoki proper occupy, in historic times, a central position among the other tribes of their affiliation, and through their influence and physical power, which they attained by forming a comparatively strong and permanent national union, have become the most noteworthy of all the Southern tribes of the United States territories. They still form a compact body of Indians for themselves, and their history, customs and antiquities can be studied at the present time almost as well as they could at the beginning of the nineteenth century. But personal presence among the Creeks in the Indian Territory is necessary to obtain from them all the information which is needed for the purposes of ethnologic science. There is a tradition that when the Creek people incorporated tribes of other nations into their confederacy, these tribes never kept up their own customs and peculiarities for any length of time, but were subdued in such a manner as to conform with the dominant race. As a confirmation of this, it is asserted that the Creeks annihilated the Yámassi Indians completely, so that they disappeared entirely among their number; that the Tukabatchi, Taskigi and other tribes of foreign descent abandoned their paternal language to adopt that of the dominant Creeks. But there are facts which tend to attenuate or disprove this tradition. The Yuchi, as well as the Naktche tribe and the tribes of Alibamu descent1 have retained their language and peculiar habits up to the present time, notwithstanding their long incorporation into the Creek community. The Hitchiti, Apalatchúkla and Sawokli tribes, with their branch villages, have also retained their...

The Creek Indian Trails

A correct and detailed knowledge of the Indian trails leading through their country, and called by them warpaths, horse trails, and by the white traders “trading roads,” forms an important part of Indian topography and history. Their general direction is determined by mountain ranges and gaps (passes), valleys, springs, watercourses, fordable places in rivers, etc. The early explorers of North American countries all followed these Indian trails: Narvaez, Hernando de Soto, Tristan de Luna, Juan del Pardo, Lederer and Lawson, because they were led along these tracks by their Indian guides. If we knew with accuracy the old Indian paths of the West, we would have little difficulty in rediscovering the routes traveled by Coronado’s and Peñalossa’s troops in New Mexico and in the great wastes of the Mississippi plains. In hilly lands these trails are, of course, easier to trace than in level portions of the country. The best-known trails leading from the east to the Creek towns were as follows: The upper trail or “warpath” crossed Chatahuchi River at Che’láko-Nini by a horse ford, about sixty miles above Kasiχta; cf. Schoolcraft, Indians, V, 255, and Adair, History, pp. 258, 368. The “High Tower path” started from High Shoals on Apalachi river, which is the southern branch of Okóni River, and went almost due west to “Shallow Ford” of Chatahuchi River, about twelve miles right north of Atlanta, Georgia, in the river bend. The southern trail crossed the Chatahuchi River, coming from the Okoni and Okmulgi Rivers,1 at the “Broken Arrow,” ‘Lé-kátchka, while other travelers crossed it at the Yuchi towns, which cannot have been distant from the...

Creek Ethnographic Notes

Abundant material for the study of ethnography is on hand for the earlier and later periods of the Creek nation; but here we have to restrict ourselves to some points which are especially adapted to the illustration of the migration legends. The relation of husband to wife and family being the foundation of all tribal, social and political life, should certainly be treated as fully as it deserves, but in this context only incident notes can be given on this subject. Condition of Females. Although succession among all Maskoki tribes was in the female line, the females occupied a subordinate condition among the Creeks, and in their households were subjected, like those of other Indians, to a life of drudgery. Divorces were of frequent occurrence. On the first days of the busk females were not permitted to enter the area of the square, nor were they admitted to the council-house whenever the men were sitting in council or attending to the conjurer’s performances. The women were assigned a bathing place in the river-currents at some distance below the men. It is also stated that a woman had the privilege of killing her offspring during the first lunation after the birth, but when she did so after that term she was put to death herself.1 This may have been the practice in a few Creek tribes, but it is doubtful that such was the general law in all, except in regard to illegitimate offspring. The occupations of Creek women are described by Cpt. B. Romans, p. 96 (1775), in the following succinct form: “The women are employed, besides the cultivation...

The Creek Government

The social organization of all the Indian nations of America is based upon the existence of the tribe. The tribe itself is based upon smaller units of individuals which are joined together by a common tie; this tie is either the archaic maternal descent, or the more modern tie of paternal descent, or a combination of both. Among the Indians of North America east of the Rocky Mountains, and also among many tribes west of them, the single groups descending from the same male or female ancestor form each a gens provided with a proper name or totem generally recalling the name of an animal. Among the Creeks, Seminoles and all the other Maskoki tribes descent was in the female line. Every child born belonged to the gens of its mother, and not to that of its father, for no man could marry into his own gens. In case of the father s death or incapacity the children were cared for by the nearest relatives of the mother. Some public officers could be selected only from certain gentes, among which such a privilege had become hereditary. Regulations like these also controlled the warrior class and exercised a profound influence upon the government and history of the single tribes, and it often gave a too prominent position to some gentes in certain tribes, to the detriment or exclusion of others. The Hitchiti and Creek totems were the same. The administration of public affairs in the Creek nation can be studied to best advantage by dividing the dates on hand into three sections: the civil government of the Creek tribe; the...

Chicasa Indian Tribe

The northern parts of Mississippi State contain the earliest homes of the warlike tribe of Chicasa Indians which historical documents enable us to trace. Pontotoc County was the centre of their habitations in the eighteenth century, and was so probably at the time of the Columbian discovery; settlements of the tribe scattered along the Mississippi River, in West Tennessee and in Kentucky up to Ohio River, are reported by the later chroniclers. In the year 1540 the army of Hernando de Soto crossed a portion of their territory, called by its historians ” Chicaça provincia,” and also visited a town of this name, with a smaller settlement (alojamiento) in its vicinity named Chicaçilla. Two rivers anciently bore the name of “Chicasa River,” not because they were partially or exclusively inhabited by tribes of this nationality, but because their headwaters lay within the Chicasa boundaries. This gives us a clue to the topographic position of the Chicasa settlements. Jefferys (I, 153), states that “Chicasa River is the Maubile or Mobile River, running north and south (now called Lower Alibama River), and that it takes its rise in the country of the Chicasaws in three streams.” When L. d Iberville traveled up the Yazoo River, the villages on its banks were referred to him as lying on “la riviére des Chicachas.”1 The most lucid and comprehensive account of the Chicasa settlements is found in Adair’s History. James Adair, who was for several years a trader among the Chicasa, gives the following account of their country and settlements (History, p. 352, sq.): “The Chikkasah Country lies in about thirty-five degrees N. Lat.,...
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