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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.,...

The Chahta Language

Editor’s Note: Cha’hta is a derivative for Choctaw, so the following information is referencing the Choctaw Language. The Cha’hta1 Language, the representative of the western group of Maskoki dialects, differs in its phonetics from the eastern dialects chiefly by the more general vocalic nasalization previously alluded to. Words cannot begin with two consonants; the Creek st is replaced by sht, and combinations like tl, bt, nt do not occur (Byington’s Grammar, p. 9). In short words the accent is laid upon the penultima. The cases of the noun are not so distinctly marked as they are in the eastern dialects by the case-suffixes in –t and –n, but have often to be determined by the hearer from the position of the words in the sentence. But in other respects, case and many other relations are pointed out by an extensive series of suffixed or enclitic syllables, mostly monosyllabic, which Byington calls article-pronouns, and writes as separate words. They are simply suffixes of pronominal origin, and correspond to our articles the, a, to our relative and demonstrative pronouns, partly also to our adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions. They form combinations among themselves, and supply verbal inflection with its modal suffixes or exponents. Adjectives possess a distinct plural form, which points to their origin from verbs, but in substantives number is not expressed except by the verb connected with them, or by means of separate words. There are two classes of personal pronouns, the relative and the absolute (the former referring to something said previously), but the personal inflection of the verb is effected by prefixes, the predicative suffix ’h being added...

The Annual Creek Busk

The solemn annual festival held by the Creek people of ancient and modern days is the púskita, a word now passed into provincial English (busk); its real meaning is that of a fast. In the more important towns it lasted eight days; in towns of minor note four days only, and its celebration differed in each town in some particulars. The day on which to begin it was fixed by the míko and his council, and depended on the maturity of the maize crop and on various other circumstances.

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