Topic: Muskogean

The Creek Warrior Class

The geographic position of the Creeks in the midst of warlike and aggressive nations was a powerful stimulant for making “invincibles” of their male offspring. The ruling passion was that of war; second to it was that of hunting. A peculiar incentive was the possession of war-titles, and the rage for these was as strong among the younger men as that for plunder among the older. The surest means of ascending the ladder of honor was the capture of scalps from the enemy, and the policy of the red or bloody towns was that of fostering the warlike spirit by frequent raids and expeditions. In some towns young men were treated as menials before they had performed some daring deeds on the battlefield or acquired a war title. 1Milfort, Memoire, p. 251. To become a warrior every young man had to pass through a severe ordeal of privations called fast, púskita, from the fifteenth to the seventeenth year of his age. This initiation into manhood usually lasted from four to eight months, but in certain rare instances could be abridged to twelve days. A distinction of a material, not only honorific character was the election of a warrior to actual command as paká dsha or tustĕnúggi ‘láko. The Charges Of Commanders After the young man had passed through the hardships of his initiation, the career of distinction stood open...

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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. 1Thus the Creek verbal ending -is, though short by itself, generally becomes -is, when concluding a sentence; also the Hitchiti ending -wáts, -tawāts. 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; 2Absolute case has to be regarded as a...

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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...

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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. 1Milfort, Mem., p. 251. This may have been the practice in a few Creek tribes,...

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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.” 1Margry IV, 180. The most lucid and comprehensive account of...

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Other Muskogee Towns and Villages

Besides the recognized tribes or towns of major importance and such of their offshoots as can be identified, the literature of this region contains many names of towns or villages which can not be definitely connected with any of those given. In some cases it may be that we have to deal with ancient divisions in process of decline which were never connected with the rest, but in at least nine-tenths of the cases they are nothing more than temporary offshoots of the larger bodies. Opilłåko (“Big Swamp”) seems to have been one of the most ancient and important of these. It appears as far back as 1733, on the De Crenay map. 1Plate 5; also Hamilton, Col. Mobile, p. 190. It appears also in the census lists of 1750 and 1760, 2MS., Ayer Lib.; Miss. Prov. Arch., I. p. 96. but not in that of 1761. The trader located there in 1797 was Hendrik Dargin. 3Ga. Hist. Soc. Colls., IX, p. 170. Swan spells the name ”Pinclatchas,” 4Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, V, p. 262. and Hawkins has the following description: O-pil-thluc-co; from O-pil-lo-wau, a swamp; and thluc-co, big. It is situated on a creek of that name, which joins Puc-cun-tal-lau-has-see on the left side. It is 20 miles from Coosau River; the land about this village is round, flat hills, thickets of hickory saplings, and on the hillsides and...

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Coweta Tribe

The Coweta were the second great Muskogee tribe among the Lower Creeks, and they headed the war side as Kasihta headed the peace side. Their honorary title in the confederacy was Kawita ma’ma’yi, “tall Coweta.” Although as a definitely identified tribe they appear later in history and in the migration legends which have been preserved to us the Kasihta are given precedence, the Coweta were and still are commonly accounted the leaders of the Lower Creeks and often of the entire nation. By many early writers all of the Lower Creeks are called Coweta, and the Spaniards and French both speak of the Coweta chief as ”emperor” of the Creeks. An anonymous French writer of the eighteenth century draws the following picture of his power at the time of the Yamasee uprising: The nation of the Caoüita is governed by an emperor, who in 1714 [1715] caused to be killed all the English there were, not only in his nation, but also among the Abeca, Talapouches, Alibamons, and Cheraqui. Not content with that he went to commit depredations as far as the gates of Carolina. The English were excited and wanted to destroy them by making them drag pieces of ordinance loaded with grape-shot, by tying two ropes to the collar of the tube, on each one of which they put sixty savages, whom they killed in the midst of...

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