Muscogee Creek Indians descended from South Appalachian woodland dwellers in Georgia and Alabama. Early ancestors of Creeks constructed distinctive flat topped earthen pyramids as part of their ceremonial complexes, some of which still survive today.
They founded a colony at Ocmulgee near Macon in Georgia and spread out from there. Creek settlements had a ceremonial center, a council house for elders, a ground for playing stick-ball and a chunkey yard used for games and dances.
Creeks derived their identity from their clan, but also from the town where they lived. There were at least 50 Creek towns in the early eighteenth century, with a combined population of more than 20,000.
The name Creek was a shortened version of “Ochese Creek” the name assigned to the tribe by British traders, based on their location. Their proper name is Muscogee, also spelt Mvskoke.
Creeks were encouraged to assimilate into American culture under the guidance of U.S. Indian Agent Benjamin Hawkins. Distribution of communal farming lands, western education and religious missions were strongly promoted. Creeks were considered one of the “civilized” tribes because of their adoption of European-style clothing, the restructuring of their government and the ownership of slaves.
There was disagreement between the Upper and Lower Creeks about the degree to which they should accept American cultural encroachments. This led to the “Red Stick War”, or Creek War, in which Upper Creeks, or “Red Stick” Creeks fought against U.S. military forces and Lower “White Stick” Creeks. The defeat of the Upper Creeks at Horseshoe Bend forced Creeks to cede more than 20 million acres in Georgia and Alabama to the U.S. Government.
This further whetted American appetites for Creek lands. The U.S. Army enforced the removal of Creeks to Indian Territory in 1836 and 37.
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