Back To CourseAP US History: Tutoring Solution
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Michael teaches high school Social Studies and has a M.S. in Sports Management.
The Creeks did not call themselves Creeks until Europeans began using that particular term to refer to that Indian tribe. The Creeks had referred to themselves as 'Muskogee' or 'Ocmulgee' Indians. Europeans began calling these people 'Creeks' in the early 1700s and that became their name, although whites were simply referring to the 'Indians living on Ochese Creek' near present-day Macon, Georgia.
Creek Indians were not nomadic, but rather lived in large towns. These towns would be almost completely self-sufficient, having their own governments, materials and land. When the town grew large enough, the Indians would split it, and about half the town would go build a new town several miles away. They lived in wooden homes with thatched roofs made of sticks and long, thick-bladed grasses.
The Creek Indian Tribe is still very young when compared to other Native American tribes. There was no such tribe prior to the 1700's. Instead, these Indians lived in very large chiefdoms. A chiefdom is a group of tribes living together under one leader. These chiefdoms were very agricultural and were mound-building communities. Sometime around 1500, the chiefdoms collapsed, and the Creeks split into much smaller groups. The reason for the collapse and split is unknown.
Some of the most famous mound-building Native Americans were found in Mexico, which is where the Creek Indians originally migrated from. The Creeks' mounds were flat-topped pyramids that would rise up to 50 feet in height, and many were larger, in terms of ground area covered, than the Pyramids of Egypt. Mounds were typically used to communicate by smoke, hold festivals and celebrations, religious worship, and for other reasons. However, these mounds were not quite as impressive as the Egyptian Pyramids to the Europeans.
In the 1500s, Spanish explorers brought smallpox to the 'Creeks'. It is estimated that 90% of their population was killed by smallpox prior to 1700. By 1715, when they started becoming known as Creeks, their population was down to around 10,000. Nevertheless, the Creeks wanted many European goods and were willing to trade with whites.
As early as 1650, the Creeks were trading with the English. When South Carolina was officially established in 1670, the Creeks made a large profit selling slaves to the settlers there. The Creeks would capture Indians from present-day Florida and take them to market in South Carolina. However, the culture in South Carolina shifted away from using Indian slaves toward using slaves from Africa.
To continue the flow of goods into the Creek camps, they continued trading deerskins and other furs. These furs would be shipped to England and made into clothing or other goods. In return, the Creeks received cloth, guns, iron kettles, and rum. These items improved the Creeks' standard of living, but caused conflict within the tribe and with whites.
The Creeks were able to mostly stay out of the American Revolution. However, after the Revolution, the tribe was faced with difficult times. Decreased demand for deerskins and decreased supply of white-tailed deer hurt their economy. The newly-created state of Georgia also pressured the Creeks to turn some of their lands over for plantations. The Creeks gave up parts of their land in the 1790 Treaty of New York, the 1802 Treaty of Fort Wilkinson, and the 1805 Treaty of Washington.
The U.S. government also attempted to turn the Creeks into 'useful' economic tools. The program aimed to assist Creeks in learning to work and own large ranches and plantations. Some Creeks embraced this new lifestyle, while others were angered by it and would eventually lead to a civil war.
Some consider the Creek Civil War an extension of the War of 1812 between England and the U.S. Some Creeks backed the U.S. during the war, although the traditionalist group backed the English. The issues over how to deal with whites got so bad, that in 1813, the Creek Civil War began. Traditionalist Creeks were known as Red Sticks, due to the red sticks carried by the medicine men of the tribe. As such, the war has also been referred to as the 'Red Stick War.' The Red Sticks first battled the pro-American Creeks, and the Georgia militia, at the Battle of Burnt Corn Creek in July 1813. The Red Sticks scattered after a surprise attack, but regrouped and drove the militia and other Creeks away.
In late August 1813, the Red Sticks attacked Fort Mims in Alabama. Here they killed 250 troops, Native Americans, and civilians and took another 100 captives. In March of 1814, General Andrew Jackson led a large number of troops and friendly Creeks against the Red Sticks at Horseshoe Bend, Alabama. Jackson and his men killed over 800 Red Sticks, which all but ended the entire war. In August 1814, the war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson.
The Treaty of Fort Jackson forced the Creeks to give up 22 million acres of their land to the U.S. government. Andrew Jackson forced all Creeks to give up their land, even those who had fought with him during the Creek Civil War. Georgia representatives paid Creek leader William McIntosh to sign all remaining Creek land over, but the U.S. government would not recognize that treaty. All Creeks later signed the Treaty of Washington, officially giving up all Georgia lands to the government.
There were only about 20,000 Creeks living in Alabama by 1830, and most of those had moved from Georgia after the Treaty of Washington. In 1832, the remaining Creeks agreed to move to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. When whites learned of the soon-availability of that land, they began accusing the Creeks of attacks on them. The U.S. brought troops in and forced the Creeks to walk along the Trail of Tears in 1836.
The Creeks refer to themselves as the 'Muskogee' or 'Ocmulgee' Indians. Creeks was the name given to them by Europeans and that became their name. They originally lived under large agricultural chiefdoms and built larger mounds, which were flat topped pyramids that would rise up to 50 feet in height and would typically use to communicate by smoke and hold festivals and celebrations. The Creeks eventually lived in self-sufficient towns with their own governments, materials and land. They lived in wooden homes with thatched roofs made of sticks and long thick-bladed grasses.
In the 1500s, Spanish explorers brought smallpox to the Creeks, and an estimated 90% of their population died of the disease prior to 1700. By 1715, their population was down to around 10,000. However as early as 1650, the Creeks were trading with the English. When South Carolina was officially established in 1617, the Creeks made a large profit selling slaves and trading deerskins and other furs. These furs would be shipped to England and made into clothing and other goods. In return, the Creeks received cloth, guns, iron kettles and rum. However, decreased demand for deerskins hurt the Creek economy.
The newly- created state of Georgia also pressured the Creeks to turn over some of their lands. They gave up parts of their land in the Treaties of New York, Fort Wilkinson, and Washington, which, due to in fighting over white influence and concession, would eventually lead to the Creek Civil War in 1813 between traditionalist Creeks known as Red Sticks and pro-U.S. Creeks. In August 1814, the war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ft. Jackson. The Treaty of Ft. Jackson forced the Creeks to give up 22 million acres of their land. Georgia representatives paid Creek leader William McIntosh to sign all remaining Creek land over but the U.S. government would not recognize that treaty. All Creeks later signed the Treaty of Washington officially giving up all their lands.
In 1832, the Creeks agreed to move to Indian Territory in present day Oklahoma. When whites learned of the soon availability of that land, they began accusing the Creeks of attacking them. The U.S. brought in troops and forced the Creeks to walk along the Trail of Tears in 1836.
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Back To CourseAP US History: Tutoring Solution
29 chapters | 361 lessons