Creeks (called by themselves Este Musko-kee or Muscokulke), a tribe of American Indians, living when first known to the whites on the Flint, Chattahoochee, Coosa, and Alabama rivers, and in the peninsula of Florida. Their traditions and language point to a common origin with the Choctaws and Chickasaws. They claim to have come out of the earth, and to have emigrated from the northwest, led by the Cussitaws, till they reached Florida, whence they fell back and took possession of the region extending east to the Ocmulgee and west to the Coosa and Tallapoosa. As this abounded in creeks and rivulets, it was called by the early English settlers the Creek country, and the Indians came to be known as Creek Indians. Those remaining in Florida were called Semi-noles (wanderers). The Hitchitees, Cussitaws, and Cowetas settled on the Appalachicola and Flint; the Coosas and Alabamas on the rivers bearing those names. As early as 1540 the Spaniards under De Soto reached the Coosas, Alabamas, Tuscaloosas, Tallisses, and Pacahas. Twenty years after Tristan de Luna made an alliance with the Coosas. The Spaniards at an early day won over the Appalaches. In the territory occupied by the Creeks were tribes like the Oconees, Okchais, Wetumpkas, and Pacahas, whom they incorporated, and whose language modified the original language of the Creeks. When Carolina and Louisiana began to be settled, the Creek nations were courted by English, French, and Spaniards. The English, establishing Fort Moore, won the lower Creeks by their trade; the upper Creeks were under French influence; the Appalaches had been Christianized by the Spaniards, who by the honors paid the emperor of the Cowetas hoped to control all.
In 1710 the Cowetas made war on Carolina, and were received with distinction at St. Augustine; but Chipacafi, who became emperor in 1718, visited Mobile and joined the French side. Fort Alibamon was built by the Frencli and a garrison maintained there. This influence was maintained for several years, but in 1732 Oglethorpe made a treaty at Savannah with eight tribes of Creeks, and in 1739 negotiated with the Cowetas. This influence led them to join him against St. Augustine in 1742. English traders settled among them, but their fidelity was so doubtful that a superintendent was rebuked for making peace between the Creeks and Cherokees because he exposed Carolina to inroads. The overthrow of the French power in North America and the cession of Florida to England brought the Creeks entirely under English influence. They numbered then 5,860 warriors, and had 50 towns. When the American revolution began, the Creeks, influenced by royal officers and traders in their pay, were hostile; and besides minor depredations, they joined in a night attack on Wayne's army in 1782 under Guister-sigo. At the peace many tories fled to their towns, keeping up the hostile feelings and ravaging the frontiers of Georgia. Congress finally resolved to make war, if a last effort at peace failed.
It was not till 1790 that Washington induced McGillivray and other chiefs to visit New York and make peace. The treaty included the Cussitaws, Tallisses, Tuckabatchys, Natchez, Cowetas, Broken Arrows, Coosadas, Alabamas, and Oaksoys, forming the Upper and Lower Creeks and the Seminoles. Yet in 1792 Creeks joined the Cherokees in the attack on Buchanan's station near Nashville, and on Cavit's station near Knoxville in the following year. A treaty at Coleraine in 1796 made provision for military and trading posts, and in 1802 and 1805 they began to cede lands. A Baptist mission had been projected, but not carried out, and the feeling among the Creeks was still hostile; so that when the second war with England broke out, English envoys and the Creek prophets Monahooe and Hillishagee easily roused them to, war. They surprised Fort Mimms, Aug. 30, 1813, killing 400 men, women, and children. The work of reducing them was prompt. They were defeated at Tallushatchee Nov. 3, by Gen. Coffee; at Talladega on the 7th, by Gen. Jackson; at Hilla-bee on the 11th, by Gen. White; at Attassee on the 29th, by Floyd; and at Eccanachaca Dec. 23, by Claiborne. Jackson on Jan. 18, 1814, defeated them at Emuckfau, on the 24th at Enotochopco, and finally on March 27 crushed them completely at their last stand, Horseshoe Bend. Having lost nearly 2,000 warriors and had their country ravaged, towns laid in ashes, and misery before them they submitted.
By the treaty of Aug. 9 they ceded extensive tracts of land to pay for the war expenses. Other treaties followed ceding more lands, as the whites in Georgia became anxious for their removal, and the United States had in 1802 promised to extinguish the Indian title. Many were in favor of removing, and from the beginning of the century some Alabamas and Coo-shattas had settled in Louisiana, and finally in Texas, where they remained on a reservation till 1872, when the government took steps to reunite them with the rest of the nation. In 1822 the Creeks were estimated at 22,000, and still occupied much of Georgia and Alabama, and the chiefs had decreed that any one signing a treaty ceding lands should be put to death. When Gen. William Mcintosh and a few other chiefs were induced to sign a treaty at Indian Spring, Feb. 12, 1825, ceding all their Georgia lands and much in Alabama for an equal quantity on the Arkansas and Canadian rivers and $400,000 in money, the nation repudiated the treaty, and on May 1 put Gen. Mcintosh to death. The Creeks then divided into two parties, one, under Chilly Mcintosh, favoring emigration, the other opposing it.
A treaty at Washington, Jan. 24, 1826, declared null and void that of Indian Spring, but ceded their Georgia lands, except a small strip on the Chattahoochee, and made provision for removing the Mcintosh party, stipulated sums of money to be paid to both divisions of the tribe. The other party retired for a time to Alabama. In 1828 by further largesses the tribe were induced to ratify past cessions. In 1836 some of the Creeks, under Opothleyoholo, Menawa, and other chiefs, joined the United States troops against the Seminoles; but others took up arms and began a general attack on the frontier villages in Georgia and Alabama. Gen. Scott soon reduced them, and the government at once set about the removal of the whole tribe to the territory assigned them between the Arkansas and Canadian. In all 24,594 were removed, 236 perishing on the steamboat Monmouth. Only 744 remained east of the Mississippi. Government unwisely attempted to force a union between them and the Seminoles, but this only created trouble. Attempts were made to Christianize and elevate them; but as Christianity was known only as the negro slaves presented it, nothing but contempt was shown for its worship and doctrine, and the Creeks refused missionaries and schools.
It was not till 1843 that a school was opened at Coweta. Missions followed under the direction of the Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists, and some progress was made; books were printed and a better spirit awakened. The tribe however steadily declined. In 1857 they numbered only 14,888, having lost nearly one fourth in 20 years. When the civil war began in 1861 the tribe divided; 6,000 under the head chief joined the confederates, and others under Opothleyoholo adhered to the United States. These defeated the confederates in two battles, but in a third battle were utterly defeated, and 6,000 or 8,000 men, women, and children fled to Kansas. There Gen. Hunter relieved them, but numbers perished; 1,000 entered the army. After the war they were estimated at 14,396. By treaty of June 14, 1866, proclaimed Aug. 11, the Creeks ceded 3,000,000 acres at about 30 cents an acre, the United States to pay $975,000, only $100,000 directly to the loyal portion. - The government of the Creeks was peculiar. Each town was independent of the rest, ruled by its own micco or elective king, next to whom was the war chief. Each town had its square enclosed by houses for the celebration of the great fast called posketa, or more commonly busk, which was attended with curious ceremonies.
The micco and war chief had special houses around the square. The number of chiefs in time became very great and oppressive to the tribe, so that they were reduced to 500; but a new form of government was desirable, and necessary for any real improvement. In 1868 a plan was adopted including a first and second chief, a house of warriors, and a house of kings; but it was not unanimously accepted, fully one half the tribe opposing it. In 1869 the portion of the Creeks who had since the war been living in the Cherokee country were brought back to the Creek territory. In 1872 the Creeks, estimated at 13,000, had 3,215,495 acres, only 30,000 cultivated; they had 33 schools under the Methodists, and one Presbyterian, with 760 pupils; their annual payments from the government amounted to $68,000. - The Muskokee language has no sound like a in fate, and no ft, c, d, g, j, r, q, v x, or z. In the printed books c represents tch, and r a sound like hi. The two principal dialects are the Main Creek and Hitchitee; the Alabama, Coo-sady, and Mikasuky, spoken by the Seminoles, approach the Hitchitee. The Uchee and Natchez are spoken by remnants of those tribes. Women have words peculiar to themselves.
The only grammar of the language is that by H. F. Buckner (Marion, Ala., 1860), analyzed in Brinton's " Contributions to a Grammar of the Muskokee" (Philadelphia, 1870). The printed books are almost entirely religious.