Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Creek were a confederacy of tribes that emerged in the early eighteenth century in the southeastern United States, primarily in central Georgia and from the Atlantic coastal regions to central Alabama. The Creeks spoke several related languages of the Muskogean language family. Traditional Creek villages contained as many as twenty-five different matriclans living in four to eight houses. Subsistence was based on maize, beans, and squash, supplemented by hunting and fishing. During the period of 1836-1840 a major portion of the Creek confederacy was removed from its homeland in the southeast and resettled in Indian Territory in Oklahoma.


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North America --Eastern Woodlands


United States

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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The NN11 Creek collection consists of five documents, all in English, covering a time span from approximately 1540 to the early twenty-first century. The primary works on Creek ethnography are the two documents by Swanton in the collection (Swanton 1928, nos. 1 and 2), dealing with the traditional culture up to 1912. Swanton 1928, no. 1, is chiefly concerned with social organization, while Swanton 1928, no. 2, discusses religion and medicine. These two studies are complimented by Walker 2004, no. 4, based on secondary source material, which presents a concise summary of traditional Creek ethnography prior to their removal to Indian territory in Oklahoma by the United States government in 1836-1840s. Innes 2004, no. 5, is a description of changes that took place in Creek society after their removal to Oklahoma, while Paredes 2004, no. 6, focusing on the Poarch Creek community in Alabama, discusses the fate of those Creek who chose to remain in the East following the removal of the major part of the tribe to Oklahoma.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

John Beierle

Black drink - use "NONALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES (272)", and/or "PHARMACEUTICALS (278)"

Black drink ceremony - use "PHARMACEUTICALS (278)", and/or "ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL (796)"

Busk - the Green Corn Dance - use "ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL (796)", with "DANCE (535)"

Chunkey - ball fields - use "RECREATIONAL FACILITIES (529)"

Cokofa - a winter house used for public gatherings - use "PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344)"

Confederacy, materials on - - use "STATE (640)"

Creek general council - use "DELIBERATIVE COUNCILS (646)"

"Fires"- associated with red or white moieties - use "MOIETIES (616)"

Grouping of towns (upper, lower, middle, etc.) - use "TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY (631)"

Hilis-haya - medicine men - use "SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS (756)"

House of Kings and House of Warriors (after 1867) - use "DELIBERATIVE COUNCILS (646)"

Lighthorsemen - native police force - use "POLICE (625)"

Magi - beloved men - use "STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)", and/or "STATUS AND TREATMENT OF THE AGED (888)"

Mikagi (mikalgi) - secondary officials - use "LOCAL OFFICIALS (624)"

Mikko - headman or chief - use "COMMUNITY HEADS (622)"

Principal chief - use "CHIEF EXECUTIVE (643)"

Red clans and white clans - use "CLANS (618)", and "MOIETIES (616)"

Square grounds and buildings - use "PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344)", with "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361)"

Talwa - the Creek town - use "COMMUNITY STRUCTURE (621)"

Stickmen - use "LOCAL OFFICIALS (624)"

This culture summary was written by Richard A. Sattler. The synopsis and indexing notes were added by John Beierle in March 2008.

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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