Chief of the Creek Council Square

Rather brief mention is made of “the Chief or Superintendent of the Council Square.” He seems to have been the man called in one place Tocko-łako-miko, “Big House (i. e.. Square) Chief.” His duties were plainly confined to matters within the Square Ground, as his name implies, but he was also a kind of lieutenant to the Town Chief and took his place on occasion. Therefore he was usually called Miko Apokta, “Second Chief,” and generally belonged to the same clan as Miko.

The chief’s adviser and spokesman was called Henīha or Taski Henīha. In one place it is said that he was “the Chief or Head Herald or Speaker whose duty it was to declare the decrees and judgments of the Principal Chief acting as the spokesman of the Council and through whom said Principal Chief always conveyed to tile people the knowledge of the laws and decisions of the Council in the establishment and enforcement of law arid order.” He had charge of certain feasts and festivals. He was supposed to be an old man, thoroughly versed in the laws and traditions of the people. Sometimes there was a fiction of age, for this office might be held by a young man. After it decision had been reached by the Council, the Town Chief called this man to him, and informed him of it, telling him just, what he must say to the people, and then the other announced the decision in a loud voice to all present. Taski Henīha seems to have been the name of the principal speaker to distinguish him from the rest of the Henīhas, for there were usually several, all drawn from one clan or one phratry.

As defined by Perryman, the Henīha appears to have performed the functions elsewhere assumed by tile Yatika, “Interpreter.” It is possible that in the Okmulgee town, or perhaps an among the Lower Creeks generally, this was usual, or it may have come about through a breakdown of the organization. In the Okchai town, at least., the Henīha and Yatika were two different men, one sitting at the right hand of the Miko, the other at his left., but it was the Yatika who spoke. The position of Henīha was, however, hereditary in a special clan, usually the Wind, and at least a White clan, while that of Yatika seems to have been attained by merit. It. is possible that a Yatika was gradually introduced owing to the fact that the Henīha would not always be endowed with the necessary eloquence.

The Tastanagi was a Military Chief whose duty it was to organize and have in charge the warriors in the town, i. e., the men who were fit to take part in warfare. In one place there is mention of two Tastanagis, and we know that there were sometimes more than one, and that in such cases the principal warrior was called Tastanagi łako, “Big Warrior.” He was the Sheriff or Chief of Police within the town as well as the Head Warrior outside of it.

The Imałas are called “burden carriers” and are said to leave had certain duties to perform in the festivals. They were in fact a. warlike grade below the Tastanagis and acted as their lieutenants and messengers. Like the Tastanagis, they were selected from Red clans.

The name Yaholagi is given to several messengers, evidently those selected to administer the Black Drink to the members of the Council. In these notes a more general function is indicated, “that of a crier or herald, or one who announces or conveys to others the decisions or orders of his superiors,” but. their specific and original duty was probably as just given.

The Chief Priest, Fire Keeper, or Fire Maker of the town (Tutkatitca), was also known as Medicine Maker (Hilis-haya). In making a fire he bored one stick into another until the fire started. Sometimes 12 men cooperated, one boring at a time. At every Council the fire must be kindled by means of the fire drill and by the Fire Maker. He did not sleep on the night before he made the fire, being supposed to work upon it all night. He is said to have as one of his duties that of calling the Council together by beating upon a drum at the town house. He was selected on account of his recognized abilities and appointed his own subordinates. However, he seems usually to have belonged to the same clan as the Town Chief and I was told that this was due to fear of treachery.

There was a Councilman or Elder Man who represented in the town council his clan or that segment of it which dwelt in his town. At times it became necessary for all the segments of a clan to assemble to discuss and adjust. affairs which concerned the entire clan. So many new towns came into existence in later times that it happened that the jurisdiction and authority of the Elder Man or Head Man of a segment in an important town came to extend over two or more segments dwelling in contiguous towns, especially when these towns were only short distances apart. Usually each segment of a clan in the several towns had its special Elder Man but in some cases, where an original town had been divided into two or more, and such divisions occupied adjacent sites, there might be a common Elder Man for such segments, but the Elder Man of the entire clan was supreme over all, and an important case might be submitted to him from any segment.

The clan regulated its own affairs, that is to say, the conduct of its members in relation to one another. The Elder Man was the chief and usually the oldest man, but if the oldest man had become incapacitated by reason of senility, the next in age became the Elder Man. This officer was the teacher and counselor of the clan, and his authority was great. When minor offenses were committed complaint was made to the Elder Man, whose duty it was to advise and warn tile offender. When offenses were more flagrant, or had been repeated after warning, complaint was made again to the Elder Man and the offender was punished in accordance with his judgment.

Elsewhere it is said that this officer was called “the Ancient.” Though this office might be held by a person of any age and was sometimes occupied by a mere boy, yet he was always called the Ancient One. Nevertheless, an old man might lose his position on arriving at his dotage.

Creek, History,

Hewitt, J. N. B. Notes on the Creek Indians. Edited by John R. Swanton. Anthropological Papers, No. 10. Bulletin 123, BAE. Washington: Government Printing Office. 1939.

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