Creek Tribal Divisions And Gentes

Parallel to the two íksa of the Cha’hta the Creeks are divided into two fires (tútka), a civil fire and a military fire. The term fire evidently refers to council fires, which had to be kindled ceremonially by the friction of two pieces of wood.

The term fire was also applied by Sháwano and other Northern Indians to the States formed by the early colonists, and is still used of the States now (1884) constituting the American Union: the thirteen fires, the seventeen fires, etc.

Concerning the gentes (aläíkita) of the Creek people, it is important to notice that in their towns each group of houses contained people of one gens only, 1 and these gentes are often mentioned in their local annals; and that the gens of each individual was determined by that of his mother. Some of the towns had separate gentes for themselves, all of which had privileges of their own.

Marriage between individuals of the same gens was prohibited; the office of the míko and the succession to property of deceased persons was and is still hereditary in the gens. In the Tukabatchi town the civil rulers or míkalgi were selected from the eagle gens; those of Hitchiti town from the racoon gens only; of Kasiχta from the bear gens; those of Taskígi probably from the wind gens. The beloved men or ístitchakálgi of Kasiχta were of the beaver gens.

In adultery and murder cases the relatives of the gens of the injured party alone had the right of judging and of taking satisfaction; the míko and his council were debarred from any interference. This custom explains why treaty stipulations made with the colonists or the Federal Government concerning murders committed have never been executed. 2

There is probably no Indian tribe or nation in North America having a larger number of gentes than the Maskoki proper. This fact seems to point either to a long historic development of the tribe, through which so large a segmentation was brought about, or to internal dissensions, which could produce the same result. About twenty gentes are now in existence, and the memory of some extinct ones is not lost in the present generation.

The list of Creek gentes, as obtained from Judge G. W. Stidham, runs as follows:

  1. Nokósalgi bear gens; from nokósi bear.
  2. Itchúalgi deer gens, from ítchu deer.
  3. Kátsalgi panther gens; kátsa panther, cougar.
  4. Koákotsalgi wild-cat gens; kóa-kótchi wild-cat.
  5. Kunipálgi skunk gens; kúno, kóno skunk.
  6. Wótkalgi racoon gens; wó’tko racoon.
  7. Yahálgi wolf gens; yáha wolf.
  8. Tsúlalgi fox gens; tsúla fox.
  9. Itch’hásualgi beaver gens; itch hásua beaver.
  10. Osánalgi otter gens; osána otter.
  11. Hálpadalgi alligator gens; hálpada alligator.
  12. Fúsualgi bird gens; fúswa forest bird.
  13. Ítamalgi, Támalgi, (?) cf. támkita to fly.
  14. Sopáktalgi toad gens; sopáktu toad.
  15. Tákusalgi mole gens; táku mole.
  16. Atchíalgi maize gens; átchi maize.
  17. Ahalaχalgi sweet potato gens; aha sweet potato, long marsh-potato.
  18. Hútalgalgi wind gens; hútali wind.
  19. Aktäyatsálgi (signification unknown).
  20. (-algi is the sign of collective plurality the okla of Cha’hta.)
  21. The following gentes are now extinct, but still occur in war names:
  22. Pahósalgi; occurs in names like Pahós’-hádsho.
  23. Okílisa; cf. Killis-tamaha. See: Chahta Indians
  24. ‘Lá’lo-algi fish gens; ‘lá’lo fish, occurs in war names like ‘Lá’lo yahóla, etc.
  25. Tchukótalgi, perhaps consolidated with another gens; it stood in a close connection with the Sopáktalgi. Also pronounced Tsuχodi; Chief Chicote is named after it.
  26. Odshísalgi hickory nut gens; ó’dshi hickory nut. Some believe this gens represented the people of Odshísi town, p. 71.
  27. Oktchúnualgi salt gens; oktchúnua salt.
  28. Isfánalgi; seems analogous to the Ispáni phratry and gens of the Chicasa.
  29. Wá’hlakalgi; cf. Hú‘li-wá’hli, town name.
  30. Muχlasalgi; said to mean “people of Muklása town”; cf. Imuklásha, under Cha’hta.

The Creek phratries and their names were not fully remembered by my informants. The only points which could be gathered were, that individuals belonging to the panther and the wildcat gentes could not intermarry, nor could the Tchukótalgi with the individuals of the toad gens or Sopáktalgi. This proves that the two groups formed each a phratry, which perhaps comprised other gentes besides. It is possible that among the above totemic gentes some are in fact phratries and not gentes; and the two fires (or tútka) of the Creeks are not real phratries, but formal divisions only.Citations:

  1. A similar distribution is observed in the villages, hunting and war camps of the Pani and Southern Dakotan tribes, and was very strictly enforced by them.[]
  2. Cf. Hawkins, p. 75.[]

Gatschet, Albert S. A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians. Pub. D.G. Brinton, Philadelphia, 1884.

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