This is the era when the Creeks became the Creeks. During the late 1600s the English colonial records described dealings with several Muskogean ethnic groups in South Carolina (which include the future states of Georgia and Alabama.) Their English names were the Oconee, Sawakee, the Cusabo, Soque, Hillabee, Pee Dee, Cusa, Santeetly, Ochese, Yamasee, Tamatly, Caskenampo, Tallassee and Apalachicola. By the time, that the Colony of Georgia was founded n 1732, several more proto-Creek groups were known, but the Coweta were dominant. Generally, both the Georgia and the French colonial governments called most proto-Creeks, Cowetas. The French spelled the word, Cohuita. It is the origin of the Cohutta Mountains name. The French consistently labeled all of the mountains in Georgia as the Cohuita (or Creek) Mountains until 1763. This is more evidence that it was never jointly owned by the Creeks and Cherokees.
The French called the Apalachicola, the Conchaqui. or Conk People. Beginning in the mid-1740s, the members of the Creek Confederacy began functioning more as a single tribe. It was then, that they collectively became known as Creek Indians. The word Muskogee was not to be seen until the turn of the century.
The Colony of Georgia came closest to creating a multi-ethnic society in which Native Americans prospered equally with Europeans. A Creek village prospered adjacent to Savannah until the American Revolution. Relations between the two peoples were excellent, and characterized by mutual respect during the Colonial Era. There was considerable intermarriage between the allies on the Georgia frontier. Mixed heritage families from South Carolina also moved into this region.
An Opportunity for the History Departments of LSU and USC
Much of the history of the 1600s in the Southern Highlands, Piedmont and Eastern Tennessee remains a riddle to this day. There is a date of 1615 inscribed on a rocky face overlooking the Little Tennessee River Gorge in Graham County, NC with a message in Spanish stating, We will defend what we hold. There is a brief report of a English expedition to the Tanasa People on the Tennessee River in the mid-1670s. Since the expedition traveled entirely though lands of people speaking Muskogean languages, its guides were ancestors of the Creeks. The Creek word for the Tanasa People was Tenesaw. The Creek name for their province was Tenesi (meaning offspring of the Tanasa Mother Town.) There are early French maps that show the heart of the North Carolina Mountains occupied by the Shawnee and the Tuskegee (Taskeke.) The earliest English maps show a multi-ethnic alliance in the northwestern corner of South Carolina and the northeastern tip of Georgia that was called the Chorakee (splinter group.)
To the northwest of the Chorakee are generic labels for other Indian villages, which state Allies of the Chorakee. That does not mean that these peoples in the North Carolina Mountains were either Chorakee or proto-Cherokee. However, archaeological work by Joseph Caldwell proved that Tugaloo and Chauga were occupied by proto-Creeks until at least 1700 AD. There is a report from a joint British-Chorakee expedition in 1690, which viewed a Spanish mining colony in the Nacoochee River Valley of Georgia. In 1745, Cherokees entering the Tuckaseegee River Valley in what is now Jackson County, NC (Sylva) for the first time, reported that the region was occupied by Europeans with skin the color of the Indians.
Supporting this minimal archival evidence is even sparser archaeological information. In the mid-1970s, archaeologist excavated a hamlet on the upper Tuckaseegee River, which appeared to date from around 1684-1690. In recent years, a large village on the Oconaluftee River near the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was excavated in advance of the construction of the new Cherokee High School. All of its architecture was consistent with known Yuchi traditions, but was labeled Cherokee by the North Carolina archaeologists. Meanwhile, archaeology departments in the region do not seem very interested in the 1600s and early 1700s, especially in regard to possible Spanish or Melungeon settlements.
The Louisiana State University History Department is in a unique position to examine the French Colonial Archives for additional information about the Southern Highlands and Piedmont. The university has direct access to the archives and a significant number of professors, who speak French. The French are known to have sent many diplomatic expeditions into southeastern Tennessee, northwestern Georgia and western North Carolina. These expeditions were typically accompanied by engineers, who functioned as cartographers. In fact, the presence of the Apalachicola in northwest Georgia during the first 2/3 of the 1700s may be the result of French diplomatic activities.
Likewise, the University of South Carolina History Department is in a unique position to thoroughly examine the archives of the Colony of South Carolina. Surely, some Indian trader penetrated the western North Carolina and Georgia Mountains during the late 1600s, and wrote down what he saw.
It is also very difficult to make definitive statements about the 1600s, because so many of the available historical studies started with preconceptions and misconceptions. The most common mistake of these studies is that they analyzed common Creek words, but never bothered to consult Creek dictionaries, before making outlandish interpretations. The media has also been saturated with a version of history that magnifies every Cherokee military victory and neglects to mention any defeats. The truth of history is that after about 1738, the Cherokees lost every war they fought in most cases they suffered catastrophic defeats, but were generally able to get their friends in the British government to mitigate the damage through diplomatic efforts.
One of the funniest examples of biased studies of the 1500s and 1600s, was published in a book and on the Internet. It decided the towns visited by de Soto were occupied by Moslems, since their leaders were called Meccas and their towns were called Talwameccas. Of course, the Spanish spelled the word mecco, that was the Muskogean word for leader, mikko. These particular scholars decided that de Sotos chroniclers really meant to write down Mecca instead of Mecco.
Myths Perpetuated by Standard History Books and Websites
The official histories of the first half of the 18th century contain some major orthodoxies that are so far from fact that they are farcical. Generically, they can be described as an over-simplification of history that leaves out important details, a grossly inaccurate description of the ethnic landscape of the era, a minimizing of the histories of all the Southeastern indigenous ethnic groups other than the Cherokees, and an exaggeration of the Cherokees cultural level, territory and military power during that era. The Alabamo, Shawnee, Catawba, Chickasaw, Apalachicola and Yuchi are barely mentioned, if mentioned at all, in the standard history textbooks of Georgia and North Carolina. However, all of these ethnic groups were major players in the Lower Southeast between 1700 and 1776. The following myths are replicated over and over again in the history books and websites.
Myth # 1: Most of Alabama was always occupied by the Muskogee-Creeks.
Fact: At the beginning of the 18th Century, true Muskogees only occupied a relatively small area of the middle Chattahoochee River Basin and a triangular wedge in west-central Georgia. Their language used kli for people or clan. Their population in what is today Alabama would have been insignificant.
The Achese (Ochese), Sawakee and Okamoleke (Ocmulgee) Creeks of middle Georgia spoke a form of Mvskoke that mixed Hitchiti with true Mvskoke. Sawa is the Hitchiti word for raccoon. Okamoleke is a mixture of Hitchiti and Highland Mvskoke. It means Water – Swirling People.
The Kowete (Coweta) of the Upper Chattahoochee River Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina apparently spoke a dialect of Hitchiti, mixed with some Mvskoke words by 1700.
The Upper Creeks had moved into northeastern Alabama along the Tennessee and Coosa Rivers, but they primarily spoke Highland Muskogee (the Apike and Taskeki,) plus Koasati and Hitchiti. Highland Muskogee used ke for people or clan.
The Apalachicola (Lower Creeks) of southwestern Alabama, spoke a language that was a mixture of Hitchiti and Choctaw. Their word for people or clan was kola.
The Alabamo occupied the Alabama and Black Warrior River Basins, plus much of central Alabama. Choctaw speakers occupied west central Alabama, while the Chickasaw occupied the region of Alabama north of the Tennessee River. The Mobile, Biloxi and Chatot occupied the Gulf Coast region of Alabama.
Myth # 2: All of western North Carolina was occupied by the Cherokees from at least 1000 AD.
Fact: None of the town names and political titles recorded by the Chroniclers of the de Soto Expedition in North Carolina and Georgia are Cherokee words. These words may be easily translated with contemporary Hitchiti, Koasati, Mvskoke, Alabama or Itza Maya dictionaries.
Furthermore, there is extensive evidence that Muskogean speakers continued to occupy the western and eastern ends of the North Carolina Mountains until they were occupied by English-speaking settlers in the 1760s. All but one of the Indian place names in Graham County, NC are Muskogean-or-Maya-origin words (Tallassee, Chiaha, Talula, Santeetlah, Tennessee and Tuskeegee.) Graham is the location of Fontana Lake, Lake Santeelah and much of the Smoky Mountains. All of the Native American place names, east of Franklin, NC and south of Asheville are Mvskoke or Hitchiti words.
The Valley Cherokees did not cross west and south of the Hiwassee River until 1714, when they drove out the Apalachee and Yuchi. They did not enter the upper Tuckaseegee River Valley until 1745. The famous Tuckaseegee Village site in Jackson County, NC has been labeled a Quala I, Proto-Cherokee site dating to 1684. It probably is not ethnic Cherokee, and may be either be Yuchi, Shawnee or Siouan.
The only region of the Southern Highlands, where Cherokee place names predominate is northwestern Georgia, where they lived last. Even there one finds Apalachicola place names (Oothlooga, Taliwa and Itawa [Etowah.])
Myth # 3: Prior to 1755, northern Georgia was a joint Cherokee-Creek hunting ground.
Fact: Before the early 1700s there were no Cherokee communities in what would become the State of Georgia. Until 1763, the Apalachicola occupied northwest Georgia; the Catawbas,, Kusa and Koweta occupied north central Georgia; and the Apalachee, Hogeloge (Tennessee Yuchi) and Koweta occupied northeast Georgia. After 1714, when the Cherokees captured the Hiwassee Valley of Georgia and North Carolina there were a few small Cherokee villages in White, Towns, Rabun and Stephens Counties, which compose the extreme northeastern tip of Georgia. In the 1760s, the British established a relatively small joint hunting ground in northeast Georgia that was about 20 miles wide and 50 miles long. 1English and French maps show the Catawba located in the vicinity of modern day Gainesville, GA.
Myth # 4: A great Cherokee victory over the Muskogee Creeks in 1755 at Taliwa gave the Cherokees complete control of all of northern Georgia west of the Chattahoochee River. A historical marker in Ball Ground, GA describes a battle in which the Overhills Cherokees captured and burned Taliwa (on the Etowah River) and thus won all of northern Georgia.
Fact: The Cherokees may have burned Taliwa in 1755, but they were quickly driven out of what is now Georgia. Taliwa is an Apalachicola word, however, not Muskogee. That means that the so-called Muskogee Creeks fighting the Cherokees were actually Apalachicola allies of the French. Prior to the arrival of the Apalachicola, northwest Georgia had been occupied by the Kusa-Creeks who were Upper Creeks, not Muskogee-Creeks. Up until 1763 or later, some Kusas still lived in north-central Georgia. By 1758, several bands of the Cherokees were active French allies and therefore, allies of the Apalachicola. It could very well be that some Apalachicola;s NEVER left NW Georgia, but were absorbed by the masses of Cherokee refugees that arrived there in the later stages of the American Revolution. Updated French military maps showed that until 1763 the territory of their Indian allies had expanded during the war.
The Muskogee Creeks were allies of Georgia and Great Britain. They are not show by French or English maps as ever living in northwest Georgia in the 1700s.
The Colony of South Carolina DID promise the Cherokees what is now northwestern Georgia, if they would attack the French allies there, but the lands west of the Chattahoochee River were not occupied by the Cherokees until the end of the French & Indian War. Remember, South Carolina believed it owned northern Georgia. The only maps of the period that showed the region to be in the Colony of Georgia were drawn in Savannah.
Myth # 5: A great Cherokee victory over the Creeks in 1755 on the slopes of Blood Mountain gave them control of all of northern Georgia.
Historical signs in the north-central part of the state describe an epic battle on the sides of Blood Mountain, in which the Cherokees won all of northern Georgia. The evidence cited in the markers is regard to the many arrowheads that early settlers found on the side of the mountain and in Slaughter Gap.
Fact: By 1755, all of the Cherokee villages in northeast Georgia and the Hiwassee Valley of North Carolina had been burned by the Koweta Creeks and abandoned by the Cherokees. At that time, all of what is now Georgia and the southern portions of western North Carolina were under the control of the Koweta Creeks. There may have been a battle fought on Blood Mountain in prehistoric times, but it couldnt have involved the Cherokees. They were nowhere around. Most likely the arrowheads are the result of thousands of years of hunting and the battle, the result of fertile imaginations by settlers or fireside stories by aging Cherokee warriors.
Myth # 6: A great Cherokee victory over the Creeks on top of Fort Mountain, GA (before the arrival of the English) gave them complete control of northern Georgia.
This story was treated as a historical fact by the famous ethnologist, James Mooney. Supposedly there was a large Muskogee Creek town on top of the mountain that contained their most important temple. Inside the temple was a snake idol with ruby eyes that the Creeks worshiped. Once the Cherokees had these ruby eyes in their possession their warriors were invincible and quickly seized all of the northern part of the future state.
Fact: All of the branches of the Creeks are monotheistic and do not worship idols. No map shows a Cherokee presence in NW Georgia before 1763. The Kusa occupied NW Georgia in the 1300s-1500s. The Apalachicola occupied NW Georgia until 1763. From then until the early 1780s, the region was primarily hunting grounds. There is no evidence of a large town or temple mound on Fort Mountain. The stone walls were buttresses for a palisade at some time in the ancient past, but no other structures are visible. At this time, no artifacts have been found on Fort Mountain to link it to any ethnic group.
Myth # 7: The mounds at the Tugaloo, GA and Chauga, SC Sites were built by the Cherokees.
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian in North Carolina states that the mounds at both towns were built by the Cherokees, as does the Tugaloo Corridor Project, which is co-sponsored by such organizations as Georgia Power, the U.S. Forest Service, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Georgia Historical Commission erected historical markers in the 1970s that stated that Tugaloo founded by the Cherokees around 1450 AD. South Carolina literature generally describes both sites as ancient Cherokee towns with multiple mounds
Fact: Both town names are derived from Muskogean words. Tokahle means freckled people and refers to an indigenous Siouan people, who were vassals of Mississippian Culture Muskogeans. Chauga is derived from Chauka, which means black locust in both Hitchiti and Mvskoke.
In the late 1950s, Archaeologist Joseph Caldwell of the National Park Service excavated Tugaloo and dug test pits at Chauga. Archaeologist Arthur Kelly of the University of Georgia did more extensive investigative work at Chauga. Both archaeologists clearly described the mounds as being built by ancestors of the Creeks. Extensive deposits of proto-Creek pottery and lithic artifacts were found in multiple layers at both sites, whereas a thin layer possible European and Historical Period Native American artifacts were found near the surface. The Historical Cherokee occupation was very brief and confined to a much smaller surface area. Radiocarbon dating indicated that both towns were first occupied by the Cherokees in the early 1700s and abandoned permanently in 1776.
A map produced by the Colony of South Carolina in the 1720s describes the area around Tugaloo and Chauga as being occupied by the Hogeloge, a branch of the Yuchi that originally lived in Tennessee. Apparently, the Hogeloge were allies of the Cherokees at this time.
Timeline: The Deerskin Trading Era (1722 1755)
Investigation of the causes of the Yamassee War finally convinced British authorities that the Native American slave trade was a very dangerous policy to maintain. The truth was, however, that much of the countryside of the Carolinas and eastern Georgia had been depopulated by slave raids by 1715, so it had accomplished its original goal namely genocide. The taking of captives in war and selling them into slavery would continue until 1752, when King George I banned Native American slavery in the North American colonies, and freed all existing Native American slaves.
Freedom was not to come for many slaves of predominant Native American heritage, however. Most colonies in the South passed laws that stated if a slave was as much as 1/64 African, they could not be freed. Since Native American and African slaves were often housed together, it was quite common for slave babies to be of mixed racial ancestry. A person, who was 63/64 Native American and 1/64 African could usually pass for a full-blooded Indian. Undoubtedly, many of these people found a way to escape to freedom west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Southeastern tribes during this era tended to cluster around loyalties to either France or Great Britain. The Choctaws were solidly in the fold of the French. The Chickasaw, their arch-enemies, were solidly in the British fold. The Alabamo, Apalachicola and Tallapoosa-Kusa-Apika-Taskekee (Creeks) were pro-French. The Muskogee-Coweta-Okonee-Tallassee Creeks were pro-British. The Yuchi seemed to have traded with whoever was closest to their particular town. The Catawba were pro-British.
As Native American slaves became less and less salable, another issue began to spark warfare between the Southeastern tribes. Trade shifted to deerskins and furs. However, the deer population was rapidly being exterminated by mass hunting for skins. Ironically, the nutrition of the families of Southeastern Native Americans suffered. The goal of this type of intertribal warfare changed from the capture of slaves to the ethnic cleansing of regions, so that they could be utilized as hunting grounds.
Another type of intertribal warfare dragged on for decades in the early 1700s. It was totally based on revenge and the development of military societies in the eastern United States. Males could not be called adult names unless they fought in a battle. The Cherokees and Iroquois had been enemies prior to the rival of European settlers. This war probably originated when the ethnic core of the Cherokees, the Rickohockens, lived in southwestern Virginia. However, the war took on new vigor, when the Cherokees assisted the Carolina colonies in the crushing of the Tuscaroras. The surviving Tuscaroras fled to New England and became the sixth member of the Iroquois Confederacy.
The Cherokees, however, had made many enemies during the period when the majority of their trade income was derived from capturing other Native Americans and selling them into slavery. The Upper Cherokees were constantly involved with skirmishes with the tribes of the Great Lakes region and the Choctaws. These skirmishes generally involved only small bands of warriors out to prove their manhood.
An ongoing war with the Koweta, Okonee, Kusseta and other proto-Creek groups in Georgia, though, was a war of mutual extermination. The proto-Creeks had never forgotten the Cherokees treachery in 1715 at Tugaloo when all of the Creek mikkos were murdered in their sleep while attending a diplomatic conference. This war was primarily between the Valley Cherokees, the Lower Cherokees against the Georgia Creeks. Initially, the Upper Creeks also attacked the Overhills Cherokees, but neither side was as enthusiastic, since many towns in both regions had the same Muskogean names.
1717 – The French constructed Fort Toulouse at the conjuncture of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers. The fact that this fort was constructed in the same year that the Yamassee War ended, was probably not coincidental. One of the earliest acts of war by the Ochesee Creeks was the burning of the British trading post on the Ocmulgee River on the terrace opposite Macon. At this time, the region was occupied by Alabamo Indians. Its name in Archaic Alabamo was Franca Choka Chula (French House Pine) This may surprise Creeks, who always assume that area of Alabama was always Creek. The French initially considered the fort and trading post to be oriented to the Alabamo. Ethnic groups later associated with the Creek Confederacy eventually moved closer to the fort to take advantage of trading opportunities.
1717 – The Chitimachas, who occupied the region between the Mississippi River and Biloxi Bay, rebelled against the French. The cause of the war was repeated slave raids by French soldiers and settlers from Biloxi. Those not killed by the French and the Choctaw allies, were enslaved.
1718 New Orleans was founded on the Lower Mississippi River. Large gangs of Chitimacha slaves were utilized to clear the land, plus dig drainage ditches and canals, that would make construction possible. Many, if not most, of the Chitimacha slaves died of disease and physical abuse.
1720 Large numbers of Muskogees began moving into central and eastern Georgia to re-settle lands formerly occupied by the members of the Yamassee Alliance.
1721 Treaty of Charleston The Lower Cherokees sold lands in South Carolina that they had taken from indigenous tribes to the South Carolina Colony.
1723 – New Orleans became to the capital of the Province of Louisiana. The capital was moved from Mobile, because it was thought that Mobile was too vulnerable to British sea power.
1723 Yamassee raiding parties from the Spanish province of Florida did serious damage to plantations and villages in far southern South Carolina.
1723 As allies of the French, the Choctaws attacked the Chickasaws and were defeated. The Chickasaws were furnished weapons and munitions by the English traders.
1724 A Catawba war party overtook an Iroquois war party near modern-day Franklin, WV, and defeated it.
1725 Colonel George Chicken went on a tour of the Lower Cherokee towns. The purpose of his mission is confusing, because one version has him urging the Cherokees to continue their war with the Creeks. The other was that he wanted to end the war. There were no Creek Indians in 1725, so either version is of a 19th or 20th century origin.
The confusion may arise from the fact that perhaps, Chicken wanted the Cherokees to continue fighting the proto-Creeks, who were allies of the French, but cease fighting the proto-Creeks, who were allies of the British. The Cherokees could have been on good terms with one branch of the Muskogeans and at war with another.
Chicken apparently met with the leaders of the Lower and Valley Cherokees at Nikasi, which is now in Franklin, NC. Probably, very few North Carolinians know that Nikasi was at the eastern edge of the Cherokee frontier. To the immediate east was territory controlled by the Koweta Creeks until 1763. All Native American places names in the North Carolina Mountains, east of Franklin are Muskogean words. It is not clear in the North Carolina Kowitas were friends or allies of the early Cherokees.
1728 The endless wars fought by the Catawba had reduced its numbers down to 400 warriors and approximate total population of 2000.
1729 A very violent war began between the Natchez and the French. The primary issues were the abduction of Natchez youth to make them slaves, and the seizing without compensation of Natchez farmlands by French planters.
1730 The Natchez warriors made a last stand on Sicily Island north of Jonesville, LA. Most of the Natchez were either killed or captured. Captives were transported to French sugar plantations in the Caribbean, where they suffered short, brutal lives as slaves.
The survivors fled eastward. Half were assigned by the Apalachicola to set up a village now named Pine Log about 13 miles north of Cartersville, GA. The other half were taken in by Cherokees and were assigned land at what is now Pine Log, NC. The name Pine Log came the mistranslation of the Cherokee word Ani-Natsi (Natchez People) by Protestant missionaries in the early 1800s. One of the most famous families of Cherokee history that included Major Ridge, John Ridge, Stand Wattie and Elias Boudinot was descended from a Natchez family who took refuge among the Cherokees.
1730 Sir Alexander Cumming visited with the Cherokees in Nikwasi and convinced to make Moytoy, the chief of Tellico, their emperor. In June of 1730 a delegation of 7 Cherokee leaders arrived and London, and temporarily became the talk of the town. The Treaty of Whitehall was signed while they were in England.
1730 Fort Prince Frederick was constructed at Port Royal, SC to protect the colony from a Spanish invasion.
1732 Colony of Georgia was founded in Savannah. The Yamacraw, a small Muskogean tribe on the lower Savannah River, immediately became close allies (and true friends) with the Georgia colonists. Relations between the Creeks and the Georgians would continue to be excellent and mutually beneficial up until the Revolution.
1733 Governor James Oglethorpe met with proto-Creek leaders at Koweta at which time their leaders formally ceded sections of the coast to the new colony. The initial site named Kowita was probably Indian Springs, between Macon and Atlanta. Soon thereafter, a Creek capital named Kowita was designated on the middle Chattahoochee River.
1735 Augusta was founded on the Savannah River by Georgia colonial authorities. South Carolina considered the town to be in South Carolina, but it quickly stole almost all the Indian trade from Charleston, and shifted it to Savannah.
1736 Fort Frederica was constructed on Saint Simons Island in the new Colony of Georgia. I was designed as an outer barrier to Spanish invasion from Florida. Spain claimed all of the Georgia coast because in the 1500s and 1600s, many missions had been developed there. Spain also claimed the entire Chattahoochee River Basin, which reaches to within a few miles of North Carolina.
1736 – A Catawba war party overtook an Iroquois war party near modern-day Leesburg, VA, and defeated it.
1737 A band of Chickasaws settled on the Georgia side of the Savannah River near Augusta.
1738 A terrible smallpox epidemic struck both the Cherokees and the Catawba. Approximately, 1/3 of each tribe was killed by the plague.
1739-1748 War of Jenkins Ear between Great Britain and Spain – The war began as primarily naval engagements in the Caribbean Sea. For a few years, it consisted of land-based military actions in the British Colony of Georgia and the Spanish Colony of Florida. After 1742 most of the combat shifted to battlefields in Continental Europe, where the war between Great Britain and Spain merged with the War of Austrian Succession.
1740 Governor and General James Edward Oglethorpe led an army of British Redcoats, Georgia militia and Creek Indians southward to Saint Augustine. They captured the town of St. Augustine, but lacked the cannons and supplies to lay siege to the Castillo San Marco. The British Navy failed to arrive after two weeks, so Oglethorpes army returned to Savannah.
The only Spanish soldiers, who gave any resistance to the Georgia army was that of the Free Blacks at Fort Mose (Moses.) The Spanish used them in a manner comparable to the Texas Rangers. They were already adopting Creek traditions and were also expert shots and horse-riders.
1741 – Amo-sgasite (Dreadful Water) attempted to succeed his father as Cherokee Emperor, when Moytoy died. but the Cherokees elected another leader, Cunne Shote (Standing Turkey) of Chota.
1742 An armada of 36 Spanish ships, plus 1,950 soldiers and marines attacked the Georgia coast in June of 1742. The British Crown had refused to send reinforcements, even though it knew that a Spanish attack was pending. General Oglethorpe had only 900 Redcoats, militia, Creeks and Yuchi to defend the colony. The outnumbered Georgians confronted the Spanish on Saint Simons Island on July 7, 1742. They beat the Spanish twice in one day. The limping Spanish army assumed that Oglethorpe had far more troops than he did. They immediately sailed back to St. Augustine, and never returned. Minor skirmishes along the border between the Creek soldiers and Spanish militia continued for the next six years, but there were no more major battles.
There is something very unique about this war from a Native American perspective. British Army officers generally had contempt for both Indians and the militia. Oglethorpe did not. He knew how to use them effectively in the guerilla warfare that was common in North America. Oglethorpe had the highest respect for his Creek allies. He repeatedly sent reports to London that raved about the intelligence, physical height and self-discipline of the Creeks. Oglethorpe was also aware that the Creeks had a written language capable of transmitting complex thoughts. Most American scholars today, are not.
In the other colonies, Indians were used as sappers, assassins and to fight other Indians. In Georgia, Creek soldiers fought along side and lived along side European soldiers. They were treated as equals.
1744 The Treaty of Lancaster ended the long war between the Catawbas and the Iroquois.
1744 Armies from the Choctaws, Chickasaws, Upper Creeks and Koweta Creeks coordinated an attack on the Cherokees, which was intended to exterminate them.
1745 The first official British government map to use the term Creek Indians was printed.
1745 Cherokees entering the Tuckaseegee River Basin near Sylva, NC (Jackson County) for the first time encountered villages of white men with olive skin and long beards. The Cherokees reported to the British authorities that the men worshiped a book and lived in log houses with arched windows. The men apparently both farmed and worked silver in order to support their families. The silver ore they smeltered, probably came from Nantahala Gorge or the Snowbird Mountains. The Cherokees said that they drove the dark-skinned white men out of the region.
1748 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ended the War of Austrian Succession Having lost to Great Britain, Spain renounced her claims to the Georgia coast and the Chattahoochee River Basin. The border between Georgia and Florida was moved southward and Spain officially recognized the Colony of Georgia as a legal polity.
1749 Overhills Cherokees vs. Upper Creek War ends The war began because of the outrage of the Upper Creeks over the murder of their chiefs. France encouraged the war because it claimed all of the lands occupied by the Upper Cherokees, Overhills Cherokees, Middle Cherokees and Valley Cherokees. Apparently, Great Britain initially encouraged this war against a branch the Creeks, since they were French allies. The war appears to have consisted initially of revenge raids by small bands of warriors from either side. However, over time the British realized that constant warfare on the frontier was harmful to the colonys economy and dangerous, because Europeans might get drawn into the crossfire. The branch of the Creeks based in Koweta Town, refused to sign the treaty.
1750 A band of Okonee Creeks under Mikko Sekofee, migrated from northeast Georgia to northern Florida, which was still a Spanish colony. Their descendants became known as the Seminoles. Even before this time Free Africans and runaway slaves had been seeking refuge in Florida. As more and more Creeks entered Florida, the Africans began to adopt Creek clothing, language and religion. By the early 1800s, they would be known as the Black Seminoles.
1751 The Upper Creeks and Overhills Cherokees formalized a peace treaty.
1752 A 26 member OsocheeCreek war party assassinated a Cherokee delegation in or near Charleston, SC. The Coweta Creeks claimed that Cherokees had killed one of their own near Charleston and refused to continue peace negotiations. A diplomatic crisis followed, but the Creeks based in Koweta refused to negotiate with the Cherokees. Thank you, Joshua Piker from the University of Oklahoma for telling us about this incident.
1753 The Upper Creeks tried to persuade the Coweta Creeks to negotiate a peace with the Valley and Lower Cherokees. They were winning battle after battle against the Cherokees and saw no reason to negotiate peace. A British trader later remembered that the Cowetas defeated the Cherokees so easily, that in contempt, they sent several of their women and small boys against them. The town of Coweta had a special location where it burned Cherokee captives. Fifty years later, this location was shown to visitors.
[box]The reader needs to understand that the branches of the Creek Confederacy operated independently. The Okonee ancestors of this writer had sought revenge on the Cherokees earlier in the century, but were not involved with this war. In fact, most of the branches of the Creeks were not involved. They did not consider themselves to be in a Creek or Muskogee tribe. In fact, the word Muskogee would not appear for several more decades. However, the Kowetas alone had such a powerful military machine that they could take on all comers and defeat them. Part of the reason for the Kowetas successes was that Creeks tended to be disciplined soldiers, while most other tribes were not. They fought side by side with Georgia militia during the wars with the Spanish.[/box]
1754 Beginning of the French and Indian War – The Cherokees agreed to send warriors to help the British fight Indian allies of the French in upstate New York. It is not clear which division of the Cherokees sent volunteers. The Upper Creeks and the Overhills Cherokees had signed a peace treaty in 1750. However the Alabama, Choctaw and Shawnee were allies of the French, as were the Cherokees old enemies in the Midwest. The Overhills towns were very vulnerable to attacks from these tribes. At the onset of the war, the Shawnees attacked Chota, the principal Overhills Cherokee town, and did considerable damage.
1755 – Battle of Taliwa In one of the most famous stories of Cherokee military tradition, an army of Cherokees traveled southward about 129 miles to attack the Creek town of Taliwa, which was defended by 2000 Muskogee Creeks. The occupants of the town supposedly took refuge in some woods and resisted four charges. The fifth charge was led by 18 year old Nancy Ward. It was successful. The victory at Taliwa was so complete that the Muskogee Creeks immediately ceded all of northern Georgia to the Cherokees.
There may have been a battle at the town of Taliwa and Nancy War probably did lead a charge against its defenders. None of the other aspects of this folklore could possibly be true. Taliwa was a small Apalachicola village on the site of one of the oldest Muskogean towns, which was associated with the Province of Etalwa (Etowah Mounds.) Taliwa means town in Apalachicola. If this was a surprise attack as claimed, it is unlikely that 2000 Upper Creek allies could have arrived at the village in time to defend it. The Muskogee Creeks would not have been involved with the battle, since in 1755 they were allies of the British, while the Apalachicolas were allies of the French. The French and Indian War began in 1754. Furthermore, northwest Georgia continued to be occupied by French Indian allies until at least 1763, at which time, the Cherokees were awarded the region by the British, as partial compensation for the lost of most of their territory in North Carolina.
1755 A map of western North Carolina was produced by the famous cartographer, John Mitchell. It showed all of the Valley and Georgia Cherokee towns, burned and abandoned. This confirms the statements of numerous Georgia officials and traders, who commented that the Kowetas were decimating the Cherokees throughout the 1750s. Historians not familiar with the actual history of the region, have assumed that these towns were destroyed by the South Carolina militia during the First Anglo-Cherokee War, but that war began two years after this map was produced. See Map
Footnotes: [ + ]
|1.||↩||English and French maps show the Catawba located in the vicinity of modern day Gainesville, GA.|