Spiritual Beliefs of the Creek Indians

Innutska is said to have been the naive of the tutelary deity which came to a youth when he was fasting at the time of puberty. It seems to mean literally “What-comes-to-him-in-sleep.” The girls are said to have acquired their guardian spirits “through the medium of remarkable dreams” and so there may not have been much difference between the two. Indeed, our text continues, “both male and female persons may acquire fetishes through such dreams or by adopting an object, or a portion of an object which has impressed the partaker as exhibiting magic power, such as a fierce animal or striking rock, or an element of some weird experience.” The editor has no parallel to this in his material.

Witchcraft in the Creek Tribe

One of the duties of the medicine man was to apprehend sorcerers, witches, or wizards who had committed some offense against the welfare of the community, using arts and craft superior to theirs. When a person was convicted of such an offense-by well-established, many, and severe ordeals and tests-he was condemned to death. He was then placed in charge of the medicine man. It was said that a person under charge of witchcraft must show that he had greater powers than the medicine man, thereby proving, I suppose, that he had been falsely accused. “He would try to show a great fire and then vanish out of sight.”

It was believed that wizards could take out their intestines containing their life spirit and transform themselves into owls, flickers, etc., after which they would fly through the air to perform their misdeeds. Therefore owls and other birds of ill omen were held in great terror. The owl referred to is commonly the great horned owl.

Creek Indians Belief in Souls

A man was believed to have two souls, first, the spirit which goes with him through life and talks to him in his dreams and is called the good spirit, being named inu’tska, which signifies “his talent,” “his ability,” “his genius.” It was thought to be seated in the head. There was also the spirit or soul of the dead person, yafiktca, lit. “his entrails.” Sentiments, passions, feelings of good and evil, are said to come from the latter; thought, planning, devising from the former. There seems to be some confusion in the text between heart and head, the former being fiki, the latter fiktoi. It was declared that the “life spirit”‘ resides in the intestines and does not leave them until after a person’s death. (See Witchcraft.) Some, however, believed that the life spirit could leave the body without bringing on death, as in sleep and dreams.

The term hisakita, “the breath,” was applied to the agency of the great prophet above, but, according to one statement, was also applied to the life spirit.


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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