The Creeks were originally a fierce and warlike tribe with great organizing and controlling capacity. The original Creek confederacy was a confederacy of towns. Each town was a complete government in itself: There was a town chief for each town and a body of men in the nature of an advisory council, and in this great council of the confederacy these several towns were represented by the town chiefs.
These Creek towns are still preserved in the Creek Nation in Indian Territory, and are in fact representative districts. In 1832 they made a treaty with the United States ceding the lands of their old homes, and removed to Indian Territory, which, in fact, they settled at the “Old Agency”.
Twenty-four thousand five’ hundred and ninety-four Creeks were removed west of the Mississippi in 1832 and after, only 744 remaining on their old limiting grounds. At the breaking out of the civil war the western Creeks were estimated to number less than 15,000. The Creeks divided on the war of 1861, and engaged in pitched battles against each other, the Unionists suffering badly, many fleeing to Kansas. They were brought together again after the war, and in 1872 numbered, as estimated, 13,000, and in 1890, by their census, 14,800.
Creeks In South Carolina
Harry Hammond, in the work on South Carolina already cited, speaks of the Creeks as follows (page 366):
Nation: Creeks or Muscogee.
Tribes: Savannah, Serena, Cusoboe, Yamassee, Huspa, and Cosida Fragmentary tribes on the Savannah River, south of the Uchees, in Barnwell County.
The Yamassees numbered about 100 men, women, and children, near Pocotaligo, in 1715, and were driven across the Savannah by Governor Craven. Twenty men of the tribe were left at St: Augustine, Florida, in 1743, and they were absorbed by the Seminoles. The Yamassee, or Jamassi, were one of a small number of isolated tribes, of clerk complexion, found widely scattered among the inhabitants of North and South America. Supposed to have been immigrants from Africa prior to the European discovery of America (See Human Species, by A. De Quatrefages). If this be so, it explains why D’Alyon persisted in slave hunting about Beaufort (1520), these Negroes being valuable as laborers, while the Indians were worthless. It were strange, too, if Negroes first occupied this section where they now predominate.
Salutah: Located near Saluda, old town, Newberry County, removed to Conestoga; in Pennsylvania.
Congaree: On the river of that name. John Lawson visited them in 1700 and found a town of 12 huts, one man at home and the women gambling.
Santee: Near Nelsons Ferry in Clarendon. John Lawson found a few of their huts in 1700.
Westoes and Stonoes: Between Edisto and Ashley Rivers in Colleton and Charleston counties; amalgamated with the Catawbas. Wateree and Chikasee: On Pine Tree creek, Kershaw County. Lawson says they were more populous than the Congarees.
Waxsaws: Lawson makes a day’s march from the last.
Wenee: Indian. Old township, Williamsburg County.
Winyaw On the inlet of that name.
Sewee: On Sewee bay. Lawson says the larger part, of them were lost at sea, or rescued and sold as slaves by the English in an attempt they made to open direct communication with England by a fleet of canoes, in which they put to sea in the direction whence they had observed the English vessels arrive.
Saraw, or Cheraw: Chesterfield and Marlboro Counties, absorbed by the Catawbas.
Kadapaw: Lynchs creek. Joined the Catawbas.
The Pee Dees are not mentioned, as it is thought the name is of European origin, probably from P. D., the initials of Patrick Daly, a white man, carved upon a tree by an early settler.
The 19 tribes claimed under the Creek Nation, occupying at least one-half of the state, appear to have been very insignificant in numbers, according to the earliest authentic accounts of them. Governor Glenn sums them up in one sentence: “There are among our settlements several small tribes of Indians, consisting only of some few families each “. Lawson says of them: “Although their tribes or nations border upon one another, yet you may often discern as great an alteration in their features and disposition (he was ranch impressed by the comeliness of the Congaree women) as you can in their speech, which generally proves quite different from each other, ‘ though their nations be not above 10 or 20 miles in distance.
The Creeks in South Carolina at their discovery by the whites are estimated by Hammond at about 400.
Uchees, Muskhogean Stock, With The Creeks
With the Creeks are the Uchees or Euchees of Uchean stock. The Uchees are part of the Uchees who once occupied the southern part of Georgia and peninsula of Florida. They consolidated with the Creeks in or about 1729, being of the same stock. They became for all purposes Creeks, and removed with them to Indian Territory in 1832. They now live in a district by themselves in the northwest corner of the Creek Nation and number from 400 to 700. They speak their own language, a peculiar guttural one, and intermarry among themselves. In taking the census of 1890, great difficulty was found in obtaining an enumerator competent to enroll them.
Harry Hammond (op. cit., page. 366) says of them:
About one-eighth of the territory of the Uchees extended across the Savannah River into Aiken, Edgefield, and Barnwell Counties. There is no estimate of their numbers. Their Princess of Cutifachiqui (Silver Blum) entertained De Soto with great splendor, according to the narrative of the Gentleman of Elves (1540). They were absorbed by the Creeks, and have left no trace except in the name of a small stream in Silverton township, Aiken County, and of a neighboring steamboat landing on the Savannah, Talemeco, after their great temple, which it is said stood there in De Soto’s time.
As to the name, original location, and geographic distribution of the Uchees, the Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1885-1886 states, (pages 126, 127):
Uchees, Gallatin in Trans. and Coll. Am. Antiq. Soc. II., 95, 1836 (based upon the Uchees alone). Bancroft, Hist. U.S. III, 247, 1840. Gallatin in Trans. Am. Eth. Soc., II., pt. 1, xcix, 77, 1848. Keane, App. Stanford’s Comp. (Cent. and So. Am. that the language may have been akin to Natchez.
Uchees, Gallatin in Trans. and Coll. Am. Antiq. Soc., II, 306, 1836. Gallatin in Schoolcraft, Ind. Tribes, III, 401, Stanford’s Comp. (Cent. and So. Ann) 472, 1878.
Utschies, Berghaus (1845), Physik. Atlas, map 17, 1848. Ibid., 1852.
Uche Latham, Nat. Hist. Man, 338, 1850 (Coosa River). Latham in Trans. Philolog. Soc. Lond., II., 31-50, 1846. Latham, Opuscula, 293, 1860.
Yuchi, Gatschet, Creek Mig. Legend, I, 17, 1884. Gatschet in Science, 413, April 29, 1887.
The following is the account of this tribe given by Gallatin (probably derived from Hawkins) in Archaeologia Americana, page 95:
The original seats of the Uchees Were east of Coosa and probably of the Chatahoochee; and they consider themselves as the most ancient inhabitants of the country. They may have been the same nation which is called Apalaches in the accounts of De Soto’s expedition, and their towns were till lately principally on Flint River.
The pristine homes of the Yuchi are not now traceable with any degree of certainty. The Yuchi are supposed to have been visited by De Soto during his memorable march, and the town of Cofitachiqui chronicled by him is believed by many investigators to have stood at Silver Bluff, on the left bank of the Savannah, about 25 miles below Augusta. If, as is supposed by some authorities, Cofitachiqui was a Yuchi town, this would locate the Yuchi in a section which, when first known to the whites, was occupied by the Shawnee. Later the Yuchi appear to have lived somewhat farther clown the Savannah on the eastern and also the western side, as far as the Ogeechee River, and also upon tracts above and below Augusta, Georgia. These tracts were claimed by them as late as 1736.
In 1729 a portion of the Yuchi left their old seats and settled among the Lower Creek on the Chatahoochee River; there they established 3 colony villages in the neighborhood, and later on a Yuchi settlement is mentioned on Lower Tallapoosa River among the Upper Creek. Filson gives a list of 30 Indian tribes and a statement concerning Yuchi towns which he must have obtained from a much earlier source: “Uchees occupy 4 different places of residence, at the head of St. Johns, the fork of St. Marys, the head of Cannouchee, and the head of St. Tillie” (Satilla), etc.
More than 600 Yuchi reside in northeastern Indian Territory, upon the Arkansas River, where they are usually classed as Creek. Doubtless the latter are to some extent intermarried with them but the Yuchi are jealous of their name and tenacious of their position as a tribe.
When the Creeks resided in Alabama it was customary for the members of the confederacy to go on bunting excursions, and sometimes these hunting parties would be gone for months. They would go a distance of from 100 to 200 miles. In one of these hunting excursions the Seminoles, the word “Seminole” meaning strayed people, failed to return to the tribe and remained permanently away, and on this account it is said that they were called Seminoles; in the language of the Creeks, Isti-Semole, wild or strayed men. They are Creeks, and they were considered as such and treated with the Creeks as one people until the treaty of 1866. In treaties prior to that time the Seminoles and Creeks are all spoken of as one people.
In 1856 the Creeks by treaty sold the Seminoles a tract of country, which they occupied for a time, and in 1866 they sold it to the United States for 15 cents an acre. – In 1866 the Seminoles bought of the United States, at 50 cents an acre, 200,000 acres of Creek land which they now occupy, being part of their lands. Under the treaty of 1856 they could bring, as they did, a portion of their brethren from Florida. The Seminoles in Florida in 1890 numbered 171, all self-sustaining. They are in two distinct bands, the Okechobee and Tiger Tails band near the Everglades and Key Biscayne. They are famous hunters and fishermen.
The Creeks in 1881-1882 sold the Seminoles another tract of 175,000 acres, which they now occupy, making their entire land holdings in Indian Territory 375,000 acres, or 586 square miles. By the treaty of 1866 the United States recognizes the Seminoles as a separate and distinct nation. They are the least known of any of The Five Civilized Tribes. They are exclusive and keep to themselves, with not much desire for advanced education.