The Elder Creek Man

When matters of importance to the segment of a clan arose, this Ancient might call a Council of the clan of all :those who had arrived at years of maturity. The government and teaching of the youth of tile clan belonged to this Ancient. It was his duty to instruct them, from time to time, in their duties and obligations to one, another and to their elders and to the members of the clan. Punishment for even childish derelictions could not be meted out without his advice and consent, which was usually given in a formal manner. The boy or girl, the young man or young woman, as charged with the offense and the Ancient heard the evidence. He might decide that the charge was not well founded, and state that the offender had never been advise to shun the conduct charge against him. But if he decided that the offender had been duly advised regarding such evil conduct as was specified in the charge, then the offender might be whipped by members of his own clan. If matters of grave importance arose in the segment, the Ancient might call a large Council of the clan, composed of the members of two or more of the segments. At this Council the Ancient, or the one among the Ancients who was regarded as the wisest, presided and rendered judgment.

A man’s status was indicated by his war or busk name. To the name of a chief was appended the word Miko, to that of a warrior the first class the word Tastanagi, to that of an individual belonging to a privileged peace clan the word Henīha; and to the name at one of the second grade of warriors the term Imathla. According to the informants there were two grades beneath these, one indicated by the word Yahola, and a lowest which carried the name Fiksiko or Hatco. The arrangement is given as follows, reckoning from the lowest grade up (1) Fiksiko and Hatco, (2) Yahola, (3) Imathla, (4) Henīha, (5) Tastanagi, “warrior,” “leader of warriors,” (6) Miko, “chief,” or “town Chief” and the following explanation is added:

A lad on coming to maturity received his first name. He might be raised subsequently to the second grade, especially if he early manifested wisdom. The word employed for the second grade signified a crier or herald or one who announced or conveyed to others the decisions or orders of his superiors. If a lad belonged to a Red clan he might be raised to the third grade, and if to a White clan to the fourth grade. Later he might be raised from the third grade to the fifth or from the fourth grade to the sixth.

The above statements are in line with those obtained by myself, except that my informants did not define the two lowest grades clearly and I do not feel certain that they were universally distinguished. The names Fiksiko and Hatco were usually given to men known as common warriors (Tasikaya). In another place it is said that the Yahola title was higher than Imathla, and that is quite possible since the functions of the yahola criers were important and were concerned with the cult of a being supposed to preside especially over the busk. The later statement, is also evidently correct in claiming the yahola title particularly for the White clans.

The Ancient of the clan or Elder Man seems to be confounded sometimes in the material at hand with the Simiabaiya (or Isimiabaya), which means “he who adds to,” or “he who keeps (a body of people) together.” In common usage it meant “a leader,” and he was usually described as “a chief who represents national interests,” one “who represents the town in the council of the confederacy and who represents the town council in matters relating to the confederacy.” This is borne out by what is said regarding the manner in which he was selected. We are told that the Simiabaiya came from the same section as the Chief of the town, and that when he attended the General Assembly he usually took with him one of the Tastanagis from the other bench. This is evidently on the assumption that the town Chief belonged to a White clan. In the contrary case, a leader among the Whites world probably be selected. Considerable is said about the manner in which new Simiabiayas were selected but it leaves one in doubt whether the position was retained in the same clan or whether it was retained in two clans of opposite moieties and alternated between them. We read that if the Simiabaiya “is of the clan of the Deer, they will take another man from the Deer clan that has been schooled under him, or some old man of the same clan, and he will be taught under that man. The young man steps into his place from the same clan and the same family as the reigning Simiabaiya. Sometimes they have two or three in training at one time.” And yet some of the preceding sentences seem to imply that there was an alternation between the Red and White sides. Just above the Simiabaiya is identified with the Ancient of the clan and it may be imagined that the two offices were often combined in one man. Again, it is said that the clan chiefs were selected by agreement within the clans on the ground that the individuals so selected were the best and wisest. men in the clan and therefore able to represent their interests and assert their rights before the chief. “They are elected usually without any vote, but by general consent of the constituents in consultation.”

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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