According to the mythology of the Creek Nation, they
came from the West to inhabit much of the present-day Southeastern United
States. It is documented that they held the ancient mounds of the Moundbuilder
culture as holy, for example encircling the mound in a ritualistic
ceremony as reported by William
Bartram, an early chronicler of the Native American population of
Georgia. It is possible that this Native American culture is the remnants
of the earlier Mississippian Moundbuilders.
Frequently described as a confederacy, the Creek Nation
encompassed perhaps twelve distinct tribes throughout the state of Georgia.
Each tribe had its own language and customs. A "trading language"
united the members of the individual tribes, allowing them to converse
between tribes, although this language extended beyond the members of
As the Spanish explorers pushed north from the Caribean
Sea they met the Creek along the coast and further inland, especially
along the Lower Chattahoochee and Flint River. The first sustained English
contact came in the 1680's when Dr. Henry Woodward journeyed into backcountry
Georgia in an effort to reduce Spanish control. There, along Ochese
(Ocmulgee) Creek, he found a number of Indian villages.
Over the next 145 years settlers would push these First
Americans west in a repeated sequence of events. A boundary line would
be established, then crossed by encroaching settlers. These settlers
would live on the land for a while, claim it, then demand protection.
The government would negotiate a new line and the process would begin
again. The last group of Creek in North Georgia were forced to move
west in the 1820s.
Many of the colorful place names in the area are actually
Creek in origin. Chattahoochee, Chattanooga, Chickmauga and Etowah are
all probably Creek in origin, even though they are frequently ascribed
to the Cherokee.
The lasting legacy of the Creek Indians can be seen
at the Funk Heritage Center,
which has information on all Southeastern Indian tribes.
Larry Worthy is currently writing a detailed history
of the Creek
Indians for Our Georgia History.
Woodland Indians • Moundbuilders
• Creek • Cherokee