Creek Indian Coalescence on the Fringes of Spanish Florida

By Joseph Hall

Graduate student, Department of History

University of Wisconsin-Madison

July 30, 1998

ABSTRACT: The Creek confederacy of the eighteenth-century Southeast was a paradox of unity and fragmentation.By looking at some of the relations between Spaniards and southeastern Indians outside of the missions of La Florida we gain some understanding of how the Creek confederacy might have developed and, by extension, some insight into this apparent paradox.During the first decades of the seventeenth century, Spaniards began intensive efforts to expand their missions beyond the Atlantic coast.Between 1600 and 1620, Spanish offerings of gifts to leaders considering conversion attracted Indians from great distances.Some of these travelers had to pass through lands that were presumably at war.With the establishment of missions in Apalachee in the 1630s, Spaniards actually negotiated the end of conflicts between Apalachees and their neighbors.Both of these developments would have encouraged peoples separated by distance or conflict to seek new means of peaceful interaction.In these early interactions lie possible foundations for the Creek confederacy that began to coalesce towards the end of the century.

Introduction

Around 1700, a new confederacy emerged in the Southeast of North America.Although these people, known as Creeks, lacked a central government, their shared rituals and ability to peacefully resolve internal disputes gave them formidable strength and prestige.During the course of the eighteenth century, the Creeks became one of the most powerful peoples of the region.Controlling the river valleys of central Georgia and eastern Alabama, this loose association of towns grew powerful through trade with the English of South Carolina, Creek deerskins financing the early growth of the colony.They formed the linchpin of a regional alliance of natives that nearly destroyed the Carolina colony in the Yamasee War of 1715-1717, and until their defeat at the hands of Andrew Jackson at Horseshoe Bend in 1814, no other Indians were more feared by the colonists of the region.

But their appearance on the stage of Southeastern history was as mysterious as it was dramatic.Before 1700, English documents tell us next to nothing about the Creeks.If they were Creeks to begin with.What is increasingly evident from archaeology and a careful reading of available English sources is that in the last decades of the seventeenth century the natives of Georgia and Alabama became the confederation that the English later referred to as the Creeks.[1]This detail raises a question that hovers around every history of this people.As an amalgam of various nations, some of whom spoke different languages, what brought these people together to form the powerful confederacy known as the Creeks?

In seeking answers to this question, historians have yet to turn their eyes south.The records of Spanish Florida remain surprisingly untouched regarding the early formative history of the Creeks.Perhaps this is understandable.Looking for the history of a people on the fringe of a colony that was itself the forgotten corner of a global empire does not promise much.Like the potsherds that relate much of what we know about the the Creeks' ancestors before 1700, the information from Spanish Florida records is fragmentary, and even when fully assembled does not give us a story of one piece.But the fragments suggest answers to the largely unknown evolution of this powerful confederacy.

Exploring Southeastern Indians' relationship with the Spanish promises much, but some of the intriguing qualities of this question appear in an incident that occurred far from the limits of the Spanish colony and long after regular Creek contact with Spanish missionaries and soldiers had ended.An hour before dawn on November 9, 1724, the English trader John Sharp was abruptly awakened by 200 muskets firing upon his house.After filling the house with holes, Creek Indians burst in on the overwhelmed trader, who had miraculously survived the fusilade with only a shot through the leg.The attack was part of a smoldering war between Creeks and neighboring Cherokees, but what makes this flare-up of frontier violence fascinating is what happened after the Creeks forced their way inside Sharp's house and began to ransack it.Even though they spoke no English to the trader, the raiding party left him with a very clear message.As several colleagues of his later related to the governor of Carolina, 

One would come up to him and shake him by the hand and tell him he was a Tallepoosa, and take off his Coat.Another would cry out "Euchee," and take off his Shirt.And others: two Egellahs, Cowealahs, and Yomahitahs, till they had Stript him out of all his Clothes, leaving him nothing but his breeches on....In short, they left him not a thread of clothes to cover him nor victuals to eat except a little corn and pumpkins which they could not carry off....[2]

In their humiliating stripping of the trader, Sharp's assailants were also emphatically undressing the name "Creek." 

The name itself came from English traders.They had begun using it at the beginning of the century to refer to a large and loose confederation of peoples inhabiting what are now the states of Georgia and Alabama.As the historian Verner Crane has noted, traders initially began to refer to one town situated on Ochese Creek (the present-day Ocmulgee River in central Georgia) as the Ochese Creeks, or simply the Ocheses or the Creeks.As they became aware of the Ochese Creeks' trading partners to the west, these too came to be referred to as "Creeks."[3]As Sharp probably realized (to his dismay), besides the commercial connections, there were also links of military alliance.

Nonetheless, even with the joint attack, these Indians were unusually emphatic in telling Sharp that Tallapoosas, Yuchis, and othersóand not Creeksóhad humiliated him.The apparent paradoxes of unity and fragmentation evident in this incident originated in southeastern natives' adaptations to contact with Europeans.The crises and challenges that accompanied Europeans' arrival contributed to the formation of a new regional confederacy.

Although various crises of contact encouraged this amalgamation, no scholars have satisfactorily explained why certain groups not seriously threatened by the new colonial presence still sought alliances one another.Although some groups certainly had greater strength and influence in the confederacy, this was an alliance among relatively independent peoples and not an aggregation made from conquest or collapse.The archaeologist Vernon Knight has also observed that the Creek confederacy consisted fundamentally of an alliance among stable polities, and the evidence bears him out.[4]Were the Creeks a product of regional collapse and simply a collection of refugees, they would not have risen so rapidly to regional prominence; if conquest and unification under the aegis of one powerful group played a central role, Sharp's assailants would not have insisted so much on their individuality.

The fragmentary history of relations between Southeastern Indians and Spanish missionaries and soldiers, particularly during the 1630s,presents suggestive answers.Natives' efforts to make contact with the Spaniards during this period promoted the formation of bonds among Indians themselves.In their efforts to acquire Spanish missionaries and trade goods, Native Americans previously divided by distance or war also acquired new reasons to unite with one another.

Background: From Chiefdoms to Confederacies, 1300-1750

The making of the Creek confederacy did not begin with the arrival of Europeans, but their arrival produced a dramatic watershed.In the centuries before contact, most native Southeasterners lived in small, fairly centralized polities known as chiefdoms.A couple of details should suffice to contrast the chiefdoms that flourished prior to 1600 with the confederacies that appeared after 1700.Within each polity various towns of several hundred inhabitants owed allegiance to a larger principal town.Some of the most prominent principal towns, such as Moundville in Alabama and Cahokia at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, may have held 2,500 to 10,000 people.[5]Leadership centered around hereditary chiefs who celebrated important rituals and controlled the long-distance trade that provided them with necessary ceremonial objects.Access to these exotic goods also served as proof of the prestige of a particular leader.[6]

Spanish conquistadores who followed de Soto into the region in the mid-1500s witnessed two important manifestations of chiefs' centralized power.One of these was the earthen mounds that at their largest reached 60 to 100 feet in height and over 500 feet in width and served as platforms for the chiefs' residences and their temples.These immense masses of earth were carefully raised over the course of generations under the direction of successive leaders and served as physical manifestations of the legitimacy of their rule.The power of mounds as symbols of chiefly authority may have led some leaders to reoccupy abandoned sites not just to take advantage of important trade routes or agricultural land but to associate themselves with previous lineages of rulers.[7]

The second manifestation was native elites' control of large, well organized military forces that confronted and sometimes halted de Soto's soldiers in various battles.[8]In one bloody encounter near Moundville, Alabama, Indians united under the leadership of the chief Tascaluza fought the Spaniards to a standstill.The size of their force is unknown but must have been immense, as Tascaluza's followers supposedly suffered casualties in the range of 2,500 to 3,000 warriors.[9]Although most warfare consisted of skirmishes, chiefly elites nonetheless disposed of impressive organizational authority.

Chiefdoms predominated throughout the region south of the Ohio River and from the Atlantic to the Mississippi Valley, but they were inherently unstable.Because they lacked institutions to maintain chiefly authority beyond several generations, they experienced cycles of rise and decline that marked the history of the Southeast for roughly three or four centuries before contact with Europeans.[10]

After the information from the Spanish entradas of the mid-1500s lies a large gap in the sources.Prior to 1690, few records describe the lives of nonmission Indians.Only after this year, when English traders from the new settlement of Charlestown began regular contact with the Indians to the west do we again gain a sense of the region.The differences between the two periods are startling.By the end of the seventeenth century, centralized authority had declined.Instead of small chiefdoms, larger and looser groupings predominated.Towns cooperated with one another but without a supreme chief to control them.Mounds had fallen into disuse and warfare was confined to quick raids usually at the hands of small groups.

How can we explain this dramatic shift?Most historians and archaeologists propose that the arrival of Europeans in the region brought new diseases, new trading relationships, and intensified warfare; in tandem, these factors altered the cultural and political structures of Southeastern Native Americans' societies.Although the rates of mortality are still under debate, most scholars believe that natives' exposure to new diseases caused dramatic, if not catastrophic, mortality, probably forcing the dissolution of many chiefdoms for lack of populations to support them.Furthermore, beginning in the 1660s and intensifying by the 1680s, trading practices predicated on the commercial values of the Spanish, English, and French weakened the ability of the chiefly elite to maintain their prestige as traders in exotic goods.Even as the structures of centralized authority broke down, by the middle of the seventeenth century, warfare intensified and became more widespread.Iroquois attacks from the north, combined with slave raiding from Indians allied with English traders in Virginia and Carolina, threatened the survival of those without European technology or numerical superiority.Weaker groups throughout the region had little choice but to seek the protection of those who were stronger.[11]The need for cohesion and cooperation combined with the decline of traditional structures of authority contributed to the rise of the loosely organized confederations of towns such as the Choctaws, Cherokees, and Creeks that predominated in the eighteenth-century Southeast.

The theory explains a great deal but still fails to address why various powerful and independent groupsóthose not threatened with destruction or catastropheósought to cooperate with one another at the end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth.Given that many of the pressures on Southeastern Native Americans began in earnest only in the middle or later decades of the 1600s, the theory also does not account for the ties of confederacy already established in the 1680s and 1690s.[12]Some have pointed out that bonds of language and culture served as vital foundations for the nascent confederacy, but even though these conditions certainly facilitated alliance, they do not explain what brought separate peoples together in the first place.[13]

Spanish Missions and the Southeast: 1600-1700

Some suggestive answers to this question appear in the events surrounding the Spanish effort to missionize the Native Americans of the Southeast.New ties of religion and trade between Spaniards and various Indian peoples profoundly affected natives well out of earshot of the mission bells.Besides fomenting ties between natives and colonists, the new trade also fostered new connections among indigenous peoples themselves, joining together nations previously separated by warfare or distance.In subtle ways, Spanish expansion reshaped a region and laid foundations for the polity later known as the Creeks.

Although the Spanish founded the colonial capital of St. Augustine in 1565, they did not begin concerted expansion into the interior until about 1600, when Franciscan missionaries, with the backing of governors, initiated efforts to expand the mission system beyond the coastal provinces north of St. Augustine.Part of the effort was strictly defensive.Heathen Indians of the interior had instigated and supported the 1597 insurrection among the Guales of present-day coastal Georgia.By converting or at least drawing these dissidents to the Spanish interest, colonial officials hoped to defuse a source of future disturbances.The new policy heavily emphasized trade.In 1600 the governor gave to two Christian caciques 350 ducats in trade goods with instructions to trade them with the peoples of the interior.The largess would hopefully demonstrate to the unconverted the material and spiritual benefits of accepting Spaniards' god and king.[14]

The policy showed results within a decade, and by 1612 Governor Fernández de Olivares wrote of the "miraculous" effects of Southeastern natives' interest in trade.As he explained to the king in a remarkable testimony of the impact of the Spanish efforts, 

Others have arrived here from... the Cape of Apalachee and from much further away.They assure me that they have walked two and a half months, and that all along the way they have had safe passage and warm reception knowing that they come here....[15]

From an early date then, the Spanish trade provided a significant pretext for the peaceful interaction among Southeastern Indians.

Spaniards took little note of this significant but nearly invisible influence of their trade, instead focusing on its effectiveness in attracting new sheep to the Christian fold.They had plenty to celebrate.Some years after the governor's letter, missionary Fr. Luis Gerónimo de Oré ebulliently reported that the combination of Christian Indians' trade and the peaceful visits of missionaries had led entire provinces of unconverted to request baptism and the Gospel.In the same letter he mentioned that the inhabitants of the populous and powerful provinces of Apalachee and La Tama were sending repeated requests for missionaries.[16]

Where did this widespread regional interest in the Spaniards in Florida come from?As a new source of exotic trade goods, indigenous leaders probably hoped that having access to Spanish missionaries and traders would enable them to shore up their influence, especially if the ravages of disease were reducing their followers and their followers' faith in chiefs' spiritual authority.That distant travelers enjoyed peaceful passage to St. Augustine further testifies to the regional respect accorded to the new source of trade.But exotic items were not the only magnet.Although Oré emphasized the attractive power of Spanish products, he also noted that Indian receiving the Spaniards attributed great spiritual power to the traveling missionaries.The fact that Franciscans insisted on walking unarmed among unknown peoples and also commanded the respect of the Spanish soldiers and Indian warriors who accompanied them could not have been lost on the peoples they visited.[17]Spiritual incentives, in other words, carried weight for the Apalachees, Tamas, and others to seek contact with Spaniards, but in many instances the exotic objects and the power natives conferred on them were decisive in opening paths between the peoples, whether to allow missionaries to preach among the Indians or to allow Indians to make the long trek to St. Augustine.

The Conversion of Apalachee and Its Regional Impact: 1630-1640

The effects of this process are most clear after missionaries arrived in Apalachee, the powerful province in what is now the panhandle of the state of Florida.The information is fragmentary and sorely lacking in detail, but it suggests a great deal about the shadowy movements among Indians out of sight of the Spaniards.

The missionization of Apalachee, as of every province before it, depended on stable relations with its neighbors.Earlier efforts to send missionaries to the province had been stymied by Apalachees' continuous conflicts with neighboring Christian Timucuas.Warfare threatened the safety of the friars, so before Franciscans even entered the province to establish their mission chapels, they first brokered a peace between the two peoples.[18]

The new ripples of peace also reached beyond the mission provinces, but they took longer to spread.Shortly after the arrival of missionaries in Apalachee, Amacanos left an unstated location and settled nearer the missions.Spaniards reluctantly turned down their requests for a missionary, explaining that they lacked the friars, but the Amacanos nonetheless left promising their friendship to the Spanish and agreeing to build a church for the eventual arrival of their evangelist.[19]

The influence of trade on the Amacanos' interest and the Apalachees' conversion is evident in the arrival of first supply ship direct from Havana in 1637.Four years after the arrival of the first missionaries, Apalachee had yet to secure a stable flow of supplies.The overland route across the peninsula from St. Augustine could take weeks and depended on the backs of native cargo bearers, who often discarded or damaged their excessive burdens.The arrival of the Cuban supplies after a journey of only eight days was welcome not only for the ease of the journey but the quantity of supplies that came in the hold.The frigate was well received by missionaries and natives alike, even if for very different reasons.[20]Both eagerly awaited items that could only come from Spain or its colonies, but where the Franciscans looked for the wheat flour and candle wax that was integral to their survival as civilized Spaniards, the Apalachees sought the exotic items such as iron tools and glass beads that would denote personal prestige.

The frigate's arrival encouraged Apalachees and Amacanos to cement stronger ties with the Spanish.The still unmissionized Amacanos made their interest patently clear, coming out in a canoe to meet the frigate, a cross held high.Climbing aboard, they used signs to indicate the route to Apalachee and also to express their own interest in trade.Within days of the ship's dropping anchor, 30 Apalachees converted.One of the caciques of the province even accompanied the Spanish back to Havana for a conversion he had awaited for 20 years.[21]Plenty of other meanings and motivations lay behind these symbols and acts of friendship but the fact that they occurred in conjunction with the unloading of the first shipload of supplies is no coincidence.The frigate's cargo played a decisive role in the actions of both Native American peoples.

The broader regional effects of the Spanish presence and the spreading waves of peace became most evident two years later.In 1639, the Spanish mediated a peaceful resolution to the Apalachees' conflicts with the Amacanos, Chacatos, and Apalachicolas, three powerful neighbors of the Apalachees.According to the governor, this was indeed "something extraordinary because said Chacatos have never been at peace with anyone."[22]Apparently, the hopes of trade that had drawn the Amacanos closer to the Apalachees and Spaniards in 1633 and to seek trade with them in 1637 had promoted a general regional peace, even among the restless Chacatos, by 1639.In a more tranquil region, pacified Chacatos and their neighbors could potentially establish new bonds of alliance or at least amity not only with Apalachees but with other groups who might have suffered from their bellicosity.

But how could trade promote friendship among dedicated enemies?The answers are not simple, partly because the information is scanty and partly because the connection between the amity of trade and the enmity of war is not a simple one of opposites.It is commonplace, and even logical, that enemies do not trade with one another and trading partners do not go to war, but plenty of examples reveal the complexity of such basic relationships as friendship and animosity.The Vikings, the dreaded scourges of the High Middle Ages from Kiev to Ireland, were also the era's traders par excellence.Pochtecas, as the members of the special class of long-distance traders of the Mexica, received training as warriors as well as merchants so that they would be well prepared in the distant and potentially hostile lands where they traded.[23]In some instances, then, trade and war shared an uneasy coexistence.

For such paradoxes in the Southeast one need only look to the Amacanos.In 1633, in their efforts to establish links with Spanish trade networks, they moved closer to the Apalachees and even developed a close enough relationship with their neighbors that they guided the Spanish frigate arriving from Havana into the new port of the mission province.Strangely, however, it was not until 1639, and only with the help of Spanish mediation, that they ceased their warring on the Apalachees.

Spanish trade had drawn the Amacanos closer to Apalachee in the first place.Perhaps it had not immediately resolved the conflict between the two peoples, and in fact, the greater proximity may have promoted it.In either case, Spanish mediation, no doubt lubricated by Spanish gifts, made possible both greater proximity and peaceful interaction.Mediation played a crucial role in turning exchanges of arrows into exchanges of gifts.

Such mediation, when it occurred, was possible both because of the gifts the mediators carried but also because of the prestige they had acquired as middlemen.The Hausa and Dyula peoples of West Africa rose to prominence by serving as traders among various warring states.The famous Spanish castaway Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, during his wanderings in North America between 1527 and 1537, escaped the privations of slavery and acquired respect when he became a trader among the fractious peoples of the coast and interior of present-day Texas.As he later recalled, wherever he went, 

they treated me well and gave me to eat out of respect for my merchandise... and I was well known among them and they celebrated greatly when they saw me and I brought them what they needed, and those who did not know me sought and desired to see me because of my fame....[24]

The echoes with Governor Olivares's 1612 letter describing the "safe passage and warm reception" that travelers received on their way to St. Augustine is telling.As evidenced by these Southeastern travelers, Spaniards were not the only ones possessing an important intertribal prestige.The trade and mediation that had promoted the cessation of hostilities among the Apalachees and their neighbors could also occur without direct Spanish involvement.Such native-sponsored mediation probably became increasingly necessary as the seventeenth century progressed and numerous centers of population tended to move downstream, partly as a result of the dislocations of depopulation and warfare but also probably to move closer to the sources of Spanish trade goods.[25]

How mediators worked and who they were is not clear, but new ties of trade formed later in the century did lead to greater cooperation among native Southeasterners.During the 1680s, the Yamasees of coastal Georgia introduced the Apalachicolas to the newly arrived English traders of Charlestown.By 1686, the two peoples had cemented an alliance of mutual protection and cooperation.Agreements between trading partners were not always peaceful, however.In 1695, two nations of western Georgia, the Tawasas and the Atasis, almost went to war when the Tawasas showed signs of backing out of a new joint trading alliance with the English.[26]Amidst the fragments some patterns emerge: the quest for Spanish goods sometimes promoted greater proximity among various peoples of the Southeast.Even if such proximity engendered conflict, in some instances the new relations also provided the foundation for greater cooperation.Common cultural elements such as language and ritual, when they were shared, could facilitate this cooperation.Moreover, in a region temporarily pacified after the Spanish mediation of 1639, the possibilities for new bonds were far greater.

And the process did not end there.Trade had a broad impact on the region, and commerce between Spaniards and nonmissionized natives did not end with the 1639 peace initiative.By the 1640s, Spaniards and Apalachees traded regularly with the unmissionized peoples of the interior, especially the Apalachicolas, and we can imagine that the Apalachicolas' trade with their neighbors was similarly brisk.[27]The fact that Spanish governors continued to receive far-flung requests for missionaries during the succeeding decades reveals the broad influence of the Spanish presence on the region and suggests the invisible influences of their trade.Before English competition from the new colony of Charlestown dramatically reduced the trade by the middle 1680s, the Spanish achieved a pervasive if fragile influence on a large expanse of the Southeast.

And "fragile" is an important qualifier.In spite of a decades-long relationship, I do not want to overestimate Spanish influence on the history of Southeastern Indians and the formation of the Creek confederacy.In the end, the trade between La Florida and the natives of the interior was small, certainly not enough to transform St. Augustine into a commercial center from the isolated outpost that it was.The inconsequence of Spanish interaction with Apalachicolas, Chacatos, and their neighbors becomes clear in the documentary record.Spaniards seemed to know little more about the Indians of the interior than what I have related here.[28]At the same time, royal officials as well as missionaries had little reservations about exaggerating their influence over the Indians.

Nonetheless, whether making peace between former belligerents or motivating different peoples to move closer to one another, the Spanish presence changed in subtle but significant ways the relations among peoples of the Southeast.The scales of commercial success were small, and the inroads that missionaries made were slight, especially after the conversion of the Apalachees.We will probably never know the subtleties of the Spanish presence in the region that lay beyond the missions, but clearly the desires of some Southeastern Indians like the Chacatos and Apalachicolas to access Spanish commerce reduced divisions of war or distance among those peoples.Their efforts to make contact with colonists promoted new relationships with their longtime neighbors.From these relationships rose the foundation for later cooperation and confederation.

Conclusion

The Creek confederacy did not come into existence in 1630s, but the influences of the decade are apparent.Although we know very little about Apalachicolas, Chacatos, and Amacanos during this period, we do know that some of their descendants would be among those called Creeks.More important, by the end of the 1630s we can also see the outlines of a couple of dynamics that English traders like John Sharp noticed almost a century later. It is worth remembering Verner Crane's explanation of the origins of the Creeks' name.Ties of trade led Carolina traders to include a broad array of peoples under the umbrella of "Creeks."Although we could attribute this to their professional prejudice to give trade more meaning that it might have deserved, we could also say that the English merchants were more likely to perceive this vital bond of commerce among independent and sometimes disparate groups.Second, the ties that developed out of cooperation and alliances of peace during the 1630s help us understand the later cooperation that Sharp encountered.The equanimity with which he was stripped suggests alliances similar to what Spanish trade and missionaries inspired among the Apalachicolas, Chacatos, and Apalachees.

Significantly, the process that shaped the region is not unique.Many fragmentary aboriginal societies have responded to the expansion of centralized states by confederating with one another.These histories are crucial to understanding the larger histories of contact and colonization because many of the principal native actors in colonial encountersówhether Creeks in the eighteenth-century Southeast, Sioux in the nineteenth-century Great Plains, or central Chile's Mapuches during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuriesówere already products of profound adaptation to Europeans' presence.[29]Given that we have little documentation that enables us to see these changes, the influence that trade had on the formation of the Creek confederacy offers suggestive routes of inquiry into other histories of confederation that resulted from sporadic contact with Europeans.

More important, the history of Apalachee and its neighbors during the 1630s shows how natives shaped that process of colonial adaptation.In other words, looking back at the three main reasons that scholars have used to explain the differences between the chiefdoms prevalent before the 1600 and the confederacies that dominated the 1700sóthat is, disease, new trade, and intensified warfareóit would be easy to consider Indians victims of externally imposed processes, victims reacting and adapting as best they could to seventeenth-century events that lay outside of their control.

The events surrounding the missionization of Apalachee present a much different picture.We see natives forging new relationships, seeking new resources.Creeks and other native groups were products of colonial interactions that they initiated and that they were not simply victims of.Without knowing the history of Spanish Florida it is impossible to understand how missionaries and Spanish gifts promoted new indigenous initiatives, even among those natives who lay outside the actual missions themselves.We might not be able to see exactly why some peoples sought this trade, but the effects are clear.Belligerent Chacatos sought peace with their neighbors.Amacanos who had traded and warred with the Apalachees sought to reinforce the ties of trade and reduce the divisions of war.Nonmissionized Southeastern natives sought new bonds with each other.The nascent alliances that resulted from these initiatives would lay an important foundation for the later development of the Creek confederacy.It would also underpin their rise to regional prominence during the eighteenth century even as it would tie them inextricably to Europeans and their trade.



[1]A very incomplete list of such works includes Gregory A. Waselkov and John W. Cottier, "European Perceptions of Eastern Muskogean Ethnicity," in Proceedings of the Tenth Meeting of the French Colonial Historical Society, April 12-14, 1984, ed. Philip Boucher (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1985); Frank T. Schnell, "The Beginnings of the Creeks: Where Did They First 'Sit Down'?"Early Georgia 17 (1989): 24-29; Vernon James Knight, Jr.,"The Formation of the Creeks," in The Forgotten Centuries: Indians and Europeans in the American Southeast, 1521-1704, ed. Charles Hudson and Carmen Chaves Tesser (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994); Richard Durschlag, "The First Creek Resistance: Transformations in Creek Indian Existence and the Yamasee War," Ph. D. diss., Duke University, 1995.
[2]W. Hatton to Gov. Francis Nicholson, November 14, 1724,British Public Records Office (hereafter abbreviated BPRO) 11: 270-278, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina (hereafter abbreviated SCDAH);John Sharp to Gov. Francis Nicholson, November 12, 1724, BPRO 11: 266-269, SCDAH.
[3]Verner W. Crane, "The Origin of the Name of the Creek Indians." Mississippi Valley Historical Review 5 (1918): 339-42.
[4]Knight,"Formation of the Creeks," p. 386.
[5]James B. Griffin, "Comments on the Late Prehistoric Societies in the Southeast," in Towns and Temples along the Mississippi, ed. David H. Dye and Cheryl Anne Cox (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama, 1990), p. 8.
[6]Knight, "The Institutional Organization of Mississippian Religion," American Antiquity 51, 4 (1986): 675-687; Paul D. Welch. "Control over Goods and the Political Stability of the Moundville Chiefdom," in Political Structure and Change in the Prehistoric Southeastern United States, ed. John F. Scarry (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996).
[7]David J. Hally, "Platform Mound Construction and the Instability of Mississippian Chiefdoms," in Political Structure and Change.
[8]David H. Dye, "The Art of War in the Sixteenth-Century Central Mississippi Valley," in Perspectives on the Southeast: Linguistics, Archaeology, and Ethnohistory, ed. Patricia B. Kwachka (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994), 
[9]Charles Hudson, "The Hernando de Soto Expedition, 1539-1542," in Forgotten Centuries, p. 87.
[10]This point is made most broadly by David G. Anderson, "Fluctuations between Simple and Complex Chiefdoms: Cycling in the Late Prehistoric Southeast," in Political Structure and Change.
[11]For discussions of disease, depopulation, and their effects, see Marvin T. Smith, Archaeology of Aboriginal Culture Change in the Interior Southeast: Depopulation During the Early Historic Period (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1987), pp. 84-85; Smith, "Aboriginal Depopulation in the Postcontact Southeast," in Forgotten Centuries; Ann Ramenofsky, Vectors of Death: The Archaeology of European Contact (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1987), pp. 42-71, 173-176.For the impact of trade and war, see Durschlag, "First Creek Resistance;" Patricia Galloway, Choctaw Genesis, 1500-1700 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995), p. 200; Joel W. Martin, "Southeastern Indians and the English Trade in Skins and Slaves," in Forgotten Centuries.
[12]Gregory Waselkov has posited that the Creek confederacy came into existence prior to 1700, and I have found several lines of cooperation and coercion suggestive of confederation as early as the the 1680s and 1690s.See below, especially footnote 26.Gregory A. Waselkov, "The Macon Trading House and Early European-Indian Contact in the Colonial Southeast," in Ocmulgee Archaeology, 1936-1986, ed. David J. Hally (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994), p. 194.
[13]Knight, "Formation of the Creeks," pp. 386, 389.
[14]Governor Méndez de Canzo to King, St. Augustine, February 28, 1600, Sección de Gobierno, Santo Domingo 224, Archivo General de Indias, Seville, Spain (hereafter abbreviated as AGI SD, followed by legajo number).
[15]My translation.[...llegaron aqui otros del mesmo cabo de apalache y de mucho mas lejos que measeguraron abia dos meses y medio que caminaban diziendo que por todo allan buen pasaje y acogida sabiendo que bienen aqui....]Gov. Fernández de Olivares to King, St. Augustine, October 13, 1612, AGI SD 225.
[16]Fr. Luis Gerónimo de Oré to King, Santo Domingo, 1617?, AGI SD 225.
[17]David J. Weber believes this quality played an important role in the Franciscans' early success in both Florida and New Mexico, The Spanish Frontier in North America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), pp. 115-116.
[18]John Hann, Apalachee: The Land between the Rivers (Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1988), p. 12.
[19]Governor Luis Horruytiner to King, St. Augustine, November 15, 1633, AGI SD 233.I should point out that the location I have for the Amacanos on my map is for the years prior to 1633 and is purely conjectural.Other scholars of the region such as John Hann and John Swanton consider the Amacanos to be synonymous with the Yamasees, a people living in central and coastal Georgia at the end of the seventeenth century.I am less certain of this equivalence, however, and am more inclined to believe that the Amacanos were never very far from the province of Apalachee.As I discuss below, by 1637, Amacanos were probably living near the mouth of the Apalachicola River since Amacano canoers met the Spanish supply ship near the cape where this river enters into the Gulf of Mexico.John R. Swanton, The Indians of the Southeastern United States, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 137 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1946), p. 88; Hann, Apalachee, p. 399.
[20]Testimonio del descubrimiento de Apalache, in Quaderno detodas las cartas delos distritos delas cinco Audiencias del año de 1637 ecepto las del Virrey questan en quaderno aparte, Año de 1637, AGI Indiferente 186. 
[21]Governor Francisco de Riano y Gamboa, to King, Havana, August 29, 1637, in Quaderno detodas las cartas... Año de 1637, AGI Indiferente 186; Testimonio del descubrimiento, AGI Indiferente 186.
[22]Governor Damian de Vega Castro y Pardo to King, St. Augustine, August 22, 1639, AGI SD 225.Emphasis mine.
[23]Edward Peters, Europe and the Middle Ages (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1983), p. 116; Mary W. Helms, Ulysses' Sail: An Ethnographic Odyssey of Power, Knowledge, and Geographical Distance (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), pp. 91-92.
[24]Helms, Ulysses' Sail, pp. 95-96; Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Los naufragios, ed. Enrique Pupo-Walker (Madrid: Editorial Castalia, 1992), p. 234.Translation mine from the following text: 

... me hazían buen tratamiento y me dauan de comer, por respecto de mis mercaderías,... y entre ellos era muy conoscido; holgauan mucho quando me vían y les tra´ya lo que auían menester, y los que no me conoscían me procurauan y desseauan ver, por mi fama....

[25]Smith, "Aboriginal Depopulation," p. 265
[26]Gov. James Colleton to Gov. Diego Quiroga y Losada, Charlestown, April 1, 1688, AGI SD 839; Quiroga y Losada to King, St. Augustine, June 8, 1690, AGI SD 227B; Alonso Solana to Gov. Laureano Torres y Ayala, San Luis, March 9, 1695, AGI SD 840.
[27]Waselkov, "Macon Trading House," p. 194. 
[28]The most exhaustive inventory of Spanish knowledge of peoples north and west of Apalachee supports this assessment. Hann, "Florida's Terra Incognita: West Florida's Natives in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century," Florida Anthropologist 41 (1988): 61-107.
[29]For an excellent comparative overview, particularly among the Sioux, Creeks, and Cherokees, see Gerald Sider, Lumbee Indian Histories: Race Ethnicity, and Indian Identity in the Southern United States (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), pp. 183-185.On the Mapuches, see Guillaume Bocarra, "Notas acerca de los dispositivos de poder en la sociedad colonial-fronteriza, la resistencia y la transculturación de los reche-mapuche del centro-sur de Chile (XVI-XVIII)," Revista de Indias 56, 208 (1996): 659-695.See also R. Brian Ferguson and Neil L. Whitehead, "The Violent Edge of Empire," in War in the Tribal Zone: Expanding States and Indigenous Warfare, ed. Ferguson and Whitehead (Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, 1992); Whitehead, "Tribes Make States and States Make Tribes: Warfare and the Creation of Colonial Tribes and States in Northeastern South America," in War in the Tribal Zone.