Creek Tribe Quotes

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if everything that is happening in the world is traceable to our inability to understand what is happening in the world.  If there is such a thing as original sin, it's the human capacity to get everything wrong, right from the beginning and all the way up to now, and that's what the old storytellers have been telling us, including the Creek Indians who told this story along with every other tribe on earth. 
Gerald Hausman (The American Storybag)
Your body needs to be shocked to become resilient. Follow the same daily routine, and your musculoskeletal system quickly figures out how to adapt and go on autopilot. But surprise it with new challenges--leap over a creek, commando-crawl under a log, sprint till your lungs are bursting--and scores of the shorts out of consideration for my eighty-two-year-old neighbor.
Christopher McDougall (Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen)
Indian Creek, in its whole length, flows through a magnificent forest. There dwells on its shore a tribe of Indians, a remnant of the Chickasaws or Chickopees, if I remember rightly. They live in simple huts, ten or twelve feet square, constructed of pine poles and covered with bark. They subsist principally on the flesh of the deer, the coon, and opossum, all of which are plenty in these woods. Sometimes they exchange venison for a little corn and whisky with the planters on the bayous. Their usual dress is buckskin breeches and calico hunting shirts of fantastic colors, buttoned from belt to chin. They wear brass rings on their wrists, and in their ears and noses. The dress of the squaws is very similar.
Solomon Northup (Twelve Years a Slave)
The Seminoles did not exist as a tribe or nation before the arrival of Europeans and Africans. They were a triracial isolate composed of Creek Indians, remnants of smaller tribes, runaway slaves, and whites who preferred to live in Indian society. The word Seminole is itself a corruption of the Spanish cimarrón (altered to maroons on Jamaica), a word that came to mean runaway slaves.
James W. Loewen (Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong)
As long as it didn't cost white anything American officials were absolutely determined to see justice done for the black Indian. The United States took nearly a century to grant the millions of freedman in its own borders the same rights as Creek freedmen enjoyed after 1866. On an economic level adoption into the tribe's communal land trust proved far more beneficial to blacks than any program ever devised by the federal government—even in modern times.
Jonathan D. Greenberg (Staking a Claim: Jake Simmons, Jr. and the Making of an African-American Oil Dynasty)
Jackson himself described how the treaties were obtained: “. . . we addressed ourselves feelingly to the predominant and governing passion of all Indian tribes, i.e., their avarice or fear.” He encouraged white squatters to move into Indian lands, then told the Indians the government could not remove the whites and so they had better cede the lands or be wiped out. He also, Rogin says, “practiced extensive bribery.” These treaties, these land grabs, laid the basis for the cotton kingdom, the slave plantations. Every time a treaty was signed, pushing the Creeks from one area to the next, promising them security there, whites would move into the new area and the Creeks would feel compelled to sign another treaty, giving up more land in return for security elsewhere. Jackson’s work had brought the white settlements to the border of Florida, owned by Spain. Here were the villages of the Seminole Indians, joined by some Red Stick refugees, and encouraged by British agents in their resistance to the Americans. Settlers moved into Indian lands. Indians attacked. Atrocities took place on both sides. When certain villages refused to surrender people accused of murdering whites, Jackson ordered the villages destroyed.
Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present)
Across history, racist power has produced racist ideas about the racialized ethnic groups in its colonial sphere and ranked them—across the globe and within their own nations. The history of the United States offers a parade of intra-racial ethnic power relationships: Anglo-Saxons discriminating against Irish Catholics and Jews; Cuban immigrants being privileged over Mexican immigrants; the model-minority construction that includes East Asians and excludes Muslims from South Asia. It’s a history that began with early European colonizers referring to the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole as the “Five Civilized Tribes” of Native Americans, as compared to other “wild” tribes. This ranking of racialized ethnic groups within the ranking of the races creates a racial-ethnic hierarchy, a ladder of ethnic racism within the larger schema of racism.
Ibram X. Kendi (How to Be an Antiracist)
Niobe earned the ire of the gods by bragging about her seven lovely daughters and seven “handsome sons—whom the easily offended Olympians soon slaughtered for her impertinence. Tantalus, Niobe’s father, killed his own son and served him at a royal banquet. As punishment, Tantalus had to stand for all eternity up to his neck in a river, with a branch loaded with apples dangling above his nose. Whenever he tried to eat or drink, however, the fruit would be blown away beyond his grasp or the water would recede. Still, while elusiveness and loss tortured Tantalus and Niobe, it is actually a surfeit of their namesake elements that has decimated central Africa. There’s a good chance you have tantalum or niobium in your pocket right now. Like their periodic table neighbors, both are dense, heat-resistant, noncorrosive metals that hold a charge well—qualities that make them vital for compact cell phones. In the mid-1990s cell phone designers started demanding both metals, especially tantalum, from the world’s largest supplier, the Democratic Republic of Congo, then called Zaire. Congo sits next to Rwanda in central Africa, and most of us probably remember the Rwandan butchery of the 1990s. But none of us likely remembers the day in 1996 when the ousted Rwandan government of ethnic Hutus spilled into Congo seeking “refuge. At the time it seemed just to extend the Rwandan conflict a few miles west, but in retrospect it was a brush fire blown right into a decade of accumulated racial kindling. Eventually, nine countries and two hundred ethnic tribes, each with its own ancient alliances and unsettled grudges, were warring in the dense jungles. Nonetheless, if only major armies had been involved, the Congo conflict likely would have petered out. Larger than Alaska and dense as Brazil, Congo is even less accessible than either by roads, meaning it’s not ideal for waging a protracted war. Plus, poor villagers can’t afford to go off and fight unless there’s money at stake. Enter tantalum, niobium, and cellular technology. Now, I don’t mean to impute direct blame. Clearly, cell phones didn’t cause the war—hatred and grudges did. But just as clearly, the infusion of cash perpetuated the brawl. Congo has 60 percent of the world’s supply of the two metals, which blend together in the ground in a mineral called coltan. Once cell phones caught on—sales rose from virtually zero in 1991 to more than a billion by 2001—the West’s hunger proved as strong as Tantalus’s, and coltan’s price grew tenfold. People purchasing ore for cell phone makers didn’t ask and didn’t care where the coltan came from, and Congolese miners had no idea what the mineral was used for, knowing only that white people paid for it and that they could use the profits to support their favorite militias. Oddly, tantalum and niobium proved so noxious because coltan was so democratic. Unlike the days when crooked Belgians ran Congo’s diamond and gold mines, no conglomerates controlled coltan, and no backhoes and dump trucks were necessary to mine it. Any commoner with a shovel and a good back could dig up whole pounds of the stuff in creek beds (it looks like thick mud). In just hours, a farmer could earn twenty times what his neighbor did all year, and as profits swelled, men abandoned their farms for prospecting. This upset Congo’s already shaky food supply, and people began hunting gorillas for meat, virtually wiping them out, as if they were so many buffalo. But gorilla deaths were nothing compared to the human atrocities. It’s not a good thing when money pours into a country with no government.
Sam Kean (The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements)
When boys grew up, their days were filled with warfare, trading, ball games, and hunting and fishing. During the coldest half of the year, Cherokee warriors patrolled their land, engaging in bloody skirmishes to drive back the Creek, Chickasaw, Catawba, and other tribes that tried to encroach upon the mountains. The Cherokee also made raids on lands claimed by other tribes. Sometimes they sold captured enemies as slaves. If one of their warriors was slain, they sought vengeance. His spirit would not rest until the murderer himself was killed.
Raymond Bial (The Cherokee)
In reality, the various movements and removals of Indigenous peoples from the Southeast due to white invasion meant that the first western settlers were often Native Americans who migrated to spaces other than their homelands, where they encountered other tribes—longtime enemies, other displaced peoples, and groups who had long called this land home. Native peoples adjusted their oral histories and survivance strategies to incorporate their new surroundings as they had done for millennia, crafting stories that told of successful migrations and learning about the food and herbs of their new homes. As they were forced westward, the Five Tribes’ experience in Indian Territory was different from the other Indigenous migrations occurring around them. The Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole Nations sought to use the settler colonial process to cast themselves as civilizers of their new home: they used the labor system that Euro-Americans insisted represented sophistication—chattel slavery—to build homes, commercial enterprises, and wealth, and they portrayed themselves as settlers in need of protection from the federal government against the depredations of western Indians, which, the Five Tribes claimed, hindered their own civilizing progress. Moreover, they followed their physical appropriation of Plains Indians’ land with an erasure of their predecessor’s history. They perpetuated the idea that they had found an undeveloped ‘wilderness” when they arrived in Indian Territory and that they had proceeded to tame it. They claimed that they had built institutions and culture in a space where previously neither existed. The Five Tribes’ involvement in the settler colonial process was self-serving: they had already been forced to move once by white Americans, and appealing to their values could only help them—at least, at first. Involvement in the system of Black enslavement was a key component of displaying adherence to Americans’ ideas of social, political, and economic advancement—indeed, owning enslaved people was the primary path to wealth in the nineteenth century. The laws policing Black people’s behavior that appeared in all of the tribes’ legislative codes showed that they were willing to make this system a part of their societies. But with the end of the Civil War, the political party in power—the Republicans—changed the rules: slavery was no longer deemed civilized and must be eliminated by force. For the Five Tribes, the rise and fall of their involvement in the settler colonial process is inextricably connected to the enslavement of people of African descent: it helped to prove their supposed civilization and it helped them construct their new home, but it would eventually be the downfall of their Indian Territory land claims. Recognizing the Five Tribes’ coerced migration to Indian Territory as the first wave among many allows us to see how settler colonialism shaped the culture of Indian Territory even before settlers from the United States arrived. Though the Cherokee ‘Trail of Tears’ has come to symbolize Indian Removal, the Five Tribes were just a handful of dozens of Indigenous tribes who had been forced to move from their eastern homelands due to white displacement. This displacement did not begin or end in the 1830s Since the 1700s, Indian nations such as the Wyandot, Kickapoo, and Shawnee began migrating to other regions to escape white settlement and the violence and resource scarcity that often followed. Though brought on by conditions outside of their control, these migrations were ‘voluntary’ in that they were most often an attempt to flee other Native groups moving into their territory as a result of white invasion or to preempt white coercion, rather than a response to direct Euro-American political or legal pressure to give up their homelands….
Alaina E. Roberts (I've Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land)
The Five Tribes not only physically displaced other Indian nations in Indian Territory; they erased the history of southern Plains people and drafted a new history of Indian Territory. For example, in 1955, the Chickasaws built their council house, a sixteen-by-twenty-five-foot log house. Here, the Chickasaws rewrote their constitution and took their first actions as a sovereign legislature, under the first Chickasaw governor, Cyrus Harris. Although the log house was quickly replaced (within the next year or so) by a brick iteration, the log house serves a particular purpose in the pantheon of Chickasaw public history. In 1911, the Wapanucka Press, an Oklahoma-based newspaper, interviewed someone (presumably a representative of the Chickasaw Nation) about the story of the log house’s origins. The paper reported, ‘Slaves of the Chickasaws toiled in the dense oak forests cutting down the finest trees and hewing them into shape…Thick undergrowth was cleared from a knoll…paths were cut from bottom meadows.’ Rough-hewn and surrounded by overgrown foliage, the log house is meant to evoke the idea that the Chickasaws encountered a ‘wilderness’ in early Indian Territory. The reader is meant to believe that, as civilizers, the Chickasaws shaped this wilderness into the modern space that it became. This idea of ‘civilization’ is based on Euro-American colonizer’ ideas of advanced societies. The Cherokee Nation alleges on its website that ‘upon earliest contact with European explorers in the 1500s, Cherokee Nation was identified as one of the most advanced among Native American tribes.’ Although the Cherokees were asserting their longevity as a people and their pride in their culture, here they use a European measurement of their merit. In the nineteenth century, the Five Tribes succeeded at crafting a perception of difference. The western Indians certainly saw them as settlers. The special agent to the Comanches reported that they were angry that tribes such as the Creeks and Choctaws ‘have extended their occupation and improvements to the country heretofore used by themselves as a hunting ground,’ expressing that they saw the Five tribes as unlawful settlers, just like whites, and themselves as the dispossessed indigenous peoples of the region.
Alaina E. Roberts (I've Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land)
The labor of enslaved women and men was crucial to the Five Tribes’ economic and social success in Indian Territory... Preserved through family lines and nourished by increasing dividends, Black chattel slavery had bene an element of life in the Five Tribes for decades by the time of the Civil War.” Pg 23 “The Five Tribes, to varying degrees, adapted the institution of slavery to suit their own needs beginning in the late 1700s and intensifying in the early 1800s. Along with the institution of slavery the Five Tribes also adopted other parts of American ‘civilization,’ such as Euro-American clothing, agriculture, political language, religion….while retaining aspects of their own culture. As in the United States, the majority of people in the Five Tribes did not own slaves. Yet, Indian elites created an economy and culture that highly valued and regulated slavery and the rights of slave owners…In 1860, about thirty years after their removal to Indian Territory from their respective homes in the Southeast, Cherokee Nation members owned 2,511 slaves (15 percent of their total population), Choctaw members owned 2,349 slaves (14 percent of their total population, and Creek members owned 975 slaves, which amounted to 18 percent of their total population, a proportion equivalent to that of white slave owners in Tennessee, a former neighbor of the Chickasaw Nation. Slave labor allowed wealthy Indians to rebuild the infrastructure of their lives even bigger and better than before. John Ross, a Cherokee chief, lived in a log cabin directly after Removal. After a few years, he replaced this dwelling with a yellow mansion, complete with a columned porch.
Alaina E. Roberts (I've Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land)
In existing writings about federally recognized tribes and their engagement with tribal acknowledgment politics, a palpable theme is clear: presently recognized nations are not acting the ‘Indian way’ when they refuse to acknowledge their less fortunate Indian relatives and share with them. To many writers, federally recognized tribal leaders are so ensconced in the hegemonic colonial order that they are no even aware that they are replicated and reinforcing it inequities. According to this line, because the Five Tribes and related groups like the Mississippi Band of Choctaws and the Eastern Band of Cherokees have embraced nonindigenous notions of ‘being Indian’ and tribal citizenship using federal censuses such as the Dawes Rolls and blood quantum they are not being authentic. Some critics charge that modern tribes like the Choctaw Nation have rejected aboriginal notions and conceptions of Indian social organization and nationhood. This thinking, however, seems to me to once again reinforce stereotypes about Indians as largely unchanging, primordial societies. The fact that the Creek and Cherokee Nations have evolved and adopted European notions of citizenship and nationhood is somehow held against them in tribal acknowledgment debates. We hear echoes of the ‘Noble Savage’ idea once again. In other context when tribes have demanded a assay in controlling their cultural property and identities – by protesting Indian sports mascots or the marketing of cars and clothing with their tribal names, or by arguing that studios should hire real Indians as actors – these actions are applauded. However, when these occur in tribal recognition contexts, the tribes are viewed as greedy or racists. The unspoken theme is that tribes are not actin gin the ‘traditional’ Indian way…With their cultures seen as frozen in time, the more tribes deviate from popular representation, the more they are seen as inauthentic. To the degree that they are seen as assimilated (or colonized and enveloped in the hegemonic order), they are also seen as inauthentic, corrupted, and polluted. The supreme irony is that when recognized tribes demand empirical data to prove tribal authenticity, critics charge that they are not being authentically ingenious by doing so.
Mark Edwin Miller (Claiming Tribal Identity: The Five Tribes and the Politics of Federal Acknowledgment)
So happen back fifty years, the Mohawk took and adopted the whole tribe of the Tuscarora. Don’t many tribes speak exactly the same language,” Myers explained. “But some are closer than others. Tuscarora’s more like the Mohawk than ’tis like the Creek or the Cherokee.
Diana Gabaldon (Drums of Autumn (Outlander, #4))
Ted, where are your FiveFingers?” I asked. “Don’t need ’em,” he said. “I made a deal with Caballo that if I handled this hike, he wouldn’t get mad anymore if I went barefoot.” “He rigged the bet,” I said. “This is like running up the side of a gravel pit.” “Humans didn’t invent rough surfaces, Oso,” Ted said. “We invented the smooth ones. Your foot is perfectly happy molding itself around rocks. All you’ve got to do is relax and let your foot flex. It’s like a foot massage. Oh, hey!” he called after us as Eric and I pulled ahead. “Here’s a great tip. Next time your feet are sore, walk on slippery stones in a cold creek. Unbelievable!
Christopher McDougall (Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen)
Like other eastern tribes, the Cherokee played a ball game similar to lacrosse. Called "the friend or companion of battle," or simply "little brother of war," these stickball games were very rough--there were often broken bones, torn muscles, cuts, and bruises. Elaborate rituals preceded the game. If someone wanted a contest, he gathered his friends and sent a challenge to another town. If the town accepted the challenge, people were selected for various tasks: an elderly man to oversee the game, a person to sing for the players, another to whoop, and a musician for seven women who danced on the seventh night of preparations for the game. The night before the game, players danced together around the fire with their ball sticks, pretending that they were playing. Then they hung up their sticks, went to a brisk stream, and bathed seven times, after which they went to bed. At daybreak, the shaman took them to the creek again. During their preparations the players were not allowed to go near women and they could not eat meat or anything hot or salty. Seven women were chosen to prepare meals of cold bread and a drink of parched cornmeal and water. The men could not be served by women, so boys brought the food to them. During the day the men were scratched with rattlesnake fangs or turkey quills to toughen them for the "little brother of war." The two teams gathered on a large field where goalposts were set up at each end. Players paired off, the referee threw the ball up in the air between the two captains, and a mad scramble ensued. The game was "anything goes," and there was biting, gouging, choking, scratching, twisting arms and legs, and banging each other with the wooden rackets. The object of the game was to carry the ball between the goals twelve times. The first team with twelve wooden pegs stuck in the ground by the shaman won the game. There was no time limit and often the game went on until dark. There was also no time-out or substitution. If a player was injured, he and the opponent with whom he was paired both left the game. Cherokee gathered from throughout the mountains to watch and bet on these hotly contested games.
Raymond Bial (The Cherokee)
The name Cherokee is likely derived from the Creek word chelokee, which means “people of a different speech.” Also, though many Cherokee people accept the term “Cherokee,” some prefer and use the word “Tsalagi” to refer to themselves and their tribe. Originally, the Cherokee referred to themselves as the Aniyunwiya or Anniyaya which can be translated as “the principal people.
Charles River Editors (The Trail of Tears: The Forced Removal of the Five Civilized Tribes)
The New Yorker, July 25, 2022 Issue When Tribal Nations Expel Their Black Members - Clashes between sovereignty rights and civil rights reveal an uncomfortable and complicated story about race and belonging in America. By Philip Deloria In 1979, an Oklahoma woman named Johnnie Mae Austin stopped getting mail from the Muscogee Nation. There were no more announcements of meetings, notices of elections, or news of monetary settlements. The problem wasn’t postal. Austin’s Muscogee citizenship had been erased by a new Muscogee constitution in which citizenship was defined “by blood,” words that named a fraught crossroads in Native and African American histories. The Muscogee people, also referred to as Creeks, were among the tribes that once enslaved people of African descent and that were required, in the wake of the Civil War, to accept them as tribal citizens. A tribal-enrollment census around the start of the twentieth century split the Muscogee citizenry into groups that were separate but by no means equal. One roll—the “by blood” roster—listed people of Creek heritage, while a second, “freedmen,” roll named Black Creek citizens, the formerly enslaved and their descendants. Austin’s ancestors appeared on the second roll. With the new constitution, Muscogee citizenship was reserved for those on the first roll, or their lineal descendants. And so Austin, after forty-seven years of being Creek, found her tribal identity legally and politically erased.
Philip Deloria