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Creeks and Southerners

Biculturalism on the Early American Frontier

Andrew K. Frank

Publication Year: 2005

Creeks and Southerners examines the families created by the hundreds of intermarriages between Creek Indian women and European American men in the southeastern United States during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Called “Indian countrymen” at the time, these intermarried white men moved into their wives’ villages in what is now Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. By doing so, they obtained new homes, familial obligations, occupations, and identities. At the same time, however, they maintained many of their ties to white American society and as a result entered the historical record in large numbers.
Creeks and Southerners studies the ways in which many children of these relationships lived both as Creek Indians and white Southerners. By carefully altering their physical appearances, choosing appropriate clothing, learning multiple languages, embracing maternal and paternal kinsmen and kinswomen, and balancing their loyalties, the children of intermarriages found ways to bridge what seemed to be an unbridgeable divide. Many became prominent Creek political leaders and warriors, played central roles in the lucrative deerskin trade, built inns and taverns to cater to the needs of European American travelers, frequently moved between colonial American and Native communities, and served both European American and Creek officials as interpreters, assistants, and travel escorts. The fortunes of these bicultural children reflect the changing nature of Creek-white relations, which became less flexible and increasingly contentious throughout the nineteenth century as both Creeks and Americans accepted a more rigid biological concept of race, forcing their bicultural children to choose between identities.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: Indians of the Southeast


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xii

More than a decade ago a young historian told me to prepare for the isolating nature of graduate school and historical research. Although I forged a love-hate relationship with my computer and frequently found myself in distant and quiet...

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Series Editors’ Introduction

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pp. xiii

Hundreds, probably thousands, of Europeans entered the Native nations of the South in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries hoping to make their fortunes in the business of exchanging the goods of Europe for the goods of the...

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pp. 1-10

In 1783 a belief in the connection between race, culture, and identity nearly resulted in hostilities between Spanish Floridians and Creek Indians. The problem began in early February, when an English-born and English-speaking man named Andrew Brissert entered the Gulf Coast town of Pensacola...

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1. The Invitation Within

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pp. 11-25

Throughout their pre-removal history in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, Creek Indians welcomed countless African, Native, and European outsiders into their villages. Creeks often took the newcomers as spouses and occasionally adopted...

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2. “This Asylum of Liberty”

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pp. 26-45

During an official tour of the Creek Nation in 1790 and 1791, U.S. Army lieutenant Caleb Swan estimated that at least three hundred European American men lived in Creek villages. Some of these men, known as Indian countrymen, cohabitated with and married Native women, raised Creek children...

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3. Kin and Strangers

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pp. 46-60

In the aftermath of the particularly bloody battle of Tallapoosa in 1813, U.S. general Andrew Jackson discovered an Indian infant "sucking his dead mothers breast." Jackson, apparently believing that the motherless child would not be cared for by the surviving Creeks in the village, took the fate...

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4. Parenting and Practice

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pp. 61-76

In February 1797 a Creek woman offered to arrange a marriage between her daughter and Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins. As Hawkins deliberated the proposal, concerns about cultural differences colored his decision. Since entering Indian territory a few months earlier, Hawkins had learned that marrying and...

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5. In Two Worlds

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pp. 77-95

The children of European American fathers and Creek mothers frequently performed essential roles as cultural mediators on the southern frontier. As multilingual speakers of English and Muskogee, and sometimes of other Native and European languages, they had the ability to communicate with both Creeks and European Americans. Linguistic abilities alone, however, did not ensure...

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6. Tustunnuggee Hutkee and the Limits of Dual Identities

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pp. 96-113

In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries many children of intermarriages became village chiefs or took leadership roles in Creek society. These individuals obtained their political and diplomatic authority in traditional ways, but their European American identities provided them opportunities. Their American...

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7. The Insistence of Race

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pp. 114-128

In the years surrounding McIntosh's execution, European Americans increasingly embraced a racial definition of whiteness. Although a debate raged over the ability of Indians to Americanize, many Americans became certain of the immutability of the identities of Indian countrymen and the whiteness of their...

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Epilogue: Race, Clan, and Creek

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pp. 129-132

In the early nineteenth century, as racial divisions increasingly became an accepted reality on the southern frontier, the Creeks told a story that explained the origins of race in terms that seemingly violated their nonracial worldview. "Some people once came to a very small pool of water to bathe. The man...


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pp. 133-134


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pp. 135-170

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 171-186


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pp. 187-193

E-ISBN-13: 9780803204942
E-ISBN-10: 0803204949

Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Indians of the Southeast