- Cherokee Kings and Creek Kings: Intra-Indigenous Connections and Interactions in the Eighteenth-Century American South
In November 1768, a delegation of disgruntled Lower Creek micos (headmen) traversed what was called the Creek Path, destined for Augusta where they were to meet with the British superintendent of Indian affairs in the South, John Stuart (Map 1). Stuart, the British empire’s most important intermediary with the Indigenous peoples of the South, waited nervously for the Creek leaders to arrive, preparing himself to deal with the increasingly contentious issue of land. In 1763 and 1765, Stuart had negotiated different treaties with the Creeks that transferred millions of acres in present-day Georgia and Florida to the British empire, all of which occurred simultaneously with William Johnson’s efforts to do the same with the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Six Nations with the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1768). However, violent disputes over where Creek territories started and ended threatened to embroil the empire in a war, which prompted Stuart to convene the congress at Augusta. And as Creek leaders arrived, Stuart undoubtedly recognized many of the same faces from when he visited the town of Chehaw the previous year, when the issue of land was front and center. As one mico put it best at that meeting, “a great many Red and White people’s not knowing the Line, causes disturbance,” and threatened everyone “to go to war.” Both sides, then, had a lot to discuss in November 1768.1
While the issue of land again dominated the proceedings at Augusta, matters took a different turn at the conclusion of the congress, when Stuart presented Tiftoy, “a great Chief of the Cherokee Nation,” who [End Page 769]
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“has a Message for you [Creeks], from his ruling Chiefs,” and thinks “it should be delivered in my presence.” Instead of addressing all the micos, though, Tiftoy singled out “Brother Escotchaby, [who] was once in the Cherokee Nation and we know you. . . . I bring a Message from the Chiefs of my Nation, which is directed to you.” Before continuing, Tiftoy handed a string of white beads to Escotchaby, who by accepting the belt of wampum acknowledged the Cherokees’ peaceful intent toward the Creeks. Tiftoy then continued: “There are a Number of your People who we consider as outlaws and Renegado’s, who are constantly in our Towns. They are perpetually bringing in lying Talks, which disturb and confuse our young men. They have reported . . . you intend to break with us, and spill Blood.” Tiftoy pleaded with Escotchaby, “I bring you a String of white Beads, with one Black bead at the end of it. If what they say is false, and your [End Page 770] Intentions are good and peaceable, throw away the Black bead, and give me a white one in return.” When Escotchaby removed the black bead and handed a white one back, Tiftoy thanked Escotchaby and asked him to “Immediatly call them [Creeks in Cherokee towns] away, and that there may be no pretence for their staying there any Longer.” However, Tiftoy conceded that “the Cherokee Women which they have taken for Wives and their Children, shall have Liberty to go with them.” Tiftoy then intimated that the Cherokees had recently agreed to peace with the Haudenosaunee, who had sent a representative into the Cherokee town of Chote and who now awaited “two men from each of your Towns, to come into Choté, in the Spring to Talk about Peace.”2
After accepting another belt of white beads from Tiftoy, Escotchaby stood up to address the Cherokee envoy, speaking on behalf of all the micos. “Brother We have listened to your Talk. We shall Send for our people and endeavour to prevail on them to return home.” Escotchaby promised if any of the Creeks in Cherokee towns refused to listen...