Fact file: Muskogee people

February 29, 2008

– A Native American Tribe

What? Today the tribe is one of the Five Civilized Tribes of America, which means that they have adopted a lot of modern, white people’s customs. The languages they speak are English and Creek. Generally they live in a mixture of modern American and traditional Creek life. It is important to most muskogees to keep the old traditions, stories and beliefs, not to lose their identity as Native Americans.

Who? They mainly call themselves Muskogee (Muscogee) people today (though there are some other bands as well), but the white settlers called them Creek Indians after Ocmulgee Creek in Georgia. Originally they called themselves Isti or Istichata.

Where? The Creek people lived in the Southeast United States before they were moved by the European invaders to Indian territories. Modern muskogees primarily live in Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

Why? The Creek lived in villages of rectangular pole-framed houses, with clay-covered walls and slanted and peaked bark-covered roofs. The houses were arranged in a rectangle around a central space (plaza), where a ceremonial lodge stood. The plaza was reserved for public events, such as the annual renewal and thanksgiving festival, known as the Green Corn Ceremony. Some villages, known as red towns, were designated for war ceremonies, and others, called white towns, for peace ceremonies. Each village had a micco, or chief, who was advised by the Beloved Men, a council of elders. Priests also played an important part in village life. Families were organized into clans, or groups of families related by a common ancestor. Creek women cultivated corn, squash, beans, and other crops, and the men hunted and fished. Like many other tribes of the Southeast, the Creek were heavily tattooed and ornamented.

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