The Creek Indians, also called Muscogee Indians, are a large Indian nation that once dominated the majority of the southeastern United States. They were part of the Five Civilized Tribes, in that they assumed much of the European colonists' way of life and got along well with their neighbors. In the 1600’s, most of the Creek Indians were pushed westward to Oklahoma by the Europeans, though some Creeks can still be found living in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama today.
The true Indian spelling of Muscogee is Mvskoke. Their native language is also known by the same name, though most have learned to speak English. Tribe members were later coined Creek Indians by the Europeans, due to their geographical location as well as their tendency to create ceremonial pyramids along the river banks.
Though often viewed as a single tribe, the Creek are actually a collective merger of several Native American tribes. Their settlements are situated around a “Mother town,” similar to a capital of a state in the United States. A town rarely has more than 500 to 600 people, and as the population increases, some of the occupants leave for a new location nearby. Each town is built around a plaza, with shops and homes around the perimeter.
The traditional home for the Creek Indians was a mud hut, complete with a grass or wood roof. This later evolved into building log homes, perhaps due to the European influence. Nowadays, the homes have become more modernized. The towns still consist of the same basic structure, but the homes often are more spread out for farming and agriculture.
Family typically plays an important role in the lives of Creek Indians. Clans are comprised of families whose ancestors belonged in the same grouping — each Creek is a member of the same clan as his or her mother. The mother’s brother is thought to be the primary leader and role model of the family. Not all clan members are related by blood, but commonly refer to each other as family members. For example, children of a Creek Indian tribe often refer to each other as brother and sister, even if not blood kin.
Today, there are few Creek nations recognized by the government in the United States. The only two that have gained federal recognition are the Muscogee Nation in Oklahoma and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama. A handful of other tribes have gained state recognition in Alabama and Georgia. In total, there are about 10 Creek tribes still situated across the nation.
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