Muskogean-speaking North American Indian people living mainly in Oklahoma, U.S., and also in Georgia and Alabama. A fluid confederation of groups that occupied much of the Georgia and Alabama flatlands before colonization, the Creek comprised two major divisions: the Upper Creeks (living on the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers) and the Lower Creeks (living on the Chatahootchee and Flint rivers). They cultivated corn, beans, and squash. Each Creek town had a plaza or community square, often with a temple, around which were built rectangular houses. Religious observances included the Busk (Green Corn Festival), an annual first-fruits and new-fires rite. In the 18th century a Creek Confederacyincluding the Natchez, Yuchi, Shawnee, and otherswas organized to present a united front against both European and Indian enemies. Ultimately, the confederacy did not succeed, in part because the Creek towns (about 50, with a total population of perhaps 20,000) were not able to coordinate the contribution of warriors to a common battle plan. The Creek War against the U.S. (1813–14) ended with the defeated Creeks ceding 23 million acres. Subsequently most were forcibly removed to Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Creek descendants numbered more than 71,300 in the early 21st century.
Ben Perryman, a Creek Indian, painting by George Catlin, 1836; in the Smithsonian American Art
—Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (formerly National Museum of American Art), Washington, D.C., gift of Mrs. Sarah Harrison
Variants of CREEK
Creek or Muscogee
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