While the modern Creek nation centers in Muskogee, Oklahoma, the Creek confederacy originally formed in the American Southeast, following a period of turmoil during the 1600s. The Creek traded slaves and deer skins with early European settlers before being forced from their land by the American government during the 1830s.Continue Reading
Following contact with Europeans and their diseases, the previous mound-building culture of the American Southeast collapsed during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Creek formed out of the remains of that society. The Creek confederacy combined multiple different tribes, speaking various languages, in a military alliance.
The Creek were an agricultural society, growing corn, beans and squash for their staple diet, which they supplemented with intermittent hunting. The Creek built their settlements along rivers and streams, leaving large buffer zones between independent chiefdoms. After European settlement started on the East Coast, the Creek started trading slaves and deer skins for textiles, metal tools and weapons, as well as adopting some European plants and animals, such as cattle, horses, hogs and chickens.
As deer populations plummeted in the late 18th century and American settlers began eying Creek lands, pressure increased on the Creek to move West. Military campaigns by Andrew Jackson and pressure from his presidential administration eventually forced the Creek to accept removal to Oklahoma. Historians often refer to the removal of the Creek and other native tribes from the Southeast as the "Trail of Tears."Learn more about Ancient America