The Loss of the Remaining Creek Indian Territory
By Don & Diane Wells
The Creek Indian Legacy in Georgia – Part 5
|The map illustrates Indian Land Cessions in Georgia and the dates of those cessions. The original map is titled 'Indian Land Cessions in the United States." Georgia Map 15, United States Digital Map Library.|
The impact on the Creek Confederacy due to the Creek War with the U.S. was devastating. Prior to the Creek War, the Creeks controlled the area of Georgia from the Ocmulgee River to the Chattahoochee River and south as well as most of Alabama with the exception of those lands in the control of the Cherokee, Choctaw and Chickasaw. General Jackson on August 9, 1814 at Fort Jackson, Alabama forced the Creeks to cede all of their lands in southern Georgia on a line south of Fort Gaines to Jessup Ga. In Alabama they ceded all of their territory from the Coosa River on the east and south on a line from where the Coosa joins the Tallapoosa at a 45 degree angle. to the Chattahoochee River and south to Florida. The western boundary of the land ceded in Alabama was the land claimed by the Chickasaws. The territory that remained in the Creek possession was the land between the Ocmulgee River in Georgia to the Coosa River in Alabama. This area was less than half of their previous territory.
A further impact on the Creeks Territory was a clause in the treaty at Fort Jackson which stated that “The U.S. demand the right to establish military posts and trading houses and to open roads within the territory still retained by the Creeks.” To add salt to the wounds of the Red Stick Creek Indians, Jackson gave one square mile of land and its improvements in the ceded lands to the Creek Chiefs and Warriors who supported the U.S. in the fight against the Red Sticks.
As a result of this treaty, half of the Federal Road was now under the control of the U.S. and the remaining half was encumbered with treaty obligations to allow the U.S. to build forts and trading houses on Creek lands.
The Treaty of Fort Wilkinson in 1802 set aside a section of land three miles by four and a quarter miles on either side of the Flint River in Georgia for a Creek Agency to manage the affairs between the Creek Indians and the U.S. The U.S. Indian Agent, Benjamin Hawkins established his home there and remained on that land until his death in June 1816. Having lost half of their territory in the Treaty of Fort Jackson, the loss of their friend Benjamin Hawkins helped the Creek Indians realize that the possibility of remaining and living peacefully in their home land was coming to an end. Just seven years after the Treaty at Fort Jackson, in 1821, the Creek Indians ceded their lands between the Ocmulgee and Flint Rivers. Even though this Treaty at Indian Springs gave the U.S. the right to continue using the Indian Agency land on the Flint River, Indian Agency affairs were moved to Fort Mitchell on the Chattahoochee River.
After signing away their lands in the 1821 treaty, the Upper Creek Indians were unwilling to give up any more territory and intended to continue living on their remaining territory under less than adequate conditions. White settlers, however, relentlessly pushed against their boundaries demanding more land. William McIntosh, chief of the Lower Creek Indians, first cousin to the then Georgia Governor George Troup began to consider the need to cede the remaining Creek lands in Georgia. Four years after the 1821 Treaty, McIntosh, against the wishes of the Upper Creek Indians, signed a treaty with the U.S. government to cede the lands between the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers. This treaty was found to be in error and was deemed to be null and void. In January 1826, a second treaty was signed ceding the lands previously ceded in 1825. This second treaty was not by William McIntosh. About 200 hundred Upper Creek Indian warriors, extremely upset because McIntosh had signed away their land without their permission, had walked from Alabama to his preserve on the Chattahoochee River now in Carroll County and killed him!
After the treaty of 1826, all that remained of the Creek territory was the lands between the Chattahoochee and Coosa Rivers in Alabama, a small footprint of what was at one time a major nation. From 1826 until 1836, the remaining Creeks were treated poorly by the U.S. government and by the white settlers. Great frauds occurred on the Creek Indians and white settlers poured into their remaining lands unauthorized and unstopped by government officials. Tensions grew and the Creek leaders expressed outrage about their situation. Their despair grew to the point that they could no longer remain civil. In the spring of 1836, the Yuchi, Hitchiti and other bands of the Creek Confederacy launched a campaign to drive white intruders from their lands. War parties burned homes and farms, killed whole families, disrupted the mail stages and destroyed the town of Roanoke, Georgia (Stewart County) by burning it to the ground. As a result of this uprising, the US again dispatched military troops led by General Winfield Scott. They counter attacked the Creek warriors killing many. The final outcome of this uprising was the removal of all the Creek Indians to Oklahoma in 1836.
After all this history, what happened to the Federal Road, a horse path that had grown to a major route west? Over time, parts of it were abandoned or re-routed as a new road. Today, little remains of this once major transportation artery that was the Achilles heel of the Creek Indians.