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Their Towns and Traditions
The Creek Indians were the largest and most important group of Indian peoples who lived in what is now Alabama. Allied for their common good and related by kinship and common culture and language, they are considered an alliance or confederacy of towns or tribes.
The Creeks, or Muskogees, like their neighbors the Choctaws and Chickasaws, were descendants of the earlier Mississippian peoples who lived in Alabama. The Choctaws, who lived in some 60 villages located in the state of modern Mississippi, claimed some hunting lands in what is now Alabama, as did the Chickasaw, whose seven to ten towns were at the site of modern Tupelo, Mississippi. The Cherokees also claimed some lands in northeast Alabama.
In the historic period, there were roughly 25 major Creek towns, with numerous lesser villages. Among their towns in the eighteenth century were Okfusee, Okchai, Tuckabatchee, Little Tallassee, Hickory Ground, Muccolossus, Coolome, Otassee, Coweta, and Cussita.
There were two geopolitical divisions among the Creek Confederacy: the Upper Creek towns (whose towns were situated along the Tallapoosa, Coosa, and Alabama rivers) and the Lower Creek towns (located on the Chattahoochee River).
For the historic Creeks, the town, talwa in their native Muskogee language, was the center of political and social life. Each Creek town had a number of common elements:
The square ground was the most important part of the talwa. Here town leaders met daily to discuss tribal concerns, debate policy, and administer town needs. Among the many rituals undertaken here, the Black Drink ceremony was the most famous. Black drink, so called by the Europeans because of its dark color, was made from yaupon holly and was believed to purify and cleanse a man's heart. Dances were held here too, including war dances and celebrations. The most important Creek religious holiday, the Green Corn Celebration, or Busk, which marked their thanksgiving for the harvest of the new corn crop, was also carried out in the square ground.
During the winter, the daily council meetings and ceremonies were moved indoors to the hot house or winter council house, which was sometimes called the rotunda.
Each town also included a chunky yard. Much like our modern ball field, Creeks gathered at this site to play their favorite game, chunky, which was played with a rolling disk.
Agricultural fields and family dwellings were situated around these public structures. Each town also claimed specific hunting grounds in the woods outside the town limits.