Santa Rosa Creek Tribe

Heritage And Culture Of the Creek People

The panhandle of Florida and Alabama has a great deal of historical and cultural influence due to many Creek Indians that inhabited this area in the past. We as a people are rediscovering our heritage, and we are proud to call ourselves Creek Indians.

The Native American People living in the South-East were not historically known as “Creek Indians”. In fact, the term “Indian” was first used mistakenly by Christopher Columbus in the 1400’s when he came to the “New World” and thought he had sailed to India the long way around. The “Indians” of this “New World” rightfully just considered themselves People.  This New World of theirs was not new at all. People had been living in harmony with nature on this land for countless generations before that. The Creeks originally called themselves Isti or Istachata but started to identify with the term Muskogee Indian shortly after the arrival of the Europeans. It was the white settlers who started calling them Creek Indians because of their proximity and reliance upon the Ocmulgee River and Chattahoochee Rivers (or Creeks) in Georgia, Alabama and Florida where many Muskogee Native Peoples were living.

These “Creek Indians” were organized into large chiefdoms and lived in homes similar to log-cabins known as Long Houses throughout the South-East. Contrary to popular depiction by the film and entertainment industries, these people were not savages. They were organized into complex governmental and family structures just like any other people. They had diverse languages, hopes, dreams, aspirations and were committed to living at peace with one another and their environment. They worked hard to promote the well-being of their families and their tribes. For reasons unknown and debatable these large chiefdoms began to collapse and reorganize into smaller chiefdoms around the 15th century.

Then came the Europeans settlers. They brought with them new languages, philosophies, religions and diseases. The Creeks, welcomed them and established complex trade relations with them, trading goods like animal skins and other natural resources for man made products like textiles and kettles. Through the close relationships developed through trade, the culture and heritage of the Creek Indians was contaminated. Soon there were Europeans who had settled in with and were living as part of Creek tribes as well as Creek Indians who were joining the Plantation economy as living with the whites. Much of the Indian way of life was lost during this period.

Although Creek Indians had language before the arrival of the white man, it was spoken language not a written one. Much of what we know about Creek culture today was written by European settlers and tends to be skewed toward the white man’s point of view. There is much about our heritage that is waiting to be rediscovered and this is why The Santa Rosa County Creek Indian Tribe Inc. was formed. We are here to promote the growth, support, and well-being of the American Indian culture through education, outreach programs, and traditional events in an effort to raise awareness of Creek Indian.

Excerpt from pow wow 2014 book