Given the relatively sparse historical literature on the Creek Indians immediately before and during the American Revolutionary War, this essay is an effort to remedy such scarcity of scholarly attentions. It examines the competing political and economic interests of two Creek towns, Coweta and Cusseta, and their headmen prior to and during the Revolution. Due to the unprecedented economic and political dislocation engendered by the Revolution among indigenous communities, these two towns' leaders found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. For the headmen and warriors of Coweta, their agitations for the protection of Creek lands and authority over their territories contrasted sharply with the interests of Coweta's sister town, Cusseta, whose headmen exhibited more pressing concern for the Euro-American trade along the “eastern path,” a diplomatic and economic path/relationship that sustained Creek livelihoods throughout the early to late eighteenth century. As a consequence, these two Creek towns and their populaces, who had historically enjoyed a unity of interests, witnessed the breakdown of their historical consensus as Coweta sided with the British in hopes of guaranteeing the integrity of their lands and territorial authority while Cusseta leaders joined the American war effort to ensure the continued viability of the eastern path. Coweta seems to evince the beginnings of a larger, maybe even national, Creek interest in lands and boundaries that Alexander McGillivray and later Creek leaders would espouse in efforts to create a Creek “Confederacy” to stem the tide of American expansion. Conversely, the Cussetas pursued a continued town-centric concern for trade and diplomacy rooted in the historical and political past that trumpeted town interests before any sense of a national interest.
“Our Lands Are Our Life and Breath”: Coweta, Cusseta, and the Struggle for Creek Territory and Sovereignty During the American Revolution
Bryan Rindfleisch; “Our Lands Are Our Life and Breath”: Coweta, Cusseta, and the Struggle for Creek Territory and Sovereignty During the American Revolution. Ethnohistory 1 October 2013; 60 (4): 581–603. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2313840
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