This article investigates the use of gendered discourse in Upper Creek negotiations with the British in the late eighteenth-century Southeast. It employs gunpowder and related discussions of masculinity as a tool for understanding how Native and European leaders communicated with one another to achieve their respective goals following the Seven Years’ War. The lens of gunpowder, an exclusively male commodity that could only be produced in Europe, allows ethnohistorians to explore how Upper Creek men dealt with the problem of dependence while attempting to retain power and authority during a period of significant sociopolitical change. An analysis of gunpowder highlights the challenges associated with accessing important foreign goods in an era where certain manufactures functioned as more than simple commodities. Possession and use of gunpowder held the potential to determine individual status as well as one’s ability to fulfill community responsibilities. It also shaped notions of gender, revealing how dependence on important, yet unstable, goods could threaten traditional Creek conceptions of masculine leadership. Gunpowder, therefore, illuminates the ways in which Creek leaders used European concepts of gender against British officials to cement their own authority on Indigenous terms, allowing them to maintain conventional avenues toward power and leadership within the confederacy.

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