Last modified: 2010-11-06 by rick wyatt
Keywords: muskogee | creek | oklahoma | native american |
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image by Donald Healy, 18 January 2008
map image by Peter Orenski based on input from Don Healy
Muskogee (or Creek) - Oklahoma
The Muskogee are the largest band of the Creek Indian Nation. They were one of the "Five Civilized Tribes" uprooted from their southeastern home by President Andrew Jackson (ENAT, 74-76). In Oklahoma, following initial hardships and deprivation, the Creek Nation has thrived. The Tribe currently controls a small Tribal Historic Area in Oklahoma.
© Donald Healy 2008
The Muskogee use a white flag (Retrospect, Creek Communications Department, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, 1983) bearing the latest rendition of the tribal seal (Annin & Co.). This seal dates to the 19th century and has varied with changes in
artistic styles. It has always depicted a traditional plow and sheaf of wheat, which appear in full color on the flag and refer to the agricultural base of the Tribe since reaching Indian Territory in the 1830s (FBUS, 259). The latest version adds a large billowy red cloud, possibly alluding to the "Dust Bowl" hardships of the 1930s, edged in white on a blue sky.
This flag of the Muskogee Nation is nearly identical to one created by the Alabama Department of History in 1940 for the dedication of the Hall of Flags in Montgomery. At the time, the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma - the Muskogee, the Seminole, the Choctaw, the Cherokee, and the Chickasaw - were without flags, but as former residents of modern Alabama, they were included in the grand opening. To permit the participation of these Nations in the ceremonies, special banners were created for the five Tribes. Each was white and bore a full-color tribal seal in the center. The continued use of that design may be traced back to that event ("Official Seals of the Five Civilized Tribes", The Oklahoma Chronicles, XVII:4, Oklahoma City, Dec. 1940, pp. 357- 359).
Almost 150 years ago the Muskogee (Creek) flew another flag, also presented to them. The Creek Nation was given a flag by Miss Alice Leeper, daughter of the Confederate agent to the Creek and other tribes [True Democrat, Little Rock, AR, 29 Aug. 1861]. The Confederate Indian Commissioner, Albert Pike, reported from the Wichita Agency on his mission to the Indians, calling the devices "new and appropriate", and describing the flag of the Creek as "a crescent and red star in a green union and upright bars of red and white for the Creeks". (The Confederate States of America apparently created flags for each of its allies in the Five Civilized Nations [see Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, and Seminole of Oklahoma]).
[Thanks to the Flag Research Center for information concerning the 1940 flags of the "Five Civilized Tribes".]
© Donald Healy 2008
information provided by Peter Orenski, 18 January 2008
image by Jesse Sierke, 22 June 2000
I would like to offer the following information from William Augustus Bowles, Director General of the Creek Nation, by J. Leitch Wright, Jr, (copyright 1967, University of Georgia Press, pp. 56-7) regarding a Native American flag dating from the late eighteenth century:
"A new flag was displayed here on Wednesday, that of the Creek nation, worn by the vessel carrying General Bowles and the Indian chiefs to the American continent."... Another reason Bowles lingered in Nassau was to procure a flag for his vessel. The local shops were quite out of Muskogee banners, and one had to be made to his description: he specified that a blue cross be superimposed on a red background; the blue background of the upper left hand corner had a sun with human features resembling both an American Indian and Bowles himself. Legally only vessels flying this banner or authorized by Panton's [of the British company Panton and Leslie, made famous in American history by their summary execution at the hands of U.S. General Andrew Jackson during the Creek War] concession could trade with the Florida Indians.I have no doubt that this source documents an authentic early flag of the Muskogee Nation. However, I wonder about the accuracy of the flag's description. Either it is accurate and the flag seems rather ungainly with a blue canton undifferentiated from an adjacent blue cross, or more likely, the author inadvertently reversed the red and blue in the first part of the description, or perhaps accidently substituted blue for red in the canton. None of the descriptions adhere to the rules of heraldry so closely followed by Great Britain at the time. This leads me to believe that the flag may have already been in use for some time by the Muskogee people.