The Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe is a state-recognized Creek Nation tribe located in Southwest Georgia. It is part of the Creek Nation located east of the Mississippi. The Principal Chief (Mico) is Vonnie McCormick and the tribe maintains the Tama Tribal Town on a small reservation in Whigham, Georgia. The tribal leadership offers regular educational classes to members and the public to learn more about Muskogee culture and language.
On January 27, 1825 the Indian Removal Act was signed, calling for the removal of all Native American Tribes in Georgia. In the following years, most of the Muskogee people were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma. Those who stayed hid in swampy, less desirable areas; fled to Florida and joined the Seminole tribe; or moved frequently to avoid capture. Laws limiting the rights of the Muskogee people were not officially removed until 1980.
Georgia adopted a “Resolution Recognizing the Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe” on March 16, 1973. It read, in part:
“…NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE that this body hereby recognizes the Muskogee-Creek Indian Tribe East of the Mississippi River in the State of Georgia as a tribe of people…
Proclamations recognizing the Creeks as a tribe have been made by recent Georgia Governors, including Jimmy Carter, Joe Frank Harris and Zell Miller.
The Georgia Commission of Indian Affairs was formed by Executive Order on May 9, 1977. The Order provided for the appointment of the members of the Commission, and recognized the Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe-East of the Mississippi, Inc. as a legal entity.
The early historic Muscogee were probably descendants of the mound builders of the Mississippian culture along the Tennessee River in modern Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. They may have been related to the Utinahica of southern Georgia. At the time the Spanish made their first forays inland from the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, many political centers of the Mississippians were already in decline, or abandoned. The region is best described as a collection of moderately sized native chiefdoms (such as the Coosa chiefdom on the Coosa River), interspersed with completely autonomous villages and tribal groups. The late Mississippian culture is what the earliest Spanish explorers encountered, beginning on April 2, 1513, with Juan Ponce de León’s Florida landing and the 1526 Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón expedition in South Carolina.
George Washington, the first U.S. President, and Henry Knox, the first U.S. Secretary of War, proposed a cultural transformation of the Native Americans. Washington believed that Native Americans were equals but that their society was inferior. He formulated a policy to encourage the “civilizing” process, and it was continued under President Thomas Jefferson. Noted historian Robert Remini wrote, “[T]hey presumed that once the Indians adopted the practice of private property, built homes, farmed, educated their children, and embraced Christianity, these Native Americans would win acceptance from white Americans.” Washington’s six-point plan included impartial justice toward Indians; regulated buying of Indian lands; promotion of commerce; promotion of experiments to civilize or improve Indian society; presidential authority to give presents; and punishing those who violated Indian rights. The Muscogee would be the first Native Americans to be “civilized” under Washington’s six-point plan. The Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole would follow the Muscogee efforts to implement Washington’s new policy of civilization.