top of page

The Red-stick War: Understanding the Divide and Conquer Tactics of the USA.

The US strategy of divide and conquer to stop the Freedom of enslaved blacks began with promises to Native Americans similar to the promises given to light skinned Latinos today.



Muscogee (Creek) Nation is a self-governed Native American tribe located today in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. MCN is one of the 5 Civilized Tribes and is the fourth largest tribe in the U.S. with 97,000 citizens. The government side of the tribe is made up of an executive branch, a legislative body and a tribal court system. The Creek War (also the Red Stick War; the Creek Civil War), was a conflict between opposing Native Creek factions the Northern Red Stick Creek Muscogee and the Southern Creek, European colonizers, and the United States during the time of antebellum slavery. The Creek War began as a conflict within the tribes of the Muscogee, but the United States quickly became involved because of the fear natives would unite with Black Maroons and Seminoles and aid slaves to escape to the Florida territories that were free. British traders and Spanish colonial officials in Florida supplied the Red Sticks with weapons and equipment due to their shared interest in preventing the expansion of the United States and US slavery into regions under their control.


Anglo- American theft, rape, murder and violent encroachment into the traditional lands of the Upper Creeks instigated the Red Stick War. The Creek lived for thousands of years in southeastern North America, in what are now the states of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida and the US decided to take it by force. The first clashes between the Red Sticks and United States forces occurred on July 27, 1813. A group of territorial militia intercepted a party of Red Sticks returning from the Maroon territories in Spanish Florida, where they had acquired arms from the Spanish governor at Pensacola.


From the sixteenth century, the Creek had formed successful trade alliances with European empires, at that time race based slavery was not the major source of American profit it would become so the dark skinned Muscogee were no direct threat to colonization as it stood. The drastic fall in the price of deerskin from 1783 to 1793 made it more difficult for individuals to repay their debts, while at the same time the assimilation process which involves intermarriage between creek and Europeans on a large scale so Europeans could access their lands made American goods more necessary. The Red Sticks particularly resisted the so-called "civilization" programs administered by the U.S. Indian Agent Benjamin Hawkins, who had stronger alliances among the towns of the Lower Creek. Some of the "indoctrinated" Creek began to adopt American farming practices as their game disappeared, and as more Anglo settlers assimilated into Creek towns and families a division became apparent in culture and appearance.


Leaders of the Lower Creek towns in present-day Georgia included Bird Tail King (Fushatchie Mico) of Cusseta, Little Prince (Tustunnuggee Hopoi) of Broken Arrow, and William McIntosh (Tunstunuggee Hutkee, White Warrior) of Coweta. Many of the most prominent Creek chiefs before the Creek War were "mixed-bloods", meaning European in appearance like William McGillivray and William McIntosh (who were on opposing sides of the Creek Civil War).


Before the Creek War and the War of 1812, most U.S. politicians saw removal to be the only alternative to the assimilation of native peoples into Western culture. The Red Stick Creeks, on the other hand, blended their own culture with adopted trade goods and political terms they formed alliances with Maroons, and had no intention of abandoning their land in exchange for European goods or lifestyles. Benjamin Hawkins served under George Washington as General Superintendent for Indian Affairs (1796–1818) and had responsibility for the Native American tribes south of the Ohio River, and was principal Indian agent to the Creek Indians. Yet his allegiance was always toward the eventual removal of natives from their ancestral lands to allow the land to go to wealthy plantation owners.


In a letter to the Commander in Chief, Hawkins stated that he would return to the nation’s capital, “God willing and the Creek don’t rise.” “Hawkins, college-educated and a well-written man would never have made a grammatical error, so the capitalization of Creek is the only way the phrase could make sense…It was a joke alluding to the fact he hoped the Creek would stay docile and ignorant of his true mission.


The Americanization of the Creeks was more prevalent in western Georgia among the Lower Creeks than in Upper Creek towns, and came from internal and external processes. The U.S. government's and Benjamin Hawkins' pressure on the Creeks to assimilate stood in contrast to the more natural blending of cultures that came from a long tradition of cohabitation and cultural appropriation, beginning with white traders in Indian country.


The Shawnee leader Tecumseh came to the area to encourage the peoples to join his movement to throw the Americans out of Native American territories. Previously, he had united tribes in the Northwest (Ohio and related territories) to fight against U.S. settlers after the War for Independence. In 1811, Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa attended the annual Creek council at Tukabatchee. Tecumseh delivered an hour-long speech to an audience of 5,000 Creeks as well as an American delegation including Hawkins. Although the Americans dismissed Tecumseh as non-threatening, his message of resistance to Anglo encroachment was well received among Creek and Seminole, especially among more conservative and traditional elders and dark appearing young men



Hawkins organized the gentrified friendly Creeks under Major William McIntosh to aid the Georgia and Tennessee militias against their former brothers. The Creek War took place largely in what is now modern-day Alabama and along the Gulf Coast. Major engagements of the war involved the United States military and the Red Sticks (or Upper Creeks), a Muscogee tribal faction who resisted U.S. colonial expansion into their ancestral lands and the growth of slavery as they were the same complexion more or less as many of the enslaved blacks. The United States formed an alliance with the traditional enemies of the Muscogee, the Choctaw and Cherokee Nations, as well as the Lower Creeks faction of the Muscogee. During the hostilities, the Red Sticks allied themselves to the British. A Red Stick force aided British Naval Officer Alexander Cochrane's advance towards New Orleans. The Creek War effectively ended in August 1814 with the signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson, when Andrew Jackson forced the Creek confederacy to surrender more than 21 million acres in what is now southern Georgia and central Alabama. As a result the Creek who supported Hawkins got to live as free whites until gold was found in the Georgia territories and their lands were taken and they were sent to the Oklahoma dust bowl territories to die with expedience. The defeat of the Creek nation also paved the way for the division of the Mississippi Territory into the states of Mississippi and Alabama.



bottom of page