logo Click BACK to return to basecamp
Lost Teachers
Search Info
White beveled edge

Nick Dispatch

Meet Nick

Nick Archive

Cool Links
Biography of

Andrew Jackson
and the Creek



Arrowheads, Battles, and Intrigue! The Creek Indian Wars that led to the Trail of Tears

Nick sittin' pretty on top of the world
Have you ever gone arrowhead hunting before? Well, I went for my first time on the banks of Creek Talladega, in Alabama. As I walked along the creek banks, kicking up dirt, I didn't know exactly what I was looking for, but when I found this little rock shaped like an arrowhead, I knew it had to be a real one. As I looked at the neatly chipped piece of quartz, I thought of all the things that this little arrowhead could have been used for. It might have been used for hunting, fishing, or war. Maybe even the Creek War that was fought very near the area that I was fossil-hunting in. Could this be an arrowhead of one of the Great War heroes Tecumseh, Red Eagle, or even Menawa?

The fossil-hunting sparked my interest in the Creek Wars of 1813-1814, and I was determined to find out more after finding this really cool arrowhead. I soon learned about a great Shawnee Chief named Tecumseh. Tecumseh was an Indian chief who spoke out against the U.S government. He didn't believe it was right for the government to take away his people's land and way of life, and he wasn't afraid to express his feelings. He was an important leader of the eastern American Indian tribes after the Revolutionary War. His main goal was to unite all American Indian tribes into a single alliance that would defend Indian lands against white people. His name, Tecumseh, means "shooting star". After Tecumseh's father and two brothers were killed while fighting colonists at their home south of Columbus, Ohio, Tecumseh had had enough. He and one of his brothers began traveling all over the east coast to different tribes, spreading the message that "If we don't stand up for ourselves, the white man is just going to take us over."


We ran into some really cool people, whose hobby was...

Tecumseh and his brother made a powerful team. Tecumseh was a strong warrior and a gifted orator, and he led the tribes in politics and war. His brother, on the other hand, was known as the "Shawnee Profit." Early in his life he was an alcoholic, but around 1805 he had visions that convinced him to stop drinking, and he began preaching. He changed his name to Tenskwatawa, which means "the open door". He urged Indians to give up liquor and return to their traditional ways of life. Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa traveled to virtually every tribe east of the Rockies. More and more tribes joined forces with them, and they decided to stand up and protect their land. One of Tecumseh's travels to the state of Alabama had a huge impact on the Creek Wars.

Searching far and wide for battle signs
During this visit to Alabama, he talked to both the Upper Creek and Lower Creek Indians, who were geographically divided by rivers and streams but, more importantly, by political views. The Lower Creeks had more encounters with the white man than the Upper Creek, so they adapted more quickly and had more established relationships with them. They even lived in forts and intermarried with the white settlers.

One of these white men, named Benjamin Hawkins, was the U.S agent for the South Eastern Indians. His job was to turn the Indians into successful farmers, but more importantly, to make them civilized. Hawkins civilization program didn't fly with the Upper Creeks. They liked their way of life and didn't want any U.S. agent trying to change them. This civilization program tore the Creeks apart. The Lower Creeks sided with Hawkins, because they felt that he was doing a good job of improving their way of life. When Tecumseh visited, the Lower Creek turned a deaf ear and refused to listen to him, but the more militant Upper Creeks agreed with him and decided to take immediate action.

In battle, the Upper Creeks used war clubs painted bright red and were nicknamed "Red Sticks." In February 1813, a Party of Red Sticks attacked and killed seven frontier families after being told that a war had broken out between the Creeks and the United States. This tore the Creeks even further apart. When the tribal council executed the men involved with the murders, Chief Menawa, leader of the Red Sticks, set a task to eliminate anybody who was involved with the executions. The fighting had only just begun. Five months later, the situation got far worse when the Creeks fought each other and white frontier militia attacked a Red Stick ammunition train on Burnt Corn Creek in Alabama. In retaliation, the Red Sticks killed about 250 settlers at Fort Mims, about 40 miles North of Mobile. The response to the attack on Fort Mims was very slow. There were a few unorganized battles but not enough to slow down the rebellion of the Upper Creeks.

The American president leading the tirade
While this was all going on, Andrew Jackson had gotten the Tennessee militia into a full-scale campaign against the Red Sticks. Both the Cherokee and the Lower Creeks, who disagreed with the Red Sticks, supported the Tennessee militia. Andrew Jackson's crusade started in the heart of Red Stick country. He won battles at Tallushatchee and Talladega, but was stumped by the Red Sticks when he took back-to-back defeats at Emuckfau and Enitachopco, in eastern Alabama. Even with these wins, the Red Sticks were feeling weak, and headed to Horseshoe Bend, where the biggest battle of the Creek wars would soon take place. They prepared for battle by building a wall and waiting for Jackson and his militia. But when Jackson arrived with 2,000 men and about 600 Cherokee and Creeks, the Red Sticks were largely outnumbered. That battle ended the same day it began. At the end of the battle, over 800 of Chief Menawas 1,000 men were dead. Menawa escaped, but was severely injured. Jackson's army suffered a loss of only 49 men.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
All of this killing came to an end in August of 1814 when the exhausted and starving Red Sticks surrendered to Jackson near the present-day city of Montgomery. The Treaty of Fort Jackson was signed, ending the conflict and giving about 20 million acres of land (more than half of their ancestral holdings) to the U.S. Partly because of his crusade through the Creeks' territory, Andrew Jackson was elected president of the United States in 1829. A year later, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act.

Stephanie shows off some of her finds
I was excited to learn all this info from one little arrowhead. But I soon found out that my little arrowhead wasn't really an arrowhead! It was just a plain old piece of quartz! I kept it anyway though because it did get me excited. Stephanie was the real winner when it came to finding arrowheads. She found a scraper that a piece of an arrowhead came off of. Even though she got the cool scraper, I still got to learn a lot and get excited about the Creek War. Someday I'll find my scraper or arrowhead.

After learning about Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa, and their teachings I feel like it's time for a new way. I feel like our generation is drifting further and further away from our culture. It seems like these days the thing to do is to make money and get drunk. But that doesn't get anyone anywhere, because no matter how many drugs, money, or power you have, you'll never be a richer man than somebody who is rich in their culture. You might find short-term happiness, but the happiness that will last a lifetime will come from within yourself and within your culture. It's time for our generation to stand up and take pride in our culture and in ourselves. We are going to decide the fate of this country, so we'd better get rockin'. In order to put this country in the right direction, we have to find strength from within. So let's put down the bottles and drugs and find our culture. It's time. It's time for us to make our mark in history.

Peace, Nick (Oglala Lakota)

Please email me at: nick@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Stephanie - Three wars, thousands of troops and 100 utterly unconquerable Seminoles
Stephanie - Sequoyah's talking leaves, or how the Cherokees took back their voices
Nick - Let's lose Chief Win 'Em All
Nick -- Still walkin' the Trail of Tears
Team - Beware: Surprise Indian attacks ahead!