Sources: (1) The Times, London, Middlesex, England ~ December 7th, 1815 ~ American ~ United States, the Creek Indians, Disturbance between, page 2, column B.:
CREEK INDIANS ~ (From the Georgia Journal)
Notwithstanding our vicinity to the Creek Indians, few of us know anything of their manners & customs.
The following articles on this subject, are copied from a manuscript "Sketch of the Creek nation," drawn up by (Colonel) [Benjamin] Hawkins, soon after being appointed agent for Indian affairs.
War.--This is always determined on by the Great Warrior. When the micco & counsellors are of opiniion, that the town has been injured, he lifts the war hatchet against the nation that has injured them. But as soon as it is taken up, the micco & counsellors many interfere, & by their prudent counsels stop it, & proceed to adjust the misunderstanding by negociation [sic].
If the great warrior persist, & go out, he is followed by all who are for war. It is seldom a town is unanimous; the nation never is : & within the memory of the oldest man among them, it is not recollected, that more than one half of the nation have been at war at the same time, or taken, as they express it, the war talk.
The great warrior, when he marches, gives notice where he shall encamp, & sets off, sometimes with one or two only. He fires off his gun, & sets up the war-whoop. This is repeated by all who follow him, & they are sometimes for one or two nights marching off.
Peace.--is invariably concluded by the micco & counsellors, & peace talks are always addressed to the cabin of the micco. In some cases, when the resentment of the warriors has run high, the micco & council have been embarrassed.
Marriage.--A man who wants a wife, never applies in person. He sends his sister, his mother, or some other female relation, to the woman he marries. They consult the brothers & uncles on the maternal side, & sometimes the father: but this is a compliment only, as his approbation or his opposition is of no avail. If the party applied to approves of the match, they answer accordingly to the man who made the application. The bridegroom then gets together a blanket & such other articles of clothing as he is able to do, & sends them to the family of the bride; if they accept them, the match is made, and he may then go to her house as soon as he chooses. When he has built a house, made his crop & gathered it in, made his hunt, brought home the meat, & put all this in the possessino of his wife, the ceremony ends, & they are married: or, as they express it, the woman is bound. From the first going to the house of the woman, till the ceremony ends, he is completely in possession of her.
Divorce.--is at the choice of either of the parties. The many may marry again as soon as he will, but the woman is bound till all the boosketeau of that year are over, excepting in the cases of marriage & parting in the season, the man resides at the house of the woman, & has possession of her pending the marriage ceremony; in that case, the woman is equally free to connect herself as soon as she pleases.
[There is an inconsistency in the exception mentioned above, as in such season there can be no marriage: but the chiefs in their report on this article, mentioned it as an exception, & this practice in the cases of half marriage, prevails universally. As soon as a man goes to the house of his bride, he is in complete possession of her till the ceremony ends, & during this period the exception will apply.]
Marriage gives no right to the husband over the property of his wife: & when they part, she keeps the children & the property belonging to them.
Adultery.--is punished by the family tribe of the husband. They collect, consult, & decree. If the proof is clear, & they determine to punish the offenders, they divide & proceed to apprehend them.
One goes to the house of the woman, the remainder to the family of the adulterer; or, they go together, as they have decreed. They apprehend the offenders, beat them severely with sticks, & crop them. They cut off the hair of the woman, which they carry to the square in triumph. If they apprehend but one of the offenders, & the other escapes, they then go & take satisfaction from the nearest relation. If both the offenders escape, & the tribe or family return home & lay down their sticks, the crime is satisfied. There is one family only, the Hotulugeo, who can take up the sticks a second time. This crime is satisfied another way; if the parties offending, absent themselves till the Boosketeau is over, then all crimes are done away except murder; & the bare mention of them, or any occurrence which brings them into recollection, is forbidden.
Murder.--If murder is committed, the family & tribe have the right of taking satisfaction. They collect, consult & decree. The rulers of the town & nation have nothing to do or say in the business.
The relations of the murdered person consult first among themselves, & if the case is clear, & their family or tribe be not likely to suffer by their decision, they determine on the case definitely. When the tribe may be affected by it, in a doubtful case, or an old claim for satisfaction, the family then consult with their tribe; & when they have deliberated & resolved on their satisfaction, they take the nearest of kin, or one of the family. In some cases, the family who have done the injury, promise reparation; in that case they are allowed a reasonable time to fulfil their promise, & are generally earnest of themselves in their endeavours to put the guilty to death, to save an innocent person.
The right of judging & taking satisfaction, being vested in the family or tribe, is the sole cause why their treaty stipulations on this head have never been executed. In like manner, a prisoner taken in war is the property of the captor ~ it beingn optional with the captor to kill or save at the time. This right must be purchased, & it is now the practice introduced within a few years, for the nation to pay. The practice has been introduced by the agent for Indian affairs, & he pays on the orders of the chiefs, out of the stipend allowed by the United States to the Creeks. Claims of this sort of 17 years standing where the prisoners have been delivered to the order of the chiefs, have been received, allowed, & paid.