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Muscogee (or Creek) - Oklahoma (U.S.)

Native American

Last modified: 2020-01-04 by rick wyatt
Keywords: muskogee | muscogee | creek | oklahoma | native american |
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[Muscogee (or Creek) - Oklahoma flag] image by Donald Healy, 18 January 2008

See also:

The Band

[Muscogee map]
map image by Peter Orenski based on input from Don Healy

Muscogee (or Creek) - Oklahoma

The Muscogee 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 Flag

The Muscogee 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 Muscogee 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 Muscogee, 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 Muscogee (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

Reconstruction of a 19th Century flag

[State of Muskogee Flag (1799-1803)] image by Dov Gutterman, 12 October 1998

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 Muscogee 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 Muscogee 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 Muscogee people.
Jesse Sierke, 22 June 2000 The image on this page is the commonly found image on the internet. It is based on a description that actually describes a different flag. The design is a Westernized vexi-centric, you might say, bastardized version of the description, which can be traced back only until the 1950s.

In fact a contemporary document exists in the Spanish archives that describes the Muskogee privateer flag of 1799-1803 as being “… a rectangle, divided in the middle, with a diagonal cross in the center on one side and a sun with human features in the center of the other.” Apparently the description was accompanied by an illustration, attached. (The book William Augustus Bowles: Director General of the Creek Nation by J. Leitch Wright, Jr. [U. of GA. Press, Athens, GA; 1967; ISBN 13: 978-0-8203-3558-4] pp 56-57, footnote 7 gives the reference as LC, Spanish Transcripts, AHN, estate, leg. 3889 bis, expedient 10, núm. 51 and 52, but does not include the illustration.)

[Muskogee Privateer] image by Dave Martucci, 2 September 2019

Unfortunately the only copy of this image I have so far been able to get my hands on is not in color and the description gives no colors. Research on this flag is ongoing.

I expect to be able to give a full report on this and the other Muskogee flag including the background of the symbolism next June [2020] in St. Augustine at the NAVA meeting. I will file a full report to FOTW at that time.
Dave Martucci, 2 September 2019