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Al Jazeera: Muscogee Nation observes bicentennial of key battle

Filed Under: National
More on: alabama, muscogee, nps, treaties, wars

The National Park Service invited the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma to Alabama to commemorate the 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend:
The Battle of Horseshoe Bend was the culmination of a conflict between the Creek Confederacy and the United States. It saw the largest loss of Native American life in one battle in American history. In the treaty that followed, the Creeks ceded more than half their land, creating what is now the southern portion of the state of Georgia and resulting in the formation of the state of Alabama. The American victory at Horseshoe Bend also propelled Andrew Jackson into the national spotlight and almost a decade later to the presidency.

A one-lane road leads visitors in a loop through Horseshoe Bend National Military Park. The road curves along the river; on the other side is a slope crowded in pine trees. The battle gets its name from a sharp turn in the Tallapoosa River, where a piece of land protrudes like a thumb into the river. The land around the river was the heart of Creek territory, but by 1811, white settlers had begun moving onto the frontier, and the Creek Nation was divided over how to react to American settlements.

“Some [Creeks] thought it was best to wait and see what little they could get,” explains Claudio Saunt, a professor of history at the University of Georgia. These would become known as the Lower Creeks or the White Creeks. “Others thought it was best to fight,” Saunt says of the Red Sticks, or the Upper Creeks, and this schism erupted into the Creek Civil War in 1813.

That summer, a force of 700 Red Sticks attacked Fort Mims, today the sleepy town of Tensaw, in south Alabama, where some 500 members of the militia and settlers were stationed. In the course of a bloody battle, 250 of the settlers, including women and children, and 200 Red Sticks were killed. The attack became known as the Massacre at Fort Mims, which is still how it is referred to in textbooks.

Get the Story:
Bicentennial of Horseshoe Bend brings Muscogee Creeks back to their land (Al Jazeera 4/1)

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