Little Tallassee: a Creek Indian colonial town

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Monica R. Ward (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Greg O'Brien

Abstract: This dissertation explores the role of the Upper Creek Indian town of Little Tallassee in Creek History, beginning with the town’s origins during the 1740s and 1750s and ending with its decline in the late 1780s and early 1790s. Little Tallassee is a unique place as it was a product of a colonial encounter and originated as a center of Euro-exchange and Atlantic trade. Yet under the leadership of headman and warrior Emistisiguo, Little Tallassee evolved into a prominent Creek town that saw the creation of a formal town structure as well as a ceremonial space in which to conduct international diplomacy and manage trade. The vast majority of American Indian histories of the Native South have attached Little Tallassee’s identity to its most notable resident, Alexander McGillivray, a mixed-ancestry Creek and arguably one of the most notable historical figures to emerge out of the American Southeast. Contrary to existing historiography, I argue that Alexander McGillivray was first and foremost a trader who held little political authority within Creek society. An examination of the town’s history reveals Emistisiguo to have been the individual most responsible for Little Tallassee’s prominence as a Creek town within Creek society. McGillivray’s activities actually contributed to the town’s subsequent decline. Placing Little Tallassee at the forefront of Creek and colonial American historiography challenges the current scholarship on Alexander McGillivray’s power and authority and restores agency to Creek Indians at the local level in their own domestic and foreign affairs. Scholars have cast their gaze far too long at western-educated mestizos and cultural brokers like Alexander McGillivray, and as a result have obscured other Native architects of diplomacy and trade who dominated the economic and social realms of Indian societies throughout the eighteenth century. By restoring credit to Emistisiguo as the engineer behind the transformation of Little Tallassee from a mere trading post to a leading Upper Creek town and center of diplomacy, this dissertation addresses this significant oversight in Creek and Southeastern Indian historiography.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Alexander McGillivray, Colonial America, Creek Indians, Emistisiguo, Little Tallassee, Southeast
Cities and towns$z Creek Nation $y 18th century
Creek Indians $z Alabama $x History $y 18th century
Creek Indians $z Alabama $x Politics and government $y 18th century
McGillivray, Alexander,$d approximately 1740-1793
Southern States$x History$y Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775

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