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The Story of Chief William McIntosh

Living in two worlds and pleasing the inhabitants of both is not an easy task. William McIntosh, son of a Creek woman and a Scotsman, managed to do it successfully for awhile. Chief McIntosh fought with the Americans during the War of 1812 and was given the rank of general. The Creeks called him the “white warrior.” McIntosh was a wealthy man and in 1823 built a hotel and tavern at Indian Springs in Butts County. The Creek Nation owned millions of acres of land, but the Indians were struggling. Creek Indian Jay McGirt differentiates between the Indian and the whites’ philosophy of land ownership. Creeks believed in land being held in common for use by all with no individual ownership. On February 12, 1825, Chief McIntosh signed a treaty at Indian Springs selling the remaining Creek land in Georgia for $200,000. He was denounced and condemned on the spot by some of his fellow Creeks. McIntosh said, “The white tide rises, we can’t fight or stop it and if we don’t sell, we will be cast aside, homeless and treated like animals without any place to go.” Nonetheless, McIntosh was executed for betraying his people. A reenactor describes the execution based on an eyewitness account. Like McIntosh himself, the words were half true. The Creeks were given a place to go; they were moved to Oklahoma.

 Teacher tip: This video presents many examples of Creek values and beliefs. Ask students to recall what they have learned about the Creek way of life and list those values and beliefs. Compare Creek beliefs to ones held by Georgians today.