The Beginnings of the Creek Trail of Tears

TODAY, on a hilltop near Fort Mitchell, Russell County, Alabama, stands a MEMORIAL to the Creek Indians who lived in the Chattahoochee Valley area until their forced removal in the mid-nineteenth century. Reached by a gradual winding path, the great marble monument faces the four directions and is encircled by five or six large bronze plaques. The plaques contain the names recorded the 1832 Census of the Creek Nation. A smaller introductory marble plaque explains:

THE CENSUS OF 1832 - In 1832, a treaty with the United States allotted parcels of land to every Indian household in the Valley. A government census enumerated, according to tribal towns, every Indian head of household, along with the number of males, females, and slaves of each family. However, only four years later, the Indians were forced to leave their homes and moved their sacred fires west of the Mississippi River. Their names, as recorded by the census taker, are listed here. After the census was completed, the Head Chiefs of the lower Creeks claimed that the names of some Indians "...were not put down" because they were away hunting.

Nearby, an historic marker puts the Census, and the monument, in historical context:

THE CREEK TRAIL OF TEARS - Approximately one mile due east of this marker, back down the Old Federal Road, called by frontiersmen and Indians the Three Notched Trail or the Three Chopped Way, stood Fort Mitchell, an early 19th century American fort that in 1836 was one of the principal gathering places for the forced removal of the Creek Indians from their homes on the Chattahoochee River to the West. Weakened by starvation, defrauded of their lands and swindled out of most of their possessions, thousands of Creeks, including some in chains and shackles, made the forced journey from Alabama to what is now Oklahoma, where many of their descendants now live. Alabama also remains the home of many Creek Indians today.

This memorial, located at the site of the Fort Mitchell National Cemetery, on SR 165, 6 miles south of US 431, is well worth a visit for anyone interested in Native American history and culture, or the history of the Chattahoochee Valley area.

A final note: when we visited the Creek Memorial, we were looking for the name of the Creek Indian who sold his land to our ancestor, James William Boykin. The name in our records is Tukosayoholo. At the memorial, after going through some of the thousands of names there, we found the name Tukkosar Yoholo. The suffix "yoholo," according to Butch Fuller, is a title meaning "singer," and would indicate a ceremonial singer. We looked for a long time after we found Tukkosar's name, but found no other names which were closer to Tukosayoholo. Although we don't yet have proof, it is exhilarating to think we may have found the name of this Creek man with whom our white ancestor did business, we dare to hope, in an ethical way not common in those times.

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