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Political Turmoil Rocks the Creek Nation

June 26, 2002

Historian's Notes

The Green Peach War of the Creek Nation provides an interesting look into the workings of the Creek political machine of the 19th century. The topic is interesting because it reveals that Creek politicians and politics differed very little from their Euro-American counterparts. Arguments, lies, civil wars, etc., its politics as usual, no matter where you go. I used Mary Jane Warde's text George Washington Grayson and the Creek Nation 1843-1920 for this Almanac. Although the work focuses on Grayson, it is broad enough and well written enough to provide a well rounded look at the Creek Nation during that period.

Resources

Chronicles of Oklahoma. (1966).

Mary Jane Warde, George Washington Grayson.

Creek Nation. (1843-1920).

Almanac Transcript

Political turmoil rocks the Creek Nation this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

Hello, I’m Steven Knoche Kite.

In 1882 the lush fields and hills of the Creek Nation were rife with violence and uncertainty. Two factions of Creeks fighting for control of the tribal government, embroiled the region in an intense power struggle. The problem for the Creeks began when their rightfully elected chief, Samuel Checote, was challenged by a disgruntled Creek politician, Spahecha. The dispute, in addition to being a typical struggle for power, revolved around those Creeks who wished to retain ancient tribal methods of government versus those advocates of a Republican style government.

After several mudslinging campaigns attempting to remove Checote, the Traditionalist, Spahecha, rounded up and armed his followers and threatened to take over the government of the Creek nation. Calling out the famed Creek Light Horse Militia, Chief Checote ordered the arrest of the insurgents. It's said that during the beginning of this tribal Civil War the participants collected green peaches from orchard trees to sustain themselves thereby providing the incident with its name, The Green Peach War. Besides small inconsequential skirmishes the only actual combat of The Green Peach War took place at McDermott’s Ranch near present day Okemah, Oklahoma. It was there that lines of Traditionalists and the so called, "Constitutionalists" faced off in battle. The results were less than decisive as each side retreated leaving no clear winner. For older Creeks, especially those who remembered the horrors or the U.S. Civil War, the insurrection was a time of great terror, and many not wishing to get caught up in the power struggle packed belongings and left the region.

The dispute between the Creek factions lasted for approximately a year and a half and resolved itself through a series of events. A new election for Chief of the nation left both Checote and Sepulcha losers, and the appointment of both men as delegates to a council in Washington DC helped to ease bruised egos and hurt feelings. It was in this week of 1882 that Creek leader, Sepulcha, broke his ties with the duly elected leadership and began what is known now as The Green Peach War of the Creek Nation.

I'm Steven Knoche Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a joint production of the Oklahoma State University Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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