Date of Award

Fall 2010

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Cynthia Van Zandt


"Creek Diplomacy in an Imperial Atlantic World," argues that Creek leaders saw opportunities for Creek peoples to play an important political and economic role in the Atlantic world even while the Confederacy itself was still forming. This study explores Creek participation in the Atlantic world in two ways. First, it traces Creek diplomatic travel to European centers. Second, it examines Creek reception of European traders and diplomats in Creek towns. In this way, it traces Creek diplomacy in its external and internal forms, as Creeks moved outward to establish diplomatic relations with others, and dealt with outsiders who came to them for the same purpose.

Creek diplomats traveled extensively to promote their aims for almost three centuries. They visited important seats of European power in the American southeast, and they sent delegations to England, Mexico, and Canada. The Creeks were often successful in these missions, and their hosts recognized the Creeks' economic and political goals. The way Creeks dealt with outsiders within Creek territories is equally revealing of Creek understanding of their Atlantic world. Reception of European and Native American diplomats provided a crucial source of information for Creek people. Creeks preserved knowledge they gleaned from these visitors and passed that knowledge down over the generations.

"Creek Diplomacy" argues that the peoples who comprised the Creek Confederacy began learning about Europeans well before they coalesced into the Confederacy. Linguistics, cultural elements, and archaeological evidence demonstrate that the Creek Confederacy was formed partly from the refugees of previous cultures from across the southeastern region. These peoples brought to the Creek Confederacy not only their languages and cultures, but social memories of experiences with Europeans. By the time of the Creek Confederacy, these experiences included more than a hundred years of contact with Europeans. This study reveals the ways in which these experiences informed the development of Creek diplomatic policies.