Andrew K. Frank


Between 1750 and 1810, the Muskogee Indians held the upper hand in intercolonial affairs and made Florida "Indian country." More than two centuries after Spain had claimed the region as part of its dominion and sent soldiers and missionaries to subdue its inhabitants, the Muskogee Indians enjoyed a sustained period of autonomy that was at odds with the experiences of Indians elsewhere in the Spanish and British empires.' Neither conquered nor subdued, Muskogee Indians still controlled Florida. Technically surrounded by European and later American powers, these Creek and Seminole Indians lived in semi-autonomous villages that routinely disregarded the interests of Spain, Great Britain, and then the United States. Natives ignored and defied European and American forms of justice, determined the terms of trading agreements with their neighbors, and dictated the nature of intermarriages with Europeans and Americans. Native villages, in this context, had few problems contending with imperial forces of power. They harbored, with surprisingly few ramifications, dozens of white fugitives from justice as well as deserting soldiers. They also continuously welcomed runaway African American slaves into their villages and onto their lands. The Muskogees occasionally found European allies and often acted with their support, but they also behaved in ways that frustrated imperial powers.