George Washington Grayson and the Creek Nation, 1843-1920

Article excerpt

George Washington Grayson and the Creek Nation, 1843-1920. By Mary Jane Warde. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, c. 1999. Pp. xviii, 334. $29.95, ISBN 0-8061-3160-8.)

From early manhood through a long life of service to his people in the Creek Nation, the subject of Mary Jane Warde's new biography bore two names: Yaha Tustunuggee (Wolf Warrior), and George Washington Grayson. The double nomenclature both reflected this native leader's cultural persona and served as a symbolic reminder of the duality of his existence. "Wash" Grayson, born of Muskogee and Scottish (Grierson) heritage less than a decade after the Removal, inherited the tragic legacy of Muskogee tribal history: the Creek Trail of Tears, the ancient division among Muskogee villages (tvlwv) that erupted in the "Red Stick" rebellion of the early 1800s, and earlier traumatic events in the history of the Creek Nation. He held a prominent leadership position during the crises of the American Civil War and during the efforts by the government and private enterprise to dissolve the nations of the Indian Territory. Warde deliberately merges Grayson's life with the life of his people, a choice that yields a rich interplay between the complex story of the Creeks from arrival in Indian Territory to the federal government's unilateral dissolution of their status as a sovereign nation in the early twentieth century, and the equally complex story of one man who was shaped by and also helped to shape these larger events.

Warde's biography plays well at many levels. She skillfully guides the reader through the maze of pressures and counter-pressures choreographed in the intricate dance among the Muskogee factions and between them and outsiders in both Creek country and Washington, D. …

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