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Cree or Creek?

Q:My great grandmother was from Colisteo/Greene area of New York and she was either Cree or Creek.....do you have any idea which would be correct? Or are they both the same tribes?

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A: Cree and Creek are two different tribes (the Creek are also known as Muskogee.) I can't tell you which tribe you are related to, however. You need to do some genealogy research. Genealogy is really not my specialty (we are a language organization), but I like to recommend the book Student's Guide to Native American Genealogy It provides an excellent introduction to the subject, especially for beginners, and many of our site's users have reported that it helped them track down an elusive ancestor.

I can tell you that neither the Crees nor the Creeks were originally native to New York-- the Cree homelands are mostly in Canada (with a few communities near the Canadian border in North Dakota), and the Creeks were a southeastern tribe, many of whom were eventually forced to move to Oklahoma (where their descendants live today.) If your genealogical research turns up that your great-grandmother's family came from either Canada, Oklahoma, or the Georgia/Florida/Alabama area, that would give you a big clue as to her tribal identity.

Good luck on your search, and if you run into any Indian names or words in the course of your research, please feel free to write back.

Hope that helps!
Native Languages of the Americas

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