Entangled histories & the work ahead

Today is the 200th anniversary of the First Treaty of Indian Springs (January 8th, 1821). In this treaty, signed by the US government and the Muscogee Creek Nation, the Muscogee Creek were forced to relinquish the land which is now present-day DeKalb County and the home of Emory University. By all accounts, this was a coerced treaty. At the treaty’s signing, this tract of ceded land (included within 116 on map) became part of the State of Georgia.* The Muscogee were forced to move west, towards and into Alabama. One year later, in 1822, this area of land was incorporated as DeKalb County, and included the town of Covington (founded 1822), home of Emory’s Oxford College (founded 1836), as well as the land upon which the main campus of Emory University sits. Emory University was founded in 1836, fifteen years after this First Treaty of Indian Springs, as the sons of the new settlers were beginning to reach college age. The 1821 treaty and others during this period led to massive land dispossession from Indigenous nations, and allowed for continued expansion of the Southeastern plantation economy and enslavement of Africans and their descendants. These facts also form part of the background to the horrific forced removal of over 20,000 Muscogee Creek people from Alabama that occurred in 1836-1837 and through which approximately 3,500 Muscogee Creek people died en route. The Muscogee Creek Nation (OK) is currently the fourth largest Tribal Nation with approximately 80,000 citizens. We are looking forward to seeing Emory University and DeKalb County begin to reckon with this history and its enduring consequences, and begin to commit to reparative actions.

*Note: The 1821 treaty was expanded with a 1825 treaty, and revised January 24th, 1826.

additional links:
Land Acknowledgment and History Statement
A Community for All: Indigenous Student Committee Initiative Statement
Original handwritten treaty, 1821 (US National Archives)
Print version of 1821 treaty.
Task Force on Untold Stories and Disenfranchised Populations (Emory University, Office of the President)