Creek Indians populated most of the countryside of the future state of Alabama and many viewed accommodation as a dangerous game. While white settlers made initial forays into places in the northern and southern regions of the Mississippi Territory, Creeks lived in well-developed cities with customs and traditions stretching over a century. Whites looked to this fertile land with an eye toward expansion and commercial development, yet the Creeks saw the tradition of many years and the work of many hands in the deep black soil along the streams and riverbeds. Thus, many Indians viewed ever-expanding white settlement as a threat to Creek sovereignty, heritage, and custom. Moreover, many Creeks were ill at ease with changing social and cultural dynamics. Throughout much of their history, family acted as the critical social component of everyday Creek life, with women as the heads of households. In this matrilineal world, women owned houses and land, and property followed female lineages. Men hunted for game and protected the family and the tribe from invaders. This traditional arrangement collided with those Creeks who viewed favorable adjustments with patrilineal, individualistic Americans as desirable.
Benjamin Hawkins illuminated the views of Creek welfare in his strategy for Creek "development" in 1807: "The plan I persue [sic] is to lead the Indian from hunting to the pastoral life, to agriculture, household manufactures." He intended to teach them "a knowledge of weights and measures, money and figures, to be honest and true to themselves as well as to their neighbors, to protect innocence, to punish guilt, to fit them to be useful members of the planet they inhabit and lastly, letters." Hawkins supported a Creek National Council, which gained support among the lower Creek tribes, and he hoped to negotiate with these supposedly forward-looking Creeks in bringing their nations into the modern world.
Of course, not all Creeks agreed. Some argued that any treaties they signed with Americans always seemed to benefit white settlement over Indian culture. And the Creeks who cooperated with them were an element in need of a reckoning.