Rivers of Sand

Rivers of Sand

Creek Indian Emigration, Relocation, and Ethnic Cleansing in the American South

Christopher D. Haveman

Indians of the Southeast Series

438 pages
3 illustrations, 29 maps, 1 table, index


February 2016


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

February 2016


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

February 2016


$65.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

At its height the Creek Nation comprised a collection of multiethnic towns and villages stretching across large parts of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. By the 1830s, however, the Creeks had lost almost all this territory through treaties and by the unchecked intrusion of white settlers who illegally expropriated Native soil. With the Jackson administration unwilling to aid the Creeks in removing the squatters, the Creek people suffered from dispossession, starvation, and indebtedness. Between the 1825 Treaty of Indian Springs and the forced migrations beginning in 1836, nearly twenty-three thousand Creek Indians were relocated—voluntarily or involuntarily—to Indian Territory. Rivers of Sand fills a substantial gap in scholarship by capturing, for the first time, the full breadth and depth of the Creeks’ collective tragedy during the marches westward, on the Creek home front, and during the first years of resettlement.

Unlike the Cherokee Trail of Tears, which was conducted largely at the end of a bayonet, most Creeks were removed through a combination of coercion and negotiation. Hopelessly outnumbered military personnel were forced to make concessions in order to gain the compliance of the headmen and their people. Christopher D. Haveman’s meticulous study uses previously unexamined documents to weave narratives of resistance and survival, making Rivers of Sand an essential addition to the ethnohistory of American Indian removal.

Author Bio

Christopher D. Haveman is an assistant professor of history at the University of West Alabama.


"Through this comprehensive assessment of nineteenth-century Creek removal policy, Haveman exposes various methods of ethnic cleansing ranging from explicit laws, through manipulative treaties, to the push and pull of economic factors, enacted through various agents all the while retaining a focus on the plight of Creeks and their continued survival and pride despite the tragic events endured."—Melanie Vasselin, Native American and Indigenous Studies

"Haveman's narrative of Creek removal during the early to mid-nineteenth century is a testament to exhaustive research and judicious analysis."—Bryan Rindfleisch, H-AmIndian

"A fascinating work."—J.R. Burch Jr., CHOICE

"Scholars interested in knowing more about not only the Creek experience but also the logistics that shaped the removal process on the ground should read Rivers of Sand."—John P. Bowes, Journal of Southern History

"Deeply researched and clearly written, Rivers of Sand gives readers a lot to contemplate."—Robert M. Owens, Tribal College Journal

"Haveman has produced a sensitive, readable, and comprehensive account of the ethnic cleansing of Creek Indian people from the American South. While other scholars have addressed the political roots of the removal, the many frauds that emerged from it, and the consequences for reestablishing the Nation in the West, this book will stand as the go-to work for those seeking a broader understanding of Creek removal as a whole as well as those hoping to identify the vast array of materials that document both the suffering and the resilience of the Creek people."—Angela Pulley Hudson, Alabama Review

“Haveman offers an unflinching look at America’s own ethnic cleansing in this carefully researched study of Indian removal. A powerful book that exposes the brutality of U.S. policy while never losing sight of the perseverance of Indian people.”—Christina Snyder, author of Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America

“Christopher Haveman presents a much-needed and compelling narrative of the forced removal of the Creek Indians. In Haveman’s hands, the inexorable weight of American expansion is felt as it played out on the ground in rampant and illegal land speculations, the forced signing of treaties, the invasion of Americans into Creek country, corrupt contractors, bitter intra-Creek disputes, and the subsequent suffering and grief of thousands of Creek men and women forced into exile from their homelands.”—Robbie Ethridge, author of Creek Country: The Creek Indians and Their World

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Series Preface
Notes on Terminology
Introduction: Water, 1848
1. Treason: 1825–27
2. Fission: 1827–28
3. Frenzy: 1828–29
4. Fraud: 1829–35
5. Eclipse: 1833–36
6. Sand: 1828–50
7. Chains: 1836
8. Coercion: 1836–37
9. Defiance: 1837–49
10. Perseverance: 1837–82
Conclusion: Persistence, 2014
List of Abbreviations

Also of Interest