Hahn, Steven C. 1968–

views updated

Hahn, Steven C. 1968–


Born March 26, 1968, in Flint, MI; married; wife's name Mary (an attorney); children: Erin and Luke. Education: University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, B.A.; Emory University, Ph.D., 2000; attended the University of Georgia. Hobbies and other interests: Ice hockey.


Office—History Department, St. Olaf College, 1520 St. Olaf Ave., Northfield, MN 55057. E-mail—[email protected].


Historian, educator, and writer. St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, assistant professor of American history. Previously worked for two years as a field archaeologist for an engineering firm on the east coast.


The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670-1763, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2004.

(Author of introduction) Verner Crane, The Southern Frontier, 1670-1732, University of Alabama Press (Birmingham, AL), 2004.

Contributor to professional journals.


Steven C. Hahn is a historian who specializes in American colonial and Native American history. His primary research focuses on the history of Native American peoples of the American South. In his first book, The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670-1763, Hahn examines the political history of the Creek Indians prior to the French and Indian War. "This is a work that seeks to explain Creek political organization and policy," noted Joseph Hall in a review on H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences ONline. "Hahn is writing what he calls ‘an ethnopolitical history’ … a study that combines the political historian's interest in particular events and political motivation with the ethnohistorian's attention to the cultural norms that influence political actors, and he brings this perspective to bear on the Creeks who appear in English, Spanish, and, to a lesser extent, French colonial documents."

In his book, the author presents his belief that the "Creek" Indians were not an indigenous tribe per se but largely an artificial construct created by the Indians to deal with European encroachment. According to the author the Creeks first emerged from the Apalachicolas, who fled from the Spanish to Ochese Creek. Once they relocated, the Indians began to organize a policy of diplomatic and trade relations with the English in the Carolinas while seeking revenge on the Spanish by attacking their missions in northern Florida. "The author notes that one pivotal point for the Ocheses came in August 1705 when the colony of Carolina signed a formal alliance with the Abikas, Alabamas, Ocheses, and Tallapoosas, who were forced to ‘act’ like a nation in order to deal with a nation-state," wrote Michael P. Morris in the Journal of Southern History. Morris went on to explain that because of their trade relationship with the British, the Creek ended up owing the British 100,000 deerskins, forcing them to further their interests by acting as a nation as they sought "to restructure their debt in a manner pleasing to their creditors."

In his introduction to the book, the author writes: "In this book I tell the political history of the Creek Indians, the native inhabitants of the region of the Chattahoochee, Coosa, and Tallapoosa Rivers, which span the present-day states of Georgia and Alabama. The time frame chosen for this study—1670 to 1763—reflects my belief that the period beginning with the establishment of Charles Town, South Carolina, and ending with the Treaty of Paris should be considered a distinct epoch in Creek political history; it is identified here as the South's Imperial Era." The author goes on to note in his introduction that the American South was an area were imperial powers struggled for control with the Creeks literally caught in the middle as their lands bordered territories claimed by the French, Spanish, and British.

The author draws on archaeological evidence and Spanish source material to explore the emergence of the Creek Nation during the colonial era in the American Southwest. In studying the Creek foreign relations, the author examines the creation and application of the Coweta Resolution of 1718, also known as the "neutrality" policy of peaceful coexistence with the Europeans. The author also writes about internal Creek Indian politics, including the kinship-based political system that emphasized town and clan affiliations. According to the author, the emphasis on the kinship-based traditions along with political intrusions propagated by the English, French, and Spanish actually promoted Creek factionalism and weakened the regional Creek Confederacy. The author points out, however, that the Creek Nation remained largely united in their effort to keep territorial integrity against the British, thus resulting in political innovations. The author concludes his book with an epilogue discussing the legacy of the Imperial era in America's colonial South.

"Specialists in southeastern Indian history will welcome this highly detailed investigation of Creek politics and appreciate its extensive Spanish citations and exhaustive bibliography," wrote Wendy St. Jean in the Historian. H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online contributor Joseph Hall noted that the author's book has revealed "more clearly how political interests and not just cultural congruencies made the Creeks," adding in the same review that the author "is charting much forgotten terrain in this impressive history."



Hahn, Steven C., The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670-1763, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2004.


American Historical Review, February, 2006, Gary Clayton Anderson, review of The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670-1763, p. 153.

Choice, March, 2005, E.M. Thomas, review of The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670-1763, p. 1288.

Historian, spring, 2006, Wendy St. Jean, review of The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670-1763, p. 141.

Journal of American Ethnic History, winter, 2005, Colin G. Calloway, review of The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670-1763, p. 107.

Journal of American History, September, 2005, Robbie Ethridge, review of The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670-1763, p. 584.

Journal of Southern History, August, 2005, Michael P. Morris, review of The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670-1763, p. 662.

Western Historical Quarterly, summer, 2006, Edward J. Cashin, review of The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670-1763, p. 229.


H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (April 9, 2008), Joseph Hall, review of The Invention of the Creek Nation, 1670-1763.

St. Olaf College History Department Web site, http://www.stolaf.edu/ (April 9, 2008), faculty profile of author.