(Kindly contributed by William C. Bell)
Ceremony of my reception as great war chief
Part of the assembly went to my house; and when all had arrived there, one of the old men had me get up on a kind of litter, covered with a bearskin, surrounded with garlands of ivy leaves, and borne by four subordinate chiefs. When I was placed on this litter, they set out to return to the grand cabin. The following order of march was observed:
Several young warriors, each carrying in his hand an eagle tail fastened to a stick, marched along dancing, making contortions and uttering terrifying cries. They were preceded by a master of ceremonies, who in his hand held a coconut fastened to a stick, and which had some seeds in it; so that by shaking it he could use it to beat time. Furthermore, he had at his side a young savage who was beating time with a kind of tabor. In front, behind, and on each side of my litter walked old subordinate chiefs, each of whom was also carrying in his hand an eagle tail, half of which was painted red. Next came six priests or medicine men,* who had on their shoulders two deerskins fashioned like chasubles and on which the hair had been preserved. These men carried a swan's wing in one hand and in the other the plant which is used in making the war medicine and which is taken during this ceremony.
* The savages having no other religious ceremonies than the taking of the war medicine, which is performed by a kind of doctor (medicine man); the consequence is that they take the place of priests in this country.
When we approached the grand cabin, the procession halted; a priest then came to meet us, accompanied by two young warriors each of whom was carrying a large gourd with an opening at the top large enough to insert the hand. These gourds were painted red and contained water, in which the juice of the plant I have just mentioned had been put. This priest stopped about twenty paces from us, and there, dipping his hands into this water, he sprinkled it, while singing a hymn or invocation to the war spirit. When he had finished, all the chiefs, who were waiting for us in the grand cabin, came to meet us, marching six abreast. When they had arrived near this priest, they dipped their hands in these same gourds, and wet their faces; then the six priests who were behind me went forward, and with one hand held the plant they had to the chiefs' faces, and with the other hand passed the swan wings over these faces as if to wipe them. As soon as each chief had performed this ceremony, he returned to the cabin; and, when they had all gone back, the six priests or medicine men resumed their places behind my litter, and we all went there together. The old man who had placed me on the litter came immediately to help me down, and placed me on a bison skin which had been prepared for this purpose. Then the whole assembly drank some of the tealike cassine, and for twenty-four hours they took nothing but the war medicine.
I had not yet drunk any of this medicine, although I had been made a little war chief, and had commanded as grand chief, because I had taken care to prepare a special medicine for myself; for it is indispensable to have one in order to secure the confidence of the savages; but this time I had to follow the example of the assembly, and drink the common medicine. It was not long before I felt very sick and had to throw up all the medicine I had taken, thus imitating the assembly. This very disgusting ceremony lasted until sunrise of the next day. Then the whole assembly undressed completely and went, absolutely naked, into a circular cabin, where the priests had gone to await us. Each one of them had carried there a brass kettle in which they had boiled the war medicine. Shortly afterwards, the subordinate chiefs brought pebbles which they had heated red hot in the fire in the center; and the priests, while singing, threw on them the water which was contained in the two gourds of which I have already spoken. This caused terrible heat and steam. The whole assembly was perspiring profusely, and I was perspiring so freely through every pore in my body that, although I was in very good health, I thought that it would be impossible to endure it. We remained in this condition about half an hour, then some of the chiefs went out of the cabin, the priests gathered around me and we all left and went immediately to plunge into a river which was a short distance from the cabin. It was not without a great deal of fear that I made up my mind to follow the example of the entire assembly; it appeared to me extremely dangerous, perspiring as I then was, to jump at once into the cold water; but it was impossible for me to do otherwise, and I suffered nothing more than fright. I still think today that the purging which I had undergone in drinking the war medicine prevented the ill effects of such a bath. On coming out of the water, where we remained only a short time, each one dressed, and we returned to the grand cabin, where a magnificent meal awaited us. The young people then had permission to enter the square of the grand cabin, to dance around the fire which burns continually all through the ceremony which lasts three days, during which time no member of the assembly can leave the enclosure of the square, or sleep. I was all the more obliged to remain there with the assembly, because it was solely for me that the ceremony took place.
I was seated in a place of honor with priests by my side; whenever I happened to become drowsy, one would throw cool water in my face, and the other would rub it with small stones that they had taken care to put in the water beside me for this purpose.
When the three days had ended, I was taken home in the same order as had been observed in taking me to the grand cabin. When we arrived there, the oldest chief proclaimed my appointment and informed me that I was now the first sentinel of the nation, and that the young warriors would always be ready to march at my call; that the ordeals that I had just gone through were intended to make me understand that nothing must lessen my zeal, and that I must endure with equal courage cold, heat, and hunger, in order to defend the interests of the nation. When the old man had finished, the assembly broke up, and everyone returned to his home.
I have pointed out in the first part of this work that the old chiefs had often spoken to me of their ancestors, of the expeditions they had made, and of the battles they had had to wage, before the nation could settle down where it is today; that the history of these first Creeks, who were then called Moskoquis, was preserved by banderoles or strings of beads; but that not knowing anything about their arrangement, I had requested one of these old men to tell me in detail about it.
I shall relate here, as faithfully as possible, the story which was told to me by the old man.
When the Spaniards conquered Mexico, everyone knows that this beautiful country of North America was inhabited by a kind and peaceable people, who, having no knowledge of firearms, were easily subjugated. It had only courage and members to oppose to the deadly arms of its enemies; in a word, it was defenseless; for, what could bow and arrows do against the artillery of an army, weak in numbers, it is true, but inured to war, intrepid, and impelled by an insatiable thirst for gold that this too trusting people had been unfortunate enough to display before their eyes.
Montezuma was reigning at that time in Mexico; seeing that it was impossible for him to stop the progress of the Spaniards, he called to his aid the neighboring peoples. The nation of the Moskoquis, now known by the name of Creeks, which formed a separate republic in the northwestern part of Mexico, and which had numerous warriors, offered him aid, which would have been redoubtable for any enemy other than a disciplined army, such as that of the Spaniards, commanded by Fernand Cortez.
The courage, therefore, of this warlike people served only to bring about its more prompt destruction, and was unable to save Montezuma, who lost his life, and his empire which was almost totally depopulated. After the death of Montezuma and of a number of other chiefs, the Moskoquis, considerably weakened by this terrible war, which they were no longer in a condition to keep up, decided to give up a country which offered them in exchange for their past happiness only the most frightful slavery, and to seek another which might procure for them the abundance and peace which the Spaniards had just taken from them by force.
They set their course toward the north, and in two weeks went up as far as the headwaters of the Red River, that is to say, a distance of about a hundred leagues. This river sends its waters into the northern part of America through great prairies, a fact which made them decide to follow its course. Therefore, they went on for another week in this direction through a plain dotted with the most beautiful flowers, and covered with wild animals, which afforded them all the resources required for their existence. The richness in every respect of this country would have induced them to settle in it; but, still fearing for their safety, in a country which offered them no natural defense, they continued their journey. On the different explorations they made all along this river they did not find any other, not even a stream which flowed into it; but they often found lakes and ponds, a number of which had salt water; they were usually covered with aquatic birds of all kinds especially with those which are to be found along the seashore. The prairies were alive with partridges, hares, rabbits, turkeys, and other animals. This game is so abundant in these regions, that, when it is hunted in several different places at the same time, and is forced to flee, the sky is darkened and the earth covered with it.
After having thus traveled for some days, they found some groves of trees where they stopped. The young warriors were sent by the old men in different directions to reconnoiter the country. At the end of a month, they came back and declared that they had discovered a forest, at whose edge along the Red River were some fine caves fit for habitation. The entire nation set forth; and when they had arrived near these caves, it was discovered that they had been dug out by buffalo, or wild oxen, and other animals which had lived in them because the earth there was a little salty.
In this country the Moskoquis found peace and quiet which they needed in order to recover from the considerable losses that they had suffered in the wars of Mexico. This colony, having brought along a little corn which remained, planted it immediately in order to be assured of a means of subsistence. As they lacked the tools needed to establish a settlement, they used sharp stones, instead of axes, to cut and sharpen pieces of wood, which were then hardened in the fire, and used to cultivate the land.
When the Moskoquis had thus performed the first tasks of their new dwelling place, they marked off a field, as large as would be necessary for the general needs of the colony, and enclosed it with old pieces of wood and stakes set in the ground in order to prevent the incursions by bison and other wild animals which are very fond of corn. Then they divided the land in this enclosure among the families and planted it for their food. The young people of both sexes worked together tilling the ground, while the old men smoked their pipes. They spent a number of years thus in perfect tranquility, living by hunting, fishing, and tilling their land, with little regret for the country they had left, and where they had suffered so much. They would have doubtless settled there permanently, if an unhappy destiny, which seemed to follow them, had not compelled them to emigrate a second time.
They were discovered by the Albamos, or Alibamons, who killed a number of their people. Then the old men, the natural chiefs of the nation, called the young warriors together and sent them on the trail of the murderers, but they were unsuccessful because there was no unity in their action and they lacked a common chief; they then felt the need of choosing one. The old men of the nation assembled and chose the one among them who had rendered the greatest services to the nation, and appointed him their tastanegy or great war chief. His task consisted in directing all the operations of war, in taking all the necessary measures to avenge a wrong done the nation, and in defending its rights. He was invested with authority sufficient for this purpose; but this authority, which made him the first sentinel of the state, the father and the shield of the native land, lasted only as long as the danger; once peace was restored, and the troops had returned within the nation, he again became a simple citizen, and was only the first soldier.* If he had not given cause for any complaint, during the exercise of authority, he would still retain the right to resume his post at the first emergency; and, for that very reason, he was responsible for watching continually over the public safety, and for informing the peace chiefs of the wrongs done the nation or of matters which could disturb its tranquility. When he had made known the need of assembling the warriors, a club, part of which was painted red, was immediately exhibited in public; that signified that a part of the nation, that is to say, the young men, must hold themselves in readiness to march; for if the club had been painted red all over, the entire nation should have had to keep ready, which happened only in the most unusual cases. The manner of painting this club red, even today, informs each particular chief how many men he is to bring with him to the appointed meeting place; so that the head war chief is always certain of the number of soldiers he will have at his disposal, a number which he determines according to the needs of the circumstances, and which he is absolutely free to fix.
* The tastanegy or great war chief had, at first, no part in domestic administration his authority lasted only as long as the war; but today, he is the head chief of the nation with respect to civil as well as military affairs.
When it is thus necessary to assemble the warriors at a common meeting place the head war chief has a club partly colored red sent to each band chief, accompanied by a certain number of sticks which serve to inform the warriors who carry them into the different districts of the nation of the day on which they are to be at the general meeting and of the number of young men who must march. Each day at sunrise one stick is thrown away, and the day they throw away the last one is supposed to be that of their arrival at the meeting place; there have been few instances of delay in the general meeting. In order to avoid any slip of memory, the bearers of the red club are obliged every day to give each chief the watchword, which is usually the designation of the time and place of the meeting. I am now going to speak more in detail about this red club, to tell how it is passed around and what its use is.
Before the Indians became acquainted with firearms, they used only arrows and clubs in their fighting; today they have entirely abandoned these weapons, but they have preserved the club as a symbol of war only, and have replaced it in battle with the tomahawk or small hatchet.
When the nation is forced to take up arms, the head war chief or tastanegy has exhibited in the public squares a club, part of which is painted red; he likewise sends one of them to each band chief, accompanied by a number of sticks equal to the number of days that this chief will need to go to the meeting place. The head chief is entirely free to fix this day.
When this club has arrived, each band chief has the drum beaten in front of the grand cabin of the town or village where he resides. All the inhabitants go there immediately; he informs them of the day and the place where he must light his fire; he goes to this place before dawn, and lights the fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together; he places it in the middle of a square formed by four stakes, and which is only large enough to hold the number of warriors he wants to assemble.
As soon as daylight appears, the chief places himself between the two stakes which face the rising sun; he holds a bundle of sticks in his hand. When a warrior enters the enclosure, which is open only on this side, he throws away a stick, and continues thus until the last one, which corresponds to the number of soldiers which he needs. All those who present themselves afterwards can no longer be admitted, and turn back to their homes to take up their hunting arms, while indicating the place where they are going to hunt, so that they can be found if they are needed. Those who have thus presented themselves too late are ill-received when they return to their families, who reproach them for their lack of eagerness to defend the native land.
For three days the warriors who are in the enclosed space take a war medicine of which I shall speak later; their wives bring their weapons and the things needed for the campaign; they lay all of it down one hundred paces from the square; they add to this a small bag of Indian meal, an ounce of which is sufficient to make nearly a quart of porridge. It needs only to be mixed with cold water and in five or six minutes becomes as thick as meal paste cooked over a fire: two ounces are sufficient to nourish a man for twenty-four hours. The savages use this porridge only when they are near the enemy, because then they cannot go hunting.
At the end of the three days of taking war medicine, the chief leaves with his warriors in order to get to the general meeting place appointed by the head chief. In addition to this medicine, which every one takes, each band chief has his own private medicine, or rather talisman, which he carries religiously with him; it is a small sack in which there are certain stones and a few pieces of cloth which he has gotten from the clothes of the head chief, on returning from war. If the band chief were to forget this sack, he would not be able to command, and would become a common soldier for the entire expedition.
The tastanegy or head war chief presents himself punctually at the meeting place on the appointed day, and he is sure of finding the young men assembled there; then he places himself at the head of the army, makes all the preparations he thinks advisable, without having to answer to anyone for them, and, certain that discipline will be maintained and his orders will be punctually carried out, he marches confidently against the enemy.
When the army is thus ready to march, each subordinate chief must be provided with a drink which they call war medicine. This medicine consists in a slightly purgative liquor that each warrior must take for three successive days before leaving for war.
The Indians attribute great properties to this war medicine;* and they have such confidence in it that it would be difficult for a great war chief to make the best use of his army, if it were deprived of it. He would be exposed to the greatest danger, if he were taken by surprise and were forced to make it fight before having satisfied this obligation. If he suffered a reverse, which would be sure to happen, because his soldiers would have no confidence, and would be defeated beforehand by their superstitious fear, the chief would be accused of having brought it on by his neglect to have the war medicine distributed, and would become responsible for all the events resulting from it.
* Among the Indians, the use of war medicine is a religious custom.
If this custom of taking war medicine presents such dangers to the chief of the army, it provides him, on the other hand, with great means for the success of his undertakings. There are two medicines, the great and the little, and it is for the head chief to designate the one which must be taken. The great medicine makes a fanatic, so to speak, of the soldier; when he is filled with this medicine, he believes himself invulnerable like Achilles dipped in the river Styx. The little medicine serves to make the dangers seem smaller to him . Full of confidence in his chief, he easily makes himself believe that if he offers him only the little war medicine, it is because the occasion does not require the great war medicine. It is therefore wise on the part of the chief to take advantage of this superstition.
This medicine, whose moral effect I have just reported, has two effects which are purely physical. The first is that, since the Indians like very much to become intoxicated on strong liquors, it was necessary to find a means to deprive them of their drink without causing them to complain. The medicine, great or little, provides this means, since, before taking it, they can drink no spirituous liquor, a matter which they observe very religiously; and the chief, being entirely free to order it when he thinks it advisable can, in this way, maintain the greatest sobriety in the army. The second is that this medicine is really purgative, and the warrior purged by it is in less danger of infection from the wounds that he receives, and which indeed heal very quickly when they are not fatal. These people have still another way of decreasing the danger from their wounds, which is to fight almost naked. They have seen that woolen clothing, some particles of which would nearly always remain in the wounds, made them much more difficult to heal and more dangerous. Thus it is that policy and religion support each other and are profitable for those who know how to use them opportunely.
When at war, the Moskoquis observe a very rigorous discipline; they can neither eat nor drink without an order from their chiefs. I have seen some do without drinking even when swimming across a river, because circumstances had obliged the chief to forbid them to do it under pain of depriving them of their little war medicine, that is to say, of the influence of the talisman.*
* I have already said that the great medicine, or general medicine, was taken before the departure.
These people, although endowed with a very warlike spirit, live very peaceably and do not trouble their neighbors; but, when an enemy has forced them to assemble and to take up arms, they do not return home without having fought them and taken scalps; which can be compared to the taking of flags among European troops. When a Moskoquis has killed his enemy, he cuts away his entire scalp, and this is a very honorable distinction for him when he returns to the nation. You would be astonished at the skill and the quickness with which they remove the skin from the head of a man they have killed. These scalps do not all have the same worth; they are classified, and it is the duty of the chiefs, who witness the great feats, to pass upon the merit of each one of them. It is in proportion to the number and merit of these scalps that advancement takes place, both in civil and military life. I shall now give the reader an idea of the importance the Creeks attach to the taking of their enemies' scalps.
The greater number of the savage nations of North America took almost no prisoners of war; when, by chance, they did take a few they burned them or put them to death with the most cruel tortures after they had returned home. For the victim and for his executioners it was a feast day; the latter rejoiced at destroying an enemy of their country, the former at dying for his. Since it was a great honor for a warrior to kill many of his country's enemies, each one claimed that he had killed the most. It was of course necessary to require proof in order to decide which one had done most for his country; from that necessity arose the custom of taking the scalp of the dead enemy in order to prove that one had killed him. At the time of my arrival among the Creeks, it was necessary, in order to occupy any place whatsoever, to have taken at least seven scalps from the enemy. A young Creek who, having been to war, did not bring back at least one scalp still bore the name of his mother, and he was unable to get a wife. In this nation all the children belong to the mother, who has the power of life and death over the one to whom she has just given birth, during the first moon following her delivery. After this time has expired, if she were to kill him, she herself would be punished by death.
When a young warrior brings back a scalp, for the first time, the chiefs of the place where he lives assemble in the grand cabin to give him a name, and to take from him that of his mother. It is usually the chiefs who determine the value of a scalp, based on the dangers which have been run in order to take it; and they are, as I have said above, titles of advancement and consideration.
When the time to fight has come, the head chief usually stands in the center of the army. He sends help wherever the danger appears to him to be most pressing; and, when he perceives that his army is weakening and he fears that it may give way under the pressure of the enemy, then he advances in person and fights hand to hand. A cry, repeated to the right and left, warns all the warriors of the danger to which the chief is exposed. Immediately all the reserve corps unite as one, and march to the place where the head chief is, in order to force the enemy to leave him; even were he dead, all would be killed rather than to abandon his body to the enemy without having carried off his scalp. They attribute such dishonor to the loss of this scalp, that, when the danger is too great, and they are unable, in spite of all their efforts, to prevent him from falling into the hands of the enemy, the warrior who is closest to the chief kills him himself, removes his scalp and takes to flight uttering a cry which is known only to savages, and then goes to the place to which this same chief had indicated they would withdraw in case the army should be defeated. All the subordinate chiefs, informed by this cry of the death of the head chief, prepare to retreat; and as soon as it is effected, before taking any other action, they proceed to the appointment of a new head war chief, so that the enemy may not be aware of the loss of the first which they have suffered.
The Moskoquis are very warlike and are not discouraged by defeat; the day after an unhappy battle, they march to meet theirenemy with the same fearlessness as before. It was in conformity with this spirit that they made up their minds to continue their course toward the northwest. After traveling for some time in that direction, and crossing immense plains, they stopped in a small forest on the banks of the Missouri. It was there that they encountered the Alibamons, whom they had been pursuing for a long time. They made appropriate preparations to fight them. The tastanegy, or great war chief, arranged the march in the following order: The family of the Wind,* from which he had been chosen, crossed the river in the first line; it was followed by the family of the Bear, and then by that of the Tiger, and so on. When this river was crossed, since the whole nation was on the march, it was necessary to take measures to avoid a surprise on the part of the enemy; and, in case of battle with the enemy, to place in safety those who could not fight. With this in view, the young men, with their war chiefs, formed the vanguard; the old men the rearguard; those less advanced in years were on the flanks; the women and children in the center. They marched in that order until they discovered the enemy. Then the young men, with their tastanegy at their head, advanced alone and left the body of the nation in a place of safety, and under the guard of the old men. By a stealthy and well-planned march they surprised their enemy, and succeeded in reaching the caves inhabited by the Alibamons before the latter had any warning; and, not giving them the time to rally, they slaughtered many of them. The terror which such a surprise had spread among them forced them to abandon their dwellings; they fled along the Missouri and rallied on the banks of this river, while the Moskoquis had gone back to rejoin their countrymen, in order to march again on the trail of their enemy. The Alibamons, fearing another surprise attack, had made their old men, women, and children go on ahead, the young warriors forming the rearguard; they continued for some time to go down this river on its right bank. The Moskoquis, following their trail, overtook them, and defeated them a number of times. The Alibamons, seeing themselves pursued in this manner, had had the main body of their nation cross over to the left bank of the Missouri, and had given it time to get some distance away, by delaying the march of the enemy by various skirmishes. But, fearing they would not be able to hold out against their attacks, they took advantage of a dark night to rejoin their fathers, without being discovered by the Moskoquis. The latter, no longer finding the enemy when daylight had come and suspecting the move it had made, crossed the river and set out again in pursuit of them. After a march of some days they came upon them and forced them to engage in a general battle in which the Alibamons were defeated and fled as far as the banks of the Mississippi. The Moskoquis, pursuing them furiously, forced them to rush headlong into the river, where a very large number perished. The young Moskoquis warriors, having thus considerably weakened their enemy, ceased to pursue them until they had been overtaken by the main body of the nation, which was following by short stages. They remained on the banks of the river for a week in order to rest.
* It must be pointed out here that there are in the nation certain families which are more highly considered than the others, either because they have shown more courage, or because they had rendered more services to the native land. These same families, that is to say, the young warriors who belong to them, usually march first in war, and the war chief is careful to preserve this prerogative, insofar as circumstances do not require another disposition. It is a means of emulation which he sometimes turns to great advantage.
During all this time the Alibamons had traveled rapidly and had gotten far ahead. The Moskoquis, trying to overtake them, went deep into an immense forest which is on the left bank of the Mississippi; they pitched their camp, but, since the forest offered them no advantageous means of settling there, the old men decided to continue the march, and, for this reason, to send the young warriors to scout the enemy. They traveled for some days without encountering them; but finally, having discovered their tracks, they came back to report to the council of old men, who decided that they would go in pursuit. They therefore moved forward again; and after a march of a few days, they came to the Ohio River, which the French call Belle-Riviere. They went up along its banks near the Owabache; and noticing that the Alibamons had crossed the Ohio, they crossed it also. When they were on the other side, finding a rather fine climate and abundant game of all kinds, they resolved to settle there, and established their dwelling places in that part of the country known by the name of Yazau. As the season was far advanced, they ceased their pursuit, and contented themselves with sending a few young warriors to try to discover the route the Alibamons had taken. The Moskoquis, availing themselves of a few caves they found, and that they made themselves, took possession of the Yazau lands, where they spent several years, and where the caves they dug out still exist today.
The Alibamons had pushed on to the banks of the Coussa River; no longer finding themselves pursued, and being in a fertile country, they stopped there; but still fearing some surprise, they sent young men to find out what had become of the Moskoquis, and if they were still pursuing them. Although the war that the Moskoquis were waging at this time on the Alibamons had as its cause an aggression on the part of the latter, who had killed some Moskoquis warriors, the young men whom they sent to scout the latter again had the rashness to kill the first Moskoquis they met. The old men, having been informed of this new ggression, ordered an advance against the Alibamons. The Moskoquis warriors having discovered that the country that their enemy inhabited was toward the rising sun, in a region where the rigors of winter are not felt very much and where there is a large quantity of game of all kinds, resolved for a third time to drive the enemy out and to inhabit that land which is between the two Floridas. For this purpose they crossed the Cumberland River and the Tenesis River, and continued from the north along the Coussa, on whose banks those of the Alibamons who were left had settled. The latter, having learned of the march of the Moskoquis, did not think it advisable to wait for them; they abandoned their position and fled in different directions. Some went to seek refuge among the Tchactas, and others made their way to Mobile, under the protection of the French, who at that time had just taken possession of it.
The Moskoquis, no longer finding enemies to fight, took peaceful possession of the country they had just conquered. They settled along the Coussa, Talapausse, Chataoudguy, Flinte, Okmolgy, Little and Great Occony, and the Auguichet rivers, and extended their settlements as far as the Savanha.
After having thus taken possession of this immense territory and having established their settlements, the young men were sent as far as Mobile in pursuit of the Alibamons, but since they had placed themselves under the protection of the French, the French commanding officer spoke to the chief of the Moskoquis warriors in order to obtain peace for the Alibamons. The chiefs of the Moskoquis warriors, not wishing to take it upon themselves to make a treaty without the consent of their nation, referred the matter to the decision of the council of old men; and, while waiting for this decision, consented to a truce, promising not to kill any Alibamon before receiving the reply of their council, to which they even promised to recommend their enemies, on the express condition that the Alibamons, for their part, would likewise respect the Moskoquis, and would avoid as much as possible being on the hunting grounds where they were to spend the winter, by designating separate grounds for each group. This truce lasted for six months, at the end of which the old Moskoquis men came down to Mobile with their warriors, and not only was peace made between the two nations, in the presence of the French commanding officer, but the Moskoquis urged the Alibamons to unite with them; and, in order to induce them to do it, they gave them a piece of land on the Mobile River, which is called even today River of the Alibamons. The latter accepted the proposal, on condition that they be permitted to preserve their manners and customs. Then all the scattered bands gathered together and came to settle on the river which has taken their name, and established a small town which bears the name of Coussehate; and since that time, they have been an integral part of the Moskoquis Nation, which at that time took the name of Creek Nation. This name signifies river-source, and is derived from the location of the country they inhabit, which, as has been shown above, is surrounded or intersected by a great number of large rivers.
About the same time, an Indian tribe, which had just been almost destroyed by the Iroquois and the Hurons, came to request the protection of the Moskoquis, which I shall now call Creeks. The latter received them among themselves and assigned them a piece of land in the center of the nation. They built a town which today is rather large, which is called Tuket-Batchet after the name of the Indian tribe. The great assemblies of the Creek Nation, of which it is an integral part, are sometimes held within its walls. The reputation of the Creeks as warriors, and the friendly welcome they had accorded the Alibamons and the Indian tribe of which I have just spoken, had quickly spread among the other savage tribes of North America; and those among them who were too weak to resist the attacks of an enemy, came immediately to beg for their help. The Tasquiguy and the Oxiailles who had suffered from their neighbors the same fate as the Tuket-Batchet, having learned of the good treatment that the latter had received from the Creeks, came to ask them for refuge and protection. They also were received to become a part of the Creek Nation: they were given lands to cultivate and they settled at the junction of the Coussa and the Talapousse rivers, where they built a village which still bears the name of Tasquiguy. The Oxiailles went northward ten leagues and took up their abode in a beautiful plain on the banks of a small river; there they built a town, to which they also gave their name.
Not long afterwards the remains of the small Udgis Nation, which had been partly destroyed by the English, came also to seek refuge among the Creeks, who gave them lands along the banks of the Chataoudguy River. A part of the Chikachas Nation also came to seek refuge among the Creeks, who gave them lands on the Yazau River, at the head of the River of the Wolves. There they built their settlements that they extended as far as the Cheroquis Mountains, behind which flows the Tenessy River which rises in these mountains, near Tougoulou, in the hinterland of South Carolina, at a short distance from the head source of the Savanha in Georgia.
The immense expanse of land which the Moskoquis, now called Creeks, had taken possession of after the flight of the Alibamons, made it possible for them to receive among them in this way all the tribes which asked them this favor, and to give them lands to bring into cultivation. They thereby augmented their reputation, and the means of maintaining it.
Although these nations, received in this manner by the Creek Nation, were an integral part of it, it sometimes happened nevertheless that they had battles among themselves which concerned them alone; but in case of defeat, they had the right to call for the protection of the Creeks who aided them either with their arms, or gave them the benefit of their mediation, as it will be possible to see by the following event:
A few years after the arrival of the Chikacha among the Creeks, the unfortunate Natches Nation, almost entirely destroyed by the French who then possessed Louisiana, took refuge among these same Chikachas, who sided wholeheartedly with them, and marched against the French army that they encountered in a small prairie near the River of the Wolves. It was there that a battle was fought in which the French, in spite of the superiority of their artillery, were completely defeated. The savages charged them with so much fury that they cut them to pieces, so much so that they left only a few fugitives to carry the news of it. The French formed a new army to continue the war against the Chikachas; but the latter, fearing that they might not be so fortunate in a second engagement, made peace proposals to which the French agreed all the more readily because they had not forgotten the loss that this people had made them suffer, and the courage they had shown in the battle of the River of the Wolves. But the French continued to pursue the unhappy remnants of the Natches, who, ever forced to flee, came to seek a new country among the Creeks, to whom the Chickachas recommended them, having placed themselves under their protection. They even pointed out to the Creeks that, having taken part in the war that this nation had fought with the French, they were concerned and almost obliged to give them help. The latter admitted them, and gave them lands on the Coussa River, at the foot of two mountains remarkable for their height, and for their sugar-loaf shape, and which have taken since that time the name of Natches. They built two towns there, to one of which they gave their name, and to the other the name of Abecouchy.
While this tribe was establishing its home and building its towns, the chiefs of the Creeks, their protectors, had gone down to Mobile and to New Orleans, to negotiate a peace with the French. The latter fearing that a refusal might bring down upon them this warlike people, whose strength they knew, since they had had the Chikachas against them in the preceding campaign, granted what they requested. They even showed the Creek Nation that they were delighted to have this opportunity to prove to it that they desired to live on friendly terms with it. Shortly afterwards, the nation had its opportunity to give particular affection for France, by consenting to the building of a fort by the French near the village of the Tasquiguy, at the junction of the two rivers which unite immediately below this village. The Creeks, the Alibamons, and the Tasquiguy joined with the French to help them construct it speedily.
The English, who were alarmed by this construction, requested permission to build one also on the Auguichet River, twenty leagues to the west of Augusta, in the hinterland of Georgia; but they were refused permission. They asked the reason for it; they were answered in these terms: "The French were the first Europeans who made friends with us; we consider them as our fathers and our protectors, because they have never broken faith with us, nor taken advantage of the ease of their communications with the nation. You Englishmen, on the contrary, while giving us many gifts, demand, in return, each day further cessions of our lands, so that these gifts are very dearly bought. When the French give us something, it is as a father to his children; they demand no remuneration; therefore, they will build forts as long as they wish, and we shall be pleased with them, because we consider them as means of defense for us. As for you, we request you to speak to us no more about them. You are already too close to us, and you are like the fires we light every year in our forests in order to destroy the weeds; if we were not there to stop their progress, they would soon destroy everything. You would likewise overrun a great part of our land, or you would force us to drive you away entirely. We advise you to be satisfied with what we have given you, and not to demand anything further." Such an answer impressed the English greatly and forced them to limit their pretentious claims because of the fear of drawing upon them the hostility of the Creek Nation, who, being protected at that time by the French, could have easily driven the English from all their possessions in this part of the continent.
Some years after Fort Toulouse was built, war broke out between France and England. The French, having lost Canada, and being no longer able to proceed with the plans of settlement that they had formed, and of which I shall speak in another work, gave Louisiana to Spain, and since that time no longer had any communication with any of the tribes of which I have spoken thus far. When they evacuated Fort Toulouse, they left four pieces of cannon, after having broken the trunnions; they are still today on the spot where the fort stood.
The Indians, seeing themselves abandoned by the French, felt great sorrow, because they were losing valuable support, and because, having no desire to form an alliance with the English or with the Spaniards, they were reduced to their own resources.
The time that they had spent in their alliance with the French had acquainted them with the use of firearms, linen, and other things in use among the Europeans who at that time were supplying them with them. They experienced a distressing loss through the lack of these things, at the time of the departure of the French, and found themselves forced to turn to the English in order to obtain them. They set up a barter business with them, and gave furs for merchandise from Europe. Since that time the English have remained the sole masters of this profitable branch of trade. During this same time an incident, which I am now going to report, occurred and strengthened even more the authority and the credit that the English had acquired over the minds of the Creeks; here is how it happened:
The Spaniards possessed, at the head of the little river St.-Marc des Apalaches, three forts, a number of villages, and some fine habitations. The priests whom they had with them undertook to convert the small Apalachikola Nation and that of the Floridiens to the Christian religion. In order to succeed at it, they began with a mild and persuasive teaching which won them the confidence of the Indian women; they baptized them, and required them afterwards to go to confession. They had formed the plan of entirely changing the extremely simple manner of this people, and of subjecting them in all respects to the refinements found in a disciplined society. To this end, they depicted to these women, as criminal, certain actions which had always appeared to them as natural; they sought to reduce their complacency toward their husbands' wishes; in a word, they gave them advice which was not at all suitable to maintain peace in the households. The husbands no longer found in their wives this obligingness to which they were accustomed. A spirit of discord and of pestering replaced that kindness and good nature which previously made the peace and happiness of the families. The maidens displayed, instead of virtue which is the ornament of their sex, a dissimulation and a falseness unknown until then.
The Indian men, being able to attribute such an unexpected change in the minds of their wives and daughters only to the frequenting and the advice of the Spanish priests, resolved to avenge themselves by prohibiting these priests from entering their homes, and by forbidding their wives to admit any of them. The latter, seeing that their undertaking was going to fail if they did not do their utmost to support it, resorted to the inquisition; they made use of all the authority of this frightful tribunal and once more stained the altar of a God of peace with blood. Each day the unfortunate Indians saw additional stakes set up and a great many of their brothers become victims of the blind fury of these fanatics. The Floridiens, by a justified horror at the sight of so heartrending a spectacle, rose in full force to free themselves from such a yoke; but they could not resist Spanish arms, and saw fire and sword leagued together against them carry devastation and death everywhere. They decided therefore to request help from the Creeks against their torturers; the Creeks, who had no love at all for the Spaniards, sent the Florida Indians some warriors who came down to the Apalaches and attacked the Spanish troops who, in spite of the superiority of their arms, were defeated and forced to give up their forts and cannon: but, before retreating they took care to mine the three forts; so that the Indians, impelled by their courage, advanced without precaution, and lost many of their warriors by the explosions of the mines. Angered by this occurrence and wishing to be revenged for the death of their brothers, they fell upon the unfortunate Spanish inhabitants who, no longer assisted by the army which was beating a retreat, were nearly all massacred. The Spanish army had the time to retreat in good order to the tower and the fort Saint-Marc - d'Apalache, built on uninhabitable and miry ground, where the soldiers found only brackish water to drink. Not being able to hold such a position, they took advantage of a few dark nights to evacuate it, leaving its artillery behind, and taking refuge on two small islands which are two leagues farther down, and which form a bay into which the Apalachikola, or Flinte River flows. Not long afterwards, Spanish ships coming from Havana took on board the remainder of this army. Since that time, fort St.-Marc has remained deserted.*
* I have said in the first part of my book that the Spaniards had taken possession of it again about fifteen years ago, with the consent of the Creek Nation.
These Floridiens and Apalachiens were called Symonolays by the Creeks, that is to say, strangers. After the war of which I have just spoken, against the Spaniards, these Simonolays, filled with gratitude for what the Creeks had done for them, requested of them to be united with their nation, and to form an integral part of it. This request, brought to the council of the old men, was granted; and it was decided that in the future they would bear the name of Simonolays Creeks, that they would be an integral part of the Creek Nation, and that their interests would be the same. Since that time, they have adopted in part the customs and the language of the Creeks; but they possess none of their frankness and of their honesty; they are greatly inclined to theft and plunder, and that is what distinguishes them from the Creeks, who do not esteem them and who, for this reason, kept the name of Simonolays for them. Such were the events, which, while ruining the Spanish trade in this part of the New World, gave to that of the English a stability that they have been able to preserve.
Shortly after the American Revolution a part of the Savanhaugay Nation which inhabits the upper part of the Savanha River, which is named after this nation, moved northward to the banks of the Ohio, near Quintockey; the other part went among the Creeks, who gave them lands on the Talapousse River, near the Alibamons. This nation settled there, and has built a small town, and follows its peculiar customs and habits which differ a great deal from those of the Creeks, but this fact does not prevent perfect accord between them.
They have common interests; they go hunting together, and on the same land; in case of war, their warriors march together, and obey the same head chief. However, when a Savanhaugay marries a Creek woman, he is obliged to follow the laws, customs, and habits of the latter (Creeks); which does not happen when a Creek marries a Savanhaugay woman.
The Creek Nation, being in this way augmented by a prodigious number of immigrations from the neighboring nations, has acquired a stability which today makes it capable of raising a very powerful army of excellent warriors. Finding itself the most powerful on the continent, it is this nation which regulates every year, in the grand council of the old men, the lines of conduct that shall be followed during the year, not only by the different nations of which I have spoken and which compose it, but even by the savage nations of nearly all of North America.
These assemblies, which I have attended over a period of twenty years, are usually held at the end of April or at the beginning of May, as I have already said. It is there that the complaints or requests of any nature whatsoever are brought, that the interests of the whole Creek Nation and of its allies are discussed and regulated. They are sometimes held in the month of September, before they leave to go hunting; but at that time they are not general; few interesting things happen, and strangers are rarely present.
The Cheroquis who inhabit the mountains of Cumberland and of Quintock, driven out by the English and the Americans, took refuge also in the territory of the Creeks, and became their faithful allies. The only nation to be found in this immense stretch of land, which is absolutely a stranger to the interests and customs of the Creeks, is that of the Tchactas, who live to the west of the Alibamons. The Tchactas, formerly very strong, can even at the present time easily raise an army of six thousand warriors.
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