THE MODERN INDIANS OF ALABAMA, GEORGIA AND MISSISSIPPI.
1550 July to Nov: It has been seen that the Indians living in that part of Alabama through which De Soto passed, were the Coosas, inhabiting the territory embraced in the present counties of Benton, Talladega, Coosa, and a portion of Cherokee; the Tallases, living upon the Tallapoosa and its tributary streams; the Mobilians extending from near the present city of Montgomery to the commercial emporium which now bears their name; the Pafallayas or Choctaws, inhabiting the territory of the modern counties of Green, Marengo, Tuscaloosa, Sumpter and Pickens; and, in the present State of Mississippi, the Chickasaws, in the valley of the Yalobusha; and the Alabamas, upon the Yazoo. 1541 April: It will, also, be recollected, that this remarkable Spaniard overrun the rich province of Chiaha, the territory of the present northwestern Georgia, and that he there found the Chalaques, which all writers upon aboriginal history decide to be the original name of the Cherokees.
1540 March, April, May: The invasion of De Soto resulted in the destruction of an immense Indian population, in all the territory through which he passed, except that of Georgia, where he fought no battles. The European diseases, which the natives inherited from the Spaniards, served, also, to thin their population. Again, the constant bloody wars in which they were engaged afterwards, among each other, still further reduced their numbers. And while the bloody Spaniards were wandering over this beautiful country, the Muscogees were living upon the Ohio.* They heard of the desolation of Alabama, and after a long time came to occupy and re-people it. The remarkable migration of this powerful tribe, and that of the Alabamas, will now, for the first time, be related, and that, too, upon the authority of a reliable person, who must here be introduced to the reader.
* Alexander McGillivray, whose blood was Scotch, French, and Indian, who was made a Colonel in the British service, afterwards a Spanish Commissary with the rank and pay of Colonel, then a Brigadier General by Washington, with full pay -- a man of towering intellect and vast information, and who ruled Creek country for a quarter of a century -- obtained the information that the Creeks were living upon the Ohio when De Soto was here in 1540. He was informed, upon the best traditional authority, that the Creek Indians then heard of De Soto, and the strange people with him; and that, like those whom they had seen in Mexico, they had "hair over their bodies, and carried thunder and lightning in their hands."
1775: Le Clerc Milfort, a young, handsome, and well educated Frenchman, left his native country, sailed across the Atlantic, made the tour of the New England States, and came, at length, to Savannah. A love of adventure led him to the Creek nation, and in May, 1776, he arrived at the great town of Coweta, situated on the Chattahooche river, two miles below the present city of Columbus. There he became acquainted with Colonel McGillivray, the great Chieftain of the nation, and accompanied him to the Hickory Ground, upon the banks of the Coosa. Fascinated with the society of this great man, the hospitality of the Indians, and the wide field afforded for exciting enterprise, Milfort resolved to become a permanent inmate of McGillivray's house, then situated at Little Tallase, four miles above Wetumpka. He married his sister, was created Tustenuggee, or Grand Chief of War, and often led Indian expeditions against the Whig population of Georgia, during the American Revolution. May 1780: A fine writer, and much of an antiquarian, he employed some of his leisure hours in preparing a history of the Creeks. Remaining in the nation twenty years, he resolved to return to France. In 1796 he sailed from Philadelphia, and it was not long before he was among the gay people from whom he had so long been absent. Bonaparte, at length, heard of this adventurous man, and honored him with an audience. He desired to engage his services in forming alliances with the Alabama and Mississippi Indians, for the purpose of strengthening his Louisiana possessions. But, finally giving up these possessions, and turning his whole attention to the wars in which he was deeply engaged with the allied powers, he still retained Milfort, conferring upon him the pay and rank of General of Brigade, but without active employment. In the meantime, General Milfort had published his work upon the Creek Indians.* In 1814 his home was attacked by a party of Russians, who had heard of his daring exploits in assisting to repel the allied invaders. He barricaded it, and defended himself with desperation. His French wife assisted him to load his guns. At length he was rescued by a troop of grenadiers. Shortly after this General Milfort closed, by death, a career which had been full of event in the savage as well as the civilized world. His wife, at an advanced age, was recently burned to death in her own house at Rheims.**
* Memoire ou coup d'ceil rapide sur mes differens
voyages et mon sejour dans la nation Creck, by Le Clerc Milfort,
Tastanegry ou Grand Chef de Guerre de la nation Creck et General
de Brigade ou service de la Republique Francaise. A Paris. 1802.
** Extract from a Paris paper, published by Galignani
July 1776: When Milfort arrived among the Creeks, the old men often spoke of their ancestors, and they exhibited to him strands of pearls which contained their history and constituted their archives. Upon their arrangement depended their signification, and only principal events were thus preserved. One of their chaplets sometimes related the history of thirty years. Each year was rapidly distinguished by those who understood them. The old men, therefore, with the assistance of these singular records and strong memories, were enabled to impart to Milfort a correct tradition, the substance of which we give.*
* Milfort, p. 47.
1519: Hernando Cortez, with some Spanish troops, landed at Vera Cruz in 1519. He fought his way thence to the City of Mexico. In the meantime, Montezuma had assembled his forces from all parts of his empire to exterminate the invaders. The Muscogees then formed a separate republic on the northwest of Mexico. Hitherto invincible in war, they now rallied to his aid, engaging in the defence of that greatest of aboriginal cities. At length Cortez was successful--Montezuma was killed, his government overthrown, and thousands of his subjects put to the sword. Having lost many of their own warriors, and unwilling to live in a country conquered by foreign assassins, the Muscogees determined to seek some other land. The whole tribe took up the line of march, and continued eastward until they struck the sources of the Red river. The route lay over vast prairies, abounding with wild animals and fruits, which afforded them all the means of subsistence. In journeying down the banks of the Red river, they discovered salt lakes and ponds, which were covered with fowl of every description. Consuming months upon the journey, they finally reached a large forest, in which they encamped. The young men, sent in advance to explore the country, returned in a month, and announced the discovery of a forest on the banks of the Red river, in which were beautiful subterranean habituations. Marching thither, they found these caves had been made by buffaloes and other animals, who came there to lick the earth, which was impregnated with salt. A town was here laid out, houses constructed, an extensive field enclosed, and corn, which they had brought with them, planted. Subsisting by the chase and the products of the earth, they passed here several years in health and tranquility. But even in this remote retreat they eventually found those who would molest them. The Alabamas, who seem also to have been wandering from the west, attacked a party of Muscogees, who were hunting, and killed several of them. Probably in 1527: The Muscogees abandoned their town, which they believed did not afford them sufficient protection from the buffalo and human foes. They resumed their march in the direction of the camps of the Alabamas, upon whom they had resolved to be avenged. Traversing immense plains, they reached a grove on the Missouri river, having shaped their course in a northern direction from their last settlement. Here they came upon the footprints of the Alabamas. The most aristocratic among the Muscogees, called the Family of the Wind, passed the muddy river first. They were followed by the Family of the Bear; then by that of the Tiger; and thus, till the humblest of the tribe had crossed over. Resuming the march, young warriors and the Chiefs formed the advance guard; the old men were placed in the rear, and those of an age less advanced on the flanks, while the women and children occupied the centre. Coming within the neighborhood of the enemy, the main party halted, while the Tustenuggee, or Grand Chief of War, at the head of the young warriors, advanced to the attack. The Alabamas, temporarily dwelling in subterranean habituations, were taken by surprise, and many of them slain. Forced to abandon this place, and retreat from the victors, they did not rally again until they had fled a great distance down on the eastern side of the Missouri. After a time they were overtaken, when several bloody engagements ensued. The Muscogees were triumphant, and the vanquished retreated in terror and dismay to the banks of the Mississippi. The enemy again coming upon them with invincible charges, precipitated many of them into the river. Thus, alternately fighting, constructed new towns, and again breaking up their last establishments, these two war;like tribes gradually reached the Ohio river, and proceeded along its banks almost to the Wabash.* Here, for along time, the Muscogees resided, and lost sight of the Alabamas, who had established themselves upon the Yazoo, and were there living when De Soto attacked their fortress.** 1520 to 1535: The Muscogees abandoned their home in the northwestern province of Mexico about the period of 1520, had consumed fifteen years in reaching the to Ohio, and were there residing when the Spanish invasion occurred. How long they occupied that country Milfort does not inform us; but he states that they finally crossed the Ohio and Tennessee, and settled upon the Yazoo -- thus continuing to pursue the unfortunate Alabamas. Delighted with the genial climate, the abundance of fruit and game with which it abounded, they established towns upon the Yazoo, constructed subterranean habituations, and for some years passed their time most agreeably. It is probable the Alabamas had fled before their arrival, for the Spaniards had so thinned the number of the latter that it was folly to resist the Muscogees, who had conquered them when they were much stronger. Milfort states that the Alabamas finally advanced to the river which now bears their name. Here, finding a region charming in climate, rich in soil, convenient in navigation, and remote from the country of their enemies, they made permanent establishments, from the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa some distance down the Alabama.
* Milfort, pp. 234-259.
** Other Indian traditions in my possession.
Remembering how often they had been surprised by the Muscogees, and how insecure from the attacks was even a distant retreat, the Alabamas sent forth young warriors westward, to see if their foes were still wandering upon their heels. It happened that a party of the latter were reconnoitering eastward. They met, fought, and some of the Muscogees were killed. In the meantime, the latter tribe had learned what a delightful country was occupied by the Alabamas, and this new outrage, coupled with a possession of the lands upon the Alabama, and also those upon the Coosa and Tallapoosa. Supposed to be in 1620: The Alabamas fled in all directions, seeking asylum among the Choctaws and other tribes.
Gaining a firm footing in the new region, enjoying good health, and increasing in population, the Muscogees advanced to the Ocmulgee, Oconee, and Ofeehee, and even established a town where now reposes the beautiful city of Augusta. With the Indians of the present State of Georgia, they had combats, but overcame them. Pushing on their conquests, they reduced a warlike tribe called the Uchees, lower down upon the Savannah, and brought the prisoners in slavery to the Chattahoochie. * In 1822, Big Warrior, who then ruled the Creek confederacy, confirmed this tradition, even going further back than Milfort, taking the Muscogees from Asia, bringing them over the Pacific, landing them near the Isthmus of Darien, and conducting them from thence to this country. "My ancestors were a mighty people. After they reached the waters of the Alabama and took possession of all this country, they went further -- conquered the tribes along the Chattahoochie, and upon all the rivers from thence to the Savannah -- yes, and even whipped the Indians then living in the territory of South Carolina, and wrestled much of their country from them." The Big Warrior concluded this sentence with great exultation, when Mr. Compere, to whom he was speaking, interposed an unfortunate question: -- "If this is the way your ancestors acquired all the territory now lying in Georgia, how can you blame the American population in that State for endeavoring to take it from you?" Never after that could the worthy missionary extract a solitary item from the Chieftain, in relation to the history of his people. **
* Milfort, pp. 269-263. Bartram's
Travels in Florida, pp. 53, 54, 464. Also traditional MSS. notes
in my possession.
** Rev. Lee Compere's MS. notes in my possession. This gentleman was born in England on Nov. 3, 1790. He came to South Carolina in 1817. The Baptist Missionary Board and that of the General Convention, sent him as a missionary to the Creek nation in 1822. He and his wife who was an English lady, resided at Tookabatcha (the capital) six years. Mr. Campere made but little progress towards the conversion of the Creeks, owing to the opposition of the Chiefs to the abolition of the primitive customs. He was a much learned man and a respectable writer. He furnished the Indian Bureau, at Washington, with a complete vocabulary of the Muscogee language and also the Lord's Prayer, all of which is published in the 11th vol. of "Translations of the American Antiquarian Society", Cambridge, 1836, pp. 381-422. In 1821, I often heard Mr. Campere and his wife sing beautiful hymns in the Creek tongue. He lives in the State of Mississippi.
1701: Sometimes after these conquests, the French established themselves at Mobile. The Alabamas, scattered as we have seen, and made to flee before superior numbers, became desirous to place themselves under their protection. Anxious to cultivate a good understanding with all the Indian tribes, and to heal old animosities existing among them, the French caused an interview between the Chiefs of the Alabamas and those of the Muscogees, at Mobile. 1702: In the presence of M. Bienville, the Commandant of that place, a peace was made, which has not since been violated. The Alabamas returned to their towns, upon the river of that name, which were called Cossawda, Econchate, Pauwocte, Towassau and Autauga, situated on both sides of the river, and embracing a country from the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa, for forty miles down. They consented to become members of the Muscogee confederacy, and to observe their national laws, but stipulated to retain their ancient manners and customs.
Not long afterwards, the Tookabatchas, who had nearly been destroyed by the Iroquois and Hurons, wandered from the Ohio country, and obtained permission from the Muscogees to form a part of their nation. They were willingly received by the cunning Muscogees, who were anxious to gain all the strength they could, to prevent the encroachments of the English from South Carolina. Upon the ruins of the western Tallase, where De Soto encamped twenty days, the Tookabatchas built a town and gave it their name. *
* Milfort, pp. 263-266.
1759: The Tookabatchas brought with them to the Tallapoosa some curious brass plates, the origin and objects of which have much puzzled the Americans of our day, who have seen them. 1759 Such information respecting them as has fallen into our possession, will be given. On the 27th July, 1759, at the Tookabatcha Square, William Balsolver, a British trader, made inquiries concerning their ancient relics, of an old Indian Chief, named Bracket, near a hundred years of age. There were two plates of brass and five of copper. The Indians esteemed them so much they were preserved in a private place, known only to a few Chiefs, to whom they were annually entrusted. They were never brought to light but once in a year, and that was upon the occasion of the Green Corn Celebration, when on the fourth day, they were introduced in, what was termed the "brass plate dance". Then one of the high Prophets carried one before him, under his arm, ahead of the dancers -- next to him the head warrior carried another, and then others followed with the remainder, bearing aloft, at the same time white canes, with the feathers of a swan at the tops.
Shape of the five copper plates: One a foot and a half long, and seven inches wide; the other four a little shorter and narrower.
Shape of the two brass plates: Eighteen inches in diameter, about the thickness of a dollar, and stamped as exhibited upon the face.
Formerly, the Tookabatcha tribe had many more of these relics, of different sizes and shapes, with letters and inscriptions upon them, which were given to their ancestors by the Great Spirit, who instructed them that they were only to be handled by particular men, who must at the moment be engaged in fasting, and that no unclean woman must be suffered to come near them or the place where they were deposited. July 27, 1759: Bracket further related, that several of these plates were then buried under the Micco's cabin in Tookabatcha, and had lain there ever since the first settlement of the town; that formerly it was the custom to place one or more of them in the grave by the side of a deceased Chief of pure Tookabatcha blood, and that no other Indians in the whole Creek nation had much sacred relics. * Similar accounts of these plates were obtained from four other British traders, "at the most eminent trading house of all English America." ** The town of Tookabatcha became, in later times, the capital of the Creek nation; and many reliable citizens of Alabama have seen these mysterious pieces at the Green Corn Dances, upon which occasions they were used precisely as in the more ancient days.*** When the inhabitants of this town, in the autumn of 1836, took up the line of march for their present home in the Arkansas Territory, these plates were transported thence by six Indians, remarkable for their sobriety and moral character, at the head of whom was the Chief, Spoke-Oak, Micco. Medicine, made expressly for their safe transportation, was carried along by these warriors. Each one had a plate strapped behind his back, enveloped nicely in buckskin. They carried nothing else, but marched on, marched on, one before the other, the whole distance to Arkansas, neither communicating nor conversing with a soul but themselves, although several thousands were emigrating in company; and walking, with a solemn religious air, one mile in advance of the others. **** How much their march resembled that of the ancient Trojans, bearing off their household gods! Another tradition is, that the Shawnees gave these plates to the Tuckabatchas, as tokens of their friendship, with an injunction that they would annually introduce them in their religious observances of the new corn season. But the opinion of Opothleoholo, one of the most gifted Chiefs of the modern Creeks, went to corroborate the general tradition that they were gifts from the Great Spirit. ***** It will be recollected that our aborigines, in the time of De Soto, undertook the use of copper, and that hatchets and ornaments were made of that metal. The ancient Indians may have made them, and engraved upon their faces hieroglyphics, which were supposed to be Roman characters. An intelligent New Englander, names Barent Dubois, who had long lived among the Tookabatchas, believed that these plates originally formed some portion of the armor or musical instruments of De Soto, and that the Indians stole them, as they did the shields, in the Talladega country, and hence he accounts for the Roman letters on them. We give an opinion, but leave the reader to determine for himself -- having discharged our duty by placing all the available evidence before him.
* Adair's "American Indians,"
** Adair's "American Indians" p. 179.
*** Conversations with Barent Dubois, Abraham Mordecai, James Moore, Capt. William Walker, Lacklan Durant, Mrs. Sophia McComb, and other persons who stated that these plates had Roman characters upon them, as well as they could determine from the rapid glances which they could occasionally bestow upon them, while they were being used in the "brass plate dance."
**** Conversations with Barent Dubois.
***** Conversations with Opothleoholo in 1833.
1700: The reputation which the Muscogees had acquired for strength and a warlike spirit, induced other tribes who had become weak to seek an asylum among them. The Tuskegees wandered down into East Alabama, were received with open arms, and permitted to occupy the territory immediately in the fork of the Coosa and Tallapoosa. Upon the east bank of the former a town was erected and called after the name of the tribe. Some time after this the French fort, Toulouse, was built here; and, one hundred years afterwards, Fort Jackson was placed upon the same foundation by the Americans.
A tribe of the Ozeailles came at the same time, and were located eighteen miles above, on a beautiful plain, through which meandered a fine creek.* 1700: A large tribe of Uchees, made prisoners and brought to Cusseta, upon the Chattahoochie, not long afterwards, were liberated and assigned residences upon the Creeks, which bear their name, flowing through the eastern portion of the county of Russell. Or, upon the authority of Col. Hawkins, the Uchees, formerly living upon the Savannah in small villages at Ponpon, Saltketcher and Silver Bluff, and also upon the Ogeechee, were continually at war with the Creeks, Cherokees and Cataubas; but in 1729 an old Chief of Cusseta, called Captain Ellick, married three Uchee women and brought them to Cusseta, which greatly displeased his friends. Their opposition determined him to move from Cusseta. With three of his brothers, two of whom also had Uchee wives, he settled upon the Uchee creek. Afterwards he collected all that tribe, and with them formed there a discreet community, which, however, became amenable, nationally, to the government of the Muscogees.**
* Milfort, p 267
** Sketch of the Creek Country in 1798-99," by Benjamin Hawkins, pp. 61, 62, 63. Also, manuscript traditional notes in my possession, taken from the lips of aged Indian countrymen.
In 1729, the Natchez massacred the French at Fort Rosalie, now the site of the city of Natchez, and were in turn overpowered, and many of them made slaves, while others escaped to the Coosa. In the Talladega country they built two towns, one called Natche and the other Abecouche. Thus a branch of the Natchez also became members of the Muscogee confederacy. 1783: At the close of the Revolutionary War, a party of Savannahs came from that river in company with some Shawnees, from Florida, and formed a town on the east side of the Tallapoosa, called Souvanogee; upon the ruins of which the Americans, in 1819, established the village of Augusta--no remains of which now exist. Souvanogee was laid out in conformity with their usages and habits, which they retained; but they willingly came under the national government of the confederacy.*
* Milfort, pp. 282-283. "Sketch of the Creek Country," by Hawkins, p. 34. Also Conversations with Indian countrymen.
Thus did the Muscogee confederacy gain strength, from time to time, by the migration of broken tribes. When the English began to explore their country, and to transport goods into all parts of it, they gave all the inhabitants, collectively, the name of the "Creeks," on account of the many beautiful rivers and streams which flowed through their extensive domain.* By that name they will, in the future pages of this history, be called.
* Hawkins, p 19.
1777: The Creek woman was short in stature, but well formed. Her cheeks were rather high, but her features were generally regular and pretty. Her brow was high and arched, her eyes large, black and languishing, expressive of modesty and diffidence. Her feet and hands were small, and the latter exquisitely shaped. 1780: The warrior was larger than the ordinary race of Europeans, often above six feet in height, but was invariably well formed, erect in his carriage, and graceful in every movement. They were proud, haughty and arrogant; brave and valiant in war; ambitious of conquest; restless, and perpetually exercising their arms, yet magnanimous and merciful to a vanquished Indian enemy who afterwards sought their friendship and protection.* Encountering fatigue with ease, they were great travellers, and sometimes went three or four hundred leagues on a hunting expedition." Formerly they were cruel, but at the present day they are brave, yet peaceable, when not forced to abandon their character." **
* Bartram's Travels,
pp 482, 500, 506.
** Milfort, pp 216-217.
Like all other Indians, they were fond of ornaments, which consisted of stones, beads, wampum, porcupine quills, eagles' feathers, beautiful plumes, and ear-rings of various descriptions. The higher classes were often fantastic in their wearing apparel. Sometimes a warrior put on a ruffled shirt of fine linen, and went out with no other garment except a flap of blue broadcloth, with buskins made of the same. The stillapica or moccasin, embroidered with beads, adorned the feet of the better classes. Mantles of good broadcloth, of a blue or scarlet color, decorated with fringe and lace, and hung with round silver or brass buttons, were worn by those who could afford them. When they desired to be particularly gay, vermillion was freely applied to the face, neck and arms. Again, the skin was often inscribed with hieroglyphics and representations of the sun, moon, stars and various animals.* This was performed by puncturing the parts with gar's tooth, and rubbing in a dye made of the drippings of rich pine roots. These characters were inscribed during youth, and frequently in manhood, every time that a warrior distinguished himself in slaying the enemy. Hence when he was unfortunately taken prisoner, he was severely punished in proportion to the marks upon his skin, by which he was known to have shed the blood of many of the kindred of those into whose hands he had fallen.** The Creeks wore many ornaments of silver. Crescents or gorgets, very massive, suspended around the neck by ribbons, reposed upon the breast, while the arms, fingers, hats, and even sometimes the necks, had silver bands around them.
* Bartram's Travels,
** Adair's American Indians, p. 389.
The females wore a petticoat which reached to the middle of the leg. The waistcoat, or wrapper, made of calico, printed linen, or fine cloth, ornamented with lace and beads, enveloped the upper part of the body. They never wore boots or stockings, but their buskins reached to the middle of the leg. Their hair, black, long and rather coarse, was plaited in wreaths, and ordinarily turned up and fastened in a crown with a silver band. This description of dress and ornaments were worn only by the better classes. The others were more upon the primitive Indian order. They were fond of music, both vocal and instrumental; but the instruments they used were of an inferior kind, such as the tambour, rattle-gourd, and a kind of flute, made of the joint of a cane or the tibia of the deer's leg. Dancing was practiced to a great extent, and they employed an endless variety of steps.*
* Bartram's Travels, pp. 482-506.
Their most manly and important game was the "ball play." It was the most exciting and interesting game imaginable, and was the admiration of all the curious and learned travellers who witnessed it. The warriors of one town challenged those of another, and they agreed to meet at one town, or the other, as may have been decided. For several days previous to the time, those who intended to engage in the amusement took medicine, as though they were going to war. The night immediately preceeding was spent in dancing and other ceremonious preparations. On the morning of the play, they painted and decorated themselves. In the meantime, the news had spread abroad in the neighboring towns, which had collected, at the place designated, an immense concourse of men, women, and children -- the young and the gay -- the old and the grave -- together with hundreds of ponies, Indian merchandise, extra wearing apparel, and various articles brought there to stake upon the result.
The players were all nearly naked, wearing only a piece of cloth called "flap." They advanced towards the immense plain upon which they were presently to exhibit astonishing feats of strength and agility. From eighty to a hundred men were usually on a side. They now approached each other, and were first seen at the distance of a quarter of a mile apart, but their war songs and yells had previously been heard. Intense excitement and anxiety were depicted upon the countenance of the immense throng of spectators. Presently the parties appeared in full trot, as if about to encounter fiercely in fight. They met and soon became intermingled together, dancing and stamping, while a dreadful artillery of noise and shouts went up and rent the air. An awful silence then succeeded. The players retired from each other, and fell back one hundred and fifty yards from the centre. Thus they were three hundred yards apart. In the centre were erected two poles, between which the ball must pass to count one. Every warrior was provided with two rackets or hurls, of singular construction, resembling a ladle or hoop-net with handles nearly three feet long. The handle was of wood, and the netting of the thongs of raw hide or the tendons of an animal. The play was commenced by a ball, covered with buckskin, being thrown in the air. The players rushed together with a mighty shock, and he who caught the ball between his two rackets, ran off with it and hurled it again in the air, endeavoring to throw it between the poles in the direction of the town to which he belonged. They seized hold of each other's limbs and hair, tumbled each other over, first trampled upon those that were down, and did everything to obtain the ball, and afterwards to make him who had it, drop it before he could make a successful throw. The game was usually from twelve to twenty. It was kept up for hours, and during the time the players used the greatest exertions, exhibited the most infatuated devotion to their side, were often severely hurt, and sometimes killed, in the rough and unfeeling scramble which prevailed. It sometimes happened that the inhabitants of a town gamed away all their ponies, jewelry and wearing apparel, even stripping themselves upon the issue of the ball play. In the meantime, the women were constantly on the alert with vessels and gourds filled with water, watching every opportunity to supply the players.*
* The "Narrative of a Mission to the Creek Nation," by Col. Marinus Willett, pp. 108-110. Bartram's Travels, pp. 482-506.
1798: If a Creek warrior wished to marry, he sent his sister, mother, or some female relation, to the female relations of the girl whom he loved. Her female relations then consulted the uncles, and if none the brothers, on the maternal side, who decided upon the case. If it was an agreeable alliance, the bridegroom was informed of it, and he sent, soon after, a blanket and articles of clothing to the female part of the family of the bride. If they received these presents, the match was made, and the man was at liberty to go to the house of his wife as soon as he deemed it proper. When he had built a residence, produced a crop, gathered it in, made a hunt and brought home the game, and tendered a general delivery of all to the girl, then they were considered man and wife.
Divorce was at the choice of either party. The man, however, had the advantage, for he could again marry another woman if he wished; but the woman was obliged to lead a life of celibacy until the Boosketuh, or Green Corn Dance, was over. Marriage gave no right to the husband over the property of the wife, or the control or management of the children which he might have by her.
1798: Adultery was punished by the family of the husband, who collected together, consulted and agreed on the course to pursue. One-half of them then went to the house of the woman, and the other half to the residence of the guilty warrior. They apprehended, stripped, and beat them with long poles, until they were insensible. Then they cropped off their ears, and sometimes their noses, with knives, the edges of which they made rough and saw-like. The hair of the woman was carried in triumph to the square. Strange to say, they generally recovered from this inhuman treatment. If one of the offenders escaped, satisfaction was taken by similar punishment inflicted upon the nearest relative. If both of the parties fled unpunished, and the party aggrieved returned home and laid down the poles, the offense was considered satisfied. But one family in the Creek nation had authority to take up the poles the second time, and that was the Ho-tul-gee, or family of the Wind. The parties might absent themselves until the Boosketuh was over, and then they were free from punishment for this and all other offenses, except murder, which had to be atoned for by death upon the guilty one or his nearest relative.*
* Hawkins' "Sketch of the Creek Country," pp. 73-74.
The Creeks buried their dead in the earth, in a square pit, under the bed where the deceased lay in his house. The grave was lined on the sides with cypress bark, like the curbing of a well. The corpse, before it became cold, was drawn up with cords, and made to assume a squatting position; and in this manner it was placed in the grave and covered with earth. The gun, tomahawk, pipe, and other articles of the deceased, were buried with him.*
* Bartram, pp. 513-514.
In 1777, Bartram found, in the Creek nation, fifty towns, with a population of eleven thousand, which lay upon the rivers Coosa, Tallapoosa, Alabama, Chattahoochie and Flint, and the prominent Creeks which flowed into them. The Muscogee was the national language, although in some of these towns, the Uchee or Savannah, Alabama, Natchez and Shawnee tongues prevailed. But the Muscogee was called, by the traders, the "mother tongue," while the others mentioned were termed the "stinkard lingo." *
* Bartram's Travels, pp. 461-462.
1776: The general council of the nation was always held in the principal town, in the centre of which was a large public square, with three cabins of different sizes in each angle, making twelve in all. Four avenues led into the square. The cabins, capable of containing sixty persons each, were so situated that from one of them a person might see into the others. One belonging to the Grand Chief fronted the rising sun, to remind him that he should watch the interests of his people. Near it was the grand cabin, where the councils were held. In the opposite angle, three others belonged to the old men, and faced the setting sun, to remind them that they were growing feeble, and should not go to war. In the two remaining corners were the cabins of the different Chiefs of the nation, the dimensions of which were in proportion to the rank and services of those Chiefs. The whole number in the square was painted red, except those facing the west, which were white, symbolical of virtue and old age. The former, during war, were decorated with wooden pieces sustaining a chain of rings of wood. This was a sign of grief, and told the warriors they should hold themselves in readiness, for their country needed their services. These chains were replaced by garlands of ivy leaves during peace.
1776: In the month of May, annually, the Chiefs and principal Indians assembled in the large square formed by these houses, to deliberate upon all subjects of general interest. When they were organized they remained in the square until the council broke up. Here they legislated, eat and slept. During the session, no person, except the principal Chiefs, could approach within less than twenty feet of the grand cabin. The women prepared the food, and deposited it at a prescribed distance, when it was borne to the grand cabin by the subordinate Chiefs. In the center of the square was a fire constantly burning. At sunset the council adjourned for the day, and then the young people of both sexes danced around this fire until a certain hour. As soon as the sun appeared above the horizon, a drum-beat called the Chiefs to the duties of the day.*
* Milfort, pp. 206-208.
1777: Besides this National Legislature, each principal town in the nation had its separate public buildings, as do the States of this American Union; and like them, regulated their own local affairs. The public square at Auttose, upon the Tallapoosa, in 1777, consisted of four square buildings, of the same dimensions and uniform in shape, so situated as to form a tetragon, enclosing an area of an half acre. Four passages, of equal width at the corners, admitted persons into it. The frames of these buildings were of wood, but a mud plaster, inside and out, was employed to form neat walls; except two feet all around under the eaves, left open to admit light and air. One of them was the council house, where the Micco (King), Chiefs and warriors, with the white citizens, who had business, daily assembled to hear and decide upon all grievances, adopt measures for the better government of the people, and the improvement of the town, and to receive ambassadors from other towns. This building was enclosed on three sides, while a partition, from end to end, divided it into two apartments, the back one of which was were deposited physic-pots, rattles, chaplets of deer's hoofs, the great pipe of peace, the imperial eagle-tail standard, displayed like an open fan, attached to which a staff as white and clean as it could be scoured. The front part of the building was open like a piazza, divided into three apartments -- breast high -- each containing three rows of seats, rising one above the other, for the legislators. The other three buildings fronting the square were similar to the one just described, except that they had no sanctuary, and served to accommodate the spectators; they were also used for banqueting houses.
The pillars and walls of the houses of the square abounded with sculptures and caricature paintings, representing men in different ludicrous attitudes; some with the human shape, having the heads of the duck, turkey, bear, fox, wolf and deer. Again, these animals were represented with the human head. These designs were not ill-executed, and the outlines were bold and well proportioned. The pillars of the council house were ingeniously formed in the likeness of vast speckled snakes ascending--the Auttoses being of the Snake family. *
* Bartram's Travels, pp. 448-454
1776 Sept. 30: Rude paintings were quite common among the Creeks, and they often conveyed ideas by drawings. No people could present a more comprehensive view of the topography of a country with which they were acquainted, than the Creeks could, in a few moments, by drawing upon the ground. Barnard Roman, a Captain in the British Army, saw at Hoopa Ulla, a Choctaw town, not far from Mobile, the following drawing, executed by the Creeks, which had fallen into the possession of the Choctaws.
This represents that ten Creek warriors, of the family of the Deer, went into the Choctaw country in three canoes; that six of them landed, and in marching along a path, met two Choctaw men, two women and a dog; that the Creeks killed and scalped them. The scalp, in the deer's foot, implies the horror of the action to the whole Deer family.*
* Barnard Roman's Florida, p. 102.
1777: The great council house at Auttose, was appropriated to much the same purpose as the square, but was more private. It was a vast conical building, capable of accomodating many hundred people. Those appointed to take care of it, daily swept clean, and provided canes for fuel and to give lights. Besides using this rotunda for political purposes, of a private nature, the inhabitants of Auttose were accustomed to take their "black drink" in it. The officer who had charge of this ceremony orderd the casina tea to be prepared under an open shed opposite the door of the council house; he directed bundles of dry cane to be brought in, which were previously split in pieces of two feet long. "They were now placed obliquely across upon one another on the floor, forming a spiral line round about the great centre pillar, eighteen inches in thickness. This spiral line, spreading as it proceeded round and round, often repeated from right to left, every revolution increased its diameter, and at length extended to the distance of ten or twelve feet from the centre, according to the time the assembly was to continue." By the time these prepartions were completed, it was night, and the assembly had taken their seats. The outer end of the spiral line was fired. It gradually crept round the entire pillar, with the course of the sun, feeding on the cane, and affording a bright and cheerful light. The aged Chiefs above the other, sat upon their cane sofas, which were elevated one above the other, and fixed against the back side of the house, opposite the door. The white people and Indians of confederate towns sat, in like order, on the left -- a transverse range of pillars, supporting a thin clay wall, breast high, separating them. The King's seat was in front; back of it were the seats of the head warriors, and those of a subordinate condition. Two middle-aged men now entered at the door, bearing large conch shells full of black drink. They advanced with slow, uniform and steady steps, with eyes elevated, and singing in a low tone. Coming within a few feet of the King, they stopped, and rested their shells on little tables. Presently they took them up again, crossed each other, and advanced obsequiously. One presented his shell to the King, and the other to the principal man among the white audience. As soon as they raised them to their mouths rthe attendants uttered two notes -- hoo-ojah! and a-lu-yah! -- which they spun out as long as they could hold their breath. As long as the notes continued, so long did the person drink or hold the shell to his mouth. In this manner all the assembly were served with the "black drink." But when the drinking begun, tobacco, contained in pouches made of the skins of the wild cat, otter, bear and rattlesnake, was distributed among the assembly, together with pipes, and a general smoking commenced. The King began first, with a few whiffs from the great pipe, blowing it ceremoniously, first toward the sun, next toward the four cardinal points, and then toward the white audience. Then the attendants passed this pipe to others of distinction. In this manner, these dignified and singular people occupied some hours in the night, until the spiral line of canes was consumed, which was a signal for retiring *
* Bartram's Travels, pp. 448-454. The site of Auttose is now embraced in Macon county, and is a cotton plantation, the property of the Hon. George Goldthwaite, Judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit. On the morning of the 29th of November, 1813, a battle was fought here between the Creeks and the Georgians--the latter commanded by Gen. John Floyd.
Twenty-one years after the visit of Bartram to the Creek nation, Col. Benjamin Hawkins, to whom Washington had confided important trusts in relation to the tribes south of the Ohio, penetrated these wilds. He found the public buildings, at that period similar to those already described, with, however, some exceptions, which may have been the result of a slight change of ancient customs.
1798: Every town had a separate government, and public buildings for business and pleasure, with a presiding officer, who was called a King, by the traders, and a Micco, by the Indians. This functionary received all public characters, heard their talks, laid them before his people, and, in return, delivered the talk of his own town. He was always chosen from some noted family. The Micco of Tookabatcha was of the Eagle tribe (Lum-ul-gee.) When they were put into office, they held their stations for life, and when dead, were succeeded by their nephews. The Micco could select an assistant when he became infirm, or for other causes, subject to the approval of the principal men of the town. They generally bore the name of the town which they governed, as Cusseta Micco, Tookabatcha Micco, etc.
"Choo-co-thiuc-co, (big house) the town house or public square, consists of four buildings of one story, facing each other, forty by sixteen feet, eight feet pitch; the entrance at each corner. Each building is a wooden frame supported on posts set in the ground, covered with slabs, open in front like a piazza, divided into three rooms, the back and ends clayed up to the plates. Each division is divided lengthwise into two seats. The front, two feet high, extending back half way, covered with reed mats or slabs; then a rise of one foot and it extends back, covered in like manner, to the side of the building. On these seats they lie or sit at pleasure.
"THE RANK OF THE BUILDINGS WHICH FORM THE SQUARE.
"1st. Mic-ul-gee in-too-pau, the Micco's cabin. This fronts the east, and is occupied by those of the highest rank. The center of the building is always occupied by the Micco of the town, by the Agent for Indian affairs, when he pays a visit to a town, by the Miccos of other towns, and by respectable white people.
1798: "The division to the right is occupied by the Mic-ug-gee (Miccos, there being several so called in every town, from custom, the origin of which is unknown), and the councillors. These two classes give their advice in relation to war, and are, in fact, the principal councillors.
"The division to the left is occupied by the E-ne-hau-ulgee (people second in command, the head of whom is called by the traders second man.) These have the direction of the public works appertaining to the town, such as the public buildings, building houses in town for new settlers, or working in the fields. They are particularly charged with the ceremony of the a-ce, (a decoction of the cassine yupon, called by the traders black drink), under the direction of the Micco.
"2d. Tus-tun-nug-ul-gee in-too-pau, the warriors' cabin. This fronts the south. The head warrior sits at the end of the cabin, and in his division the great warriors sit beside each other. The next in rank sit in the center division, and the young warriors in the third. The rise is regular by merit from the third to the first division. The Great Warrior, for this is the title of the head warrior, is appointed by the Micco and councillors from among the greatest war characters.
"When a young man is trained up and appears well qualified for the fatigues and hardships of war, and is promising, the Micco appoints him a governor, or, as the name imports, a leader (Is-te-puc-cau-chau), and if he distinguishes himself they elevate him to the center cabin. A man who distinguishes himself repeatedly in warlike enterprises, arrives to the rank of the Great Leader (Is-te-puc-cau-chau-thlucco) This title, though greatly coveted, is seldom attained, as it requires a long course of years, and great and numerous sucesses in war.
"The second class of warriors is the Tusse-ki-ul-gee. All who go to war, and are in company when a scalp is taken, get a war-name. The leader reports their conduct and they receive a name accordingly. This is the Tus-se-o-chif-co or war-name. The term leader, as used by the Indians, is a proper one. The war parties all march in Indian file, with the leader in front, until coming on hostile ground. He is then in the rear.
"3d. Is-te-chaguc-ul-gee in-too-pau, the cabin of the beloved men. This fronts the north. There are a great many men who ave been war leaders and who, although of various ranks, have become estimable in long course of public service. They sit themselves on the right division of the cabin of the Micco, and are his councillors. The family of the Micco, and great men who have distinguished themselves occupy this cabin of the Beloved Men.
"4th. Hut-te-mau-hug-gee, the cabin of the young people and their associates. This fronts the west.
"THE CONVENTION OF THE TOWN.
"The Micco, councillors and warriors meet every day in the public square, sit and drink of the black tea, talk of the news, the public and domestic concerns, smoke their pipes, and play Thlachal-litch-cau (roll the bullet). Here all complaints are introduced, attended to and redressed.
" 5th. Chooc-ofau-thluc-co, the rotundo or assembly room, called by the traders "hot house." This is near the square, and is constructed after the following manner: Eight posts are driven into the ground, forming an octagon of thirty feet in diameter. They are twelve feet high, and large enough to support the roof. On these, five or six logs are placed, of a side, drawn in as they rise. On these, long poles or rafters, to suit the height of the building, are laid, the upper ends forming a point, and the lower-ends, projecting out siz feet from the octagon, and resting on the posts, five feet high, placed in a circle round the octagon, with plates on them, to which the rafters are tied with splits. The rafters are near together and fastened with splits. These are covered with clay, and that of pine bark. The wall, six feet from the octagon, is clayed up. They have a small door, with a small portico curved round for five or six feet, then into the house.
"The space between the octagon and wall is one entire sofa, where the visitors lie or sit at pleasure. It is covered with reed, mat or splits.
"In the centre of the room, on a small rise, the fire is made of dry cane, or dry old pine slabs, split fine, and laid in a spiral line. This is the assembly room for all people, old and young. They assemble every night and amuse themselves with dancing, singing or conversation. And here, sometimes, in very cold weather, the old and naked sleep.
1798: "In all transactions which require secrecy, the rulers meet here, make their fire, deliberate and decide." * A very interesting festival, common not only to the Creeks, but to many other tribes, will now be described. As Col. Hawkins was, in all respects, one of the most conscientious and reliable men that ever lived, his account, like the preceding, will be copied in his own style. Of the many descriptions of the Green Corn Dance, in our possession, that by the honest and indefatigable Creek Agent is the most minute and most readily understood.
* Sketch of the Creek Country in 1798-1799, by Benjamin Hawkins, pp. 68-72.
1798: "The Creeks celebrate this festival in the months of July and August. The precise time is fixed by the Micco and councillors, and is sooner or later, as the state of affairs of the town or the early or lateness of their corn will suit. In Cussetuh this ceremony lasts for eight days. In some towns of less note it is but four days.
"In the morning the warriors clear the yard of the square, and sprinkle white sand, when the black drink is made. The fire-maker makes the fire as early in the morning as he can, by friction. The warriors cut and bring into the square four logs, each as long as a man can cover by extending his two arms. These are placed in the center of the square, end to end, forming a cross, the outer ends pointed to the cardinal points; in the center of the cross the new fire is made. During the first four days they burn out these first four logs.
1798: "The Pin-e-bun-gau (turkey dance) is danced by the women of the Turkey tribe, and while they are dancing the possau is brewed. This is a powerful emetic. It is drank from twelve o'clock to the middle of the afternoon. After this, Toc-co-yula-gau (tad-pole) is danced by four women and four men. In the evening the men dance E-ne-houbun-gau (the dance of the people second in command). This they dance till daylight.
"About ten o'clock the women dance Its-ho-bun-gau (gun dance). After twelve o'clock the men go to the new fire, take some of the ashes, rub them on the chin, neck and abdomen, and jump head foremost into the river, and then return into the square. The women having prepared the new corn for the feast, the men take some of it and rub it between their hands, then on their faces and breasts, and then they feast.
"The men sit in the square.
1798: "The women go early in the morning and get the new fire, clean out their hearths, sprinkle them with sand, and make their fires. The men finish burning out the first four logs, and they take ashes, rub them on their chin, neck and abdomen, and they go into the water. This day they eat salt, and they dance Obungauchapco (the long dance).
" They get four new logs, and place them as on the first day, and they drink the black drink.
"SIXTH AND SEVENTH DAYS,
"They remain in the square.
"They get two large pots, and their physic plants,
the names of which are:
Chu-lis-sau (the roots),
These plants are put in pots and beat up with water. The chemists, E-lic-chul-gee, called by the traders physic-makers, blow into it through a small reed, and then it is drank by the men and rubbed over their joints till the afternoon. every one present.
"They collect old corn cobs and pine burs, put them into a pot and burn them to ashes. Four very young virgins bring ashes from their houses and stir them up. The men take white clay and mix it with water in two pans. One pan of clay and one of the ashes are carried to the cabin of the Micco, and the other two to that of the warriors. They then rub themselves with the clay and ashes. Two men, appointed to that office, bring some flowers of tobacco of a small kind, Itch-au-chee-le-pue-pug-gee, or as the name imports, the old man's tobacco, which was prepared on the first day and put in a pan in the cabin of the Micco, and they gave a little of it to every one present.
"The Micco and councillors then go four times around the fire, and every time they face the east they throw some of the flowers into the fire. They then go, and stand to the west. The warriors then repeat the same ceremony.
1798: "A cane is stuck up at the cabin of the Micco, with two white feathers at the end of it. One of the fish tribe (Thlot-logulgee) takes it, just as the sun goes down, and goes off to the river, followed by all. When he gets half way down the river he gives the death whoop, which he repeats four times between the square and the water's edge. Here they all place themselves as thick as they can stand near the edge of the water. He sticks up the cane at the water's edge, and they all put a grain of the old man's tobacco on their heads and in each ear. Then, at a signal given four different times, they throw some into the river; and every man, at a signal, plunges into the river and picks up four stones from the bottom. With these they cross themselves on their breasts four times, each time throwing a stone into the river and giving the death whoop. They then wash themselves, take up the cane and feathers, return and stick it up in the square, and visit through the town. At night they dance O-bun-gau-hadjo (mad dance), and this finishes the ceremony.
" This happy institution of the Boos-ke-tau restores man to himself, to his family, and to his nation. It is a general amnesty, which not only absolves the Indians from all crimes, murder alone excepted, but seems to bring guilt itself into oblivion." *
* Hawkins' Sketch of the Creek Country, pp. 75-78.
With some slight variations, the Green Corn Dance was thus celebrated throughout the Creek confederacy. At the town of Tookabatcha, however, it will be recollected, that on the fourth day, the Indians introduced the "brass plates." At Coosawda, the principal town of the Alabamas, they celebrated a Boosketau of four days each, of mulberries and beans, when these fruits respectively ripened. *
* Adair's American Indians, p. 97.
1735: James Adair, a man of learning and enterprise, lived more than thirty years among the Chickasaws, and had frequent intercourse with the nations of the Muscogees, Cherokees and Choctaws, commencing in 1735. He was an Englishman, and was connected with the extensive commerce carried on at an early period with these tribes. While among the Chickasaws, with whom he first began to reside in 1744, he wrote a large work on aboriginal history. When he returned to his mother country, he published this work, "American Indians," a ponderous volume of near five hundred the pages, at London, in 1775. Well acquainted with the Hebrew language, and having, in his long residence with the Indians, acquired an accurate knowledge of their tongue, he devoted the larger portion of his work to prove that the latter were originally Hebrews, and were a portion of the lost tribes of Israel. He asserts, that at the Boosketaus of the Creeks and other tribes within the limits of Alabama, the warriors danced around the holy fire, during which the elder priest invoked the Great Spririt, while the others responded Halelu! Halelu! then Haleluiah! Haleluyah! He is ingenious in his argumnets, and introduces many strange things to prove, to his own satisfaction, that the Indians were descendants of the Jews -- seeking, throughout two hundred pages, to assimilate their language, manners and customs. He formed his beliefs that they were originally the same people, upon their division into tribes, worship of Jehovah, notions of theocracy, belief in the ministration of angels, language and dialects, manner of computing time, their Prophets and High Priests, festivals, fasts and religious rites, daily sacrifices, ablutions and anointings, laws of uncleanliness, abstinence from unclean things, marriages, divorces, and punishments for adultery, other punishments, their towns of refuge, purification and ceremony preparatory to war, their ornaments, manner of curing the sick, burial of the dead, mourning for the dead, raising seed to a deceased brother, choice of names adapted to their circumstances and times, their own traditions, and the accounts of our English writers, and the testimony which the Spanish and other authors have given concerning the primitive inhabitants of Peru and Mexico.
He insists that in nothing do they differ from the Jews except that rite of circumcision, which he contends, their ancestors dispensed with, after they became lost from the other tribes, on account of the danger and inconvenience of the execution of that rite, to those engaged in a hunting and roving lfe. That when the Israelites were forty years in the wilderness, even then they attempted to dispense with circumcision, but Joshua, by his stern authority, enforced its observance. The difference in food, mode of living and climate are relied upon by Adair, to account for the difference in the color, between the Jew and Indian, and also why the one has hair upon the body and the other has not.*
* Adair's American Indians, pp. 15-220.
Adair is by no means alone in his opinion of the descent of the American Indians. Other writers, who have lived among these people, have arrived at the same conclusion. Many of the old Indian countrymen with whom we have conversed believe in theor Jewish origin, while others are of a different opinion. Abram Mordecai, an intelligent Jew, who dwelt fifty years in the Creek nation, confidently believed that the Indians were originally of his people, and he asserted that in their Green Corn Dances he had heard them often utter in grateful tones the word yavoyaha! yavoyaha! He was always informed by the Indians that this meant Jehovah, or the Great Spirit, and that they were then returning thanks for the abundant harvest with which they were blessed. *
* Conversations with Abram Mordecai a man of ninety-two years of age, whom I found in Dudleyville, Tallapoosa county, in the fall of 1847. His mind was fresh in the recollection of early incidents. Of him I shall have occasion to speak in another portion of the work.
Colonel Hawkins concludes his account of the religious and war ceremonies of the Creek Indians as follows:
1798: "At the age of from fifteen to seventeen, the ceremony of initiating youth to manhood is performed. It is called the Boosketau, in like manner as the annual Boosketau of the nation. A youth of the proper age gathers two handfuls of the Sou-watch-cau, a very bitter root, which he eats a whole day. Then he steeps the leaves in water and drinks it. In the dusk of evening he eats two or three spoonfuls of boiled grits. This is repeated for four days, and during this time he remains in a house. The Sou-watch-caus has the effect of intoxicating and maddening. The fourth day he goes out, but must put on a pair of new moccasins (stillapicas). For twleve moons he abstains from eating bucks, except old ones, and from turkey cocks, fowls, peas and salt. During this period he must not pick his ears or scratch his head with his fingers, but use a small stick. For four moons he must have a fire to himself to cook his food, and a little girl, a virgin, may cook for him. His food is boiled grits. The fifth moon any person may cook for him, but he must serve himself first, and use one pan and spoon. Every new moon he drinks for four days the possau (button snakeroot), an emetic, and abstains for three days from all food, except in the evening a little boiled grits (humpetuh hutke). The twelfth moon he performs, for four days, what he commenced with on the first. The fifth day he comes out of his house, gathers corn cobs, burns them to ashes, and with these rubs his body all over. At the end of this moon he sweats under blankets, then goes into water, and thus ends the ceremony. This ceremony is sometimes extended to four, six or eight moons, or even to twelve days only, but the course is the same.
"During the whole of this ceremony the physic is administered by the Is-te-puc-cau-chau-thlucco (Great Leader), who, in speaking of the youth under initiation says,
'I am physicing him'--(Boo-se-ji-jite saut li-to mise-cha). Or 'I am teaching him all that it is proper for him to know'--(nauk o-mul-gau e-muc-e-thli-jite saut litomise cha).
The youth during this initiation does not touch any one except young persons, who are under a like course with himself. And if he dreams, he drinks the possau." *
* Hawkins', pp. 78-79.
1778: Whenever Creeks were forced to take up arms, the Tustenuggee caused to be displayed in the public places a club, part of which was painted red. He sent it to each subordinate Chief, accompanied with a number of pieces of wood, equal to the number of days that it would take that Chief to present himself at the rendezvous. The War Chief alone had the power of appointing that day. When this club had arrived, each Chief caused a drum to be beat before the grand cabin where he resided. All the inhabitants immediately presented themselves. He informed them of the day and place where he intended to kindle his fire. He repaired to that place before the appointed day, and rubbed two sticks together, which produced fire. He kindled it in the midst of a square, formed by posts, suffciently extended to contain the number of warriors he desired to assemble. As soon as the day dawned, the Chief placed himself between the two posts which fronted the east, and held in his hand a package of small sticks. When a warrior entered the enclosure, which was open only on one side, he threw down a stick and continued until they were all gone, the number of sticks being equal to the number of warriors he required. Those who presented themselves afterwards could not be admitted, and they returned home to hunt, indicating the place where they could be found if ther services were needed. Those who thus tardily presented themselves were badly received at home, and were reproached for the slight desire they had testified to defend their country.
The warriors who were in the inclosure remained there, and for three days took the medicine of war. Their wives brought them their arms, and all things requisite for the campaign, and deposited them three hundred yards in front of the square, together with a little bag of parched corn-meal, an ounce of which would make a pint of broth.* It was only necessary to mix itt with water, and in five minutes it became as thick as soup cooked by a fire. Two ounces would sustain a man twenty-four hours. It was indispensable, for, during a war expedition, the party could not kill game.
The three days of medicine having expired, the Chief departed with his warriors to the rendezvous appointed by the Grand Chief. Independently of this medicine, which was taken by all, each subordinate Chief had his particular talisman, which he carefully carried about his person. It consisted of a small bag, in which were a few stones and some pieces of cloth which had been taken from the garments of the Grand Chief, in the return from some former war. If the subordinate Chief forgot his bag he was deprived of his rank, and remained a common soldier during the whole expedition. 1778: The Grand Chief presented himsef at the rendezvous on the appointed day, and he was sure to find there the assembled warriors. He then placed himself at the head of the army, making all necessary arrangements, without being obliged to rendezvous on account of any one. Being certain that his discipline and orders would be punctually enforced, he marched with confidence against the enemy. When they were ready to march, each subordinate Chief was compelled to be provided with the liquor which they called the medicine of war; and the Creeks placed it in such a degree of confidence that it was difficult for a War Chief to collect his army if they were deprived of it. He would be exposed to great danger if he should be forced to do battle without having satisfied this necessity. If he should suffer defeat, which would certainly be the case, beacuse the warriors would have no confidence in themselves, but be overcome by their own superstitious fears, he would be responsible for all misfortunes.
* Called by the modern Creek traders "coal flour."
1778: There were two medicines, the great and the little, and it remained for the Chief to designate which of these should be used. The warrior, when he had partaken of the great medicine, believed himself invulnerable. The little medicine served, in his eyes, to diminish danger. Full of confidence in the statements of his Chief, the latter easily persuaded him that he gave him only the little medicine it was because the circumstances did not require the other. These medicines being purgative in their nature, the warrior found himself less endangered by the wounds which he might receive. The Creeks had still another means of diminishing the danger of their wounds, which consisted in fighting almost naked, for it is well known that the particles of cloth remaining in wounds render them more difficult to heal. 1778: They observed during war the most rigorous discipline, for they neither eat nor drink without an order from the Chief. They dispensed with drinking even while passing along the bank of a river, because circumstances had obliged their Chief to forbid it, under pain of depriving them of their medicine of war, or, rather, of the influence of their talisman. When an enemy compelled them to take up arms they never returned home without giving him battle, and at least taking a few scalps. These may be compared to the colors among civilized troops, for when a warrior had killed an enemy he took his scalp, which was an honorable trophy for him to return to his nation. They removed them from the head of an enemy with great skill and dexterity. They were not at all the same values, but were classed, and it was for the Chiefs, who were the judges of all achievements, to decide the value of each. It was in proportion to the number and value of these scalps that a Creek advanced in civil as well as militry rank. It was necessary, in order to occupy a station of any importance, to taken at least seven of them. If a young Creek, having been at war, returned without a single scalp, he contimued to bear the name of his mother and could not marry, but if he returned with a scalp, the principle men assembled at the grand cabin to give him a name, that he might abandon that of his mother. They judged of the value of the scalp by the dangers experienced in capturing it, and the greater these dangers, the more considearble were the title and advancement derived from it, by its owner.
1778: In time of battle, the Great Chief commonly placed himself in the centre of the army, and sent reinforcements wherever danger appeared most pressing. When he perceived that his forces were repulsed and feared that they would yield entirely to the efforts of the enemy, he advanced in person, and combated hand to hand. A cry, repeated on all sides, informed the warriors of the danger to which a Chief was exposed. Immediately the corps de reserve came together, and advanced to the spot where the Grand Chief was, in order to force the enemy to abandon him. Should he be dead, they would all die rather than abandon his body to the enemy, without first securing his scalp. They attached such value to this relic, and so much disgrace to the loss of it, that when the danger was very great, and they were not able to prevent his body from falling into the hands of the enemy, the warrior who was nearest to the dead Chief, took his scalp and fled, at the same time raising a cry, known only among the savages. He then went to the spot which the deceased Chief had indicated, as the place of rendezvous, should his army be beated. All the subordinate Chiefs, being made aware of his death by this cry, made dispositions to retreat; and , this being effected, they proceeded to the election of his successor, before taking any other measures. The Creeks were very warlike, and were not rebuffed by defeat. On the morrow, after an unfortunate battle, they advanced with renewed intrepidity, to encounter their enemy anew.
1778: When they advanced towards an enemy, they marched one after another, the Chief of the party being at the head. They arranged themselves in such a manner as to place the foot of every one in the track made by the first. The last one concealed even that track with grass. By this means they kept from the enemy any knowledge of their number. When they made a halt, for the purpose of encamping, they formed a circle, leaving a passage only large enough to admit a single man. They sat cross-legged, and each one had his gun by his side. The Chief faced the entrance of the circle, and no warrior could go out withut his permission. At the time of sleeping he gave a signal and after that no person could stir. Rising was performed at the same signal. It was ordinarily the Grand Chief who marked out positions, and placed sentinels to watch for the security of the army. He always had a great number of runners, both before and behind, so that an army was rarely surprised. They, on the contrary, conducted wars against the Europeans entirely by sudden attacks, and they were very dangerous to those who were not aware of them.*
* Sejour dans la nation Creck, par Le Clerc Milfort, pp. 240, 252, 21&, 219.
When the Creeks returned from war with captives, they marched into their town with shouts and the firing of guns. They stripped them naked and put on their feet bear-skins moccasins, with the hair exposed. The punishment was always left to the women, who examined their bodies for the their war-marks. Sometimes the young warriors who had none of these honorable inscriptions were released and used as slaves. But the warrior of middle age, even those of advanced years, suffered death by fire. The victim's arms were pinoned, and one end of a strong grape vine tied around his neck, while the other was fastened to the top of a war-pole, so as to allow him to track around a circle of fifteen yards. To secure his scalp against fire, tough clay was placed upon his head. The immense throng of spectators were now filled with delight, and eager to witness the inhuman spectacle. The suffering warrior was not dismayed, but, with a manly and insulting voice, sang the war-song. The women then made a furious onset with flaming torches, dripping with hot black pitch, and applied them to his back, and all parts of his body. Suffering excruciating pain, he rushed from the pole with the fury of a wild beast, kicking, biting and trampling his cruel assailants under foot. But fresh numbers came on, and after a long time, and when he was nearly burned to his vitals, they ceased and poured water upon him to relieve him -- only to prolong their sport. They renewed their tortures, when with champing teeth and sparkling eye-balls, he once more broke through the demon throng to the extent of his rope, and acted every part that the deepest desparation could prompt. Then he died. His head was scalped, his body quartered, and the limbs carried over the town in triumph.*
* Adair, pp. 390-391.
1798: An enumeration of the towns found in the Creek nation by Col. Hawkins, in 1798, will conclude the notice of the manners and customs of these remarkable people, though, hereafter, they will often be mentioned, in reference to their commerce and wars with the Americans.
TOWNS AMONG THE UPPER CREEKS.
Tal-e-se, derived from Tal-o-fau, a town, and e-se, taken-- situated in the fork of the Eufaube, upon the left bank of the Tallapooosa.
Took-a-batcha, opposite Tallese.
Auttose, on the left side of Tallapoosa, a few miles below the latter.
Ho-ith-le-waule--from h-ith-le, war, and waule, divide--right bank of the Tallapoosa, five miles below Auttose.
Foosce-hat-che-fooso-wau, a bird, and hat-che, tail two miles below the latter, on the right bank.
Coo-loo-me was below and adjoining the latter.
E-cun-hut-ke-e-cun-nau, earth, and hut-ke, white--below Coo-loo-me, on the same side of the Tallapoosa.
Sou-van-no-gee, left bank of the river.
Mook-lau-sau, a mile below the latter, same side.
Coo-sau-dee, three miles below the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa, on the west bank of the Alabama.
E-cun-chate-e-cun-na, earth, chate, red--(now a part of the city of Montgomery). (1798)
Too-was-sau, three miles below, same side of the Alabama.
Pau-woe-te, two miles below the latter, on the same side.
Au-tau-gee, right side of the Alabama, near the mouth of the creek of the same name.
Tus-ke-gee--in the fork of the Coosa and Tallapoosa, on the east bank of the former--the old site of forts Toulouse and Jackson.
Hoochoice and Hookchoie-ooche, towns just above the latter.
O-che-a-po-fau-o-che-ub, hickory tree, and po-fau, in or among--east bank of the Coosa, on the plain just below the city of Wetumpka.
We-wo-cau-we-wau, water, wo-cau, barking or roaring--on a creek of that name, fifteen miles above the latter.
Puc-cun-tal-lau-has-see-epuc-cun-nau, may-apple, tal-lauhas-see, old town--in the fork of a creek of that name.
Coo-sau, on the left bank of that river, between the mouths of Eufaule and Nauche (creeks now called Talladega and Kiamulgee).
Au-be-cho-che, on Nauche creek, five miles from the Coosa.
Nau-che, on same creek, five miles above the latter.
Eu-fau-lau-hat-che, fifteen miles still higher up on the same creek.
Woc-co-coie-woc-co, blow horn, coie, a nest--on Tote-paufcau creek.
Hill-au-bee, on col-luffa-creek, which joins Hillaubee creek on the right side, one mile below the town
Thla-noo-che-au-bau-lau-thlen-ne, mountain, ooche, little, au-bau-lau, over--on a branch of the Hillaubee.
Au-net-te-chap-co-au-net-te, swamp, chap-co, long--on a branch of the Hillaubee.
E-chuse-is-li-gau, where a young thing was found (a child was found here)--left side of Hillaubee creek.
Oak-tau-hau-zau-see-oak-tau-hau, sand, zau-see, great dea --on a creek of that name, a branch of the Hillaubee. (1778)
Oc-fus-kee-oc, in, fus-kee, a point, right bank of the Tallapoosa.
New-yau-cau, named after New York, when Gen. McGillivray returned from there in 1790, twenty miles above the latter, on the left side of the Tallapoosa.
Took-au-batche-tal-lau-has-se, four miles above the latter, right side of the river.
Im-mook-fau, a gorget made of a conch, on the creek of that name.
Too-to-cau-gee-too-to, corn-house, cau-gee, standing--twenty miles above New-yau-cau, right bank of the Tallapoosa.
Au-che-nau-ul-gau-auche-nau, cedar, ul-gau, all forty miles above New-yau-cau, on a creek. It is the farthest north of all the Creek settlements
E-pe-sau-gee, on a large creek of that name.
Sooc-he-ah-sooc-cau, hog, he-ah, her--right bank of the Tallapoosa, twelve miles above Oc-fus-kee. (1798 )
Eu-fau-lau, five miles above Oc-fus-kee, right bank of the river.
Ki-a-li-jee, on the creek of that name, which joins the Tallapoosa on the right side.
Au-che-nau-hat-che-au-che, cedar, hat-che, creek.
Hat-che-chub-bau-hat-che, creek, chub-bau, middle or half way.
Sou-go-hat-chc sou-go, cymbal (musical instrument), hatche, creek--joins the Tallapoosa on the left side.
Thlot-lo-gul-gau-thlot-lo, fish, gul-gau, all--called by traders "Fish Ponds," on a creek, a branch of the Ul-hau-hat-che.
O-pil-thluc-co-o-pil-lo-wau, swamp, thlucco, big--twenty miles from the Coosa, a creek of that name.
Pin-e-hoo-te-pin-e-wau, turkey, choo-te, house--a branch of the E-pee-sau-gee.
Po-chuse-hat-che po-chu-so-wau, hatchet, hat-che, creek-- (in Coosa county).
Oc-fus-coo-che, little ocfuskee, four miles above New-yaucaw.
TOWNS AMONG THE LOWER CREEKS.
Chat-to-ho-che-chat-to, a stone, ho-che, marked or flowered. Such rocks are found in the bed of that river above Ho-ith-le-tegau. This is the origin and meaning of the name of that beautiful river.
Cow-e-tough, on the right bank of the Chat-to-ho-che, three miles below the falls.
O-cow-ocuh-hat-che, falls creek, on the right side of the river at the termination of the falls.
Hatche-canane, crooked creek.
Woc-coo-che, calf creek.
O-sun-nup-pau, moss creek.
Hat-che-thlucco, big creek.
Cow-e-tuh Tal-hau-has-se--Cowetuh Tal-lo-fau, a town, hasse, old --three miles 1798 below Cowetuh, on the right bank of the Chattahoochie.
We-tum-cau--we-wau, water, tum-cau, rumbling--a main branch of the Uchee creek.
Cus-se-tuh, five miles below Cow-e-tuh, on the left bank of the Chattahoochie.
Au-put-tau-e, a village of Cussetuh, on Hat-che-thluc-co, twenty miles from the river.
U-chee, on the right bank of the Chat-to-ho-che, ten miles below Cowetuh Tallauhassee, and just below the mouth of the Uchee creek.
In-tuch-cul-gau--in-tuch-ke, dam across water--ul-gau, all; a Uchee village, on Opil-thlacco, twenty-eight miles from its junction with the Flint river.
Pad-gee-li-gau--pad-jee, a pigeon li-gau, sit, pigeon roost --on the right bank of Flint river (a Uchee village).
Toc-co-qul-egau, tadpole, on Kit-cho-foone creek (a Uchee village).
Oose-oo-chee, two miles below Uchee, on the right bank of the Chattahoochie.
Che-au-hau, below and adjoining the latter.
Au-muc-cul-le, pour upon me, on a creek of that name, which joins on the right side of the Flint.
O-tel-who-yau-nau, hurricane town, on the right bank of the Flint.
Hit-che-tee, on the left bank of the Chattahoochie, one mile below Che-au-hau.
Che-au-hoo-chee, Little Cheauhaw, one mile and a half west from Hit-che-tee.
Hit-che-too-che, Little Hitchetee, on both sides of the Flint. Tut-tal-lo-see, fowl, on a creek of that name.
Pala-chooc-le, on the right bank of the Chattahoochie.
O-co-nee, six miles below the latter, on the left bank of the Chattahoochie.
Sou-woo-ge-lo, six miles below Oconee, on the right bank.
Sou-woog-e-loo-che, four miles below Oconee, on the left bank of the Chattahoochie. Eu-fau-la, fifteen miles below the latter, on the left bank of the same river. From this town settlements extended occasionally to the mouth of the Flint. *
* Hawkins' "Sketch of the Creek Country
in 1798-99," pp. 26-66. In addition to
the published copy of this interesting pamphlet, sent to me by I. K.
Teffit, Esq., of Savannah, the Hon. F. W. Pickens, of
South Carolina, loaned me a manuscript copy of the same work, written
by Col. Hawkins for his Grandfather, Gen. Andrew Pickens who
was an intimate friend of Hawkins and was associated with him in
several important Indian treaties, and whose name will often be mentioned