field notes ➤ Benjamin Hawkins, 1799

Boos-ke-tau

This annual festival is celebrated in the months of July or August. The precise time is fixed by the Mic-co and counsellors, and is sooner or later, as the state of the affairs of the town, or the early or lateness of their corn, will suit for it. In Cussetuh, this ceremony lasts for eight days. In some towns of less note, it is but four days. . . .

EIGHTH DAY.

They get two large pots, and their physic plants, 1st Mic-co-ho-yon-e-juh. 2. Toloh. 3. A-che-nau. 4. Cup-pau-pos-cau. 5. Chu-lis-sau, the roots. 6. Tuck-thlau-lus-te. 7. Tote-cul-hil-lis-so-wau. 8. Chofeinsuck-cau-fuck-au. 9. Cho-fe-mus-see. 10. Hil-lis-hut-ke. 11. To-te-cuh chooc-his-see. 12. Welau-nuh. 13. Oak-chon-utch-co. 14. Co-hal-le-wau-gee. These are all put into the pots and beat up with water. The chemists, (E-lic-chul-gee, called by the traders physic makers) they blow in it through a small reed, and then it is drank by the men, and rubbed over their joints till the afternoon.

They collect old corn cobs and pine burs, put them into a pot, and burn them to ashes. Four virgins who have never had their menses, bring ashes from their houses, put them in the pot and stir all together. The men take white clay and mix it with water in two pans. One pan of the clay and one of the ashes are carried to the cabin of the Mic-co, 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-chu-le-puc-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 Mic-co, and they give a little of it to every one present.

The Micco and counsellors then go four times round 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.

A cane is stuck up at the cabin of the Mic-co with two white feathers in the end of it. One of the Fish tribe, (Thlot-lo-ul-gee,) takes it just as the sun goes down, and goes off towards the river, all following him. When he gets half way to the river, he gives the death whoop ; this whoop 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 like 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 Haujo, (mad dance,) and this finishes the ceremony.

This happy institution of the Boos-ke-tau restores a 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 only excepted, but seems to bury guilt itself in oblivion. ❞

“A Sketch of the Creek Country, in the Years 1798 and 1799”
The Collected Works of Benjamin Hawkins, 1796-1810
edited by H. Thomas Foster II
(University of Alabama Press, 2003)

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