Mvskoke Country

Archive for the ‘author: mvskoke’ Category

field notes ➤ Alexander Posey, 1905

leave a comment »

Journal of the Creek Enrollment Field Party

Oct. 27

Investigate a land contest case near Morse — Visit Cindy, the thriftiest Indian woman known hereabouts — She is about 50 and was never married and is as chaste as a Vestal virgin — Many a doughty warrior has sought her hand in vain — She has been beautiful and is still good looking — A sound, sensible and business-like woman — has plenty and her credit in Okemah is as good as gold — Her house, which is on Buckeye Creek, is a quaint place — Instead of building a house of many rooms she has built some half a dozen hewed log cabins of varying architectural designs — The kitchen and dining room are under one roof, but separated by a wide hall or “entry” — The roof sweeps down over the long porch, which is fenced in from the pigs, chickens and sofky dogs by pickets — Her own house is a trim log structure with a stone chimney — A duplicate of this house standing near is her servants’ quarter — then there is the smoke house, chicken house, plunder house, barn, hay shed, wagon shed, carriage shed (for Cindy rides in a carriage), well house, and what not. There is a fine orchard and garden, and up and down Buckeye lies a twenty-acre farm white with cotton and yellow with corn — “I made this place myself,” she says, “with a man’s help.” There is a graveyard near by where a number of her relatives are buried. Over their graves she has had erected veritable houses, besides which the common Indian grave house would pale into insignificance. The house over her mother’s (Kinta) grave is big enough to live comfortably in — Cindy began making her own way in the world at 15 and is certainly a notable example of what a persevering woman can do — Everywhere about her home there are signs of thrift and evidence of prosperity. ❞

Lost Creeks: Collected Journals
by Alexander Posey
edited by Matthew Wynn Sivils
(University of Nebraska Press, 2009)

Advertisements

Written by James Treat

November 1, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ Phillip Deere, 1982

leave a comment »

❝ I am constantly thinking of my travels, such as Switzerland. It is a beautiful country, the mother country of many people here like Germany and those countries over there. But best of all, I like Switzerland, because I never saw Pampers laying on the roadside, I never saw a beer can laying there, and the country is so clean, and those people have been there for hundreds of years. They have them a farmland that they farmed for years and years, year after year. They’re still farming those lands and they’re still producing good vegetables, big cabbages, big broad leaves of mustard or whatever. They still produce good food because they keep their land up.

Coming back to our country, I look around and think about people here. Is it because the mother country is over there, and their life didn’t originate here for them, that they lay this land in waste, they keep it trashy? I always wonder about that and I’ve heard this about going to “greener pastures,” and I’ve wondered what that really means.

Then I begin to think after traveling and going to these other countries and seeing how clean these countries are and coming back here—we don’t rebuild our land here. We wear the land out and leave it in waste, and then we go over here.

The first people that came here, they drifted from another country, and they remained here, and their descendants that live here in this country, maybe they’re drifters too. So they’re willing to leave Chicago, they’re willing to leave Los Angeles, or they’re willing to leave Ohio and come to Oklahoma, Connecticut, anywhere they want to go, they do that. But they leave the land in waste, and they go to the greener pastures, and sometimes I just almost figure out what this guy is thinking if he wants this land. ❞

The World and Way of the Creek People
edited by David Michael Lambeth
(privately published, 1982)

Written by James Treat

October 26, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ James Hill, circa 1940

leave a comment »

Ways of Preparing Corn

Black Corn

There are five names for breads made of black corn. You shell black corn, put water in a pot to boil, set it over the fire, put in a small amount of strong ashes without any charcoal, and when it boils, put in the shelled corn, and after it boils, take out the corn, and wash it off, until all the corn skin is removed, and when it’s dry, put it in a mortar, and when you pound it with the pestle, add fine ashes from bean hulls or burnt corn cobs, pound it fine, sift it with a fanner, remove the fine portion, stir in some boiled beans that have been cooked, mix with water, and when it’s stiff, break off about one handful, squeeze it, make it into a ball or make it flat and round, they’re placed in boiling water, and when they’re cooked, they call it cvtvhakv (blue dumpling). It’s good to drink the soupy juice.

Then using the same ground corn worked as if to make cvtvhakv, when just about to put them in the boiling water, you wrap them in corn shucks and boil them in that, and cook them, and they’re called vssvtulkē (blue dumplings wrapped in shucks), or they’re called puyfekcv-hake (like a ghost) and eaten.

Then in the summertime, they gathered wide leaves of trees and they used those as wrap and boil them in those, and those are called vssvtulkē, too.

Then if beans are not added and just water is used to mix, you set it at the edge of the fire, and cover it with hot ashes and cook it, and it’s called taklike takhopelke (buried bread) and they ate it.

They had little flat clay plates, and they pressed grits in those and cooked it, and called it vpvtvkv (pressed against).

These five names were breads.

Now they removed the grits from corn that had been ground fine, boiled them in the juice of the beans boiled to be added to cvtvhakv, added grease, and called it afke-lvste (black mush), and ate it.

When the same corn was boiled and cooked without grinding, grease was added, and it was called sokv (hominy) and eaten.

If there is no black corn, all seven of the foods named are also made with white corn.

When bread is to be made of white corn, you shell the white corn, put it in water, boil it, pour the water from it, put it in a mortar, pound it with a pestle, and when it’s fine, sift it with a fanner, take out the fine part, and after you have enough, you mix it with water, put it in a bread pan and cook it, and its called okfvlke taklike (baked cornbread), or when you flatten it out very thin, put it in grease and cook it, it’s called vpvtvkv ‘sakmorke (fried batter-cakes). ❞

Creek Texts by Mary R. Haas and James H. Hill
edited and translated by Jack B. Martin,
Margaret McKane Mauldin, and Juanita McGirt
(College of William and Mary, 2011)

Written by James Treat

October 19, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ Louis Oliver, 1982

leave a comment »

❝ Creek Indian Thought No. 9
(October 8, 1982)

Flying in arrowhead shape, wild geese
flew low silently in October.
Coyote sat and watched on
the lone prairie,
hoping they would land to rest
on a moonlit pond.

I stood in the presence of tall trees
whose leaves were falling gently,
—and a squirrel was dropping cuttings
from a hickory nut.
Another flight of “honkers” flew wildly
Cackling to each other
—then Coyote howled.

Like boiling, bubbling gnats in sunlight
are thoughts in my mind.
On the lacy spokewheeled webs
of yellow and black striped spiders
that sometimes weave
prophetic words
I keep searching.

II

So I stand in wonderment
of these mysticisms.
We—the only flesh and blood
inhabitants of a planet
of all the Universe—There’s no other
and we threaten with laser beams
and space gadgets
—Others
when there is no other:

So—the oak leaves keep falling
brown and curled
the geese keep coming, honking louder.
Coyote sits straight up
howling.
In a time like this, I have
a song I sing:
Yowale Yowalehe
ho ho ho—Yowal
le hee . . . 

Caught in a Willow Net
by Louis Oliver
(Greenfield Review Press, 1983)

Written by James Treat

October 5, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ David Lewis Jr., 2002

leave a comment »

❝ The Unseen Powers of Traditional Medicine

All medicines came from organic sources. Modern medicine now uses synthetic drugs to imitate some of these organic medicines.

The so-called primitive human societies had medicines for their people. Associated with the herbal medicines was what is called conjuring. This is what the modern culture calls it, and it has been dispelled as superstition. What the modern educated man fails to recognize is that there are a great many things that he does not know that are in the unseen worlds of creation.

Modern medicine seems to be limited to powers of the physical and the material. I believe in the so-called primitive way that recognizes powers beyond the visible and beyond man’s so-called smart thinking. The modern material world studies and analyzes mainly what can be seen. The ancient traditional recognized the unseen source of what is seen and this is what most people today have been trained not to see.

The ancient traditional recognizes and is trained to know about this from the very beginning of the learning. These are powers, energies, intelligence; what is known by the medicine people is not a complex knowledge of time-consuming chemical analysis. It is a simple but sacred impartation to a recipient who is prepared to receive.

The power lies in a total respect toward the tasks of fasting, cleansing, prayer words and creation. Words that come from the energy worlds are simple and known by the medicine people. The original instruction to us stated: “I will come half the way, then you must come half the way.”

In other words, creation is here for us to use, not to misuse, not to conquer. It is half the way, for it already has its powers, energies, and intelligence. We humans must align ourselves through fasting, prayer, and taking the cleansing medicines to come half the way with all respect, for it is sacred. For the Indians, the words have already been told and are to be passed along but with the same preparation. By this we do our part and come half the way. This is like an agreement with creation and when we do this, we are in harmony and can have good success.

Materialism has disrupted many things that were for the good of all human beings. Materialism is the aggressive, egotistical brainchild of human beings who have forgotten the intelligent, passive gifts of the unseen creation. If we are to do the complete good, we must harmonize ourselves, make ourselves sensitive to the powers, energies, and influences of creation. The so-called primitive conjuring of powers, in use with herbal medicines among the native people of this land, still lives. ❞

Creek Indian Medicine Ways:
The Enduring Power of Mvskoke Religion

by David Lewis Jr. and Ann T. Jordan
(University of New Mexico Press, 2002)

Written by James Treat

September 21, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ Stephanie Berryhill, 1991

leave a comment »

❝ The evolution of Thlopthlocco

In 1936, the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act provided for the establishment of the Thlopthlocco Tribal Town’s constitution. . . .

The constitution states the Thlopthlocco Methodist Episcopal Church would serve as headquarters of the town. The members met at the church until a community building was built during the years of 1939-41 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. The building was built of native hand-hewed sandstone on the North Canadian River, three miles northeast of the church, said Curtis Canard, former town king, treasurer and business manager.

The building housed the tribal offices, had a big lodge room, bedrooms for overnight visitors as well as a fully equipped kitchen.

Canard, whose father Roley Canard was the first chartered tribal town king as well as Principal Chief of Creek Nation, said the town had its own natural gas to fire up the center’s standing pressure cookers.

It also had a drilled water well and water tower for the community building and two nearby homes. The tribal town owned a granary and a storage garage that housed a tractor and farm tools. A gas-fired hot bed also was utilized to raise young onion and sweet potato sprouts, he said.

Lucille Cook Dunson, 75, great-niece of Thlopthlocco’s last ceremonial ground medicine man, Reuben Cook, recalls some of the center’s activities. She and her husband, Earl, remember the many sewing machines tribal town members used to make garments for their family as well as the kitchen in which they could cook.

Mrs. Dunson also recalls the time her family, as well as other town families, gathered at the center to make mattresses.

Around the same time the community building was being built the tribal town received Congressionally appropriated funds to purchase land, small homes, farm equipment, horses, cattle, chickens and hogs.

The tribal town leased “mini-farms” to 12 tribal town members who no longer possessed allotments, Canard said.

Each farm, which consisted of 40 acres and was located on the banks of the North Canadian River, had one home, a dug well and orchard. In turn, the town’s families were required to make certain improvements on their farms as well as pay rent from money made on their harvests, said Charlie McGertt, Thlopthlocco Tribal Town King. The situation was comparable to a housing authority, Canard said.

Tribal-town living at that time was ideal and almost comparable to the tribal town way of life prior to removal from the old Georgia and Alabama homelands, Canard said.

“Those (who) had their own farms raised their own gardens, but everyone pitched in on the communal (garden) plot,” which was harvested and put in storage, he said.

A portion of the harvest also was canned in the community kitchen and distributed among the members.

“We had a community fair at the end of the harvest. The women would bring quilts, canned goods, watermelons and squash to be judged, just like a county fair today,” he said.

But in 1942 the river flooded, washing out three of the mini-farms as well as a bridge in front of the community building, making transportation along the river impossible.

The flood also changed the channel of the river. That year most of the tribal town farmers abandoned the land and the remaining few eventually left, around 1946-47, after realizing they would have to leave to work and make money. ❞

Muscogee Nation News
February 1991

Written by James Treat

September 14, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ Lucinda Davis, 1937

leave a comment »

❝ I belong[ed] to a full-blood Creek Indian and I didn’t know nothing but Creek talk long after de Civil War. My mistress was part white and knowed English talk, but she never did talk it because none of de people talked it. I heard it sometime, but it sound like whole lot of wild shoat in de cedar brake scared at something when I do hear it. . . .

Long in de night you wake up and hear a gun go off, way off yonder somewhar. Den it go again, and den again, just fast as dey can ram de load in. Dat mean somebody die. When somebody die de men go out in de yard and let de people know dat way. Den dey just go back in de house and let de fire go out, and don’t even tech de dead person till somebody git dar what has de right to tech de dead.

When somebody had sick dey build a fire in de house, even in de summer, and don’t let it die down until dat person git well or die. When dey die dey let de fire go out.

In de morning everybody dress up fine and go to de house whar de dead is and stand around in de yard outside de house and don’t go in. Pretty soon along come somebody what got a right to tech and handle de dead and dey go in. I don’t know what give dem de right, but I think dey has to go through some kind of medicine to get de right, and I know dey has to drink de red root and purge good before dey tech de body. When dey git de body ready dey come out and all go to de graveyard, mostly de family graveyard, right on de place or at some of the kinfolks’s.

When dey git to de grave somebody shoots a gun at de north, den de west, den de south, and den de east. Iffen dey had four guns dey used ’em.

Den dey put de body down in de grave and put some extra clothes in with it and some food and a cup of coffee, maybe. Den dey takes strips of elm bark and lays over de body till it all covered up, and den throw in de dirt.

When de last dirt throwed in, everybody must clap dey hands and smile, but you sho hadn’t better step on any of de new dirt around de grave, because it bring sickness right along wid you back to your own house. Dat what dey said, anyways.

Jest soon as de grave filled up dey built a little shelter over it wid poles like a pig pen and kiver it over wid elm bark to keep de rain from soaking down in de new dirt.

Den everybody go back to de house and de family go in and scatter some kind of medicine ’round de place and build a new fire. Sometimes dey feed everybody befo’ dey all leave for home. ❞

The WPA Oklahoma Slave Narratives
edited by T. Lindsay Baker and Julie P. Baker
(University of Oklahoma Press, 1996)

Written by James Treat

September 7, 2011 at 12:00 am

%d bloggers like this: