Mvskoke Country

Archive for the ‘period: 1776-1836’ Category

field notes ➤ Benjamin Hawkins, circa 1800

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❝ A description of the towns on Coosau and Tal-la-poo-sa, generally called Upper Creeks.

5. Foosce-hat-che; from foo-so-wau, a bird, and hat-che, tail. It is two miles below Ho-ith-le-wau-le, on the right bank of Tal-la-poo-sa, on a narrow strip of flat land; the broken lands are just back of the town; the cornfields are on the opposite side of the river, and are divided from those of Ho-ith-le-wau-le by a small creek, Noo-coose-chepo. On the right bank of this little creek, half a mile from the river, is the remains of a ditch, which surrounded a fortification, and back of this for a mile, is the appearance of old settlements, and back of these, pine slashes.

The cornfields are narrow, and extend down, bordering on the river.

6. Coo-loo-me, is below and near to Foosce-hat-che, on the right side of the river; the town is small and compact, on a flat much too low, and subject to be overflowed in the seasons of floods, which is once in fifteen or sixteen years, always in the winter season, and mostly in March; they have, within two years, begun to settle back, next to the broken lands; the cornfields are on the opposite side, joining those of Foosce-hat-che, and extend together near four miles down the river, from one hundred to two hundred yards wide. Back of these hills there is a rich swamp of from four to six hundred yards wide, which, when reclaimed, must be valuable for corn or rice, and could be easily drained into the river, which seldom overflows its banks, in spring or summer.

They have no fences; they have huts in the fields to shelter the laborers in the summer season from rain, and for the guards set to watch the crops while they are growing. At this season some families move over and reside in their fields, and return with their crops into the town. There are two paths, one through the fields on the river bank, and the other back of the swamp. In the season for melons, the Indians of this town and Foosce-hat-che show in a particular manner their hospitality to all travellers, by calling to them, introducing them to their huts or the shade of their trees, and giving them excellent melons, and the best fare they possess. Opposite the town house, in the fields, is a conical mound of earth thirty feet in diameter, ten feet high, with large peach trees on several places. At the lower end of the fields, on the left bank of a fine little creek, Le-cau-suh, is a pretty little village of Coo-loo-me people, finely situated on a rising ground; the land up this creek is waving pine forest. ❞

“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)

Written by James Treat

October 12, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ Johann Burckhard, 1811

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September 3.

We took advantage of the dry spell to visit Creeks in the low land. Br. Petersen set out on September 3, and in the forenoon visited seven families in their homes, amongst them the family of the Big King. He, however, was not at home. From here I rode two miles up the river to the first Indian town where I found Big Chief (or in Indian Micco Thlucco) and twenty chiefs, who had gathered in the town house for a “Little Talk.” We had now traveled twelve miles, crossed the river three times for visits on either side of the river and permitted my mare to graze. I shall now discuss how kindly they received me in Indian fashion at their town house. The so-called Micco Thlucco had me sit next to him. He then got up, shook my hand violently and the other chiefs followed suit. When this process was concluded Big Chief got up and handed me some of his tobacco; in return, I gave him some of mine. The other chiefs followed suit. It is understood that, once the different kinds of tobacco have been blended, the smoking begins. Then the “Black Drink” or cleansing tea was served. One of the Indians went from man to man more than twenty times singing, while all were drinking. The Indians immediately ejected it, but it did not affect me that way. Then the Big King had a bundle of 451 small sticks of wood, the size of matches, delivered to him, corresponding to the total number of warriors living up the river who belonged to the town house. The old Micco Thlucco told me that I was not to leave until he returned, as he wanted to go home and fetch watermelons. He said he had a mile and a half to go and that he would [not] stay. I loaned him my mare. He seemed concerned lest the melons might be gone before I again returned. He then said, “I promised that should you visit me you were to eat watermelon with me and I want to keep my promise.” He brought a blanket full of melons, then had saffkee and baked pumpkins brought to the town house where, according to custom, I had the honor to lie down to eat with him and Chief Toshege. After we had finished he called the other chiefs to dine. At sundown they brought wood for a fire at which they danced into the night. I set out by moonlight, traveled up the river with a white man and camped in the woods for the night.

September 4.

I continued the trip and visited a number of families in their homes. All were friendly and immediately offered me saffkee. ❞

Partner’s in the Lord’s Work: The Diary of Two Moravian
Missionaries in the Creek Indian Country, 1807-1813

edited and translated by Carl Mauelshagen and Gerald H. Davis
(Georgia State College, 1969)

Written by James Treat

August 31, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ Benjamin Hawkins, 1799

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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)

Written by James Treat

July 27, 2011 at 12:00 am