Mvskoke Country

Archive for the ‘period: 1837-1906’ Category

field notes ➤ Alexander Posey, 1905

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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)

Written by James Treat

November 1, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ Alexander Posey, 1903

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What a Snap

I wish I were an editor,
Out in the country free,
Where old subscribers would bring
Potatoes in to me;
And as I counted up each spud,
Each cabbage and each beet,
I grab my pen and give the man
A veg’table receipt. ❞

Song of the Oktahutche: Collected Poems
by Alexander Posey
edited by Matthew Wynn Sivils
(University of Nebraska Press, 2008)

Written by James Treat

August 24, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ W. O. Tuggle, 1881

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❝ SCENES AT WEWOKA

John took a few whiffs from his inseparable companion, a merry twinkle was in his eye and he began; “Down among the Seminoles where brother Factor & brother John Jumper preached, there are a good many colored people. I see some here at the camp meeting, the old fellows up there at the arbor today.”

I had seen them. Two were dressed in peculiar style. They wore loose sack coats, made of blue cotton stripes, & had large turbans on their heads. One turban was made of a brown shawl twisted around the head, & the other was made out of a large handkerchief with stripes of yellow, blue, red & white. Both were barefooted. The old fellow with the bright colored turban had Burnside whiskers which were as white as was his hair, for he was indubitably very old, & when he opened his mouth to sing his teeth shone like ivory. These Negroes came from Florida with the Indians & have been the means in many cases of converting the Indians to Christianity as often the Indians would listen to a colored man preach when they would not care to attend religious services conducted by white men.

“Well,” continued John, “during a revival among the Seminoles one old colored preacher was preaching about Heaven & telling them what a good place it was & he told them that one of the best things up there was good eating, & he said, ‘O, Yes, my brudderin, Tank de Lord, when we gits to dat blessed place, we’ll fust hab good things to eat all de time. Bes tings in de world. Glory to de Lord. Up in Heben, we will just eat dem good hog heads, & cabbages all de time.’

“One brother in the congregation got happy and began shouting, ‘Bless de Lord, Glory.’

“The old preacher warmed up to his work & went on, ‘O, Yes, my dear brudderin & sisterin, good eating all de time & plenty ob it. We’ll have hog head & cabbage all de time & we’ll eat dem hog heads till de grease pours down de sides of our moufs.’

“The old brother in the congregation was overcome, he jumped up clapped his hands & shouted out, ‘Go on, my brudder in de Lord, & speak unto us some more of dem blessed greasy words.'”

John enjoyed the story himself & the Indians laughed heartily for they enjoy jokes & tales. ❞

Shem, Ham & Japheth: The Papers of W. O. Tuggle, Comprising His
Indian Diary, Sketches & Observations, Myths & Washington Journal
in the Territory & at the Capital, 1879-1882

edited by Eugene Current-Garcia and Dorothy B. Hatfield
(University of Georgia Press, 1973)

Written by James Treat

August 17, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ S. Alice Callahan, 1891

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Some Indian Dishes

“What have you there, Wynema?” asked Genevieve Weir of her pupil one evening as she stepped into the “cook-room” and found Wynema eagerly devouring a round, dark-looking mass, which she was taking from a corn-shuck. All around the wide fire-place sat Indian women engaged in the same occupation, all eating with evident relish.

“Oh, Mihia! It is blue dumpling. I luf it. Do you luf it?” she asked offering the shuck to Genevieve.

“I do not know what it is. I never saw any before. How is it made?” she made answer.

“It is meal beat from corn, beat fine, and it is beans with the meal. Shell the beans an’ burn the shells of it, an’ put it in the meal, an’ put the beans in an’ wet it an’ put it in a shuck, an’ tie the shuck so tight it won’t spill out an’ put it in the water an’ boil it,” the child replied, out of breath with her long and not very lucid explanation.

“What makes the dumpling so dark?” asked the teacher, eying the mass which she held in her hand, rather curiously.

“That is the burn shells; we burn it an’ put in the meal an’ it makes it blue. Goot! eat some, Mihia. It is so goot.”

Miss Weir took a small morsel of the dumpling in her mouth, for she was not prepossessed with its looks, and ate it with difficulty for it was tough and tasteless.

“No I don’t want any; thank you, dear, I think I don’t like it very well because I never ate any; I should have to practice a long time before I could eat blue dumpling very well;” and she smiled away the frown on the child’s brow.

Soon after this, supper was announced and the family gathered around a table, filled with Indian dainties.

There in the center of the table, stood the large wooden bowl of sofke, out of which each one helped himself or herself, eating with a wooden spoon, and lifting the sofke from the bowl directly to the mouth. This dish, which is made of the hardest flint corn, beaten or chopped into bits, and boiled until quite done in water containing a certain amount of lye, is rather palatable when fresh, but as is remarkable, the Indians, as a general thing, prefer it after it has soured and smells more like a swill-barrel than anything else. Besides the sofke, were soaked corn bread, which is both sour and heavy; dried venison; a soup with an unspellable name, made of corn and dried beef, which is really the most palatable of all the Indian dishes; and opuske, a drink composed of meal made from green corn roasted until perfectly dry and brown, and beaten in a stone mortar until quite fine; mixed with water.

Not a very inviting feast for Genevieve Weir, or indeed, for any person unaccustomed to such fare; but that the Indians, surrounding the board considered it such, was evident by the dispatch with which they ate.

And it is strange that, though always accustomed to such fare, the Indians are not a dyspeptic people. We of this age are constantly talking and thinking of ways and means by which to improve our cookery to suit poor digestive organs. How we would hold up our hands in horror at the idea of placing blue dumplings on our tables! And yet, we are a much more dyspeptic people than the “blue dumpling” eaters, struggle though we do to ward off the troublesome disease. ❞

Wynema: A Child of the Forest
by S. Alice Callahan
edited by A. Lavonne Brown Ruoff
(University of Nebraska Press, 1997)

Written by James Treat

July 13, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ Alexander Posey, circa 1899

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July

The air without has taken fever,
Fast I feel the beating of its pulse;
The leaves are twisted on the maple,
In the corn the autumn’s premature;
The weary butterfly hangs waiting
For a breath to waft him thither at
The touch; the grass is curled and dust-blown;
The sun shines down as on a desert.

The air without is blinding dusty;
Cool I feel the west wind; I see
The sunlight, crowded on the porch, grow
Smaller till absorbed in shadow; the
Far hills erstwhile blue are changed to a gray;
Twilight shadows all the land apace;
And now I hear the shower falling
And the leaves clapping their hands for joy. ❞

Song of the Oktahutche: Collected Poems
by Alexander Posey
edited by Matthew Wynn Sivils
(University of Nebraska Press, 2008)

Written by James Treat

July 6, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ W. O. Tuggle, 1881

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❝ HOW THE ALLIGATOR’S NOSE WAS BROKEN

Far back in the old days all the animals determined to have a big ball play.

The four footed animals with the alligators were chosen for one side, & all the fowls & birds, including the eagle, were on the other side. All the preparations were made, the ground selected, the poles erected, the ball conjured & the game began, after dancing around the poles & whooping at each other.

The ball was thrown in the air & as it came down the alligator opened wide his mouth & caught the ball. Away he ran, waddling along through the other animals while the birds & fowls flew & fluttered around his head but were afraid to put their heads between his glittering teeth. All was dismay & the birds were in despair.

The animals cheered the alligator & his wife clapped her hands, exclaiming, “Look, everybody look! See the little striped alligator’s daddy—how he catches & carries the ball. Just look at him,” and she screamed till she cried.

The eagle flew on high, sailing round & round till he seemed a mere speck in the sky. Suddenly he darted down like an arrow from the clouds & struck the alligator on the nose, broke it & out fell the ball, which a bird seized and carried between the poles, & won the game.

Ever since that time alligators have had a broken nose— ❞

Shem, Ham & Japheth: The Papers of W. O. Tuggle, Comprising His
Indian Diary, Sketches & Observations, Myths & Washington Journal
in the Territory & at the Capital, 1879-1882

edited by Eugene Current-Garcia and Dorothy B. Hatfield
(University of Georgia Press, 1973)

Written by James Treat

June 29, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ W. O. Tuggle, 1879

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❝ The Indian dogs.

Dogs have sense. They learn languages.

Doughty had a little dog named Jack. “When I first came out here” said Doughty “I would say ‘Jack get out’ & away Jack would run—

“I boarded with an Indian family & they would make a noise with their lips like the noise we make when we call pigs ‘tschick, tschick’ & say ‘Osus chay‘ [Ossvs cē, “Get out!”] & all their dogs would run out of the door. Jack would look up & wag his tail. The little boys would say ‘Osus-chay‘ & Jack wouldn’t run. ‘Whack’ they hit Jack & away he scooted.

“Pretty soon when they cried out ‘Osus-chay‘, Jack was the first dog to get out & strange to say he forgot his mother tongue for when I would say ‘Get out’ Jack would lie there in the corner, but let that Creek warwhoop sound ‘Osus-chay‘ & Jack would travel for his health”. ❞

Shem, Ham & Japheth: The Papers of W. O. Tuggle, Comprising His
Indian Diary, Sketches & Observations, Myths & Washington Journal
in the Territory & at the Capital, 1879-1882

edited by Eugene Current-Garcia and Dorothy B. Hatfield
(University of Georgia Press, 1973)

Written by James Treat

May 18, 2011 at 12:00 am

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