In 2007, Architect Richard L. Thornton, a Creek scholar and member of the People of One Fire research alliance began sporadically looking online for the Migration Legend.1 He had no success for the next seven years. On December 21, 2012, Thornton was a key cast member on the premier of the hit History Channel Series, …
A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians
Gatschet, Albert S.A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians. Pub. D.G. Brinton, Philadelphia, 1884.
Here we present Richard Thornton’s modern translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People with extensive annotations. His annotations provide important historical references bringing the much famed Creek Legend into better understanding for researchers.
In 2015, after many years of searching, Richard Thornton found the impossible, the original Migration Legend of the Creek People. Gatschet in his famed manuscript which greatly covered this legend stated emphatically “The chances of rediscovering the original English translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People are therefore almost as slim as recovering the lost books of Livy’s History.” That original English translation still remains lost as Gatschet predicted. But why settle for the English translation when you can find the original? The following is Thornton’s transcription from the original velum of the Migration Legend. Thornton indicates in our introduction that when “the original document, written by Thomas Christie, was finally discovered in 2015, the translation of the German text was found to be not so accurate or complete as Gatschet had presumed. Although the texts of the two documents follow the same general pattern, there were changes made in some of the passages that completely changed the meanings of certain phrases and sentences. Also, some sentences were presented in reverse order.”
Here we present, Richard Thornton’s modern translation:
An introduction to the modern translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People. This is the only available translation to have been taken directly from the original velum.
In 1884, Albert Samuel Gatschet published a translation of the Creek Migration Legend in his infamous “A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians.” The Creek and Hitchiti text that came with the same manuscript were then translated from Gatschet’s translation back into Hitchiti and Creek, his translation did not emanate from those. Where then did he get his translation from? A translation from the English had been preserved in a German book of the period, and the style of this piece showed it to be an “authentic and comparatively accurate rendering of the original”. The German book referred to is a collection of pamphlets treating of colonial affairs, and published from 1735 to 1741; its first volume bears the title: Ausfuehrliche Nachricht von den Saltzburg-ischen Emigranten, die sick in America niedergelassen haben. Worin, etc. etc., Herausgegeben von Samuel Urlsperger, Halle, MDCCXXXV, The legend occupies pp. 869 to 876 of this first volume, and forms chapter six of the “Journal” of von Reck, the title of which is as follows: Herrn Philipp Georg Friederichs von Reck Diarium von Seiner Reise nach Georgien im Jahr 1735. F. von Reck was the commissary of those German-Protestant emigrants whom religious persecution had expelled from Salzburg, in Styria, their native city.
So what follows is an English translation from the German translation of the presumed English translation of the original “Migration Legend of the Creek People.”
Writing more then just a book about an Indian legend, Samuel Gatschet’s classic ethnographic manuscript delves deeply into the enthnography of the Southern tribes of Creek Indians, providing a look into the linguistic groups of the Gulf States, the tribes which spoke those languages, the villages they lived in, and a more comprehensive study of Creek life. Finally, Gatschet provides an overall look at Indian migration legends, and then gives an English translation of the Creek migration legend.
Of the Tequesta people on the southeastern end of the peninsula we know still less than of the Calusa Indians. There was a tradition that they were the same people which held the Bahama or Lucayo Islands, and the local names of the Florida coast given by Fontanedo may partly refer to this nationality. They …
In the sixteenth century the Timucua inhabited the northern and middle portion of the peninsula of Florida, and although their exact limits to the north are unknown, they held a portion of Florida bordering on Georgia, and some of the coast islands in the Atlantic Ocean, as Guale (then the name of Amelia) and others. …
On account of the recent discovery of their consonantic language, which proves to be disconnected from any other aboriginal tongue spoken in North America, a peculiar interest attaches itself to the tribe of the Taensa Indians, whose cabins stood in Tensas county, Louisiana, bordering east on Mississippi river.
To offer a history of the Creek tribe from its discovery down to our epoch to the readers does not lie within the scope of this volume, and for want of sufficient documents illustrating the earlier periods it could be presented in a fragmentary manner only. But a few notes on the subject, especially on …
The term semanóle, or isti simanóle, signifies separatist or runaway, and as a tribal name points to the Indians who left the Creek, especially the Lower Creek settlements, for Florida, to live, hunt and fish there in entire independence. The term does not mean wild, savage, as frequently stated; if applied now in this sense …
The early explorers of the Gulf territories have left to posterity a large amount of information concerning the natives whom they met as friends or fought as enemies. They have described their picturesque attire, their curious, sometimes awkward, habits and customs, their dwellings and plantations, their government in times of peace and war, as exhaustively …
Migration Legends Of The Creek Tribes
“Miccosukee” is a town of Florida, near the northern border of the State, in Leon County, built on the western shore of the lake of the same name. The tribe established there speaks the Hitchiti language, and must hence have separated from some town or towns of the Lower Creeks speaking that language. The tribe …
Of the Lower Mississippi tribes the most powerful and populous was that of the Naktche, settled at the beginning of the eighteenth century in nine villages on and about St. Catherine creek