Tamachichi Trustees

A Modern Translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People

Here we present Richard Thornton’s modern translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People with extensive annotations. These annotations provide important historical references bringing the much famed Creek Legend into better understanding for researchers.


 

Letters and other Papers concerning the State of Ecclesiastical Matters in this Province

My Lord 1

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I was honored to receive your letter, dated October 15, 1734. I shall be proud to serve your Lordship. If I can in any way contribute toward the promoting the Christian religion, I will be one of the happiest men in the World. The endowment, assigned to the Church of England, is improving daily and increasing in value. It is hoped that the legacy from my will with other contributions will be sufficient to hire a missionary for the Province of Georgia. I take this opportunity of enclosing to your Lordship a curious Indian speech, which I think that your Lordship will find interesting and beg leave for to present myself, as always.

Your most humble servant

Thomas Christie 2

Savannah, in the Province of Georgia

July the 6th 1735

Minutes of the conference held on June 7, 1735 in Savannah, Province of Georgia. It was taken from the speech of Chikili Mikko, who is the High King of the Upper and Lower Creeks. Others representing the Creek Confederacy included Antise, Head Warrior of Coweta town; Elase, mikko and Ousta, Head Warrior of the Kusa People; Tamachako, War King and Wali, War Captain of Palachikola; Pawpese Mikko and Tamachichi, Dog King from the Itsate; Mitakanyi, Head Warrior of the Oconees; Tuiwelisi, Mikko and Woyani, Head Warrior from the Chiaha’s and of the Highland Uchee People; Shimelacowesi, Micco of the Ogeechees; Opithle Mikko of the Sawacolas; Ewenawki Mikko and Taumolme, War Captain from the Ensantee; plus thirty nine other warriors and young men. 4

In the presence of Thomas Causton and Henry Parker; Thomas Christie Recorder; John Vatt Comifary to the Saltzburgers, and several gentlemen and freeholders of the said town and province of Georgia. 5

Chikili’s Speech

What Chikilli, the Principal Chief of the Upper and Lower Creeks said, in a talk held at Savannah, in the year1735, and which was handed over by the interpreter. It was written upon a buffalo skin and was, word for word, as follows:

Toward the west there is a massive hole in the ground 6, which is mouth of the earth. One day the ground opened and the Kawshete came out. They settled near the opening. The earth became angry and their children began dying, so they migrated westward.

The people divide in two

Part of the Kaushete moved back to the location where the people had originally lived, leaving the majority behind, because they thought it was the best thing to do. Soon their children were dying again, so, angry, they moved eastward. 7

Living beside two rivers

The Kaushete came to a thick, muddy river, where they camped, cooked and slept one night. On the next morning, they began migrating again and in one day came to a blood-red colored river. 8 They lived by this river and ate fish for two year. It was a low, swampy place. They did not like living there.

Discovery of the largest volcano

After migrating westward to the headwaters of the red-colored river, they heard a thundering sound. Curious, they moved closer to the thundering sound to determine where it was coming from. The first saw smoke coming from the mountain and heard a sound like a drum song. They climbed the mountains and saw a great fire erupting upward, which was making the rumbling sound. They called this mountain the King of All Mountains. This volcano thunders to this day and is great feared. 3

Temporarily coming together with three other nations

The Kaushete met with the people of three different nations. 9

They took fire from the great volcano and saved it. 10

While living in that place they gained the knowledge of medicinal herbs and many other things. 11

The sacred fire, shared at this place came from the land to the east. They did not like to use it for starting domestic fires. 12

Another portion of the fire came from the lands to the west, whose color was black. They did not like to use it either. 13

Another portion of the sacred fire came from the south. Its color was blue. 14

Another portion of the shared sacred fire came from the north. Its colors are red and yellow. This fire, they mixed with the fire from the great volcano. It is used to this day and sometimes makes a rumbling sound. 15

Origin of the Creek war club

On the side of the great volcano they found a stick that constantly shook and made a noise. No one knew how to make it still. After some time, they pushed a motherless baby against the stick and killed the baby. 16

The body of the sacrificed baby was carried by the warriors, wherever they go to war. The stick was in the shape of a wooden war club that is used to this day, and was composed of the same species of wood. 17

Discovery of medicinal herbs

At this place, they found all sorts herbs and roots, which sang. They discovered the powers of these herbs and roots. They included Pasaw, the rattlesnake root, and Micoweanochaw, meaning “out goes the king.” It is commonly called red root. There was Sowachko, which grows like wild fennel and Eschalapoochke, which is called small tobacco or rabbit tobacco.

They also used these herbs at Posketa, or the Green Corn Festival to purify themselves as is done by the chief medicine man. Pasaw and Sowachko are especially important for this purpose. The custom of Posketa is that they fast and make offerings of the first herbs to the Master of Life.

So that the men may know the powers of the herbs, the women make fires by themselves and burn them separately from those of the men at certain times of the year. If the men and women do not do this, they will spoil the powers of their medicinal herbs and will not be healthy. 18

A dispute over which nation should lead

A dispute arose over which of the four nations was the oldest and therefore have the dominant role. The leaders agreed that since they were four different ethnic groups, they would set up four timber poles and cover them with clay. The clay is yellow at first, but turns red after being burned. All four nations would go to war together. The nation which first covered its pole from top to bottom with the scalps of their enemies would be considered the elder nation. 19

All four tribes attempted to accomplish this feat, but the Kaushete covered their pole first, so the wood could not be seen. The leaders of the whole nation declared them to be eldest and to take the leadership role.

The Chickasaws covered their pole next. They were followed by the Alibamus. However, the Apikas could not raise their mass of scalps higher than the knee.

The blue predator bird and the red rat

About this time there was a large bird with bluish colored feathers. It had a long tail and was swifter than an eagle. It came to the Kaushete villages every day and at their people. 20

The Kaushete made an effigy of a woman and put it in the path of the bird. The bird took the effigy away and kept it a long time. However, he brought it back when he returned again. 21

The Kaushete did not disturb the effigy of a woman for awhile, expecting to birth something. After awhile, the statue delivered a red rat. The Kaushete believed that the bird was the father of the red rat. 22

The Kaushete consulted with rat how they might kill his father. The bird had bows and arrows. The rat cut his bow strings so the bird could not defend himself. The rat then grabbed the bows and arrows and ran off. The Kaushete then killed the bird. They called this bird, the King of Birds. Since then the Kaushete have allowed the eagle to be the king of birds and always carry eagle tail feathers when they go to either war or peace. 23

Red feathers are used for war and white feathers for peace. If an enemy comes with a white feather and a white mouth, plus makes the sound of an eagle, they cannot kill him. 24

The White Path

They left the place of the Blue Predator Bird and continued traveling until they encountered a road between two towns, which is called a White Path. All things, including the grass were white. 25

They also met a people, who had been on the road before they crossed it then went to sleep. Afterward, they continued on their journey for awhile and then returned to the White Path. They wanted to know exactly what the White Path was and which people had traveled it before.

They thought that it might be wise for them to follow the White Path. They followed the White Path until they came to a river named the Calusahatchee. It was given that name because it was foggy and rocky. They went over the river and traveled eastward until they came to a people, named the Kaushe (Coosaw.) They lived with the Kaushe for four years. 26

The Man-eating Mountain Lion

The Kaushe complained to the Kaushete that there was a creature in their province, which was devouring their people. They called it Man-eater. It was a Mountain Lion, which lived on a boulder. The Kaushe said that they had tried to kill the creature. They had made a net, dug a pit and then put the net over the pit. They made several Kowetas and Uchees to throw stones at the mountain lion so it would not pursue them. They went to the boulder where the mountain lion lived and threw a rattle to where he was laying. 27

The mountain lion followed them with ferocity as they ran through creeks and other places. Finally, they agreed that one of them should die rather than all.

So when they came to the pit, they took a motherless child and threw it into the path of the mountain lion. The mountain lion eagerly devoured the child. He tumbled into the pit. They then threw the net over him and killed with burning coals. They preserved the mountain lion’s bones and keep them unto this day. One side of the bones is red, while the other is blue. 28

Every seven days, the mountain lion would come to kill people. Therefore, after killing him, they remained at that place seven days. In remembrance of him, they now fast six days and go on to war on the seventh day. They carry the bones of the mountain lion to war and are successful in war as a result.

Further migrations in the mountains

They left the land of the Kaushe after four years and came to a river that they called the Nawhawpi, which is now called the Calusahatchee. There they stayed two years, but they had no corn seeds to plant. During this period they lived on edible roots and fish. They made bows and arrows then pointed their arrows with beaver teeth and flint stones. They used split canes for knives instead of stone. 29

They left this place and then came to a river, which hey called Wakulahawka-hatchee or Whooping Crane River, because of the great number of cranes living there. They slept at this river one night.

They then came to a river with a waterfall and called it the Owatuaka River. The next day, they came to a river and called it Afusafeskaw. 30

The great town on the high mountain

The next day, they crossed over this river and came to a high mountain, where people lived, who they thought had built the White Path. 31

They made white arrows and shot them to see if these people were good people. However, these people took the white arrows and painted them red then shot them back at the Kaushete. 32

The Kaushete warriors picked up the red arrows and carried them back to their king. The king told them that this was not good. If the arrows had returned white, they would have gone to the town and received food for their young, but the arrows were red, so they must not go to there.

However, some of the Kaushete wanted to see what sort of people was living in this region. They found that the town on a river had been vacated recently. They saw footprints that led into the river. They waded into the river to the other side and could not see footprints. Therefore, they assumed that the people of this town had stayed in the river. 33

At that locale is a high mountain called Motorelo. It makes a noise like the beating of a drum. The Kaushete suspected that the people lived on this mountain. Whenever they go to war, they hear this noise. 34

The Kausete went along the river until they came to another waterfall. They saw great rocks. There were bows laying on the rocks. The Kaushete suspected that the people, who made the White Path, had been there earlier. 35

Whenever the Kaushete migrated, they had two scouts, who went before the main body of the people. These scouts saw a mountain and they climbed it. They looked around and saw the town. The scouts shot two white arrows into the town, but the people in the town shot red arrows back at them. 36

The Kaushete were angry with the people in the town. The leaders of the tribe agreed to attack this town so that each family would have a house after it was taken. 37

The Kaushete threw stones into the river until it was so shallow that they could walk across it. 38

They saw that the enemy people had flattened foreheads. 39

The Kaushete captured the town. After entering the town, they killed all but two people there. They captured a white dog, which they killed also. 40

Arriving at the towns of the Palache

They pursued the two survivors until they came to the White Path again. They saw smoke rising from another town. The suspected that they had found the location of the two people, whom they had been pursuing. This was the present location of the Palache People, from whom Tamachichi is descended. 41

The Kaushete were always warlike, but the Palache People made them Yaupon holly tea as a token of friendship. The Palache told the Kaushete that their own hearts were peaceful and that the Kaushete should lay down their bloody war clubs and give their bodies in symbolic sacrifice so that they could become peaceful also. 42

The Kaushete had weapons, but by persuasion the Palache obtained these weapons and buried them under their houses. The Palache told the Kaushete that their kings were unified with their people on this act and then gave the Kaushete white feathers.

Ever since then the Kashite and the Palache have lived as neighbors and shall always live has neighbors, bearing remembrance of the past. Some went to one side of the river and some on the other side of the river. Those on one side are called the Kaushetaws and those on the other side are called the Kowetas, but they are one people. They are allowed to be the head towns of the Upper and Lower Creeks. 43

Nevertheless, they first saw red smoke and red fire and therefore created warlike towns. They cannot leave their red hearts, which are white on one side and red on the other. They still know that the path of peace is for their own good. 44

Tamachichi

Although Tamachichi has been a stranger and not lived among the leaders of the Upper and Lower Creeks, they see that in his elder years, he has done himself and the Creek People good, because he went with Squire Oglethorpe to the Great King and heard his speech. Tamachichi brought back the words of the Great King to the Creek People. The people have heard those words and they believe them. 45

For that reason, the Creek People look upon Tamachichi as a father and his wife, Somauhi as the mother of them all. The leaders are resolved that when Tamachichi dies, we will look upon his nephew Toonahawi as chief of Tamachichi’s people in his stead. We hope that he will be a great man and do good, both for himself and his people. (All attending the conference gave a show of approval.) 46

Chikili’s closing statement

Our eyes have been shut, but now they are more open. We believe that the coming of the English to this place is for the good of our leaders and our children. We will always have honest hearts toward the English and hope that even though we were naked and helpless, we will have more good things done for us by the English. 47

I Chikili, the Joani of the West Town, was chosen to rule after the death of Emperor Bermarin. 48

I have a strong voice and will announce the resolution approved at this meeting to the rest of the nations and make them, no advise them that we are glad that the Squire carried some our friends to the Great King and his nation. 49

I never become tired of hearing what Tamachichi tells about his experiences. All of my people offer their great thanks to all of the Trustees for so great a favor. We always to our upmost endeavor to serve them and all the Great King’s people, whenever there shall be an occasion.

I am glad that I came down here and saw things as they are. We shall go home and tell the children and the nation about this great conference. We also tell them that Tamachichi has been with the Great King and will always remember the place at which we met and call it Georgia. 50

I am well aware that there is One, who has made us all.   Some people have more knowledge, while others are great and strong, but in the end of our lives, all must become dirt again.

Footnotes:[+]


Locations:
Savannah Georgia,

Collection:
Gatschet, Albert S. A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians. Pub. D.G. Brinton, Philadelphia, 1884.

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