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 mordern translation:
Lettres and other Papers concerning the State of Ecclesiastical Mattres in this Province
Received the Honor of your (letter) dated the 15th of October, 1734. I shall be proud to be Obliged your Lordship and who thinks myself, if I can any way contribute toward the promoting the Christian religion, I am One of the happiest men in the World. The estate judgment to you Honor is dayly improving and increasing in Value. I hope soon after my decease I shall with other contributions make it suffice for the Maintenance of the Missionary. I Take this Opportunity of enclosing to your Lordship a curious Indian speech which I am persuaded must be agreeable to your Lordship and beg leave for to subscribe myself, as always.
Your most humble servant
Savannah in Georgia
July the 6th 1735
Talk taken in working the Seventh day of June, One Thousand Seven Hundred and thirty five at Savannah in Georgia from the mouths of Chikili Mico or King & Chief of the Upper and Lower Creeks, and Antiche, Head Warriour from the Cowetaw town, Eliche mico or king, Ousta, head warriour from the Cussataws, Tamachaco Warr King, Wali Warr Captain from Pallachiculas, Poepiche Mico or King, Tomachichi Dog King from the Echitaws, Mittakanye, head Warrior from the Oconees, Tuiueliche Mico or King, Woyanni head Warriour from the Chehaws and of the Hokmuloge people – Shimelacoweche Mico or King from the Ogeeche’s, Opithle Mico or King from the Sawacolas, Ewenauki Mico or king, Tahmolme Warr Captain from the Ensantees and Thirty Nine other Warriours and Young Men.
In the presence of
Thomas Christie Recorder
John Vatt Comifary to the Saltzburgers
And several gentlemen and freeholders of the said town and province of Georgia
What Chekilli, the Head-chief of the Upper and Lower Creeks said, in a Talk held at Savannah, Anno, 1735, and which was handed over by the Interpreter, Written upon a Buffalo-skin, was, word for word, as follows :
That toward the sun’s setting the ground opens where its mouth is in the ground. That the ground opened and the Cussetaws came out of the mouth and settled thereby but the ground, but the Earth became angry and ate up their children so they moved back toward the setting sun. Nevertheless, the part of the Cussetaws moved back again to the same place, leaving the greater body behind, thinking that it best to do so.
Their children, nevertheless, were eaten by the Earth, so that, full of anger, they went away toward the sun rising.
They came to a thick muddy river, where they camped, cooked and slept one night. The next day they began to travel again and in one day came to a red, bloody river. They lived by this river and ate the fish for two years. It was a low springy place and they did not like to abide there.
That they went to the end of the bloody river and heard a thundering noise. They went forward to hear where the noise came from, and they first saw smoke and a singing noise was upon that hill and they went to see what it was and it was a great fire that burnt right upwards and made that singing noise. And they called that hill the king of hills. It thunders to this day and they fear it much.
That they met with the people of three Different Nations. They took Fire from the Hill and saved it. And that place the knowledge of herbs and many other things came to them. That Fire came to them from the sun rising and they did not like to use it; also from the sun setting, which was black. Neither did they use that. From the South, came a fire which was blue. They did not use that. Also from the North, which was red and yellow. This they mixed with the Fire from the Hill, which they use to this day and it sometimes sings.
That at the Hill there was a stick that was very uneasy and made a noise, and no one say how it could say how to pacify it. At length, they took a motherless child, and they pushed it against the stick; killed the child therefore.
They took the child and carried it with them where they go to Warr and the stick was like the wooden Tamihawk such that they use to this day and the same sort of wood.
Here they found out all sort of herb or rootes which sang and discovered their virtues. Pasaw,- the rattle-snake root, Mikoweanochaw – ie out goes the king, commonly called red root, Sowatchko – which grows like wild fennel and Eschalapootchke, small tobacco.
They also use them at their Busk to purify themselves as does the chief phisick, especially the first and third Herbs. Such is the Busk that yearly they may fast and make offerings of the first Herbs.
That they may know the virtue of Herbs the Women make Fire by themselves and burn thereby separate at certain times from the men, for if they not so do, it will spoil the virtue of their phisick and they will not be healthy.
That a dispute arose as to which was the eldest and who was to have the rule and they agreed that they being four sorts of people, they would set up four sticks and make them red with clay, that is yellow at first and then becomes red by burning and all go to war and which of them first cover its pole with scalps top to the bottom with the scalps of enemies shall be the eldest.
That they all attempted so too, but the Cusataws Covered the wood of their stick first so that it could not be seen so they were declared and allowed by the whole nation to be the eldest.
The Chickasaws covered next. The Alibamus next. – But the Abikaws could not raise their heap of scalps higher than the knee.
That about this time there was a Large Size bluish Coloured Bird. It had a long tail and was Swifter than an Eagle, which came and ate their people every day. They made the figure of a Woman and set it in the way of the Bird and the Bird took it away with him and kept it a long time, but brought it back again when it came back. They left alone expecting it to bring forth Something. And in Length of time it brought forth a Red Ratt. And they believed the bird was the farther of the Red Ratt.
That they consulted with the Ratt how they might kill his father. That the Bird had Bows and Arrows And the Ratt cut his Bow Strings so the Bird could not Defend Himself. So that the Ratt took them off. And thus they might go forth and kill him. That they did. They called this Bird the King of Birds. They allow the Eagle to be a great King And always carry the feathers of his tail when they go to Warr or Peace – being Red for War and White for peace. And if an Enemy comes with White Feather and White Mouth, and makes a noise like an Eagle, they cannot kill him.
That they have left that place and traveled farther till they found a White path. The grass and all things were White. They found people had been there before they Crossed the path and went to sleep. After they Continued and returned to see what it was and what people had been there before. They thought that it might be good for their good to follow it and they followed that path until they came to a creek called Caloosa-hatchee, because it was smoky and rocky. That they went over it and went toward the sunrise and came to a People called the Coosaw. That they lived with the Coosaws four years.
The Coosataws Complained that they had a creature that eat them up that they call man-eater or Lyon which lived in the rock. The Coosataws Said they had tried to kill the creature and the made a nett, dug a trench and put the nett over it and made several Creeks and Uchees to stone the Lyon from pursuing them and went to the rock where the Lyon lived and threw a rattle to where he lay that the Lyon came out and followed them through all the creeks and places they had made with great fury. So they agreed that one of them dye rather than all.
So when they came over the trench, they took a motherless child and threw it into the Lyon’s way. The Lyon running eagerly to devour the child and tumbled into the trench and then they threw the nett over him and killed him with burning charcoal, but preserved his Bones until this day and one side of them is red and the other is blue.
That every seven days, he used to come kill People. Therefore having killed Him they remained seven days. In remembrance of him thereof, they fast six days and go on the seventh day to Warr and they take the bones of the Lyon with them and they are fortunate therein.
That they left the Coosaws after four years and came to a River that they called Nawphawpe, now called the Callusahatchee. There they stayed two years and as yet had no grain to plant. All this while they lived upon rootes and fish and made bows and arrows and pointed their arrows with beaver teeth and flint rocks. And they split canes instead of stone for knives.
That they left this place, and came to a creek, called Wattoolahawka hatchee or Whooping-creek, because of the whooping of cranes and a great many being there. They slept there one night .
And they came to a River was a fall of water and they called it Owatuaka river.
That next day they came to a river which they called the Aphoosa pheeskaw.
That next day they came over it and came to a High Hill, where were people, they thought, who were the same who made the White Path. Therefore they made White Arrows and shot them to see if they were good People, but the People took the White Arrows off and made them Red Arrows and shot them back again.
They took up the Red Arrows and carried them back their King and the King told them that this was not for good. If the arrows had returned white, they would have gone there and got provisions for their young, but the arrows were red and they must not go.
However, some of them went to see what sort of people they were and they found that they had quitted the there. They saw tracks that led into a River. They went into the river and could not see the tracks on the other side and they thought that the people had gone into the River.
And at that place is a High Hill, called Motorelo and it makes a noise like the beating of a drum and they fancy that the People live there. That whenever they go to Warr they hear this noise.
That they went along the River until they came to another fall of water and they saw great rocks and on the rocks were bows lying and they believed that the people who made the White Path had been there.
That in all their travels, they have two pioneers who go before the body of the people. And they saw a hill and they went upon it And looked about and saw a Town and they shot two white arrows into the Town but the people of the Town shot red arrows back again.
That the Cussataws were angry with the People and Agreed to fall upon this Town and each one would have a house after it was took.
That they threw stones into the river till it was so shallow that they walk over it and that they saw that the People were flat headed and they took the town and after they had so done so they killed all but two People whose tracks they followed and over took a white dog which they killed and they pursued the two People till they came to the White Path again and they saw smoke where there was a town and now again believed they had found the people they so long traveled to see. This was the present place of the Palachicola People dwells in and from whom Tamachichi is descended.
That the Cussetaws were always bloody minded But the Palachicola People made them black drink as a Token of Friendship and told them their hearts were white and lay down their bloody tomahawks and give their bodys in Token that they may be White. That they have the Tomahawk but that the Palachicola People by fair persuasions gained it from them and buryed it under their Cabins. The Palachicola People told them there contain kings all one with their people and gave them white feathers.
And that ever since they have lived together and shall always live Together and bear it in remembrance. That some went on one side of the river and some on the other. The one Side are called Cussetaws and the other side Cowetas but they are one People and Allowed to be the Head Towns of the Upper and Lower Creeks. Nevertheless, they first saw Red Smoke and Red Fire and made bloody towns, they cannot leave their Red Hearts, which are White on one Side and red on the other. That they still know the White path for their good.
For Although Tomachichi has been as a stranger and not lived in their Town among them. Yet they see that in his age he has done himself and them good because he went with Squire Oglethorpe to the Great King and hear his great Talk and has brought it to them. And they have heard it and believe it. For much reason they may look upon him as the father and Somauhi the mother of them all and are resolved that when he Shall be Dead to Look upon Toonahawi his nephew as Chief of them all in his stead and hope that he will be a great man and do good for himself and them. [All attending gave a show of approbation.]
That their eyes have been shut but now are more open and they believe the coming of the English to this place is for the good to them and their children. And will always have straight hearts toward them and hope that though they were naked and helpless, they will have more good things done for them.
I, Chikilly, the J0ani (priest) of the Eldest Town, was Chosen to rule after the Death of the Emperor Bream. I have a Strong Mouth and will Declare this Resolution to the rest of the Nations and make them – counsel them with we are glad the Squire Carried Some of our friends to the great King and his Nation. That I never tyred of hearing what Tomochichi tells one about it. That all my people return their great thanks to all the Trustees for so great a favour. And will always do our upmost endeavor to Serve them and all the great King’s people whenever there shall be an Occasion.
I am glad I have been down and seen things as they are. We shall go home and tell the Children and all the Nation the great talk. Tomochichi has been with the great King and Bear in remembrance the place where the place where they now have mett and call it Georgia.
I am sensible there is One who has made us all. Some have more knowledge and others the Great and Strong, but all must become dirt alike.
*Joani is an Apalache word that is not found in Muskogee.