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DEATH OF OPEKANKANOL GH.-TOTOPOTOMOI.
and carried in triumph to Jamestown. How long after the massacre this happened, we are not informed; but it is said that the fatigues he had previously undergone had wasted away his flesh, and destroyed the elasticity of his muscles to that degree, that he was no longer able to raise the eyelids from his eyes; and it was in this forlorn condition, that he fell into the hands of his enemies. A soldier, who had been appointed to guard him, barbarously fired upon him, and inflicted a mortal wound. He was supposed to have been prompted to the bloody deed, from a recollection of the old chiet's agency in the massacre. Just before he expired, hearing a great bustle and crowd about him, he ordered an attendant to lift up his eyelids; when he discovered a multitude pressing around, to gratify the untimely curiosity of beholding a dying sachem. Undaunted in death, and roused, as it were, from sleep, at the conduct of the confused multitude, he deigned not to observe them; but, raising himself from the ground, with the expiring breath of authority, commanded that the governor should be called to him. When the governor came, Opekankanough said, with indignation, “ Had it been my for tune to have taken Sir Wm. BERKELEY prisoner, I would not meanly have exposed him as a show to my people ;'
" * and soon after expired. It is said, and we have no reason to doubt the fact, that it was owing to the encroachments upon his lands, that caused Opekankanough to determine upon a massacre of the whites. These intrusions were, nevertheless, conformable to the grants of the proprietors. He could hardly have expected entire conquest, as his people had already begun to waste away, and English villages were springing up over an extent of country of more than 500 miles, with a populousness beyond any preceding example; still, he was determined upon the vast undertaking, and sacrificed himself with as much honor, it will, perhaps, be acknowledged, as did Leonidas at Thermopylæ.
Sir William Berkeley intended to have sent him, as a present, to the king of England; but assassination deprived him of the wretched satisfaction, and saved the chief from the mortification. +
None of the Virginia historians seem to have been informed of the true date of this last war of Opekankanough; the ancient records of Virginia, says Mr. Burk, are silent even upon the events of it, (an extraordinary omission.) Mr. Beverly thinks it began in 1639, and, although Mr. Burk is satisfied that it took place after 1641, yet he relates it under the date 1610. And we are not certain that the real date would ever have been fixed, but for the inestimable treasury of New England history, Winthrop's Journal. I
That it took place subsequent to 1641, Mr. Burk assures us, upon the evidence of the MS. records; for they relate that, in 1640, one John Burton bad been convicted of the murder of an Indian, and that his punishment was remitted, “ at the intercession of Opekankanough, and his great men.” And that, in the end of the year 1641, Thomas Rolfe, the son of Pocahontas, petitioned the governor for permission to visit his kinsman, Opekankanough, and Cleopatre, the sister of his mother. That, therefore, these events happened previous to the war, and death of Opekankanough. ♡
NickoTAWANCE succeeded Opekankanough, as a tributary to the English. In 1648, he came to Jamestown, with five other chiefs, and brought 20 beaver skins to be sent to King Charles. He made a long oration, which he concluded with the protestation, “ that the sun and moon should first loose their glorious lights, and shining, before he, or his people, should ever more hereafter wrong the English.”
TotoPotomou probably succeeded Nickotawance, as he was king of Pamunkey in 1656. In that year, a large body of strange Indians, called Rechahecrians, came down from the inland mountainous country, and forcibly
* Bererly, Hist. Virg. 51.
+ See British Empire in America, i. 210, 1. # Whether it be preserved in Hening's Statutes, I have not learned, but presumed it, from the inference of Bancrofi.
O Like most of the early writers, the author of A Nero Description of Virgina, (2 Coll. Mass. Hist. Soc. ix. 111.) speaks of the Indians in terms dictated by indignation. * Their great king,” he says, “ Opechankenovo, that bloody monster upon a hundred years old, was iaken by Sir William Berkely." This tract was published in 1659, but no date is given 10 the massacre.
possessed themselves of the country about the falls of James River. The legislature of Virginia was in session, when the news of their coming was received. What cause the English had to send out an army against them, our scanty records do not satisfactorily show;* but, at all events, they determined at once to dispossess them. To that end, an army of about 100 men was raised, and put under the direction of Colonel Edward Hill, who was joined by Totopotomoi, with 100 of his warriors. They did not find the Rechahecrians unprepared, but of the particulars of the meeting of the adverse parties we are not informed. The event, however, was, to the allies, most disastrous. Totopolomoi, with the most of his men, was slain, and the English suffered a total defeat, owing, it is said, to the criminal management of Colonel Hill. This officer lost his commission, and his property was taken to defray the losses sustained by the country. A peace seems to have been concluded with the Indians soon after.
of the Creek Indians-Muskogees-Prohibit the use of ardent spirits—Their rise and importance— Their origin-Catawbas-Chikasaus-Cherokees-A mode of flattening their heads-Complexion lighter than other Indians-Seminoles-Ruins at Oakmulgee Fields-Expedition of Solo-Kills 2000 Indians-Laudonnicre-Gourges' erpedition-Grijalva—MoYtoy made emperor of the Cherokees—Sir Alexander Cumming - His travels among the Cherokees-Seven chiefs accompany him to Eng. land-Atlakullakulla—SKIJAGUSTAH–His speech to the king–His death.
In the preceding chapters of this book, much has been narrated of the southern nations in general; and, in particular, of many prominent individuals and events. It is designed, in the present chapter, to speak more particularly upon the events of the great nation of Creek Indians.
It will be proper, in the first place, to give some general account of the nation, whose men of eminence have been, and are to be, noticed; for there are some facts that will not necessarily fall in otherwise; but, in such digression, if so it should be termed, our chief axiom is not overturned, which is, that to write the bistory of the men of a country, is to write the bistory of such country. The reader, however, should be reminded, that a general history of a people at one period, will not exactly apply to them at another. This observation is not only true with regard to their political and civil bistory, but also in regard to the manners and customs of the same nations: these facts are true, both as they regard people called civilized, as well as those called savage. Hence, descriptions of tribes or nations by one observer, at one time, differ from those of another at a different period ; and yet both may be true in the main particulars. Students, therefore, not aware of this fact, may be disposed to discredit writers for such disagreements, which, in fact, are altogether imaginary. But it is time to commence upon the imme. diate business of the present chapter.
The Creek Indians take their name from that of the country in which they live; that is, the English gave them the name of Creeks, because their country is full of creeks.
* By the following preamble and resolve of the legislature, all we possess, touching this matter, is to be gathered :-"Whereas information hath been received, ihat many western or inland Indians are drawn from the mountains, and lately set down near the falls of James River, to the number of 6 or 700, whereby, upon many several considerations being had, it is conreived great danger might ensue to this colony. This assembly, therefore, do think fit and resolve, that these new come Indians be in no sort suffered to seat themselves there, or any place near us, it having cost so much blood to expel and extirpate those perfidious and treacherous Indians, which were there formerly. I: heing so apt a place to invade us, and svithin the limits, which, in a just war, were formerly conquered by us, and by us reserved, at the couclusion of peace, with the lodians.” Burk, Hist. Virginia, ii. 105.
CREEK LANGUAGE.-CHEROKEE INVENTION.
The nation of most importance among the Creeks was, in 1775, the Muskogees. That community, or nation, like the Iroquois, was more politic than their neighbors, and vastly increased their strength and importance by encouraging small declining tribes to incorporate themselves with them. At one time, another most wise resolution was adopted among them, which, above all others, should be mentioned; that was a prohibition of the importation of all kinds of ardent spirits into their country. How long this resolution was maintained, or at what period, cannot, at this time, be stated. It was very probably at the period of their greatest prosperity, which was just before the breaking out of the revolutionary war. The Muskogees had another excellent regulation, namely, the men assisted their women in their planting before setting out on their warlike and other expeditions. This was called the Creek nation, which, in what was called its best days, about 1786, contained 17,000 souls; but they were reckoned, in 1829, at 20,000.
Some have, latterly, given the name of Creeks only to a part of the nations of which we have begun to treat; but it is here intended to include under that head all the tribes between the Savannah on the east, the Mississippi on the west, and the country bordering on the Ohio on the north.
The following is a specimen of their language, which will answer tolerably well as a specimen of all the southern languages, from Carolina to the Mississippi :
Isti tsukhvlhpi laksakat Tshibofv_ inhomitsi tomis; momais fvtsv opunahoyan im afvlski tomis. In English, Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord; but they that deal truly are his delight.
The following is Choktau reckoning: Achyfa, 1, Tuklo, 2, Tuchina, 3, Ushta, 4, Tahlapi, 5, Hanali, 6, Untuklo, 7, Untuchina, 8, Chakali, 9, Pokoli, 10. By prefixing anh to the names of the digits, they arrive at 20; then, by prefixing Pokoli (10) to the series of digits, they arrive at 30, and so on. I
The Cherokees have now a written language, and, before the late troubles with Georgia, were making good advancement in all the useful arts. One of the most remarkable discoveries of modern times has been made by a Cherokee Indian, named George Guess. His invention was that of a syllabic alphabet of the language of his nation, which he applied to writing with unparalleled success. Young Cherokees learned by it to write letters to their friends in three days' time; and although the inventor used a part of the English alphabet in making up his own, yet he was acquainted with no other language but the Cherokee. This invention was brought to maturity in 1826. Two years after, a newspaper, called the CHEROKEE Phenix, was established in the Cherokee nation, printed chiefly in Cherokee, with an English translation. Being considered an independent nation, they instituted a form of government similar to that of the United States.
It was some time after the Natchez massacred the French, that the principa. nation of Creeks, the Muskogees, began to rise into importance. For a time after that memorable event, the country of the Natchez was desolate; but when some years had elapsed, a tribe seated themselves there, and it became the seat of a powerful nation; and this was the Muskogees. That nation, like the ancient Romans, had, in about 30 years, extended their dominions over a fertile country near 200 miles square; had 3500 bow-men, and 50 considerable towns. They had dominion also over one town of the Shawanese. Their chief places were upon the branches of the Alabama and the Apalachicola rivers; the people upon the latter being called the lower Creeks. This, as well as the other nations whom we call Creeks, are generally supposed to have originally come from the south or south-west ; but the Indians themselves believe, or pretend to believe, that they came from the east, or place of the sun's rising; concerning which opinion we may observe once for all, that it most probably had the same origin among all ignorant people, which arose from no other than a desire that others should think them descended from the
* It is common to reckon a third warriors.
+ This specimen I take from a little volume, called the “ Muskogee (Creek) Assistant," published in Boston, 1935, by the Am. Board of Com. for Foreigu Missions.
Chokiau Arithmetic, printed as above.
sun; that being the most glorious and noble origin of which they could conceive. Indeed, such is not altogether unnatural ; for that luminary quickens and enlivens every thing that has life, whether animal or vegetable.
Beside the Muskogees, the Kataubahs, or Catawbas, Cherokees, Choktaus, and Chikasaus, were other numerous tribes spread over the great country of which we have spoken.
The Kataubahs and the Chikasaus were very warlike; but their vicinity to Europeans was as detrimental to them, and even more go, than their own exterminating wars; for, as in other cases, as soon as an intercourse commenced, degradation and ruin followed.
The Cherokees have withstood the deletery effects of civilization much beyond what can be said of any other tribe of Indians. Their country is chiefly in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee; but they occupy also the western part of the state of Georgia. Before the war of 1812, their country covered 24,000 square miles.* Numbers of this tribe have emigrated to Arkansaw.
The Choktaus possessed a country not so filled with creeks and rivers as the Muskogees. This circumstance, it is said, was a great hinderance to their prosperity; for in their wars with their neighbors, they suffered greatly from their ignorance of swimming. There were Upper and Lower Choktau towns; che former were situated about 160 miles from the Chikasaus, and the latter about 200 above New Orleans. The people of this nation flattened their heads by wearing bags of sand on them, t and, according to Father Hennepin, f the heads of all the Indians upon the Mississippi are flatter than those of Canada. It is said also that they are of a lighter complexion; but this has reference only to the Muskogees, according to some writers. The Choktaus principally inhabit Mississippi. They were, in 1820, set down at 25,000 souls, and are rather increasing.
The Chikasaus are supposed to have come from the west of the Mississippi, and as it was a custom among the Creeks for their unoccupied lands to be taken by any that came among them, as emigrants, the Chikasaus found no obstacles in the way of establishing themselves on this side the Mississippi. Where they first established themselves is unknown, but in 1770 they were a powerful and warlike nation, and were seated upon the western branches of the Mobile. The tribe of Yazoos belonged to this nation. The Chikasaus reside in Mississippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee. They do not exceed 4900 in number.
The Seminoles were a nation made up similar to many others, and chiefly of Muskogees. The Creeks called them Seminoles, which signified wild, because they had estranged themselves from their former country. This nation was principally seated, 40 years ago, upon the rivers Apalachicola and Flint, and had a large town on Čalos Bay, on the west side of East Florida. They now reside in Florida, a scattered remnant of about 1200.
The names alone of the different clans or tribes of these nations would fill Beveral pages, and it is not necessary here to enumerate them; we shall therefore, after some general observations, pass to the consideration of those chiefs who have been conspicuous.
There are upon the east bank of the Oakmulge, near its confluence with the Ocone, beautiful fields, extensively known as the Oakmulge fields; they are upon the rich low lands of the river, and upon the elevated part of them are yet visible remains of a town. These fields extend 20 miles along the river. The Creek Indians give this account of them, namely, that here was the place where they first set down after crossing the Mississippi ; that their journey from the west had been attended with incredible suffering, and that they were opposed at every step by various hostile bands of Indians, and that on reach
* Dr. Morse's Report.
| Adair.—“As soon as the child is born, the nurse provides a cradle or wooden case, hol. lowed and fashioned, to receive the infant, lying prostrate on its back, that part of the case where the head reposes, being fashioned like a brick-mould. In this portable machine the litue boy is fixed, a bag of sand being laid on his forehead."-Bartram, 515. $ New Discovery, 176.
ing this place they fortified themselves, and could proceed no further, and at length gained ground and became conquerors in their turn.
There are few greater curiosities in the south, than the great highways or roads, which, 50 years ago, struck the traveller with surprise. In West Florida they are still easily traced for near 50 miles in a straight line upon the Oklokoney River. All history is silent about them; and it is a singular fact that the Indians will make no use of them, but studiously make their paths in any other direction. *
The country of the southern Indians has suffered in some respects as much as some parts of South America; it having been traversed and overrun from time to time by bands of mercenary whites. In the year 1538, Ferdinand de Soto, with a commission from the Emperor Charles V., sailed with a considerable fleet for America. He was a Portuguese gentleman, and had been with Pizarro in the conquest (as it is called) of Peru. His commission constituted him governor of Cuba and general of Florida. f. Although he sailed from St. Lucar in 1538, he did not land in Florida f until May, 1539. With about 1000 men, 213 of whom were provided with horses, he undertook the conquest of Florida and countries adjacent. After cutting their way in various directions through numerous tribes of Indians, traversing nearly 1000 miles of country, losing a great part of their army, their general died upon the banks of the Mississippi, and the survivors were obliged to build vessels in which to descend the river; which, when they had done, they sailed for Mexico. This expedition was five years in coming to nothing, and bringing ruin upon its performers. A populous Indian town at this time stood at or near the mouth of the Mobile, of which Soto's army had possessed themselves. Their intercourse with the Indians was at first friendly, but at length a chief was insulted, which brought on hostilities. A battle was fought, in which, it is said, 2000 Indians were killed, and 83 Spaniards.
We shall not attempt here to go more into detail concerning the band of marauding Spaniards under Soto, as it will answer the present purpose to observe, that what has just been related, is but one of the many butcheries committed by that band; and, moreover, our accounts are rather indistinct upon the whole affair, and savor much of exaggeration.
The French, under René de Laudonniere, settled in Florida in 1564, near where Pensacola was since built. The Spaniards claimed the country, and hence the bloody wars which followed. This first settlement of the French, projected by Admiral Coligni, was soon broken up by the Spaniards: they, in the basest and most savage manner, murdered the whole colony. A religious war at this period distracted the French nation, and this outrage would have remained unrevenged, but for the indignation of an individual. In 1567, Dominique de Gourges sailed to Florida, took three forts from the Spaniards, put the men to the sword, and hanged all the other settlers he could find. § A French garrison was again established, but, being left without protection, was soon retaken by the Spaniards, who remained masters of the country for more than a hundred years. || From these transactions of antiquity, we must descend to times nearer our
In the year 1730, Sir Alexander Cumming travelled among the southern Indians, and from whose account we are able to give several interesting particulars. At this period, he relates that the Cherokee nation was governed by seven Mother Towns, each of which chose a king to preside over them and their dependants. He was elected out of certain families, and the descent * Williams's W. Florida, 32.
Chandon de Delandine, Nouveau Dict. Historique, art. Soto. # "So called, because it was first discovered by the Spaniards on Palme-Sunday, or, as the most interpret, Easter-day, which they call Pasqua Florida, and not, as Theret writeth, for the flourishing verdure thereof." Purchas, 769. " Modern writers of discoveries would do vetter were they to look more to the sources of information.
See an animated account of these bloody affairs in Johnson's Life of General Greene, .. 480. &c.
|| Dupratz, i. 1-3. Juan de Grijalva discovered the country upon the Gulf of Mexico in 1518, (Herrera, ii. 199,) and some report that he carried off' Indians as slaves. (See IVila liams's Florida, 90.) But we are not aware that the fact is eisewhere recorded. Herrera, though very minute, does not name it. Purchas (312) agrees with bin