Samuel Gardner Drake.

The aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index online

. (page 63 of 131)
Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 63 of 131)
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Jack-of-the-feather went to the house of one Morgan, where he saw many such
articles exhibited as were calculated to excite admiration in such people.
Jack, perhaps, had not the means to purchase, but, it seems, he was resolved,
some how or other, to possess them. He, therefore, told Morgan, that if he
would take his commodities to Pamunkey, the Indians would give him a great
price for them. Not in the least mistrusting the design of JVemattanow, the
simple Englishman set out for Pamunkey, in company with this Indian.
This was the last the English heard of Morgan. However, strange as it may
soem, Jack's ill-directing fate sent him to the same place again, and, what was
PI ill more strange, he had the cap of the murdered Morgan upon his head.
Morgan's servants asked him where their master was, who very deliberately
answered, that he was dead. This satisfied them that he had murdered him.
They, therefore, seized him, in order to take him before a magistrate at
Berkeley; but he made a good deal of resistance, which caused one of his
captors to shoot him down. The singular part of the tragedy is yet to be
related. Though mortally wounded, JVemattanow was not killed outright, and
bis captors, which were two stout young men, got him into a boat to proceed
to Mr. Thorp's, the magistrate. As they were going, the warrior became satis-
fied that he must die, and, with the most extraordinary earnestness, besought
that two things might be granted him. One Avas, that it should never be told
to his countrymen that he was killed by a bullet ; and the other, that he should
be buried among the English, so that it should never be discovered that he
had died, or was subject to death like other men. Such was the pride and
vanity exhibited by an Indian at his death. The following inference, there-
fore, is naturally to be drawn ; that a desire to be renowned, and held in
veneration by posterity, is not confined to the civilized and learned of any age
i>r nation.

' Perhaps the New Englanders followed Smith's example, afterwards, in the case of Alf.x,-
undo-, Ninigretf and others.


Meanwhile, Opekankanough, the better to increase the rage of his warriors,
affected great grief at Nemattanow's death, which had the effect he intended
owing, especially, to the favor in which that warrior had stood among the
Indians. But the English were satisfied that this was only pretence, as we
have before observed ; because they were informed of his trying to engage
some of his neighbors against them, and otherwise acted suspiciously, some
time before Nemattanow's death ; of the justice of which, however, the Eng-
lish tried arguments at first, and threats afterwards, to convince them. By
his dissimulation, Opekankanough completely deceived them, and, just before
the massacre, treated a messenger that was sent to him with much kindness
and civility ; and assured him that the peace, which had been some time
before concluded, was held so firm by him that the sky should fall sooner
than it should be violated on his part. And such was the concert and secrecy
among all the Indians, that, only two days before the fatal 22 March, some
kindly conducted the English through the woods, and sent one of their youth
to live with the English, and learn their language. Moreover, on the morn-
ing of that very day, they came unarmed among them, and traded as usual,
and even sat down to breakfast with their victims, in several instances. Never,
perhaps, was a massacre so well contrived and conducted, to ensure success,
as was this of Opekankanough. The English were lulled into a fatal security
and even unknowingly assisted the Indians in their design ; lending them
their boats to communicate with distant tribes, and furnishing them with
various utensils, which were converted at once into weapons of death.

The 22 March, 1G22, having come, and the appointed hour of that mem-
orable day arrived, with a simultaneousness unparalleled on any former occa-
sion, the Indians rose from their ambushes, and, with the swiftness of the
tiger, appeared, in a moment, amidst the English settlements. Age, sex, noi
condition, shielded no one; their greatest benefactors were among their first
victims. Thus, in the space of about one hour, fell three hundred and forty-
seven men, women, and children. By this horrid calamity, out of 80 planta-
tions, six only were left uninjured. And these were saved by the timely
information of a Christian Indian called Chanco.

The ensuing summer was spent, by the surviving English, in strengthening
themselves against further attacks, and preparations for taking vengeance on
the Indians ; wholly neglecting all improvements, works of utility, and even
their planting. Every thing was lost sight of in their beloved project of
revenge ; and the English, in their turn, showed themselves more treacherous,
if not more barbarous, than their enemy. For, under pretence of making
peace again with them, they fell upon them at unawares, and murdered many
without mercy. This crime was vastly aggravated, in that, to induce the
Indians to come forward and make peace, the English had not only solemnly
assured them forgiveness, but likewise security and safety in their persons.

It was, for some time, supposed that Opekankanough was among the slain,
but, if Mr. Beverly was not misinformed, the same sachem, 22 years after-
wards, executed a still greater massacre upon the English, as, in the next
place, we shall relate.

How long Opekankanough had been secretly plotting to cut off the intruders
of his soil cannot be known ; but, in 1644, all the Indians, over a space of
country of 61 '0 miles in extent, were leagued in the enterprise. The old chief
at this time, was supposed to be near 100 years of age, and, though unable to
walk, would be present in the execution of his beloved project. It was upon
the 18 April, when Opekankanough, borne in a litter, led his warriors for-
ward, and commenced the bloody work. They began at the frontiers, with a
letermination to slay all before them, to the sea. After continuing the mas-
sacre two days, in which time about 500 * persons were murdered, Sir William
Berkeley, at the head of an armed force, checked their progress. The destruc-
tion of the inhabitants was the greatest upon York and Pamunkey Rivers,
where Opekankanough commanded in person. The Indians now, in their
turn, were driven to great extremity, and their old chief was taken prisoner

* This is the number generally set down in the histories, but the probably just scrutiny of
Mr Bancroft, Hist. U. S. i. 224-, caused him to fix upon the number 300.



and carried in triumph to Jamestown. How long after the massacre this
happened, we are not informed ; hut it is said that tin- iiitigues he had pre-
viously undergone had wasted away his flesh, and destroyed the elasticity of
his muscles to that degree, that he was no longer ahle 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 heen appointed to guard him, barbarously
fired upon him, and inflicted a mortal wound. He was supposed to have
been prompted to the hloody deed, from a recollection of the old chief's
agency in the massacre. Just before he expired, hearing a great hustle 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 Optkankanough 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 con-
quest, 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 /tonor, it will, per-
haps, be acknowledged, as did Leonidas at Thermopylae.

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, f

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 1640. 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. \

That it took place subsequent to 1641, Mr. Burk assures us, upon the evi-
dence of the MS. records ; for they relate that, in 1640, one John Burton had
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, peti-
tioned 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 con-
cluded with the protestation, "that the sun and moon should first loose their
glorious lights, and shining, before he, or his people, should ever more here-
after wrong the English."

TOTOPOTOMOI probably succeeded Nickotawance, as he was king of Pa-
munkey in 1656. In that year, a large body of strange Indians, called
Rechahecnans, came down from the inland mountainous country, and forcibly

* Beverly, Hist. Virg. 51. t See British Empire in America, i. 240, 1.

J Whether it be preserved in Hening's Statutes, I have not learned, but presumed it, from
the inference of Bancroft.

Like most of the early writers, the author of A New Description of Virginia, (2 Coll.
Mass. Hist. Soc. ix. 111.) speaks of the Indians in terms dictated by indignation. "Their
great king," he says, " Opechankenow, that bloody monster upon a hundred years old, was
taken by Sir William Berkely." This tract was published in 1659, but no date is given 10
the massacre.


possessed themsel/es of the country about the falls of James River. The
legislature of Virginia was in session, when the news of their coming w;ts
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 10()
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 mid tLu
Rechahecrians unprepared, but of the particulars of the meeting of the ad-
verse parties we are not informed. The event, however, was, to the allies,
most disastrous. Totopotomoi, 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 w;us
taken to defray the losses sustained by the country. A peace seems to ha^ c
been concluded with the Indians soon after.


Of the Creek Indians Muskogees Prohibit the use of ardent spirits Their rise and
importance Their origin Catawlas Chikasaus Cherokees A mode of flattening
their heads Complexion lighter than other Indians Seminoles Ruins at Oak-
mulgee Fields Expedition of Solo Kills 2000 Indians Laudonnicre Gourges'
expedition. Grijalva MOYTOY made emperor of the Cherokees Sir Alexander
Gumming His travels among the Cherokees Seven chiefs accompany him to Eng-
land Mlakullakulla SKIJAGUSTAH His speech to the king His death.

Ix the preceding 'chapters of this book, much has been narrated of the
southern nations in general ; and, in particular, of many prominent indi-
viduals 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 di-
gression, if so it should be termed, our chief axiom is not overturned, which
is, that to write the history of the men of a country, is to write the history

/ / 7 ,."

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 his-
tory, 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, that 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
conceived 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. It ^eing- so apt a place to invade us, and
within the limits, which, in a just war, were formerly conquered by us, and by us reserved, al
the conclusion of peace, with the Indians." Burk, Hist. Virginia, ii. 105.


The nation of most importance among tin- Cn-rks \l~as, in 1775, the
Muskogees. That community, or nation, like the Lroquois, WB8 more politic
tlian their neighbors, anil vastly increased their strength and importance by
encouraging small declining tribes to incorporate themselves with them. At
rtne time, another most wise resolution was adopted among them, which, aho\
all others, should be mentioned; that was a prohibition of the importation of ail
kinds of ardent spirits into their country. How long this resolution was main-
tained, 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.

Tiie 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 Tshihofv inhomitsi tomis; momais fvtsv opunaho-
yan im afvlski tomis.f In English, Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord ;
but they that deal truly are his delight.

The following is Choktau reckoning: Achvfa, 1, Tnklo, 2, Tuchina, 3,
Ushta, 4, Tahlapi, 5, Hanali, 6, Untnklo, 7, Uhtuchina, 8, Chakali, 9, Pokoli, 10.
By prefixing auh to the names of the digits, they arrive at 20 ; then, by pre-
fixing Pokoli (10) to -the series of digits, they arrive at 30, and so on. J:

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 PH<ENIX, was established
in the Cherokee nation, printed chiefly in Cherokee, with an English transla-
tion. 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
t'.fk-r 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,
tike 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 con-
siderable towns. They had dominion also over one town of the Shawanese.
Their chief places were upon the branches of the Alabama and the Apalachi-
cola 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 them-
selves 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 " Mnskoqfee (Creek) Assistant/'
publisher! in Boston, 1835, by the Am. Hoard of Com. for Foreign Missions.
t Choktau Arithmetic, printed as above.
$ Hist. Missions, ii, 354. Missionary Herald.


sun ; that being the most glorious and noble origin of which they could con-
ceive. 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 CataAvbas, 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 so, than their own
exterminating wars ; for, as in other cases, as soon as an intercourse com-
menced, 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

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 ;
the 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, f and, according to Father Hennepin^ 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 r 'ii-rence
oidy to the .Muskogees, according to some writers. The Choktaus princi-
pally 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 signiii.-d 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 Calos 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
several pages, and it is not necessary here to enumerate them ; we shall there-
fore, 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 bauds of Indians, and that on reach -

* Dr. Morse's Report.

t 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 th
little boy is fixed, a bag- of sand being- laid on his forehead." Bart ram, 515.

| New Discovery, 176.



ing this |'l:'ce they lonilied themselves, and could proceed no further, and at
I nirili gained ground and became conquerors in their turn.

There are few greater curiosities in the south, than the great highways 01

OB Is, which, 50 years ago, sU'tick the traveller u ith surpri-e. Jn \\Ysi I'lorida

. an- itill easily traced for near 50 miles in a straight, line upon the Oklo-

konej I fiver. All history is silent about them ; and it is a singular fact that

tiie Indians will make no use of them, but studiously make their jiaths in any

Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 63 of 131)