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Black Hoof ~ Shawnee Origin Story

In the beginning the Great Spirit created a world and the Indians that lived on it and he spoke to them directly by personal communication. But they waxed evil and he sent a great flood to destroy his wicked creations. All were destroyed except one aged woman who wept for her lost grandchildren. The Great Spirit was touched by her sorrow and decided to renew and repopulate the world.

He sent a crawfish down to gather him some mud and with it he reformed this island. He then formed some very large animals and set them at the four cardinal points of the compass to keep it steady. He then made the Indians. He placed them at the center of the island and distributed the lesser animals around them for their subsistence. He then created females for the males and told them to reproduce and fill the island.

Black Hoof from a lithograph published in History of the Indian Tribes of North America.

Black Hoof from a lithograph published in History of the Indian Tribes of North America.

The Mekoche were placed on the Shawnee River. They had not been there long when they discovered the Pekowi south of them who told them they came from further south near the great salt water. The two joined as one people. The Kishpoko, who said they had crossed much ice and snow to arrive on the island, were later found in the west near the Pekowi and likewise joined.

The Chalakatha then lived on the opposite side of the sea. They sent out an adventurer to explore the country. He returned and told them of the island across the sea. Chalakatha, the Chief of the Chalakatha, decided to move his people there and they marched down to the shoreline. One of the Turtle clan volunteered to lead them and they marched on the bottom of the sea to the island. When they arrived they formed a camp and lit a fire. The Mekoche saw the fire and approached offering to call the Chalakatha their cousins. This offer was rejected and finally the Chalakatha consented to be called grandfathers of the others and so the four were all joined as one nation. The Shawano who had been living as a separate tribe to the east shortly joined. Soon the Thawikila showed up, having crossed the sea in a different way came from the south and likewise joined. They all six spoke the same language and of the six the Shawano were the largest and most powerful group.

After confederating, they formed twelve large villages, two of each Tribe. As their numbers grew it was decided that some must move farther away, so volunteers of each tribe left and traveled. Some found their way to the Mississippi. Some moved to the north. Some turned southward to the great salt water. Some proceeded to the northeast, to the Delaware and Hudson Rivers where they were when the whites arrived.

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.

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