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Lalawethika Shawnee Origin Story

Lalawethika Shawnee Origin Story Shawnee Origin Story 1 (from Lalawethika the Shawnee Prophet)

When the Great Spirit made this Island he thought it necessary to make also people to inhabit it and with this view he formed the Indian. He first formed the man and then the woman.

After some time together the woman became pregnant and in a while delivered the first child. The Great Spirit saw that this was good and told them that they should live, increase and multiply in that manner for He had first made them but thereafter they must make themselves.

Sometime later He opened the door of the sky and the Indians looked down on this island. By then there were twelve Indians, the roots of the Shawnee, all living at the residence of the Great Spirit and looking down, they saw this island. He told them they must come down to live upon this island and that it would take them twelve of His days to get here which is to say twelve of their years.

While they were on their journey He would finish creating everything they needed to survive on this island. He gave them for subsistence twelve kinds of meat and twelve kinds of vegetables. Of the vegetables the first would be corn, beans, cucumbers, squashes and melons. Of the meats the first would be elk, deer, bear, buffalo, turkey and raccoon.

He gave each of them a piece of His heart so that they would have Good in their hearts.

He then told them; Remember who made you and these things and do not at any time attribute the formation to any but Me. Your age will be 200 years and then your head will become white like mine and you will drop down. When you become thus advanced you must tell your children all that I have taught you so tha tit might be passed down to your posterity. You go to this island that rests on a turtles back. You must call this turtle Grandfather. He will hear your calls and treat you as his grandchildren. If any of you should drop down before 200 years, you will put upon him some of this medicine that I give you and he will get up again.

As I will not always be with you, I give you the sun to care for you during the day and the moon for the same at night. I will also put some of my gray hairs upon the first that I formed and he shall be an Old Man and you shall call him Grandfather. The Old Man, Grandfather was called Kwee-koo-lah and the second man He had formed was called Mah-kwee-kee-law, would also be an Old Man and called Grandfather, being next in power.

After this the Great Spirit put the twelve Indians and the two Old Men, having created two newer ones to take their place, in a large basket so He could place them on this island. Kwee-koo-lah, the first Old Man, carried with him all the good things entrusted to his care for the benefit of the Indians in a pack on his back.

The first earth that they saw in their journey was on the other side of a great lake and when they arrived at the sea shore they stopped and rested. Kwee-koo-lah told them that his heart was in a place in a northern direction from them and at a great distance. The twelve Indians could see nothing but water and knew not how to cross it to this island. Kwee-koo-lah took a gourd from his pack and began to sing with the Indians. They sang for twelve days during which time they ate only a few roots. Kwee-koo-lah told the Indians that the Great Spirit promised to grant them all they desired and that they must pray to Him for help in crossing the great water. And so, soon after that, they were able to walk to this island. Before they left Kwee-koo-lah told them that he was too old to be the leader and the bearer of the pack so he appointed Chalakatha to lead and bear the pack. Having done this Kwee-koo-lah seated himself on the shore to watch Chalakatha lead the band, which by this time had become quiet numerous across the water.

When they arrived on the opposite shore they encamped and remained for a period of twelve days, during which they sang and abstained from eating. They wanted to send a message back to Kwee-koo-lah but the waters had returned blocking their path. Mah-kwee-kee-law, the second Old Man then made a speech and told them he was satisfied with the power and justness of the Great Spirit but they must remove further south and that he would stay behind at the shore to look back at his friend Kwee-koo-lah who remained on the opposite side of the sea. These two Old Men have since turned to stone and sit in their positions to this day.

Chalakatha then led the Indians to the north. After traveling for twelve days they reached their destination, beside a river and stopped. Soon the Great Spirit visited them and told them that He had placed the heart of one of the Old Men at that place and that henceforth they would be called Shawano and the river they camped beside would be called Shawano-thipi, the Shawnee River. Then he said that he was leaving for a while and they must think for themselves.

Four days after the Great Spirit departed the old men sent some young men to hunt, telling them that if they killed any animal they must bring it all home, leaving nothing behind. So the young men hunted and killed an elk but he was so large that they could not carry it all home and so left the backbone, as the must useless part, behind on the ground. When they returned the old men saw that the backbone was missing and sent them back for it. When the young men arrived at where they had left the elks backbone they found it to be wiggling on the ground. They returned home and told the old men what they and seen and were sent for the bone once again. When they arrived the second time at the place where they had left the backbone they found tha the backbone had turned into an Indian whose body was red. They led this Indian back to their camp where the old men asked him from whence he came but he could give no account of himself. From this man sprung the Pekowi family. As this new man came from neither the Great Spirit or from man but from an animal he was appointed head of the warriors of the Shawano and they called him Was-koo-mee-saw, for his body was red.

It became necessary at that time to appoint someone to take care of the Great Medicine which had been given to them by the Great Spirit. They assembled in Council but remained of differing opinions for seven days. A man unknown appeared among them and passed a full day un-noticed. He returned the next day covered all over with white clay. Arising in Council he told them he was Mah-ko-at-sa from the Mekoche family of the Shawano and that his was to be the tile of Great Chief and Keeper of the Medicine for his heart was as white and pure as the paint on his body. He then left the council but returned the next day and asserted his claims again based on the fact that his body was without blood, his heart and flesh being white. After much discussion, Council decided to try him by giving him half the Great Medicine, with Chalakatha retaining the other half.

Soon after that the Shawano heard that there were new neighbors approaching and sat out to go meet them. The new people sent a messenger to tell the Shawano to not approach them but the Shawano fearlessly approached the Creeks (for such were the newcomers) anyway. They told the Creeks who they were and of their origin. When the Creeks scoffed, the Shawano struck them all dead with the great Medicine but brought some of them back to life, again using the Great Medicine and have called them brothers ever since. After this the Shawano returned to their village where Mah-ko-at-sa had remained and proceeded further to the north.

After the old men and died and other nations of Indians had sprung up war began to rage between the Indians. The Shawano, Pekowi, Mekoche and Kishpoko tribes of the Shawnee nation waged war on the Catawba. In the first expedition they took two Catawba females as prisoners. The holder of one of these prisoners was Young Mahkoatsa, the son of Mahkoatsa. While he lay sleeping, another Indian (a Shawano?) curious to know if he really had no blood, tomahawked and scalped him, while the Catawba girl pretending to sleep watched. After killing and scalping Young Mahkoatsa, this Indian took the Catawba girl away with him. When the expedition returned to their home the murdered carried the girl and the scalp to Mah-ko-at-sa as gifts. The old man accepted both, thinking it to be the scalp of a Catawba and calling the girl his granddaughter. In time, when the girl and learned to speak Shawnee she told her grandfather the details of the murder. He examined the scalp looking for a scar Young Mah-ko-at-sa had in his hair. Finding it, he called a council of his old friends. To avenge themselves for the death of Young Mah-ko-at-sa they put the scalp in an earthen pot filled with blood and sent it to the Chippewa and surrounding tribes as a challenge for war. The other nations accepted but were soundly defeated by the Shawano, which displeased the old men who had promoted the war. The old men then sent the pot to the Iroquois hoping that they could overpower their own nation. But the Iroquois were defeated by the Shawano and returned to their homes.

At this time the Chief Men and warriors of the nation found out the cause of these wars and decided to take away the half the Great Medicine that had been trusted to Mah-ko-at-sa, to return it to Chalakatha who was living on the Mississippi at that time. Mah-ko-at-sa protested but Chalakatha shot an arrow into the sun, causing an eclipse that darkened the earth until the half of the Great Medicine was returned to him. To avoid depriving Mah-ko-at-sa and the Mekoche totally of character and standing in the nation, he was made Counselor of the nation.

They continued thus until they met the whites landing at Philadelphia.

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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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