The Closing Statement of King Chikili in Savannah June 7, 1735
Native American Brainfood
Readers are going to be getting many surprises as a result of the discovery of the original Migration Legend of the Creek People. For example, the four original members of the Creek Confederacy were the Georgia Apalache (Apalachicola in Spanish, Conchaqui in French), the Kusa-te, the Koweta AND the Chickasaws . . . yes, Chickasaws.
There is no mention of Ichesi or Ochese in the legend. Apparently, the Itsate speakers in the Macon, GA area and Southern Highlands initially had their own alliance. The Apalache towns dominated the confederacy until after the death of Chikili. He was the last Apalache king of the confederacy. He spoke a language similar to Hitchiti, but after then Muskogee became increasingly dominant.
Chikili brought with him to the conference a bison vellum on which was painted in the Apalache writing system, the Migration Legend. He read it in some dialect of Creek. Kusaponakesa (Mary Musgrove) translated and Georgia’s Colonial Secretary, Thomas Christie wrote down the English translation. After explaining the vellum, Chikili spoke for awhile on Creek-British relations. The following is his last remarks before closing the diplomatic conference. You are among the first people to see these words in 280 years.
“Our eyes have been shut but now are more open and they believe the coming of the English to this place is for the good of us and our children. We will always have straight hearts toward the English and hope that though we were naked and helpless, we will have more good things done for us.”
“I, Chikilly, the Joani * (priest) of the Eldest Town, was chosen to rule after the death of the Emperor Bemarin (Bream in English). I have a strong mouth and will announce this resolution to the rest of the nation and counsel them that we are glad the Squire Oglethorpe carried some of our friends to the great king and his nation.”
“I never tire of hearing what Tomochichi tells us about the trip. All my people return their thanks to all the Trustees for so great a favor. We will always do our up most 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 about this great talk.
Tomochichi has been with the great king. We will always remember this place where we first met together and call it Georgia.”
“I am sensible that there is One who has made us all. Some of us have more knowledge and others are great or strong, but in the end of life, all must become dirt again.”
*Joani is an Apalache word that is not found in Muskogee.
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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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