Transcribed minutes: First meeting between the leaders of the Lower Creek Nation and General James E. Oglethorpe
The document below was one of several in the long lost box, found last March in Lambeth Palace that also contained the “Original Migration Legend of the Creek People.” I just now got around to transcribing it. I do not receive any income for my work with the People of One Fire, so I hope you will excuse my tardiness.
This meeting occurred on the afternoon of May 18, 1733. It was between the leader of the newly founded Colony of Georgia, James Edward Oglethorpe, and the leaders of the Lower Creek Confederacy. At this time there were two Creek Confederacies. The provinces of Koweta and Alabamu had gotten into a squabble with the province of the Chickasaws, who at that time were members of the Upper Creek Confederacy. The Chickasaws dropped out of the Upper Creek Confederacy, while the Alabamu’s dropped out of the Lower Creek Confederacy. Since then, both have been viewed as distinct tribes.
Some of you will find this rare document of no interest, but others will find it provides a humanity to Native American history that is often missing from current references. It is somewhat lengthy for a POOF article, but I thought the entire document was important. The result of this meeting was a treaty between Georgia and the Lower Creeks. Later the same treaty was signed by the Upper Creeks and eventually the Cherokees. I used Thomas Christie’s odd spellings for the Native names.
On the 14th of May, in the year of our Lord, 1733, Mr. Oglethorpe set out from Charleston on his return to Savannah, which is the name of the town now begun to be built in Georgia. That night he lay at Col. Bull’s house on Ashley river, where he dined the next day. The Rev. Mr. Guy, rector of the parish of St. John’s, waited upon him there, and acquainted him that his parishioners had raised a very handsome contribution for the assistance of the colony of Georgia. Mr. Oglethorpe went from thence to Capt. Bull’s, where he lay on the 15th. On the 16th, in the morning, he embarqued at Daho, and rested at Mr. Cochran’s island.
On the 17th he dined at Lieut. Watts’ at Beaufort, and landed at Savannah on the 18th, at ten in the morning, where he found that Mr. Wiggan, the interpreter, with the chief men of all the Lower Creek nation, had come down to treat of an alliance with the new colony.
The Lower Creeks are a nation of Indians who formerly consisted of ten, but now are reduced to eight tribes or towns, who ave each their different government, but are allied together and speak the same language. They claim from the Savannah river as far as St. Augustin, and up to the Flint river, which falls into the bay of Mexico. All the Indians inhabiting this tract speak their language. Tomo-chi-chi, mico, and the Indians of Yamacraw are of their nation and language.
Mr. Oglethorpe received the Indians in one of the new houses that afternoon. They were as follows : From the tribe of Coweeta — Yahou-Lakee, their king or mico. Essoboa, their warrior, the son of old Breen, lately dead, whom the Spaniards called emperor of the Creeks, with eight men and two women attendants.
From the tribe of the Cussetas — Cusseta, the mico, Tatchiquatchi, the head warrior, and four attendants.
From the tribe of the Owseecheys — Ogeese, the mico, or war king, Neathlouthko and Ougachi, two chief men, with three attendants.
From the tribe of Cheehaws — Outhleteboa, the mico, Thlautho-thlukee, Figeer, Soota-Milla, war-captains, and three attendants.
From the tribe of Echetas — Chutabeeche and Robin, two war-captains, [the latter was bred among the English] with four attendants.
From the tribe of Pallachucolas — Gillatee, the head warrior, and five attendants.
From the tribe of Oconas — Oueekachuinpa, called by the English “ Long King,” Coowoo, a warrior.
From the tribe of Eufaule — Tomaumi, the head warrior, and three attendants.
The Indians being all seated, Oueekachumpa, a very tall old man, stood up, and with a graceful action and a good voice, made a long speech, which was interpreted by Mr. Wiggan and John Musgrove, and was to the following purpose. He first claimed all the land to the southward of the river Savannah, as be longing to the Creek Indians.
Next he said that although they were poor and ignorant, he who had given the English breath had given them breath also; that he who had made both, had given more wisdom to the white men; that they were firmly persuaded that the Great Power which dwelt in heaven and all around, [and then he spread out his hands and lengthened the sound of his words,] and which had given breath to all men, had sent the English thither for the instruction of them, their wives and children; that therefore they gave them up freely their right to all the land which they did not use themselves, and that this was not only his opinion, but the opinion of the eight towns of the Creeks, each of whom having consulted together, had sent some of their chief men with skins, which is their wealth.
He then stopped, and the chief men of each town brought up a bundle of buck-skins, and laid eight bundles from the eight towns at Mr. Oglethorpe’s feet. He then said those were the best things they had, and therefore they gave them with a good heart. He then thanked him for his kindness to Tomo-chi-chi, mico, and his Indians, to whom he said he was related ; and said, that though Tomo-chi-chi was banished from his nation, he was a good man, and had been a great war rior, and it was for his wisdom and courage that the banished men chose him king.
Lastly, he said, they had heard in the nation that the Cherokees had killed some Englishmen, and that if he should command them, they would enter with their whole force into the Cherokee country, destroy their harvest, kill their people and revenge the English. He then sat down. Mr. Oglethorpe promised to acquaint the trustees with their desire of being instructed, and informed them that although there had been a report of the Cherokees having killed some Englishmen, it was groundless. He thanked them in the most cordial manner for their affection, and told them that he would acquaint the trustees with it.
Tomo-chi-chi, mico, then came in, with the Indians of Yamacraw, to Mr. Oglethorpe, and, bowing very low, said : “ I was a banished man. I came here, poor and helpless to look for some good land near the bones of my ancestors, and the trustees sent people here. I feared that you would drive us away because we were weak and wanted corn, but you confirmed our land to us, gave us food and instructed our children.”
We have already thanked you in the strongest words we could find, but words are no return for such favors; for good words may be spoke by the deceitful, as well as by the upright heart. The chief men of all our nation are here to thank you for us; and before them I declare your goodness, and that here I design to die; for we all love your people so well that with them we will live and die. We do not know good from evil, but desire to be instructed and guided by you that we may do well with, and be numbered amongst the children of the trustees.
Tomo-chi-chi then faced Mr. Oglethorpe and stated; “Here is a little present.” He then gave Mr. Oglethorpe a buffalo’s skin, painted on the inside with the head and feathers of an eagle.
Tomo-chi-chi then stated, “I desire that you accept it because the eagle signifies speed, and the buffalo strength. That the English were as swift as the bird, and as strong as the beast; since like the first, they flew from the utmost parts of the earth, over the vast seas, and like the second, nothing could withstand them. That the feathers of the eagle were soft, and signified love; the buffalo skin was warm, and signified protection ; therefore I hope that you will love and protect our little families.”
He sat down, and Yahou-Lakee, mico of Coweeta, stood up and said, “ We are come twenty-five days’ journey to see you. I have been often advised to go down to Charles-Town, but would not go down because I thought I might die in the way; but when I heard that you were come, and that you were good men, I knew you were sent by Him who lives in Heaven, to teach us Indians wisdom; I therefore came down that I might hear good things, for I knew that if I died in the way I should die in doing good, and what was said would be carried back to the nation, and our children would reap the benefit of it.
I rejoice that I have lived to see this day, and to see our friends that have long been gone from amongst us. Our nation was once strong, and had ten towns, but we are now weak, and have but eight towns. You have comforted the banished, and have gathered them that were scattered like little birds before the eagle. We desire therefore to be reconciled to our brethren who are here amongst you, and we give leave to Tomo-chi-chi, Stimoiche, and Illispelle, to call the kindred that love them out of each of the Creek towns, that they may come together and make one town.
We must pray you to recall the Yamasees that they may be buried in peace amongst their ancestors, and that they may see their graves before they die; and their own nation shall be restored again to its ten towns.” After which he spoke concerning the abatement of the prices of goods, and agreed upon articles of a treaty which were ordered to be engrossed.
Tomo-chi-chi invited those in his presence to his town, where they passed the night in feasting and dancing. On the 21st, the treaty was signed. A laced coat, a laced hat and a shirt were given to each of the Indian chiefs; to each of the warriors a gun, and a mantle of Duffils, and to all their attendants coarse cloth for clothing. A barrel of gunpowder, four cags of bullets, a piece of broad-cloth, a piece of Irish linen, a cask of tobacco pipes, eight belts and cutlashes, with gilt handles, tape and inks of all colors, and eight kegs of rum, to be carried home to their towns; one pound of powder, one pound of bullets, and as much provision for each man as they pleased to take for their journey home, were also distributed.
The interview was in every respect satisfactory, and resulted in the consummation of a treaty, by which the Lower Creeks agreed to place themselves under the general government of Great Britain and to live in peace with the colonists. To the trustees were granted all lands lying between the Savannah and the Alatamaha rivers, from the ocean to the head of tide water.
This cession also embraced all the islands on the coast, from Tybee to St. Simon’s island inclusive, with the exception of the islands of Ossabau, Sapelo and St. Catharine, which were reserved by the Indians for the purposes of hunting, bathing and fishing. The tract of land lying above Yamacraw bluff, between Pipemaker’s bluff’ and Pally-Chuckola creek, was also reserved as a place of encampment whenever it should please them to visit their beloved friends at Savannah.
Stipulations were entered into, regulating the price of goods, the value of peltry and the privileges of traders. It was further agreed that all criminal offences should be tried and punished in accordance with the laws of England.
Although this treaty was engrossed, and formally executed by Mr. Oglethorpe on the one part, arid the chiefs and principal warriors who were then present on the other, in order that its terms might be duly considered and approved, it shall be forwarded to the trustees for their consideration and formal confirmation.
Signed this 19th day of May in the year of our Lord, 1733
Thomas Christie, Recording Secretary
Province of Georgia
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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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