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Newly Analyzed – Migration Legend of the Creek Indians

In 2007, Architect Richard L. Thornton, a Creek scholar and member of the People of One Fire research alliance began sporadically looking online for the Migration Legend.1 He had no success for the next seven years. On December 21, 2012, Thornton was a key cast member on the premier of the hit History Channel Series, “America Unearthed.”2 The program was about the evidence of Maya refugees settling in Georgia and becoming some of the ancestors of the Creek Indians. After the program was broadcast in the United Kingdom in early 2013, Thornton received a brief, congratulatory email from Clarence House, the official residence of HRH Prince Charles that wished him the best of success in future research. A few days later, Thornton mailed a formal letter directly to Prince Charles and the Clarence House Staff asking for their assistance in finding the lost Migration Legend of the Creek People. About a month later, he received an email from Dr. Grahame Davies, the famous Welsh poet, who had recently been hired as Assistant Private Secretary for Public Relations at Clarence House. Davies offered his assistance and asked for more details about the disappearance of the documents. Those were provided by Thornton. About six months later, Thornton received an email from Davies stating that the Migration Legend documents had been forwarded by King George II to the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Wake. Their last known whereabouts were somewhere in the archives or warehouses of the Church of England. At that time, there was no online record of the Church of England’s archives. Thornton sent a letter by conventional mail to the...

Thornton’s Translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People

In 2015, after many years of searching, Richard Thornton found the impossible, the original Migration Legend of the Creek People. Gatschet in his famed manuscript which greatly covered this legend stated emphatically “The chances of rediscovering the original English translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People are therefore almost as slim as recovering the lost books of Livy’s History.” That original English translation still remains lost as Gatschet predicted. But why settle for the English translation when you can find the original? The following is Thornton’s transcription from the original velum of the Migration Legend. Thornton indicates in our introduction that when “the original document, written by Thomas Christie, was finally discovered in 2015, the translation of the German text was found to be not so accurate or complete as Gatschet had presumed. Although the texts of the two documents follow the same general pattern, there were changes made in some of the passages that completely changed the meanings of certain phrases and sentences. Also, some sentences were presented in reverse order.”

Here we present, Richard Thornton’s modern translation:

Gatschet’s Translation of the Migration Legend of the Creek People

In 1884, Albert Samuel Gatschet published a translation of the Creek Migration Legend in his infamous “A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians.” The Creek and Hitchiti text that came with the same manuscript were then translated from Gatschet’s translation back into Hitchiti and Creek, his translation did not emanate from those. Where then did he get his translation from? A translation from the English had been preserved in a German book of the period, and the style of this piece showed it to be an “authentic and comparatively accurate rendering of the original”. The German book referred to is a collection of pamphlets treating of colonial affairs, and published from 1735 to 1741; its first volume bears the title: Ausfuehrliche Nachricht von den Saltzburg-ischen Emigranten, die sick in America niedergelassen haben. Worin, etc. etc., Herausgegeben von Samuel Urlsperger, Halle, MDCCXXXV, The legend occupies pp. 869 to 876 of this first volume, and forms chapter six of the “Journal” of von Reck, the title of which is as follows: Herrn Philipp Georg Friederichs von Reck Diarium von Seiner Reise nach Georgien im Jahr 1735. F. von Reck was the commissary of those German-Protestant emigrants whom religious persecution had expelled from Salzburg, in Styria, their native city.

So what follows is an English translation from the German translation of the presumed English translation of the original “Migration Legend of the Creek People.”

A Migration Legend of the Creek Indians

Writing more then just a book about an Indian legend, Samuel Gatschet’s classic ethnographic manuscript delves deeply into the enthnography of the Southern tribes of Creek Indians, providing a look into the linguistic groups of the Gulf States, the tribes which spoke those languages, the villages they lived in, and a more comprehensive study of Creek life. Finally, Gatschet provides an overall look at Indian migration legends, and then gives an English translation of the Creek migration legend.

Timucua Indian Tribe

In the sixteenth century the Timucua inhabited the northern and middle portion of the peninsula of Florida, and although their exact limits to the north are unknown, they held a portion of Florida bordering on Georgia, and some of the coast islands in the Atlantic Ocean, as Guale (then the name of Amelia) and others. The more populous settlements of these Indians lay on the eastern coast of Florida, along the St. John’s river and its tributaries, and in the northeastern angle of the Gulf of Mexico. Their southernmost villages known to us were Hirrihigua, near Tampa Bay, and Tucururu, near Cape Canaveral, on the Atlantic Coast. The people received its name from one of their villages called Timagoa, Thimagoua1 , situated on one of the western tributaries of St. John’s River, and having some political importance. The name means lord, ruler, master [atimuca “waited upon (muca) by servants (ati)];” and the people’s name is written Atimuca early in the eighteenth century. We first become acquainted with their numerous tribes through the memoir of Alvar Nunez Cabeca de Vaca, the three chroniclers of de Soto’s expedition, and more fully through Réné de Laudonniere (1564). Two missionaries of the Franciscan order, Francisco Pareja (1612 sqq.) and Gregorio de Mouilla (1635), have composed devotional books in their vocalic language. De Bry’s Brevis Narratio, Frankfort a. M., 1591, contains a map of their country, and engravings representing their dwellings, fights, dances and mode of living. A few words of their language (lengua timuquana in Spanish) show affinity with Maskoki, others with Carib. From 1595 A. D. they gradually became converted to Christianity,...

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