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Evidence, I am the Son of a Choctaw Chief
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I will tell you how I know he is my brother’s son, will you hear, will your hearts understand, will your hands be open? They readily answered in the affirmative. He then proceeded, adding, he is not large and tall like his father, his mother very small but his face very much like his father; so much I knew him by his face. One day, many years ago, I visit Mosboleh Tubbee; we like brothers; we love each other, so we go to Natchez, trade some, see the country and city; we take several with us, some women, Mosholeh Tubbee’s wife and child, plenty women and children go along; all camp on the bluff where one tall house stands now to make light; then go down to city, walk all round much, trade some too, he very small child, he learn to run, squaw carry him, she tired, he very smart, he want to run; his father take him, put him down see him run off so fast laugh much; we on Powell’s old pavement, all broke, he catch his foot, fall, cut his lip, hurt his toe on his right foot, almost break it, when well I saw the place on his toe; a lump grew on it, and a scar was left on his lip; his father laugh, say he know his child everywhere by these things.
Now I know these scars were on me, yet I had no knowledge of the cause of them. They all looked at them again and again. The old man stepped up and said, come my young chief, shake hands with thy father’s friend, and as he is no more. I will be a father to thee, and counsel you in all your ways. But you must he patient yet many days, but your time shall come. As the years ripen and thy knowledge becomes more extensive, seek, to do good to thy people and the Great Spirit shall do good to thee. He then added how and where I lived. I related how and where I had spent most of my life. They could not bear to hear me relate in part many things which I have passed through, but begged me to tell them pleasanter parts of my story. They seemed pleased to learn that I had always loved the red people and wished me to tell them when and where I first saw any of the tribes. After relating some facts which have been stated here, to which they listened with the deepest attention, I gave them an account of an interview 1 had with some Indians, who had camped near Mr. James C. Wiliams’ farm, which lay a few miles from Natchez; I made them a visit, which proved to be somewhat beneficial to me and interesting to the Indians, and to Mr. Williams’ family likewise. The same young Indian received me, and called me his brother, and said that my father lost me while I was yet very small; that some had supposed that I had been stolen by some other tribe of Indians; others thought that the traders had taken me to the white settlement; and at other times they thought that the wild animals had devoured me. He examined my feet, and looked at my lip. He seemed much pleased and stated that he was going to travel about some, and then he would come back and take me to the Indian country. He regretted exceedingly that my father was not living to receive me. His name in English was Thomas. He did not return, and an Indian agent, known as Choctaw Smith, told me he was dead.
‘Well,’ said Puch-che-Nubbe, ‘ it is well, I was the one to find and restore my brother’s son. I feel that the time is near when I shall go in peace; and when I meet him, I will tell him all. Our spirits shall rejoice together in the spirit land.’
The Indians then counseled together. Each one gave me something as a memento, calling me good young chief. It was late, and the company returned home, but I remained with Puch-che-Nubbe. He introduced me to several young men, who proved very agreeable acquaintances; but Chief Powell was unfavorable to the plan of civilizing the Indians, and consequently thought that my influence among them would have a bad tendency. He feared that I would seek to do away the Indians hatred for the whites, and establish friendship between them.
My stay among them had been short, yet full of interest to me. I premised Puch-che-Nubbe and many others, to visit them at their home in the West. I parted with them in peace, and returned to New Orleans, and prepared to leave for the Arkansas Territory. I was silent concerning what had passed in Florida. I really wished to speak of it to some of my friends, but my friend Puch-che-Nubbe had charged me again and again, to say not a word until a future period, lest something should occur to deter me from my purpose.
I was soon up the Arkansas River, as far as Little Rock, where we stopped a short time. We also touched at the villages on the river, Fort Smith, and Fort Gibson. Here I found some Indians who accompanied me to their settlements. Here I met with my friends of Florida, who welcomed me to their homes. They were more comfortable and better satisfied here, than they had expected. All my Florida acquaintances, wished to go with me to the Choctaw Nation. They said we would all go there together, as friends, and say nothing about my blood, and see if they would trace me out. They said I was young and must let the aged talk for me.
The Choctaws received us kindly. When they asked who I was, they merely answered, ‘A friend.’ After a few days I was summoned to visit an old Interpreter, who had seen me pass by, and wished an interview. I went with my friends to his house. He said he had a reason for sending for me. He asked me to let him see my right foot naked. He then said that he was with my father when it was hurt. He looked at the scar on my lip. He then said that I reminded him so much of my father that he had invited in some who had assisted him to search with my father for me. They mourned for my father, and rejoiced in my return. They told me where my father owned a very large tract of land, and they wished me to come and settle upon it. They called me Tubbee in disguise. 1 had always been very temperate, and the Temperance cause was beginning to have some spread among them. I formed an acquaintance with some who were engaged therein, and for a while lent my humble aid to the cause among the Indians.
At length it was agreed upon, and I was chosen to return to Mobile, and visit that portion of the Choctaws, who had refused to go West, but chose to remain upon their old hunting-grounds, renting it from the citizens; or to hire out to them by the day, to obtain their sustenance. I had visited, hunted, &c., among them. I saw with pleasure, that my efforts in the temperance cause, were truly appreciated among them. O! how it gladdened my heart to find the people of my departed father, in such a thriving condition. Then came the sorrowful remembrance that my poor father drank fire-water. That was said to be his only fault, and I determined to spend time, strength, and property, to erase it. My friends furnished me a mule, and I visited, at the same time taking leave of friends. I visited some of the Mission Stations. I have always regretted that I did not go through the southern portion of the tribe. They gave me permission to offer friends and home to any of the tribe, who would come and live with them.
I departed with their best wishes for my success in my business with my pale-faced friends, and my Indian brothers. I reached the crescent city in safety. I had heretofore visited Mobile, Pensacola, &c., and had been with the different companies on pleasure and fishing excursions along the coast, but my object was to try, at least, to do good. I visited the Indians in Alabama, as I had promised. I laid the facts of the case before them; and some of them said that they would go. Many promised that they would consider well, for my counsel was good. I have since learned that a goodly number moved over to the Arkansas Territory. And though they are somewhat behind the first settlers, bid fair to do well. It is also hoped that others will be induced to go. If I am prospered, I shall visit them again soon.
I dreamed that I was an ancient Shepherd. One summer day, while my flock was resting in the shade, I sauntered out over the country. I came to a spot, where a pretty brook had once crept along, watering many flocks. But the brook was nearly gone, and the ground around was miry swamp. There lay many sheep with broken and disjointed limbs, panting for life. They were not my sheep, and I was about to pass on. ‘What! said I, shall a shepherd pass a suffering flock, and offer no relief?’ I returned, took them from the mire, and laid them on a carpet of red clover under a shady tree. I was very thirsty, and as there was a little water in places, I began to contrive how 1 could get a drink. I found that I had a sauce-pan in my pocket. With that I obtained a drink, and returned to my crippled sheep. I was very sorry for them, and wished to do something to relieve them. As I stood thus lamenting, I thought I heard a voice, saying, ‘ take the sauce-pan out of your pocket, and blow through the handle thereof, and there will come forth sweet strains of music which shall cheer your flocks hereafter.’ I obeyed the command. The sheep and lambs raised their heads, listened attentively a few moments, then carefully arose to their feet. They slowly came towards me, bleating, as they nipped the clover from about my feet. The lambs were soon bounding away in playful gambols. I was delighted. I cast my eye over my left shoulder; and, to my astonishment, saw an exceedingly large flock of sheep which were mere skeletons; having no shepherd, they were obliged to live on white clover. I was very much concerned about them, and endeavored to devise some plan to induce them to follow me, and come over and feed on the good pasture. In my concern and anxiety I awoke.
The interpretation was in my mind before I was conscious of being awake; as follows: The sheep were the Indians scattered, and driven by the pale-faces, until they were near unto famishing. I felt that if I could visit them with some simple instruments of music, that the harmony might melt the savage heart, and unite the broken and wasting tribes. The sauce-pan was ever before my mind after the dream.
I advised with some musicians, and mechanics, who told me there could be no such instrument made; at least without one key. After some time, I again dreamed that I played upon it. I arose and marked it out on paper, and then went to the shop and made it after my pattern. And this is the very sauce-pan with which I have enchanted both the red man of the forest, and the pale-face of the city.
Reflecting still more upon this subject, for the dream had made an impression upon my soul never to be worn off, I thought if the tomahawk, the Indian’s most deadly weapon, could be made into an instrument of music, it would be coming nearer to the Indian’s heart. So I set myself to work, and constructed one. With these two instruments, by the blessing of the Great Spirit, I felt I could harmonize broken and hostile tribes, and finally secure a union of all the members of the great Indian family, so that they might be refreshed and saved. But how could I do this. I was uneducated. I could neither read or write.
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