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Interview with Fred Beaver, March 15, 1971

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Title:
Interview with Fred Beaver, March 15, 1971
Creator:
Beaver, Fred ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Subjects / Keywords:
Seminole Indians
Seminoles -- Florida
Seminole Oral History Collection ( local )

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Funding:
This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Source Institution:
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Seminoles' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
SEM 29 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

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the University of Florida.


SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
In Cooperation with The Seminole Tribe of Florida
INTERVIEWEE: FRED BEAVER
INTERVIEWER: JACK GREGORY
DATE: March 15, 1971


INDEX
Alcoholic beverages, 17-18
Animals, 4-5, 23, 38-39
Big Cypress, 2
Billy, Josie, 2, 37
Blacks, 25
Brighton, 2, 7, 13, 19
Cherokees, 29-30
Clans, 4-5, 10, 12-15, 27-28, 34
Creek Indians, 2, 7, 13-14, 16, 22, 36, 38-39
Creek Indian townships
Coosa, 34
Coweta, 34
Eufala, 34-35
Ocmulgee, 34
Talladega, 34
Dania, 8
Death, 20-21
Discipline, 7-8, 12
Food, 4, 17, 19
Gambling, 29-30
Green Corn Dance, 1
Hargoe, Scottie, 24
Health, 1, 19


Illegitimate children, 9-11
Integration, 8
Language
Creek [Muskogee], 2, 16, 31, 35-37
Hitchiti, 37
Miccosukee, 37
Liter, Reverend Edward, 7
Manners and respect, 8-12, 18
Marriage, 26
Medicine, 2-4, 21, 23, 38
Medicine men, 2, 28
Miccosukees, 2, 39
Missionaries, 7, 18
Natchez Indians, 35
Ocala, 40
Okeefenokee, 40
Oklahoma, 39
Painting, 34
Plains Indians, 23
Punishment, 6
Religion, 1-2, 7, 21-23
Rivers
Arkansas, 36
Canadian, 36
White, 36
Seminole-Creeks, 1, 8, 15, 25, 30


Sex, 6, 9, 24
Shore, Frank, 2
Singing, 38
Smith, Stanley, 7
Southern Baptist Home Mission, 7
Stephen Foster Memorial, 40
Stick ball game, 28-34
Superstition, 5, 25, 30, 38-39
Tuskegee, 23
Whites, 40
White Springs, 40
Women and,
charm medicine, 3
children, 8, 25
domesticity, 11
menstruation, 24
pregnancy, 25
respect, 18
sex, 6
widowhood, 26-27


G: You were telling us a while ago--when we were interviewing
up at the newspaper about going to the Green Corn Dance--
what you thought the purpose of the Green Corn Dance was.
B: It's to give thanks more for the spirit able to make things
grow, and for that reason we honor him by singing and
dancing. It's clean--cleans your body for the new food
for another year.
G: Is it for health too?
B: Yes, health as well as, in a religious way of thinking.
It's kind of thanksgiving, what it is.
G: At one time in your life you went, and the church that
you were going to, or the missionary there, criticized you
for going? Is that right?
B: Yes. It is a thing of this world, so you should stay away
from those things, but if you do go and you're a Christian,
you can come back and go to church service again, you should
ask forgiveness.
G: They asked you to do this?
B: Yes.
G: And you wouldn't do it?
B: No, I wouldn't do it. My conscience was clear, so I
didn't think I had to do it, for there was nothing. Of
course, if it had turned out to be a brawl, or something
with drinking and all, well, that's different. But it
cleans your body and begin accepting new food for the
years; there's nothing wrong with it, as far as the church
is concerned. I had an argument with the preachers about
that; they just thought I was radical.
G: How many Seminole-Creek medicine men would you say are still
left that you can name, especially down in Florida?


2
B: I only know of two for sure, and one, Tom, that died here
recently. He used to be a medicine man, too, but he
turned to religion, so he gave up the medicine all together.
The only one I know left that's still practicing medicine,
is Frank Shore and Josie Billy.
G: Frank Shore lives at Brighton?
B: Brighton, yes. And Josie Billy is at Big Cypress.
G: Are they both Creeks?
B: No. Well, they speak Creek, yes--they speak Muskogee. I
think Josie is Miccosukee, but he speaks Creek, too.
G: How old is Josie?
B: Josie, I imagine, is pretty close to ninety.
G: A while ago you were explaining about the man that prac-
ticed Indian medicine, and then the preachers talked him
into changing. How did you mean--changing?
B: He was a medicine man from the beginning; and then he
practiced all sort of medicine, like charm medicine as well
as medicine for curing, healing. Then, when the missionaries
came down there, he accepted the white man's religion; they
told him that what he was doing was bad, so he quit.
G: Healing?
B: No, the other kind.
G: The charm medicine.
B: And also, the healing. He didn't have nothing against it,
but altogether they wanted him to quit, entirely; just
accept the Bible teachings.
G: Did the missionaries talk him into dropping the charm
medicine?
B: Yes, they preached against it, and he heard it. They said
it was wrong, so naturally, since he became a Christian, why
he gave it up. He still practices healing medicine.


3
G: When you say charms, can you give us an example of the
charms?
B: Like to make a woman to love you--some medicine for a woman
to love you. Or to injure somebody's voice, or leg, or
something. That kind of medicine. Conjures, I guess.
G: Conjures--and you all called it charms?
B: Yes, and charm most pertains to when a woman was involved.
Sometimes they hypnotize them, and come to a certain house
and play a trick on the woman he's hypnotized. Maybe he'd
scratch the shoulder, he was bragging by leaving his mark on
the woman's body that he's been there, see. Falling off
horses and things like that.
G: As far as you know, then there isn't any Indians who are
practicing making charms anymore?
B: I know of woman down home, my hometown, she's in her eighties
now, and I understand that she still practices that hurting
somebody. That seems to be her....
G: I thought you said something about choking?
B: Sometimes they have medicine they sing if a person's eating.
You naturally always sing if you want to make him choke on
a food or something, you sing just while they're eating.
You have this...it's kind of mental telepathy in a way.
Then they sing, and then to see that they choke. Some-
time they do. Maybe it's just coincidence, I don't know.
But they do. And that way their throat is destroyed, and
they get sick from it. That's hurting somebody. Maybe they
make them hoarse. They could be a good singer, and they
get jealous of him, and they just want to show their powers,
and they pick on them like that. Maybe just make them
hoarse.
G: I've never heard of that one before, making them hoarse.
B: Oh yeah, they used to do that all the time.
G: What were some of the things that they actually did? You
told us originally about the hair and the sub-
stance,but what would they do to make the guy hoarse?


B: It's a song--usually a song. They have a little medicine
with them. They hold that a certain way and then they
sing. Like I say, it could be just mental telepathy, but
the person knows that the party that he's afraid of is
sitting over there, and is always afraid that he might
do something to me, or he might get rumors that she or he
is out to get him or something. They will start thinking
about that, and then it actually happens.
G: What about the deer? Do you think the deer started a lot
of diseases?
B: I never heard that. But people can always tell when the
deer is sick by the color of the blood or the animal it-
self. Sometime they look at the tongue.
G: They wouldn't eat it?
B: No, they wouldn't eat it. They just destroyed it, or give
it to the animals. Especially rabbit--we were talking
about rabbit here one time. This ordinary rabbit, why they
wouldn't let us eat it at all. Regardless of how hungry
we were, they wouldn't let us eat it, because the rabbit
is a sickly thing. According to white people, in the winter-
time it's good to eat, because everything's cold. In summer-
time, it's very bad, because not even them would eat a rabbit.
G: You weren't supposed to eat the animal of your clan, either,
were you?
B: No.
G: Why is that? Do you look upon the animal of your clan
as your brother?
B: As your brother, and your way of life. You're connected
with it, so we just leave them alone; consider them as
a holy thing, more or less. But an animal of another clan,
why it's all right. See, you can kill it and eat it, like
squirrel or opossum. Opossum now, they won't let you eat
them; when it's carrying little ones, they won't let you
catch them, because if you do, you're killing your friend.
The female carries little ones in the stomach, and
when they see that, they won't bother them.


5
G: Is there any birds or animals that was sacred? For instance,
we heard someone talk about the turtle.
B: The crane is a sacred bird. The feathers they use for
ceremonials, like in Creek men's feather dances. They
use small part of crane feathers, and they adopted them,
and the medicine men adopted them. Sometimes they use
them as decorations for their hats. They won't kill them
at all. There's a certain kind of owl that they won't
kill either. One kind of owl that you see in daytime,
it's not supposed to be around in the daytime. If you
see one flying around, or on the ground somewhere, that
means you're going to get bad news, usually connected with
death. I forget what kind of owl would be that. One of
these big owls; not the chicken hawk--a regular owl. They
use their feathers for medicine. A medicine man can put
it somewhere, where an evil spirit is, like on the top of
the door like you put a horseshoe, kind of like that. In
the inside, not on the outside. There was an animal,
hardly ever seen, looked like a bear. Even the word it-
self means "something that looks like a bear."
G: What is the Seminole-Creek word for it?
B: [Seminole-Creek word], "something that looks like a bear."
That's what it means.
G: But it wasn't?
B: No. It had a pungent odor, and if you live near his trail,
the people will die out...living on his trail. So you had
to move away from it.
G: Did he kill them, or does he bring bad luck?
B: No, they would die on account of his odor; people would just
die because the odor is so bad.
G: Didn't you at one time tell me about your family living
on this trail?
B: Yes. They told my grandmother to move. But they all died
out anyway, see. We were living right on the edge of this
thing that looks like a bear's trail, and sure enough, within
the space of seven years, all those people died out.


6
G: And your grandmother wanted to leave, didn't she?
B: Yeah. But they stayed on; she got sick and died, and that
started it. In seven years, all the people living there
died except my sister. We left from there. The last per-
son that lived down there was my uncle, and he died too.
He died in 1958. The rest of them died between 1927 and
1934.
G: I'll tell you something that we've really had a lot of
trouble with, and I wouldn't ask you unless I thought you
of all people would tell us. We've had so much trouble
trying to get to talking with them about sex. Even Creek-
Seminole boys I used to have in class, I couldn't ever get
them to talk about sex. When you were young, how did the
Creek-Seminoles look upon wanting a woman? Their mores were
completely different from our mores, weren't they, their
taboos? How did they...seventy-five or a hundred years
ago, which you heard about? Of course, I know they never
even talked about it then.
B: No, they don't. I don't know why. A woman is something
that.... You look upon a woman--naturally the older people
think that if you look upon her, you want her to be your
mate, so you shouldn't do anything to destroy that friend-
ship until you begin to live with her. That's why they
never did talk bad about a woman unless she's a woman
known for conjuring, things like that, or else an immoral
woman--somebody to steal some other woman's husband. And
that has happened, like all people, I guess. If it was the
woman's fault, committing adultery, they used to cut off
their nose right here. But if it's a man who has been
accused of doing this conjuring, and he is caught at it,
they cut off his ear. It's a sign that he was caught at
trying to hurt somebody; that's his mark, that he's no
good. Most of these medicine men that practice that kind
of medicine, they try to remain anonymous as much as pos-
sible. Once they put that mark on him they know who he
is. And the woman, too--same way. But if it's something
to do with sex, and they didn't go about it the right way,
the conventional way, then she'd get caught; and the actual
persons involved don't do this--the kinfolk do that. The
brother of the woman. It's always somebody, brother or some-
body, the uncle. They're the ones who catch her, and they
take her and cut her nose off. They cut it right here.
G: Have you in your time seen them with their noses cut off?


7
B: Yes, I've seen one woman one time. She turned to religion
later on. She used to come to church, and everybody knew
that she had been involved in something, adulterous conven-
tion, and you always know it was her. But she must have
turned to religion. If you turn to religion, according to
the Bible, you're forgiven at the same time. She started
going to church. She was a great singer, though; boy, you
could hear her for miles. She learned these Creek religious
songs. Everybody always said she had a mark on her that
would stay with her a lifetime, and would say she used to
be so-and-so, you see. There was nothing she could do
to change it, even though she may have changed her character
and all that.
G: Now, you went down to the Brighton reservation and stayed
with a friend of yours down there, Reverend Edward Liter,
who was an Oklahoma Creek who was a missionary among the
Brighton people. How long was he a missionary down there?
B: I imagine over twenty-three years.
G: I know it's going to be kind of hard on you to recall this,
but in your conversation with him when you were down at
the Brighton reservation, what did he say was the problems
that he had in trying to work with those people down there?
B: Oh, indifference, the main thing. The reason why...they
got to know you. You live with them five or ten years,
and they get to know you--what you stand for, what you do
for them. They took him in, trusted him. But before that
time, several had been down there, just on their own, more
or less. And they did good for them, and all of a sudden
they just started drinking. Even these preachers, they
started to drink and living it high, and getting in trouble
down there. And this is why they don't trust anybody else
coming down there.
There was one named Stanley Smith--he's there now--
he went down there voluntarily. He did really good about
integration and everything. And he did real good for about
five years, and then began working with the Southern Baptist
Home Mission. They gave him a car, they gave him a salary.
He did real nice until one day he started drinking again
and he whipped some Seminole kids. You are not supposed to
do that, because he's a religious man, a pious man, you see.
G: Was he on Brighton where he whipped them?


8
B: No, he was down at Dania. At that time, the uncle would
be the one to punish the children if they did wrong. He
took it upon himself to whip them, to try to punish them
for what they were doing. They were out late or something,
and he tried to caution them, and they ignored them. He
whipped them, and then the word got around that it was
him, and so they told him to get out of there, and
never to come back, which he didn't.
G: Would you say that the Indian women, the Creek-Seminoles,
are more lenient with their children with regard to dis-
cipline, punishment--or what's your theory on that, Fred?
I've seen so many of them that just let their kids run.
B: Nowadays it's a lot different than even fifteen years ago.
When the kids are small, up to the time that they are about
twelve, their mother takes care of them all these years,
and then they sort of get affection from them. But when
they get about twelve or thirteen, they're more or less
on their own, yet they mind their parents. Nowadays...well,
within the last four years, I think, they're old enough to
go about and know what they're doing; they don't punish
them. They began to going to integrated school, white
school, see, and they see the other kids, what they're
doing, and they've taken after them. Most parents won't
say anything, try to punish them, because they're old
enough to take care of themselves, they say. And it's just
like anywhere else, I guess. But the girls are a little
different. If the girls had good bringing up, they may
have ideas, but they still obey their parents more so than
they do any other woman. But that's my observation, any-
way. Obedience was the main thing among most Indian tribes.
G: I've noticed one thing among the Seminoles down there--
the respect for the young for the older people.
B: Yes, they still do.
G: Is that taught?
B: Yeah, that's taught through the years, and then handed down.
Down there, they got reservations. They don't live
like they do here. Here you live on your own, live anywhere
you want to. But down there, they're on the reservation.
It's small, and the teaching's--obedience--kind of stays with
them more so than they do here. Respect your elders;they're


9
wise. They know what they're saying, and it's for your
own good. They teach that all the time. But they got
to go to school, now; learn like a white man, live like
a white man. They got to make their living, and when
you take up with a woman, you should be able to support
her. That's what they used to tell them. Even back in
those days, they used to say the way you act with a woman--
now they've become open with it.
G: I'm still going to try to get back to this sex thing.
In your time, you were very young and ran around and
had a good time, like a lot of young boys did. We use
the word "promiscuous," you know--free with sex. Was
there a lot of that among the...?
B: Yes, in a secret way. If you could get away with it,
you could. You always have your eye on a certain girl,
and if she responds, why then, someway, somehow, if you
could get her away from her folks, you can sit and talk,
or else meet her out in a certain designated place,
usually out in the country. You'd meet up and have your
affair. Sometimes they get pregnant, and when they do,
nothing is said about it, except the folks know about
it and you got to marry her. You are responsible for
it, and you should be prepared to take care of them.
And doing it the right way, like the old folks. You're
supposed to go to the girl's house where the parents
are, and have permission to talk to her. If everything
is above board, then it finally ends up in actual marriage.
There were others, girls run away from their parents,
they were more than strict--a lot stricter than most of
them are. They were inclined to run away with this
boy; they go into town, or go to someone's elses house,
some of the relatives, and then people know about it.
Or, "He's living with her now, so...." They let it
go at that.
G: Well, that's just using the term, "He's living with her."
B: Yeah.
G: Were there any illegitimate children?
B: Oh yeah--all the time.


10
G: And if they did, the women kept them?
B: The parents of the girl who is pregnant usually....
Some families were very strict--they'd go out and find
the guilty party, and they'd find him and bring him in.
G: You're talking about the man?
B: Yeah. If he's like Andy Griffith says--an honorable
boy--he would realize this, and immediately go over
there and offer to take care of her, 'cause he's re-
sponsible. If the boy didn't do that, they usually let
him go. The majority of the time they let him go, 'cause
he's no good anyway, they say, and then the parents take
in the girl. She has the baby at the house, and they
sort of adopt it into their own family. But everybody
knows that it's this boy's child. He knows it, but he
don't stay around there; he goes somewhere else.
G: What name would they give the child? Give him the
mothers?
B: It depends on the boy.
G: Let's say he left.
B: If he run off, they usually give the girl's parents'
name.
G: The mother's clan?
B: Yeah. They would want to sort of punish him in a way
that he might see the way maybe, why then they say that
it's his child. Then they take his name, see.
G: Was that considered a bad thing for the boy?
B: Yeah. It was punishment for the boy. If he's not re-
sponsible, he ran off, and all that comes in. If they
want to ignore him, they just give the child the grand-
parent's name.
G: Was that considered bad for the girl--that she had the
child, and she had no...?


11
B: No, not exactly.
G: But he was considered bad.
B: The man was responsible, see.
G: For not taking his...?
B: That's right. The woman was secondary. She's just a
man's mate, and she takes care of everything at the
house. Cook, keep the house, look after the children;
their responsibility, that's what this is. The man had
to go out and hunt for the food to feed his family, see.
But the woman's position was in the house. She was a
helpmate to her husband, her mate.
Some families were pretty strict about things like
that--anything we're talking about. This boy, say, got
this girl pregnant, and her folks found out about it,
and they wanted to get this boy. They'd go over to his
parents, if he has any, and talk about it: "He's respon-
sible; he's got to do something about it." And if he
doesn't, the brothers will go after him and either whip
the heck out of him or kill him. They do that; they
used to do that. But the parents are the one that usually
decide what should be done.
G: There could be a possibility that the boy's parents--
if they were honorable, and they were ashamed of what
their son did--that they could....
B: Yeah, the parents could get together and talk about it,
see. Finally come to....
G: They could pay some money to her, or....
B: They hardly ever did that, but then they'd talk to the
boy, their son. Then he'd make up his mind. If he
doesn't make up his mind, why he might as well leave
the house. Go take up with the girl, or.... If you're
ever interested in a woman, and something happens--she
gets pregnant--you got to marry her. Take care of her.
G: He actually talked to you?
B: Yeah, he talked to us all the time.


12
G: Did he make it part of his teaching?
B: Yes. And he knew that sometime we didn't want to listen,
but he made us listen. In my family he did. There were
three of us one time, and then I was the only one left.
Anyway, he used to talk to us...not to us, but as if he
was talking about somebody else. And he was talking to
us, see.
G: A lot of Indians talk that way. They don't scold you
directly.
B: No, they tell you some things, then that's the way to
be, or that's the way a man should be. Actually, he was
talking to us. He'd just start some sample lives, what
you should do in a case like that; you should know better.
Whenever anything like that happens, you should be able
to take care of it regardless of what you're doing
everyday. You don't have work, like a white man. You
don't have a job. You got to do your best.
G: Okay, what would happen to the woman that her husband
would die or get killed? Who took care of her?
B: Usually her parents.
G: Let's say her parents were older or dead.
B: If the other man had parents, they like her well enough
to live with them, they'll ask her to live with them.
The woman usually goes back to her own parents.
G: The Seminoles of Florida have pretty well broken up
moving in with the mother system, haven't they?
B: Yeah. Everything is mother.
G: But they still know their clans, don't they?
B: I don't think they do as much as they used to. Except
the old ones. These young ones coming up now down there
are.... Even the middle-aged ones down there in their
thirties and forties don't know a thing about their
clan. One boy was selling things right next to me, and
I asked him what clan he belonged to. "I don't know,"
he says.


13
G: Was he a Seminole?
B: Yeah.
G: Where was he from?
B: From Brighton.
G: And he didn't know his clan?
B: "I don't know, I don't pay much attention," he says.
He worked for some company down there. He was young,
and he speak good English. That's what he told me.
I asked what clan he belonged to. I just wanted to know.
"We don't know too much about things like that," he said.
From that, I can figure that they don't tell them any
more.
G: Are there any Beaver clan down in Florida now?
B: No, no.
G: No Beavers down there?
B: No. Hardly any of them.
G: In Brighton it's mostly Wind, and what other clan?
B: Probably Deer. And probably Raccoon. Sometimes they
make fun of each other. The Raccoon...the Creek name
for "monkey" is [Creek word]; the Creek name for raccoon
is [Creek word]. Now, when they say monkey or ape, it's
still [Creek word].
G: Fred, how could you have a name for a monkey or an ape,
when originally you never saw a monkey?
B: That's what they begin to say when they started bringing
circuses and so forth.
G: That's a modern Indian word?
B: Yeah. Two words together makes it monkey--[Creek word].


14
G: What did they mean separately? Or did they have separate
meanings?
B: [Creek word] is the actual name for raccoon. They don't
know what the name is for monkey, but when they first
began seeing them in the circus and so forth, they called
it [Creek word].
G: What does it mean?
B: [Creek word] means "man." It's a ....
G: It's a raccoon man.
B: "Raccoon man," as it's called.
G: It's something that hangs by its tail that looks like
a man?
B: Yeah.
G: With that face, is that right?
B: Yeah. It looks like a man, acts like a man. And then
sometimes they sit there and do things...[Creek-word].
But they put [Creek word] onto it. I don't know why,
but they put [Creek word], so they make fun of each
other. They...some clans can make fun of each other;
some clans, they have to have at each other. You got
to take up for it. You got to know your clan to do that.
Some time they meant raccoon, and they add [Creek word]
to it, and it makes them mad, see? They chase each other,
tear the shirt off, and everything.
G: This raccoon-monkey thing, I've never heard that story
in all my life.
B: The clans were brothers or sisters. Sometime in federal
court they talk about certain things like estates or some-
thing, and they say, "Well, he was my brother." He means
in clan. Sometimes when they interpret it, they think
they were actual brothers--blook brothers, you know.
That's where a lot of mistakes were made. But you got
to ask, "Is that clan as brother, or blood relation?"


15
He usually say it's clan--[Creek word]--that means
"clan." They used to...when the Creek come from another
district, and they see each other, they say [Creek word],
"What clan do you belong to?" And he tells him, "I'm
a Deer," and he says, "Well, I'm a Wind, so we're friends.
But if it happened to be some other animal, why I'm
your brother, then."
G: What were the brother and sister clans?
B: They were usually animal parts were brother and sister.
Or like Deer and Bear would be brothers, see. It depends
on what clan it was.
G: All right. What was the brother to the Raccoon clan?
B: I think the Bird clan.
G: What was the Snake, now? He was the brother to something.
I've seen that before. Turtle?
B: I believe so...anything connected with water. You know.
Tiger's grandfather was a--I think he was
[Creek word], that's "Bird." If we're talking about a
person, he's a Bird. You say [Creek word]. That means
he is a Bird, that's what it means. Depends on how you
say it. Just to say "Bird" is [Creek word]. Sometimes
they abbreviate that word, like "crazy bird," [Creek word]
as they say it.
G: I've always wondered how to pronounce that word. Now
what does the word [Creek word] mean?
B: Actually, it means something that's crazy or drunk.
[Creek word] is the way it's supposed to be. When they
enroll them, they put [Creek word], you see.
G: How did they used to spell it?
B: Creek alphabet, it's got a "v" in it. The "v" is kinda
like our "a", broad "a", but phonetically, it's "hah,"
"gee," G..E..E.., I guess.
G: I tell you a name I love to hear pronounced by Creeks and
Seminoles; when I used to teach Oklahoma history, we


16
called it [Creek word]. How do the Muskogee...how is
it pronounced?
B: [Creek word]. That means like a tornado, a cyclone.
Cyclone, like in the open spaces, a big wind.
G: And [Creek word] means what?
B: [Creek word] means "one that hollers."
G: So it's a loud holler, or...?
B: [Creek word] is actually "whooping." But when they
take this black drink [cassine] they used to whoop and
then gobble--gobble like a turkey. Like that. That's
showing off, you know. Well, they used to do that;
they'd call it [Creek word]. They call it [Creek word]
now. [Creek word] means "cyclone yeller." "Hollerer."
I don't know what else to say.
G: Now, he was even leader down in Florida before removal
wasn't he?
B: Yeah. The old man did. The old man when he came here;
and he was sort of prophet, too. And his son....
G: He was an Upper Creek, wasn't he?
B: Yes.
G: What they call a conservative Creek.
B: Yeah. Upper Creek was one that lived up....
G: And then when he came up to Oklahoma....
B: He was an old man when he came here. He was living
around [Creek word], Oklahoma, west of Muskogee. That's
where he lived. That's why the town is named after him.
He's the one that told my grandmother that moved from
where we lived. Yeah, [Creek word]. And they were
[Creek word], too. They lived around out in the country
somewhere.
G: You don't see the name [Creek word] down among the
Seminoles of Florida. Why is that?


17
B: Why it's most prevalent in.... There are some in Oklahoma,
but none down.... [Creek word] are mostly [Creek word].
G: All the [Creek word]?
B: All the [Creek word], uh huh. And most of the Creeks
were Tigers, and [Creek word], and Possums. Anything.
G: Uh, let's say we were going to take a break a hundred
years ago. What would we be eating?
B: Probably sofkee or [Creek word] or something. Or maybe
[Creek word].
G: What was it made of?
B: It's corn. Everything is. It's a bread--sour bread.
G: Sour bread.
B: [Creek word]. It's made into...later on when they got
these pots they fixed about this much.
G: That's about two inches.
B: All corn. Yeah. They put it in this pot out there;
then it cooks.
G: Is it cornbread, you mean?
B: It's a cornbread. But it's real sour. That's why they
call it [Creek word], means "sour." Beer is [Creek word].
[Creek word] is water, so beer is...they call it sour
water.
G: Beer is called sour water?
B: Yeah.
G: What about whiskey?
B: [Creek word].
G: What does that mean? Translate that.


18
B: [Creek word] is something that's bitter. "Bitter water"
is what it is.
G: Fred, did they make an Indian drink besides sofkee that
was alcoholic?
B: No, they didn't. There's nothing like that at all.
Didn't have any.
G: So as far as you know, as long as you heard back, the
whiskey was brought in by the white man.
B: Yeah. By the settlers and the traders who hired some of
these whiskey peddlers come into the Indians here, and
make them draw up and sign this and sign that, or else
trade horses and even hide.
[Here occurs a gap in the tape. The interview resumes with:]
G: Respect women.
B: Yes, respect women. Always be polite; I don't care whether
they're bad women or whatever, you respect them anyway.
You don't have to associate with them.
G: Can you tell me what the old Indian looked upon as the...
where did he hold the woman in society, his Indian society?
B: Held them pretty high. A little higher. A woman grew
up with the parents. She grew up, and her parents living
where she was taught her how to be nice, how to be polite
to other people. They learn to shake hands, see, by the
missionaries. And always greet each other. And the
children were not allowed to talk to the older people
at all.
G: Why?
B: Oh, that's just the way it was. When the older people
meet that has children, the children can talk together,
but they were not allowed to mingle with the older people
until they were old enough to do so. And then the
conversation, old people talking, you were supposed to
be with somebody your own age, and stay away from us.
"You boys go play; play out there somewhere," and "You
are not supposed to be around where any old people are,


19
because you are too young to know what they are talking
about." There was a rule, a tradition: the old people
eat first, the visitors....
G: The older Indians would eat first?
B: And then the children would eat last. There was a policy
at our home.
G: Was that the policy at most S.eminole homes, you think?
B: Used to be, but now that you hardly see anymore.
G: To your knowledge, when you'd go visit your kinfolks,
and you'd go down to Brighton or wherever you were going,
did the Indians have a formal dinner like we have break-
fasts, lunch and supper?
B: Yes.
G: What would they have for breakfast, for instance?
B: They didn't have any food like we have, so it was usually
anything that you could eat: meat, biscuits--they
would make biscuits.
G: Skillet biscuits?
B: Yeah, very big biscuits, you know. 'Cause before, they
didn't have no bread of any kind. They had no bread
whatsoever, but they did have meat. Meat is the main
think that they cook. Soup-like thing of meat.
G: You talk about eating meat. I bet they didn't have
much tooth problem, did they?
B: No, they didn't. They didn't have much trouble.
G: Their teeth didn't rot out, and....
B: And then they began to eat something--corn. They began
to raise corn; they started fixing that, and they learned
how to prepare it. Sometime they shelled them, make sofkee.


20
They boiled it, and then they have meats of all kinds--
deer meat, some fowl like....
[Here there is another gap in the tape, followed by:]
G: They never let the children come in when there was some-
one dying?
B: No.
G: I wonder why.
B: I don't know. Death was something that was kind of reser-
ved for the older folks to attend to, not the children.
But if their own children, they were never around, they
told them not to come around.
G: But your mother or your father was dying, they didn't want
the children around?
B: No.
G: I never heard that before.
B: I was in high school when my father died, and my sister was
living. I knew he was sick, and I think he was sick about
one weekend before he died. We were all in there in one
room, and my sister was over there, and some neighbor was
there; some minister was there--some Indian preacher.
G: Are you talking about Christian, or...?
B: Yeah. Baptist preacher was there. He had to come there.
And pretty soon my sister come out--"You children go:-out-
side." (This was in November). "Y'all go out there in the
kitchen." (The kitchen was separate from the house.) "Y'all
go in there." So we went in; I knew there was something
wrong.
I got to thinking about it sitting in there, and think
he was dying while I was in there, see. That was all that
happened. We never did go back in until next morning. And
I knew that someone you've seen and talked to before...your
own father, but he's not going to talk no more, and he's
not breathing anymore. First thing they are going to
do, they are going to put him in a casket, and we never would
see him no more. In a Christian way, when they open the


21
casket we see his face, and then they buried him. This was
as late as 1930.
Our older sister was only .My mother had died
a few years before, and yet I don't hardly remember. I
knew she died, but they took her down to the churchhouse when
she was sick and dying.
G: Did your family try to bring an Indian doctor there? Try
to do anything for her?
B: No, not as a last resort. They did have an Indian doctor
around there earlier, maybe a few days before she died,
but he couldn't do anything anyway. And then next thing
to do is try to call a white doctor.
G: Use the Indian doctor as long as he'd do something, and then
when you found out the Indian doctor couldn't do any good,
then you'd go to a trained doctor--a white doctor?
B: Yeah, sort of a family doctor. He came out, and he would
say, "It's hopeless here." There was nothing he could do,
but he would leave some pills of some kind. By then it
was too late anyway.
G: Let's go back and try to say when your mother died. In
your father's mind, which would be hard for you, I know,
to speak for him.... Where did he...was he a Christian?
B: Yeah, he was. He became a deacon in the church where we
was going to. He was the only one who went, as long as I
can remember. I was about six years old [when] he started
taking me to church with him on Sundays. At that time,
they had church service all morning, and some time in the
afternoon...I'd be sitting there for two hours, and just
go to sleep sitting there.
G: What did they do in an Indian church way back then--a
Christian Indian church?
B: Well, they had long speeches, long preachings.
G: One man preached all the time?
B: Yeah, one man. Sometimes in the evening they had another
man in there, or they had a different man there.
G: How do you say in Indian, "minister?"


22
B: [Creek words].
G: What does that mean?
B: "One who speaks about heaven."
G: Which one in that series of words is "heaven"?
B: Well, it's understood. There's no word like "heaven" in
that, but when you say [Creek word], that means "the preacher,"
"the talker." But you know that'he's talking about re-
ligion. A Christian, see.
G: In other words, you all didn't have a word for heaven.
B: Yeah. There's [Creek word], means "high town." "Something
that's high." [Creek word] means "above."
G: Is that a new word, or is that an old word?
B: That's an old word. That's a word that was invented after
the religion came there, even when they were down in Georgia.
Presbyterian came here first, you know.
G: We can't talk about Indians and rocks at once.
B: That's a word they invented. But this literal translation
of...like a town [Creek word].
G: The town in the sky?
B: Heaven was something above the ground, see. Up in the air,
so [Creek word] means "high town," or "above town." "In the
clouds."
G: In your vocabulary, is there an old Indian word for a holy
place? An Indian word, not a Christian word for some place?
B: Let's see. [Creek word], "a certain place." You go there
and they tell you to stay away from there. [Creek word]--
that's a "holy ground," what it means. [Creek word] means...
there's two meanings to it, depends of how you use it.
[Creek word] means "something that's high," like prices,
high; or you'll be referring to a ground or a house or
something. [Creek word] means "that's foolish."


23
G: That's figurative.
B: Yeah. Even in the pre-Columbian times, that word was
used. [Creek word], that means, "something that's holy."
G: What were they talking about when they said that was holy?
B: Maybe grounds--grounds that certain religious thing was
held. Or certain people lived there, and they made it
holy. There was a holy man, you see; he knew everything--
a prophet. They say he was...they kind of enshrine it.
Make a shrine out of it, then they call it holy. So
don't go around there, see. They used to talk about
tie-snake, or some big snake that was in the water--there's
always clear water there. Never goes dry. And that's
holy. That's where the tie-snake lives, see. Don't go
near; they say that water's holy. Snakes, they pull
you in like a magnet.
G: Oh, I see. They'd tie you up, wouldn't they?
B: See, they call it tie. It's a holy place, holy ground.
So that's where they got the idea.
G: I've run across several times, over in Tuskegee or something,
talking about a horn snake. You get the horns off the
snake; [they] have great healing power. You put it in a
bundle. Now what's that?
B: It has something to do with some kind of medicine for con-
jure. They give some power to move about so people don't
know where he is. Make him invisible--they use something
like that, see. It got to be something unusual that a
snake.... Like I say, you never see a horn, but then
sometimes they have a little thing what they call them is
horns, and then that's something unusual. That's what
they used. They used unusual things for their medicine.
G: Oh, I see. They find a freak. Like a white deer.
B: Yeah. And they never kill. Like Plains Indians--if they
ever see a white buffalo, they never kill it. Sacred, see.
That's unusual, see. Anything that's unusual, they
usually designate it as holy--something that could be
powerful. Or maybe medicine for certain beliefs.


24
G: Getting back to the women--some of the taboos about
women. Scottie Hargoe was telling me at the Seminole fire
down there, they wouldn't let a woman menstruating dance.
Is that right.
B: That's right. The woman knows herself that she is in that
condition. She may go, but she won't dance. During that
period, she won't be around too many people.
G: Is she considered unclean?
B: Yes. During a certain period of time, it's taken for
granted that unless that stops, they're going to have a
child. Or unless they get old; they quit menstruating.
G: He told me when he went back and got married that he had
to...when he went down to the fire down there, that he
sent him out and talked to him, and questioned him about
her; that he had to go before a group of men and talk to
them about her. What does that mean?
B: They were pretty strict in observing those old traditions.
[They] probably wanted to know all about it, so next
time it won't happen again. Of course, this might have
been happening when they're already...and they just
wanted to find out. Then if they have any privileges at
all, they can take that away from them on account of that,
'cause they violated the custom. Even if they're already
old, they can hold it against the son or father--husband,
you know. Next time they won't be around. They used to...
when a woman is pregnant, they didn't live with [anyone]
except her husband. She didn't live with her folks,
or where they were living. They had to live separately
until they....
G: Oh, she had to build a house.
B: Yeah. The Seminole, they build a special chickee until
she has the child. And then children are not allowed around
there as long as she's in that condition.
G: I've heard, in the old days, that even the husband was
supposed to stay away.
B: That's right. Just about the time that happened, well, they


25
call in what they now call midwives.
G: What were, in Seminole-Creek words, that woman that helped
them? Or would you know anything about that?
B: It would literally be just "one who helps," that's all.
One who helps out. They got a word for it. It's always
in terms of what is going on--they give them that name.
It doesn't always mean the same thing. Some are identical
and some have different meanings. It's usually a long
line of helper. Then when they came to Oklahoma, some
of them brought their slaves with them, and they made a
special place for them, and usually this darkie would be
known as a midwife.
G: Or a cousin.
B: Yeah. And the woman was going to have her child, why they
always have this colored woman to attend to her.
G: Was there any taboos that a woman had to watch, like she
couldn't look upon anything bad?
B: Yeah, that's very careful. Don't caught at anything, no.
Wants to make fun of something, it'll affect her condition
to where this what she's laughing at--it may be an animal--
her child may be born like that animal, see. So they have
to be very careful; they can't make fun of things and go
around admiring anything much that's not beautiful. Every-
thing looks beautiful. Even in her mind, she sees any-
thing that's unpleasant, she's supposed to shy away from
it. So that's why they secluded themselves for at least
six months. They secluded themselves; never go anywhere,
see her children once in a while...others, if she's got
any, but they can't stay around too long.
G: What happened to the children? Let's say she died; she has
three or four children, and they were living with her
clan?
B: Right.
G: What then would happen to those children? The husband would
be left with those children. Would he move back to his clan?


26
B: Not necessarily. If his folks is still living, he can if
he wants to.
G: Usually would he stay with her clan?
B: Yeah. He may leave; the children would have to stay with....
G: Oh, they'd have to stay with her clan?
B: On the mother's side. They'd have to stay with them, unless
they get old enough to where they get married to someone.
Then they have to leave there, see. This man's mother; her
husband's mother. But ordinarily, when a man marries a woman,
he has to live with his in-laws. Seminole and Miccosukee--
there's a little difference. When he marries into a family,
he can't talk to his mother-in-law.
G: Miccosukee can't?
B: No, can't talk to his mother-in-law at all.
G: Had you heard that?
B: It was kind of like that among the Creeks. If I marry
into a family, I'm expected to make my home with them--
build my own cabin, my own chickee, whatever it is--but I'll
never speak to my mother-in-law. That's taboo. I don't
know why; I think it's strictly on influence, the mother-in-
law's supposed to be apart--not influencing her son-in-law.
G: Oh, I see. You think not interfering in marriage?
B: Yeah, that's right. Not to interfere.
G: Usually causes trouble?
B: Yeah. That was a rule; that was a custom.
G: You said that one time the Creeks were even that way.
B: Yeah. I know of some instances where only the women talked
to each other, and they wouldn't talk to the man. That's
the way the conduct were when I was a kid.
G: In a decision to move or buy something, did the woman have
any say-so at all?


27
B: No. Unless she wants something--she tells her husband about
it, and he buys it. But it's still In the old
days, whatever she wants, she talks to her husband about it,
and it'd be up to him to decide.
G: Still talking about the old days, let's say a husband dies
in a clan. Would the sister's husband take up with her
sexually, or how would he provide for her?
B: Yes. He could provide for his own sister-in-law. Sometimes
been known that he's supported both; the husband dies, so he's
obligated to take care of her until she marries, or he
could stay with both of them.
G: He could have her sexually?
B: Yeah. Sexually too.
G: And his sisters didn't think anything about it?
B: No. It was a custom, see. She's alone. In fact, they have
two wives. She knows, but she never says anything, and that's
the custom. Until she decides to leave there, and marry some-
body else, then she can do it.
G: Let's say a Beaver married a Squirrel--even though you went to
move with the Squirrel clan, you weren't supposed to play ball
with the Beavers. Is that right? You weren't supposed to
play against your own clan?
B: No. Got to be different clans. Certain clans have each other...
you couldn't play against them.
G: Couldn't play back against your own clan?
B: Nothing on clan, no. Supposed to help out your own clan.
G: Could you play ball for your own clan?
B: Yeah. You could play for the clan.
G: You wouldn't play for your wife's clan?
B: No. Not against...no. See, there's a long process. In the
match game, they have certain men make arrangements for the
game, and also talk about who's gonna play. It depends on


28
what towns are playing each other, and there's certain clans
belong to certain towns. There's intermarriage business in
there; where they wanted to play, they won't let them play.
It was kind of complicated. That's why they had the long
discussions before the....
G: You mean they set the rules?
B: Yeah. They decide who's to play and who's not to play. All
that is understood before the match game starts. And this
would sometimes take weeks before the game actually takes
place, for they have the preliminary.... Each side will send
a representative--get together on neutral ground--and discuss
the game: how it's going to be played, who's going to play,
what clans are involved...and we always have a man that keeps
the ball for each side, see. They have their own....
G: What's he called?
B: He's usually the medicine man who takes care of the ball.
Of course he knows...before the game, they have the game
ball. They own...usually the town people tell...and so the
town medicine man keeps the ball. He's the keeper of the
ball. Sometime they decide whose ball they're going to play
with.
G: It's that big a thing?
B: Yeah, it's a big thing.
G: What does that mean? What was the symbolism of that ball?
What was so important about the ball?
B: At first it was a game of skill. Both teams wants to win, so
they have their own medicine men doctor the ball where
they're going to try to outwit each other. They do the
same thing on the other side, so when the game starts, the
ball will go in certain maneuvers, and the man.... Their
ball, see, had been doctored the night before the game. See,
they hang it up there and doctor...and the one who has the
stronger medicine usually wins. They're more agile, and they
have certain things they have on their selves--a tiger tail
or something that's been treated, where you can jump like
a tiger, you know, quick. And they got to outdo each other.
And then the ball is made to bounce a certain way. It's
tricky; the one who can cope with it usually comes out the
winner. It's just a game of skill, all it was.
In the old days it was just a game, but later on they
began to have fights, and they'd settle feuds. Like


29
certain times certain other members of the town be in a class
where he'd take an exception. Then, he report to his chief,
and we just show him. We just play him a little ball again,
see? That's when they begin to get rough., No holds barred
when that happens.
G: You mean to tell me they could do anything they wanted to in
stick ball?
B: Yeah. Later on they did. It's a game of skill, but later
turn out to be feuds or grudges; then end up in a fight.
That became that way.
G: Did they gamble in them?
B: Oh yeah, they used to gamble--gamble the horses or maybe fine
deer hides or anything they got that's valuable. They bet
each other, see.
G: I read one story where the Cherokees would even gamble their
wife off.
B: Yeah, anything. Between individuals, though. The individuals
make side bets. Yeah, maybe make mine. I've got a field of
corn over there I'll bet you.
G: Bet you a field of corn?
B: Yeah. Against your field, see. So in case he wins, he collects
all his corn, see.
G: Is that right?
B: Anything to bet on, see.
G: I've never heard of that.
B: Oh yeah. Yeah, they'd bet anything. Wives, now.... They
most of the side bets was involved other than corn, or what-
ever it may be. It was between them, you know. You could
say, "Well, you can have my wife for a night or two," some-
thing like that.
G: Sleeping with their wife?
B: That's not universal, you know.


31
G: And bet a field of corn?
B: Yeah. Corn, anything. Anything they got, see, they bet it.
G: Well, what time would the ball game take place?
B: Usually high noon; what they call high noon, when the sun's
right here.
G: How would they begin the game?
B: At first they'd have as much as fifty players on each side.
And they have one group here that we would call guards. The
center, and the forwards, they would be called now. They
had certain names for them. [Creek word] is the center
group. The ones that go after the ball, you know. I for-
got what the other group's named.
G: How do you spell that?
B: [Creek word]. It means something that you sweat
G: How do you spell that word?
B: I got to spell it phonetically: Was-ke-tah. And then...
G: W-A-H...?
B: Whatever sounds more like it.
G: W-A-S-...?
B: W-A-S-K-E-T-A-H: Was-ke-tah.
G: Did the men throw the ball out in the middle, or...?
B: Well, they have a man selected. At first, though, after all
the preliminaries, and they were going into the field before
the game starts, the first group will line up clear across
the field. They don't have no boundary or nothing. They
just open field there. They line up in front of each
other like this, facing each other. And way on the end, in
between, there's a man--they call him the orator. The talker.
G: Does he say something before the game?


30
G: Oh, right. Sure, I know that.
B: I mean, they'd bet anything; even those two make medicine
against each other, too.
G: Craziest thing I ever heard in my life.
B: First thing they do, they may have a little animal foot
or something; they doctor it in some way. They stick it
in their pocket some way without them knowing it. That
way, it'll slow him down...hope to.
G: Well, I've heard tell--not Creek-Seminole--but I've heard tell
they used to slip out on the ballfield the night before and
throw rabbits out there.
B: Yeah.
G: You know, if that end's where they were camped out, then they'd
throw rabbits, 'cause then in the morning, the other side
would run like rabbits, all crazy. Did you ever hear that
before?
B: Not only rabbits; deer too. Oh, they'd do anything to beat
each other. Like I say, it was a game of skill. In pre-
Columbian time it was a game of skill--see who's the wisest
or who's the greatest, you might say.
G: You say they'd settle arguments--towns would settle arguments
with a ball game?
B: Yeah. It got to where they becan to settle feuds or arguments
or insults; they'd match each other at a ball game. Then they'd
begin slinging it out. That's how it all got started. That's
way back, pre-Columbian time.
G: They say that the Cherokees and Creeks one time played a ball
game for some land; that was the last land transaction that
took place. You ever heard of that before, Fred?
B: I heard something similar to it, but not the Cherokees.
U: He said they even bet sleeping with each other's wives.
B: "I bet you I can sleep with your wife if I beat you." They'd
say, "I bet you won't either. Bet you won't because you're
not gonna beat me."


32
B: Yeah. He makes a speech; he makes a talk. He orders each
team to play fair and square, and whoever wins, takes it.
Before then, they just have how many points will win. It's
always an odd number. Either one, three, five, seven; it's
got to be an odd number.
G: Always have to have an odd number?
B: Yeah. They agree on, say, fifteen. They may play all day
to score fifteen. Maybe two days; sometimes went as much as
five days.
G: They play five days?
B: At sundown they quit, see. Anyway, they decide on points already.
So when they finally go on to the field, just before the game,
they line up, face each other; they have a rally around their
own goal post. Kinda rally, kinda cheer; give themselves a
little peptalk. Go around there and holler. They have a
certain dance for that, too. Certain rounds--four times,
did everything four times. Then after they get through, then
they walk and they walk maybe to the middle of the field
facing each other. About thirty players. The rest of them
would stay back. The rest of them over here. And therefore
they sticks the ball stands in front of them: "Boy, I'm
gonna beat the heck out of you today. Boy, I'm going to
scratch your ears out." Anything, see. They just challenge
each other, see. They do that, and in the meantime, why the
man makes his talk about the game--tradition of the game
usually--and how many points they decide on. They have score-
keepers sitting over there on both sides. Sometime will have
sticks, you know...say it was fifteen--each one of them would
have fifteen sticks. Anytime one scored, the one that repre-
sented the team that played over here do like that, you know;
they always have two men back there watching them. Or some-
time they with rocks. They have two baskets; one
they puts it in back like this. Keep scores.
G: They don't make the knock in the dirt?
B: No. See sticks or stones, used to be. Then the orators
talk, and then he goes in the middle. They pick up their
sticks, and they form a semi-circle; he goes in the middle.
He throws this ball as high as he can, and then he gets the


33
heck out of there. Now everybody stands; everybody goes like
this, see, so he gets out of there. And then the game is on.
There's two men around, and they have to carry long sticks.
In the case, it sort of boils out that somewhere that he
or she was watching, they point the stick at where the ball is.
And they call them the "finders of the ball."
G: Who comes and gets that ball that goes out?
B: The players have to get it. You can't touch the ball; no-
body can touch the ball with their hands. Nobody.
G: And the finders--is that what you call them?
B: Yeah. These people have these long sticks. If they're
looking for the ball, can't find it, point where the ball
is, see. Like this--point at it, then they go. And there's
women on both sides carry sofkee or some food. When they get
tired, they go over there and rest, then come back and get
in the game, see.
G: They have substitutes or anything?
B: No. They just start...if somebody hurt, it's just too bad.
They haul them off the field or something, you know. Get
knocked out or something.
G: Ever hear of anybody getting killed playing the game?
B: Oh, yes. Get hit on the head somewhere. Hit a certain nerve,
it will kill them.
G: Do they deliberately hit each other in the head?
B: Sometime they do, to get into fights. At that time, they
didn't do that to hurt each other, but later on they did.
They began to hurt each other. But that doesn't make any
difference, see. Getting hurt, why that's just too bad.
No substitutions.
G: And he said that sometimes a game would last four
days.
B: Yeah.


34
G: It would start at high noon, and finish at sunset.
B: They lead on certain points. First team that makes those
points is the winner. And sometimes take two or three days
to score.
[Here there is a gap in the tape. The interview resumes
with:]
I want to do a series of times I lived, in
Georgia, pre-Columbian times, up to the time of the World
War. After the war; after at least eight episodes. One of
them could the the recreational, entitled "The Ball Game"--
an actual game, see. I want to do that in oils. If I can
take twelve months off just to do this, I'd like to go down
to Macon, Georgia. They got some books there, tells about some
of the early people there. During that time the Smithsonian
had a team down there--when they restored that...
G: Where was it--in Macon?
B: Yeah.
G: Ocmulgee?
B: Uh huh. And they had some books there that tells about
the first people found there by the Spanish. Written in
Spanish, and they've got French illustrations there of crude
drawings of the people this French artist did. Still in French--
written in French, he said, and Spanish too.
G: I understand at one time that Ocmulgee, in the old country,
was the main town.
B: Uh huh. One of the main towns, and another one was Eufala,
Alabama.
G: Coosa and Coweta?
B: Uh huh. It was an old established town, Coweta, and then
there's Talladega; of course, Ocmulgee, Eufala. Eufala
was a different group. They call them bands; there were
certain clans within a band.
G: Oh, a band was a part of a clan? Many bands, huh?


35
B: Yeah. They were around between what is now Eufala and back
east there. Eufala is right on the border there--Alabama-
Georgia border. All of them were known as Upper-Creeks, or
[Creek word]. And the [Creek word] band, most of the
[Creek word] band consists of Deer [Deer clan]. They're
among the last group that left Georgia by force. Then up
around what is now Eufala--that's where the churchhouse is
now, [Creek word] church. And when they came, they were
the last group to build this round house--it's a [Creek word],
means "a big house."
G: Now, how do you pronounce that word again?
B: [Creek word]. [Creek word] is a house, in Creek. [Creek
word] is big.
G: The round house was eight corners?
B: Eight-cornered house, logs, and it's sort of a cone-shaped;
upper part is left of...it's big; it's real big.
G: Was the sides open?
B: Yeah. They had a side door there. I think it was one door
to the east, and it's open up here.
G: The door opened to the east. Why?
B: Everything was...see the rising of the sun has something to
do with it. Rising sun always comes from the east.
G: That was symbolic.
B: Yeah. You know, the sun was...they almost were called sun-
worshippers. You know, like they didn't....
G: Like the Natchez.
B: Uh huh. So the Natchez and...'cause they were stopped; some
stories I hear, the Natchez and the Muskogee were closely,
related.
G: Have you ever heard the story of the French destroying all
the Natchez culture, killing them all; then the Natchez
moving over with you-all?
B: Yeah. They moved east.


36
G: Do you know what group they moved in with--what group of
Creeks?
B: Been with the...around what is now western Alabama. I don't
know what group they were. One of them I know is [Creek word].
G: Have you ever known a Natchez Creek?
B: No. I don't know how, or what, but there was some remnants.
There's a preacher lives there; he used to tell us that was
the original site of the last big house that was built from
the new country.
G: Oh, they came up here and built one big house?
B: Yeah, they built one. [Creek word] town built that. Used
to be known as [Creek word] town. One of the forty-four
original tribal towns that came over, see.
G: Did they bring all the tribal towns with them?
B: Oh yeah, they brought everything.
G: Over here?
B: Yes.
G: In Oklahoma?
B: And that was the last group to come over--last group of full-
bloods. And they stopped there. At first they were on what
is now known as the river up there, but they went
back towards the Canadian River, and they settled an area
there. And then they built this house, and as I understand
it, they are very strongly in favor of this old style of living--
old, like everything observed according to tribal custom.
G: Scratching and baby naming and...?
B: Yeah. All those. They had meetings in there; they build a
fire in the center, and the fire goes up through the...up
through the winter meeting, they have these ceremonies. Skunk
dance, and all kind of dances they have there. They believe
in that very strongly. They were one of the last groups to
come over. They come up through two rivers there--Arkansas
and then the White River, and then over to the fork, they
divided. Some of them followed the south river, some of


37
them the north.
G: An interesting thing you said today when we were eating lunch
was that--you were referring to Josie Billie--about speaking
the old language. Now what did you mean by speaking the old
language?
B: There's some words I couldn't understand, didn't sound familiar.
Hitchiti was the main language. Miccosukee now; spoke only
Miccosukee now. All those branches of the bank spoke Hitchiti
tongue, and that's part of Muskogean tongue. And there's cer-
tain words you can still remember they do talk. Old word.
Like you say "north"; say "north" the present day, to the
Creeks and Muskogees, [Creek word] means "a place where it's
cold." The old Creek names, [Creek word].
G: [Creek word]?
B: Yeah. [Creek word], [Creek word]. Let's see, [Creek word]...
I think [Creek word] is "west." [Creek word] was "north."
That's the real Muskogee word for north, which means cardinal
north. It became known as [Creek word], means "it's cold."
G: Oh, "north" and "cold" was the same word?
B: Yeah. But the real word for "north" was [Creek word]. That
was the real Muskogee word.
G: So they dropped it, and now they call north...?
B: Now they've modernized it to call "where it's cold," see.
G: What do they call it in your language?
B: Muskogee?
G: Yeah.
B: [Creek word.] That means "a cold region.'! That refers to
north. I think some kid, way back then when they started
going to school, they began to say north, where it's cold;
south, where it's warm. It gets cold down their too.
G: Do the directions mean anything? You were talking about
east a while ago. Was any other directions...like some of the
tribes talk about north meaning death....
B: There's some tribes, but I don't think Creeks did.
G: You didn't hear anything about directions?


38
B: No.
G: Now what about the number four?
B: I don't know the origin of it. Anything to do four times, you
should improve on it. Or something should happen within four
times;I think that's the basis they go on. But everything
Creeks do is like a medicine. Even in singing they use a
series of four songs. Like, it's the same melody but you go
over it four times. Everything was done.... Like they're
making medicine, well, they treat you with the same medicine
four times. There's one series of four.
G: But would he say the same...?
B: Same song over and over. Same thing.
G: You ever hear of a "mad stone"?
B: Is that a name of a person?
G: No, that's the name of an object. A 'mad stone."
B: No.
G: You never heard of a sacred thing that came out of white deer?
B: No.
G: Was any animal that had a special part to them that...you
know, we talked about that horned snake?
B: Yeah. Like part of a deer.
G: Okay, that's probably the same thing we're talking about.
B: It was part of a deer. Let's see how that goes. Has some-
thing to do with character. Character of a person. You eat
the heart of a deer; you are meed, you become meek.
G: If you eat the heart of a deer?
B: Heart of a deer, you get the life of a deer, which is very
meek and swift, agile.
G: In other words, it was good to eat the heart of a deer?


39
B: Yes. And there's another thing they used to make us do. This
is in later years, more modern times--that when they butcher
beef, and when they're skinning it, they always call us children
to "Come on, you children." You know, even though it's dead
and everything when they're skinning it, that's really hard,
for they go like this: they told us to bite on it. That
means you have strong teeth and you have good life. To bite
on it, when it quivers like that. Even though the animal's
dead.
G: And his nerves are just quivering?
B: Yeah. I used to see them, they move like that a little
bit. They used to bite on it.
G: They had the young kids bite on the quivering...?
B: Yeah. They'd call the young kids, "Come on and bite on it,"
see. So we'd have strong teeth, and so we can have good
health, see. Especially teeth, you know. So rare, in a way,
for anyone to have a cow, among the Creeks down there.
What they did was--it was back in the 1920s, 1924.
G: Not many Creek Seminoles had cows?
B: No. Until this later year when they....
G: What about hogs--did anyone have hogs?
B: Yeah. After they got their allotment, some of them began
to live on their places and they had hog after they came
here. They would begin to have them in Georgia, before they
left there.
G: They had hogs in Georgia?
B: Yeah. Sure. They were just beginning to. Of course, they
were always planting corn. Corn and tobacco was the main
food.
G: I know that you all probably, as Indians, never got together
down in Florida and talked about this--the Seminoles down there,
the Creeks and Miccosukee--but what would you say is the
feeling or the attitude, of those other older Indians towards
the whites forcing them down in the swamps; forcing part of
their kinfolks up to Oklahoma?


40
B: They were just forced to. Some of them don't like to talk
about it, on account of the tales that they ever heard
about brutality. Soldiers and the people, a few people along
the way, they throw rocks at them, and make fun of them, and
laugh at them.
G: The whites?
B: Yes. Where they come through certain villages and towns
there.
G: You mean word got back to the Seminole Indians in Florida?
B: Oh, yeah. How they were treated, and they.... If they died
they didn't give them a chance to bury them or anything,
or do the ceremony that they're used to. Told them to just
leave them and go on. Keep packing. Especially the last
group that came over. Including the Seminoles, they try to....
Of course, the more that went after, the further on south
they went. They were living north of what is now northern
Florida--the so-called "runaway people" at the time of the
move, trying to get them to come with the Creeks. Some
of them did, you know, about two or three thousand originally;
the rest of them went further on south. Those that didn't
want to come over, they live around White Springs and that
Stephen Foster Memorial Area there, you know. Some in
Okeefenokee. Some of them went into Okeefenokee in Georgia
to hide out, see. I don't know how they existed, but they
hid out in there for a while. And then after they sent
the soldiers after them, they went further south. 'Round
the Ocala area there.