Narrative of Lucinda Davis, African Creek
Lucinda Davis was
interviewed in the summer of 1937. This interview is particularly
significant, because it was one that gave an insider's view of the life
and culture of the Creek Freedmen. Ms. Davis spoke the Muskogee Creek
language fluently, and this is evident in her interview as she explains
the meaning of many words in the Muskogee Creek language. In addition to
her cultural background, she was also an eyewitness to the famous Honey
Spring Battle that occurred near her home in the summer of 1864. It was
not until after the War that she was reunited with her parents as she
had been the personal slave of the Creek Indian Tuskaya-hiniha. (Her
interview was published in an issue of the Frontier Freedman's
Journal in 1992.)
What yo gwine do when de meat give
What yo gwine do when de meat give
Set in de corner wid my lips
What yo gwine do when de meat come
What yo gwine do when de meat come
Set in de corner wid a greasy
(portions left out of this narrative for the
sake of brevity. This narrative in its entirety can be read in the work,
"The WPA Oklahoma Slave Narratives," published in 1996 by the
University of Oklahoma Press.)
* * *
And I think I learn them words
long after I been grown 'cause I belong to a full-blood Creek Indian and
didn't know nothing but Creek talk till long after the Civil War. My
mistress was part white and knowed English talk, but she never did talk
it because none of the people talked it. I heard it sometime but it
sound like whole lot of wild shoat in the cedar brake scared at
something when I do hear it. That was when I was little girl in time of
the War I don't know where I been born. Nobody never did tell me. But my
mammy and pappy get me after the War and I know then whose child I is.
The men at the Creek Agency help them get me, I reckons, maybe.
First thing I remember is when
I was a little girl, and I belong to old Tuskaya-hiniha. He was big man
in the Upper Creek and we have a pretty good size farm, jest a little
bit to the north of the wagon thepot houses on the old road at Honey
Springs. That place was about twenty five mile south of Fort Gibson, but
I don't know nothing about where the fort is when I was a little girl at
that time. I know the Elk River' bout two miles north of where we live,
cause I been there many the time.
I don't know if old Master have
a white name. Lots the Upper Creek didn't have no white name. Maybe he
have another Indian name, too, because Tuskaya-hinina "head man
warrior" in Creek but that what everybody call him and that what
the family call him too.
My mistress name was Nancy, and
she was a Lott before she marry old man Tuskaya-hiniha. Her pappy name
was Lott and he was pretty near white. Maybe so all white. They have two
chillun, I think but only one stayed on the place. She was name Lumina,
and her husband was dead. His name was Walker, and Lumina bring Mr.
Walker's little sister, Nancy to live at the place too.
Lumina had a little baby boy
and that the reason old Master buy me, to look after the little baby
boy. He didn't have no name cause he wasn't big enough when I was with
them, but he get a name later on, I reckon. We all call him "Istidji".
That man "little man"
When I first remember, before
the War, old master had bout as many slave as I got fingers, ir reckon.
I can think them off on my fingers like this, but I can't recollect the
They call all the slaves "Istilusti."
that mean "Black Man."
Old man Tuskaya-hiniha was near
bout blind before the War, and bout time of the War he go plumb blind
and have to set on the long seat under the brush shelter of the house
all the time. Sometime I lead him around the yard a little, but not very
much. That about the time all the slaves begin to slip out and run off.
My own pappy was name Stehpany.
I think he take that name cause when he little his mammy call him "Istifani".
That mean a skeleton, and he was a skinny man. He belong to the Garrison
family and I think his father name George, but I don't know. They big
people in the Creek, and with the with folks too. My mammy was Serena
and she belong to some of the Gouge family. They was big people in the
Upper Creek, and one the biggest men of the Gouge was name Hopoethe
Yaholo for his Creek Name. He was a big man and went to the North in the
War and died up in Kansas, I think. They say when he was a little boy he
was called HoHopothili which mean "good little boy" and when
he get grown he make big speeches and the stick on the "yoholo".
That mean "loud whooper."
That the way the Creek make the
name for young boys when I was a little girl. When the boy get old
enough the big men in the town give him a name, and sometime later on
when he get to going around with the grown men they stick on some more
name. If he a good talker they sometime stick on "yoholo" and
iffen he make lots of jokes they called him "Hadjo" If he is a
good leather day called him "Imala" and if he kind of mean
they sometime call him "Fixigo"
My mammy and pappy belong to
two master, but they live together on a place. That the way the Creek
slaves do lots of times. They work patches and give the masters most all
they make, but day have some for themselves. They didn't have to stay on
the master's place and work like I hear the slaves of the white people
and e Cherokee and Choctaw people say they had to do.
Maybe my pappy and mammy run
off an get free, or maybe so they buy themselves out, but anyway they
move away some time and my mammy's master sell me to old man
Tuskaya-hinihi when I was jest a little gal. All I have to do is stay at
the house and mind the baby.
Master had a good log house and
a brush shelter out in front like all the houses had. Like a gallery,
only it had the dirt for the floor and brush for the roof. They cook
everything out in the yard in big pots and the eat out in the yard, too.
That was sure good stuff to
eat, and it make you fat too! Roast the green corn on the ears in the
ashes, and scrap off some and fry it! Grin the dry corn or pound it up
and make ash cake, Then boil the greens--all kinds of greens from out in
the woods-and chop up the pork and the theer meat, or the wild turkey
meat; maybe all of them, in the big pot at the same time! Fish too, and
the big turtle that lay out on the bank!
Day always have a pot full of
sofki settin right insithe the house, and anybody eat when they feel
hungry. Anybody come on a visit, always give them some of the sofki. If
they don't take none the old man get mad, too!
When you make the sofki you
pound up the corn real fine, then pour in the water and drain it off to
get all the little skin off'n the grain. Then you let the grits soak and
then boil it and let it stand. Sometime you put in some pounded hickory
nut meats. That make it real good.
I don't know where old Master
get the cloth for the clothes, lessn' he buy it. Before I can remember,
I think he had some slaves that weave the cloth, but when I was there he
get it at the wagon depot at Honey Spring, I think. He go there all the
time to sell his corn, and he raise lots of corn, too.
That place was on the big road
what we called the road to Texas but it go all the way up to the North,
too. The traders stop at Honey Springs and old Master trade corn for
what he want. He get some pretty checkedy cloth one time, and everybody
get a dress or a shirt made offn it. I have that dress till I get too
big for it.
Everybody dress up fine when
day is a funeral. They take me along to mind the baby at two -three
funeral but I don't know who it is that die. The Creek sure take on when
Long in the night you wake up
and hear a gun go off, way off yonder somewhere. Then it go again, and
then again, jest as fast as they can ram the load in. That mean somebody
die. When somebody die the men go out in the yard and let the people
know that way. Then they jest go back in the house and let the fire go
out, and don't even touch the dead person till somebody get there what
has the right to touch the dead.
When somebody had sick they
build a fire in the house, even in the summer and don't let it die down
till that person get well or die. When they die they lit the fire out.
In the morning everybody dress
up fine and go to the house where the dead is and stand around in the
yard outside the house and don't go in. Pretty soon along come somebody
what got a right to tech and handle the dead and they go in. I don't
know what give them the right, but I thinking they has to go through
some kind of medicine to get the right, and I know they has to drink the
red root and purge good before day tech the body. When they get the body
ready they come out and all go to the graveyard, mostly the family
graveyard, right on the place or at some of the kinfolk’s.
When they get to the grave
somebody shoots a gun at the north, then the west, then the south, and
then the east. Iffy they had four guns they used em.
Then the put the body down in
the grave and put some extra clothes in with it and some food and cup of
coffee, maybe. Then they takes strips of elm bark, and lays over the
body till it all covered up, and then throw in the dirt.
When the last dirt throwed in,
everybody must clap the hands and smile, but you so hadn't better stop
on any of the new dirt around the grave, because it bring sickness right
along with you back to your own house. That what they said, anyways.
Jest soon as the grave filled
up, they built a little shelter over it with poles like a pig pen and
over it over with elm bark to keep the rain from soaking down in the new
Then everybody go back tot the
house and the family go in and scatter some kind of medicine round the
place and build a new fire. Sometimes day feed everybody before they all
leave for home.
Every time day have a funeral
they always a lot of the people say, "Didnt you hear the stikini
squealing in the night" I hear that stikini all the night! The
"stikini" is the screech owl, and he suppose to tell when
anybody going to die right soon. I hear lots of Creek people say day
hear the screech owl close to the house, and sure nub somebody in the
family die soon.
When the big battle come at our
place at Honey Springs they just get through having the green corn bus.
The green corn was just ripened enough to eat. It must of been along in
That bus was jest a little bus.
They want' enough men around to have a good one. But I seen lots of big
ones. Ones where day had all the different kinds of "banga".
Day call all the dances some kind of banga. The chicken dance is the
Tolosabanga and the Istifanibanga is the one where they make lak they is
skeletons and raw heads coming to get you.
The Hadjobanga is the crazy
dance and that is a funny one. They all dance crazy and make up funny
songs to go with the dance. Everybody think up funny songs to sing and
everybody whoop and laugh all the time.
But the worse one was the drunk
dance. The jet dance ever which a way, the men and the women together,
and they wrestle and hug and carry on awful! The good people don't dance
that one. Everybody sing about going to somebody else's house and
sleeping with them, and shout, "We is all drunk and we don't know
what we doing and we ain't doing wrong cause we is all drunk" and
things like that. Sometime the bad ones leave and go to the woods, too!
That kind of doing make the
good people mad, and sometime they have killings about it. When a man
catch one his women--maybe so his wife or one of his daughters been to
the woods, he catch her and beat her and cut off the rim of her ears!
People think maybe so that
ain't so, but I know it is!
I was combing somebody's hair
one time---I ain't going tell who and when I lift it up offn her ears I
nearly drop thead! Dar the rims cut right offn em! But she was a married
woman, and I think maybe so it happen when she was a young gal and got
into it at one of them drunk dances.
Them Upper Creek took the
marrying kind of light anyways. Iffy the younguns wanted to be man and
wife and the old ones didn't care they jest went ahead and that was
about 'cepting some presents maybe. But the Baptists changed that a lot
amongst the young ones.
I never forget the day that
battle of the Civil War happen at Honey Springs! Old Master jest had the
green corn all in, and us had been having a time getting it in, too.
Jest the women was all that was left, cause the men slaves had all
slipped off and left out. My uncle Abe done got up a bunch and gone to
the North with them to fight, but I didn't know then where he went. He
was in that same battle, and after the War they called him Abe Colonel.
Most all the slaves round that place gone off a long time before that
with day masters when they go with Old man Gouge and a man named
We had a big tree in the hard,
and a grape vine swing in it for the little baby "Istidji".
And I was swinging him real early in the morning before the sun up. The
house set in a little patch of woods wed the field in the back but all
out on the north side was a little open space, like a kind of prairie. I
was swinging the baby, and all at once I seen somebody riding this way
cross that prairie---jest coming a-kiting and a laying flat out on his
hoses. When he see the house he begin to give the war whoop, "Eya-a-a-a-he-ah!"
When he get close to the house he holler to get out the way "case
they gwine to be a big fight, and old Master start rapping with his cane
and yelling to get some grub and blankets in the wagon right now!
We jest leave everything
setting right where it is 'cepting putting out the fire and grabbing all
the pots and kettles. Some the Negro women run to get the mules and the
wagon and some start getting meat and corn out of the place where we
done hid it to keep the scooters from finding it before now. All the
time we getting ready to travel, we hear that boy on that horse going on
down the bit Texas road hollering, ""Eya-a-a-a-he-ah!"
Then jest as we starting to
leave here come something across that little prairie sure nub. We know
day is Indians the way they is riding, and the way they is all strung
out. They had a flag, and it was all read and had a crisis-cross on it
that look like a saw horse. The man carry it and rear back on it when
the wind whip it, but it flap all round the horse head and the horse
pitch and rear like he know something going to happen sure!
Bout that time it turn kind of
dark and begin to rain a little, and we get out to the big road and the
rain come down hard. It rain so hard for a little while that we jest
have to stop the wagon and set there, and then long come more soldiers
than I ever see before. They all white men, I think, and dry have on
that brown clothes dyed with walnut and butternut, and old Master say
they the Confederate soldiers. They dragging some big guns on wheels and
most the men slopping long in the rain on foot.
Then we hear the fighting up to
the north long about where the river is and the guns sound like hoses
loping cross a plank bridge way off somewhere. The head men start
hollering and some the hoses start rearing and the soldiers starting
trotting faster up the road. We can't get out on the road so we jest
trek off through the prairie and make for a creek that got high banks
and a place on it we call Rocky Cliff.
We get in a big cave in that
cliff, and spend the whole day and that night in there, an listen to the
battle going on.
That place was about half a
mile from the wagon depot at Honey Springs, and a little east of it. We
can hear the guns going all day, and along in the evening here come the
South sithe making for a getaway. They come riding an drumming by where
we is, and it don't make no difference how much the head men hollers at
em day can't make that bunk slow up and stop.
After while here come the
Yankees, right after em and they goes on into Honey Springs and pretty
soon we see the blaze where they is burning the wagon depot and the
The next morning we goes back
to the house and find the soldiers ain't' hurt nothing much. The hogs is
where they is in the pen and the chickens come cackling round too. Them
soldiers going so fast they didn't have no time to stop and take
nothing, I reckon.
Then long come lots of the
Yankee soldiers going back to the North, and they looks pretty wore out
but day is laughing and joshing an going on.
Old Master pack up the wagon
with everything he can carry then and we strike out down the big road to
get out the way of any more war, id day going be any.
That old Texas road jest
crowded with wagons! Everybody doing the same thing we is, and the rains
done made the road so muddy and the soldiers done tromp up the mud so
back that the wagons get stick all the time.
The people all moving along in
bunches, and every little while one bunch of wagons come up wit another
bunches all stuck in the mud, and they put all the horses and mules on
together and pull em out, and then day go on together awhile.
At night day camp, and the
women and what few Negroes they is have to get the super in the big
pots, and the men to so tired they eats everything up from the women and
the Negroes pretty nigh.
After while we come to the
Canadian town. That where old man Gouge been and took a whole lot the
folks up north with him, and the South soldiers go in there ahead of us,
and took up the houses to sleep in.
Day was some of the white
soldiers camped there, and they was singing at the camp. I couldn't
understand what the sing, and I asked a Creek man what they say and he
tell me day sing "I wish I was in Dixie, look away, look away.
I ask him where that is, and he
laugh and talk to the soldiers and they all laugh and make me mad.
The next morning, we leave that
town and get to the big river. The rain make the river rise, and I never
see so much water! Jest look out there and there all that water!!
They got some boats we put the
stuff on, and float the wagons and swim the mules and finally get
across, but it look like we gwine all drown.
Most the folks say they going
to Boggy Depot and round Fort Washita, but old Master strike off by
hisself and go way down in the bottom somewhere to live.
I don't know where it was, but
the been some kind of fighting all around there cause we camp in houses
an the cabins all the time and nobody live in any of em.
Look like the people all get
away quick, cause all the stuff was in the houses, but you better scout
up around the house before you go up to it. Liable to be some scooters
already in it.
Them Indian soldiers jest quit
the army and lots went scouting in little bunches and took everything
they find. Iffy somebody try to stop them they get killed.
Sometime we find graves in the
yard where somebody has been buried fresh and one house had some dead
people in it when Old Mistress poke her head in it. We get away from
there and don't mistake!
By and by we find a little
cabin and stop and stay all the time. I was the only slave by that time.
All the others done slip out and run off. We stay there two year I
reckon, cause we make two little crop of corn. For meat a man name Mr.
Walker with us jest went out in the woods and shoot the wild hogs. The
woods was full of them wild hogs. The woods was full of them wild hogs,
and lots of fish in the holes war he could sicken em with buck roots and
catch em with his hands all we wanted.
I don't know when the War quit
off, and when I get free, but I stayed with old man Tuskaya-hiniha long
time after I was free, I reckon. I was jest a little girl, and he didn't
know where to send me to, anyways.
One day three men ride up and
talk to the old man awhile in English talk,. Then he called me and tell
me to go with them to find my own family. He jest laugh and slap my
behind and set me up on the hoses in front of one the men add they take
me off and leave my good checkedy dress at the house!
Before Long ewe get to that
Canadian river, again, and the men tie me on the hoses so I can't fall
off Dar was all that water, and they ain't no boat, and the ain't no
bridge, and we jest swim the horses. I knowed sure I was going to be
gone that time, but we get across.
When we come to the Creek
Agency there is my pappy and y mammy to claim me and I live with them in
the Verdigris bottom above Fort Gibson till I was grown and they is both
thead. Then I marries Antherson Davis at Gibson Station, and we get our
allotments on the Verdigris east of Tulsa---kind of south too, close to
the Broken Arrow town.
I knowed old man Jim McHenry at
that Broken Arrow Town. He done some preaching and was a good old man, I
I knowed when they started that
Wealaka school across the river from the Broken Arrow town. They name it
for the Wilaka town, but that town was way down in the Upper Creek
country close to what lived when I was a girl.
I had lots of children, but
only two is alive now. My boy Antherson got in a mess and went to that
McAlester prison, but he got to be a trusty and they let him marry a
good woman that got lost of property there, and they living all right
When my old man die I come to
live here with Josephine, but I'se blind and can't see nothing and all
the noises pesters me a lot in the town. And the children is all so ill
mannered, too. They jest holler at you all the time. They don't mine you
When I could see and had my own
younguns I could jest set in the corner and tell them what to do, and
iffen they didn't do it right I could whack em on the head, cause day
was raised the old Creek way, and they know the old folks know the best!
* * *
* * *
Hopes and Prospects
By Noam Chomsky
In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky
surveys the dangers and prospects of our
early twenty-first century. Exploring
challenges such as the growing gap
between North and South, American
exceptionalism (including under
President Barack Obama), the fiascos of
Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli
assault on Gaza, and the recent
financial bailouts, he also sees hope
for the future and a way to move
forward—in the democratic wave in Latin
America and in the global solidarity
movements that suggest "real progress
toward freedom and justice." Hopes and
Prospects is essential reading for
anyone who is concerned about the
primary challenges still facing the
human race. "This is a classic Chomsky
work: a bonfire of myths and lies,
sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky
is an enduring inspiration all over the
world—to millions, I suspect—for the
simple reason that he is a truth-teller
on an epic scale. I salute him." —John
* * * *
The Shameful Life of Salvador Dali
By Ian Gibson
In his detailed and excellent book on Dali, Ian Gibson has documented Dali’s identification with fascism in Spain from the very beginning. During the civil war, Dali never came out in support of the Republic. He did not collaborate, for example, in the Paris Fair in 1937, where Picasso presented his Guernica, aimed at raising funds for the Republican cause. And he soon made explicit his sympathies for the fascist coup of 1936 and for the dictatorship that it established in a letter to Buñuel, a well-known filmmaker in Spain. He made explicit and known his admiration for the figure and writing of the founder of the Spanish fascist party (La Falange), José Antonio Primo de Rivera, and used in his speeches and writings the fascist narrative and expressions (such as the fascist call “Arriba España”), referring to the special role Spain had in promoting the imperial dreams over other nations. He sympathized with the anti-Semitic views of Hitler and celebrated Franco’s alliance with Hitler and Mussolini against France, Great Britain and the United States. He also welcomed the “solution to the national problem” in vogue in Nazi and fascist circles at that time. Dali became the major defender of the Franco dictatorship in the artistic world.
He was also, as Spanish
fascism was, very close to the Church and to the Vatican of Pope
Pius XII, indicating that modern art needed to be based on
Christianity. His loyalty to the fascist dictatorship continued
to the very end, defending the state terrorist policies that
included political assassinations, even in the last moments of
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
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Negro Digest /
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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update 25 May 2012