Coweta and the History and Family of Hopoyetly and Tomochichi
Coweta was depicted on very early maps as being simultaneously present on the Savannah, Ocmulgee, and Chattahoochee. The Yamacraws are reputed to have been a mixed Coweta/Yamasee people. Tomochichi informed Oglethorpe that the Savannah area was the homeland of his father and that he had recently returned to the area to be close to the English. (His return takes place after the events depicted in the story – probably after the Yamasee war.)There was a supposed change from Wind Clan to Fish Clan back to Wind Clan in the choosing of chiefs in Coweta. There is also conflicting evidence for whether Hopoyetly was the civil chief of Coweta or a war chief who achieved de facto supremacy, control, and influence in both times of peace and war. In the story, Hopoyetly is listed as Wind Clan, yet that is not certain because Coosaponakeesa is reputed to be by some Panther Clan, which if true, according to Creek kinship rules would mean Hopoyetly must be of the same clan for her to claim blood kinship to him. Coosaponakeesa, Mary Musgrove, did claim such kinship to Hopoyetly and imply kinship to Tomochichi. Her kinship claims were bolstered by Malatchi, one of Hopoyetly’s twin sons, support of her dispute with the Georgia colony over ownership of some of Georgia’s coastal islands. Malatchi also claimed to be the emperor of the (lower) Creeks. As Hopoyetly’s son, it is odd that leadership would pass to him – since he would not be the same clan as Hopoyetly – rather, leadership should have passed to a nephew of the same clan as Hopoyetly. This could indicate that Hopoyetly was not ever the official ‘civil’ chief of Coweta and that he was indeed Panther Clan as asserted by Coosaponaseeka. If Malatchi’s mother was Wind Clan, then it is possible, that as the leading clan of Coweta, Wind Clan may have chosen Malatchi to become the principal chief after Hopoyetly’s death when he came of age. Although the reconstruction of the relationship of Hopoyetly, Tomochichi, and Mary Musgrove described in the story is probably incorrect in particulars, whether by blood or fictive adoption, there was kinship between them. There is also evidence of tension between Hopoyetly and Tomochichi. This tension ultimately led to an outright break which resulted in Tomochichi and the Yamacraw being considered outcasts of the Lower Creeks and was a probable motivation in the relocation of the Yamacraw to their ancestral home on the Savannah. Obviously, the characters, motivations, and actions of Hopoyetly and Tomochichi are pure speculation – but the speculations are reasonable and fit within the framework of the scanty facts available.
The Apalachee Raids
The Muster for the raids did take place at Ocmulgee. The first mission attacked was Ayubale. The reported casualties (not counting the entirely fictitious skirmish in the forest) are as detailed in the story. There was a counterattack launched from San Louis which was routed. Ivitachuco did surrender after the sacking of Ayubale. The other missions attacked in the story are candidates put forward by several researchers based on missions which cease to exist in Spanish records after the Apalachee raids. San Louis was abandoned ahead of the raiders and subsequently razed by them. The Creeks did destroy the Yustagan Missions after the Carolinians had already ceased their campaign. (The motivation for the Creeks staying to destroy the Yustagan Missions is mere speculation.) The Creeks, without the Carolinians, did raid Apalachee territory again the following year. Saint Augustine had been attacked and many of the coastal missions in Georgia destroyed before the Apalachee raids as reported in the story. The Spanish and Apalachee had just a year or so prior to the raids, attacked the Lower Creeks and suffered large casualties in an ambush. There were several uprisings of the Apalachee (and other mission tribes) for the reasons recounted by Mateo. The Jesuits were first appointed to missionize Spanish Florida and then replaced by Franciscans.
Pre-history and Interrelationships of Tribes
It is unlikely that anything approaching a clear picture of the various pre-contact Muskogee and non-Muskogee tribal groups and their tangled interrelationships can ever be deduced. The accuracy of various peoples and the alliances they shared purported by Tomochichi and Mvhvlv in the story should be taken with a double handful of salt. The point intended by putting words concerning the pre-contact tribal makeup into Tomochichi’s and Mvhvlv’s mouth was simply to convey the tribal complexity of the pre-contact southeast. The bare bones that can be asserted as factual is that Tamatli, Apalachee/Apalachicola, Wvhvlle (known as Guale in most historical records), Yamasee, Yuchi, Shawnee, and Coweta all were simultaneously present on the Savannah. Although there could have been a pre-historical proto-Cherokee presence in the southeast, the bulk of the people whose descendants are identified as Cherokee were recent émigrés into the southeast and contrary to assertions most ancient sites ascribed as proto-Cherokee are proto-Yuchi, proto-Creek (of both the Muskogee and Hitchiti speaking varieties) or proto-Shawnee. The pre-contact southeast was an amalgam of multi-linguistic tribal groups whose alliances with each other shifted according to the winds of circumstance. The Muskogee language group dominated the landscape from gulf coast of North Florida through Alabama central Georgia into north Georgia and southern Tennessee and southern South Carolina. Muskogee speakers arrived in the southeast in waves of migrations. The language changes, variations in versions of myths told by various Muskogee speaking groups, and the differences in migration legends all indicate migratory waves. The Hitchiti speaking peoples were most likely the earliest Muskogee people to arrive in the southeast. (This is in part born out in the Coweta migration legend’s report of the peace made between the Coweta and the already present Apalachee.) Although still rejected by orthodox academic theory, evidence is accruing that not only did trade with Central and South American peoples exist but that there was some amount of Central and South American incursion into the southeast. The tension and divisions described between red and white towns and between Muskogee and Hitchiti speakers is factual. The mound building culture was very different from the culture evinced in the Square Ground which replaced it. On the surface, the Square Ground seems to have sprung up into a relatively consistent and nigh universal institution in the southeast in the midst of the death throes of mound building culture. The scenario presented in Trekking to Ocmulgee of an ancient institution kept alive in a somewhat hidden and truncated form by renegade groups unaffiliated with any of the great alliances and by the villages of the Great Town Centers, if not probable, is at least a possible and reasonable supposition. (The idea of covert Square Grounds surviving alongside the dominance of the hierarchical mound building culture is given credence by myths describing blessing of a temporary sacred ‘yard’ and by the traditional method of erecting a temporary Square Ground by erecting poles in a ritually specified manner and then kindling the fire in the center of the cleared space.)
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