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In Their Own Words

March 07, 1733

Elaborate Indian Rituals Described

Two months after the arrival of the first English settlers at Yamacraw Bluff, colonist Peter Gordon recorded the elaborate ritual followed by a party of Indian chiefs and warriors who were meeting with James Oglethorpe:

“Thursday the 7th the Indian King & Chiefs desired a talk with Mr. Oglethorp, which he readily granted, and received them at a house which was fitted up on purpose for that occasion. Mr. Oglethorp being seated at the door, on a bench covered with blew cloath with Captain Scott on his right hand and Mr. Jon. Brian on his left, the Indians advancing with Mr. Musgrove, their interpreter, before them. Most of them hade their heads adorned with white feathers, in token of peace, and friendshipp. Before the King and other Chiefs, marched two warriors carrying long white tubes, adorned with white feathers, in their left hands, and ratles in their right hands, which was cocoa nutt shells, with shott in them, with which they beat time to their singing as they marched along, but before they reached where Mr. Oglethorp was they made severall stopps, and at each stopp they begane a new song, in which they recounted all the warlike exploits of their forefathers, which is all the records they have, and the only methode of handing down to posterity the history of their great men. When they came near the place where Mr. Oglethorp was, the two warriors, who carried the feathers, and ratles in their hands, advanced before the King and other Chiefs singing and playing with their ratles and putting themselves in many antike postures. Thane, they came up to Mr. Oglethorp and the other gentlemen and waved the white wings they carried in their hands, over their heads, at the same time singing and putting their bodys in antike postures. Afterwards they fixed a lighted pipe of tobaco to the tubes which they held in their hands, and presented it to Mr. Oglethorp, who having smoaked severall whiffs they thane presented it to the other gentlemen, who observed the same methode which Mr. Oglethorp hade done. Thane they afterwards presented the same pipe to their King and two of their Chiefs, the King and each of the Chiefs smoaking four whiffs, blowing the first whiff to the left, the next to the right, the third upwards, and the fourth downwards. After this ceremony was over, they walked into the house… .”

Source: [no author or editor cited], Our First Visit in America: Early Reports from the Colony of Georgia, 1732-1740 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1974), pp. 19-20.